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Constructions of transcultural subjectivity: Going beyond nationalism and ethnicity in A Good Scent from a Strange Mountain
Dalarna University, School of Humanities and Media Studies, English.ORCID iD: 0000-0001-9990-5501
2013 (English)In: Transcultural Identities in Contemporary Literature / [ed] Irene Gilsenan Nordin, Julie Hansen, Carmen Zamorano Llena, Amsterdam: Rodopi, 2013, 93-112 p.Chapter in book (Refereed)
Abstract [en]

Published sixteen years after the end of the Vietnam War, Robert

Olen Butler’s Pulitzer-winning short-story cycle A Good Scent from

a Strange Mountain (1992) is an imaginative attempt by a Euro-

American writer to come to terms with the consequences of the armed conflict

for the many thousands of Vietnamese refugees who emigrated to, and

settled in, the USA during and after the conflict. The stories dramatize the

internal and external conflicts that the predominantly Vietnamese-American

protagonists experience owing to their cultural and national relocation as firstgeneration

immigrants, or due to their cultural and ethnic hybridity as secondgeneration

immigrants. This essay aims to show how both the form and central

theme of the volume can be understood not only as a negotiation between

American and Vietnamese identities, but also as going beyond the compulsion

to identify self and other along national and ethnic lines. It will argue that

Butler’s text transcends national and ethnic determinations by imagining a

transcultural subjectivity, according to which characters can enjoy something

close to mutual understanding. As will be shown, this transcultural transcendence

takes place on different levels in the text: on the level of the characters,

on the level of the narrators, and on the level of the author. Thus, the text

itself can be seen as an example of transculturality in the sense that the author

 crosses cultural boundaries in order to imagine and narrate his stories from a

Vietnamese-American perspective.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Amsterdam: Rodopi, 2013. 93-112 p.
Cross Cultures: Readings in Post/Colonial Literatures and Cultures in English, 167
Keyword [en]
transcultural subjectivity, Levinas, Robert Olen Butler
National Category
Languages and Literature
Research subject
Intercultural Studies; Intercultural Studies, Det amerikanska subjektets rekonstruktion: en studie av prisbelönad amerikansk skönlitterär prosa från 1990-talet
URN: urn:nbn:se:du-21742ISBN: 978-90-420-3735-9ISBN: 978-94-012-0987-8OAI: oai:DiVA.org:du-21742DiVA: diva2:938740
Available from: 2016-06-17 Created: 2016-06-17 Last updated: 2016-06-20Bibliographically approved

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