A liberating inheritance : Chinese Canadian and Japanese Canadian literature in English, 1970s-2000s

Rights statement
Awarding institution
  • University of Strathclyde
Date of award
  • 2016
Thesis identifier
  • T14328
Person Identifier (Local)
  • 201150518
Qualification Level
Qualification Name
Department, School or Faculty
  • Initiated with the first communal collaboration, Inalienable Rice: A Chinese and Japanese Canadian Anthology, published in 1979, Asian Canadian literature has been growing rapidly ever since. Now, two generations of writers and critics have become established and an emerging generation is on the rise. This thesis presents an analytical account of the establishment of a relatively new cultural enterprise, tracing its various stages of development in relation to prevailing socio-historical conditions and discussing the constructive forces that have helped and supported its growth.This thesis claims the Eaton sisters as the grandmothers of Asian Canadian literature because later authors have inherited, adapted and enriched the themes they defined in their works and the techniques they devised. This thesis traces parallel developments in two major groups within the Asian Canadian literary community, Japanese Canadians and Chinese Canadians, by choosing one author from each group to represent each stage of development. Identifying six of the most influential writers who have contributed to the shaping of contemporary Asian Canadian literature, this thesis presents a relatively comprehensive literary historical account. The chosen authors are Chinese Canadian novelists SKY Lee, Wayson Choy and Larissa Lai; and Japanese Canadian writers Joy Kogawa, Terry Watada and Hiromi Goto. This thesis argues that the Asian Canadian literary enterprise is defined above all by its balancing of continuity (inheritance) with development (liberation). Cultural and literary inheritances offer useful tools for Asian Canadian writers to negotiate with mainstream society while innovative writing techniques are indispensable if they are to continue pioneering and opening more space for future development of the literature. The second major argument is that one of the most distinctive elements of Asian Canadian literature is that it has arisen and grown as a result of conscious effort, an effort informed by social activism and nurtured by literary and communal organisations.
Advisor / supervisor
  • Hammill, Faye
Resource Type