Year

2008

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy

Department

School of English Literatures, Philosophy and Languages, Faculty of Arts

Abstract

“Looking Through the Twin Lens” examines how an emergent body of fiction by contemporary Asian Australian and Asian Canadian women writers engages in revisionist tactics, complicating the hierarchical nature of the politics of looking. Recent feminist theories explore the link between the male gaze, images of the female body in mass media representations and the tradition of the high art nude, but they have neglected to contextualise other forms of embodiment such as race. This study extends the theory of a gendered gaze into the area of race. Texts by Australian-based writers Simone Lazaroo, Lillian Ng and Hsu-Ming Teo and Canadian-based Hiromi Goto, Larissa Lai and Evelyn Lau, have been selected for their intercession and intervention with established ways of seeing, gazing and looking. These texts are connected not only by each writer’s Asian ancestry and their female authorship, but also by their scopic thematics and by their literary entry into contemporary individual and national identity politics. While contemporary feminist theory has prompted a re-reading of well-known texts of the West through the lens of gender, the recurring reference to well-recognised filmic or literary narratives in many of these writer’s works, allows for an interrogative return to the original through the twin lens of gender and race. In this sense, contesting the dominance of white hegemony involves both a return of the gaze and a return to issues of misrepresentation that are central to a past and contemporary cultural politics of difference.

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