Gendered Home and Space for the Diaspora: Gish Jen’s <i>Typical American</i>


  • Lan Dong University of Massachusetts Amherst


Gish Jen, Typical American, Chinese diaspora, diasporic literature, domestic, communal, and social space


This article explores the strategy of three first-generation male and female Chinese American characters in their reconstruction of home and space (domestic, communal, and social) in the U.S. from the late 1940s to the 1960s in Gish Jenââ¬â¢s novel ââ¬" Typical American (1991). The discussion is focused on how Jenââ¬â¢s novel conflates space, culture, and gender relations through the experiences of the Chinese diaspora that crosses geopolitical, national, and cultural borders. Drawing upon critical perspectives in Asian American studies and feminist geography, this article examines how these diaspora men and women negotiate a new space between their ââ¬Ånative cultureââ¬Â and the ââ¬Åhost societyââ¬Â in response to their displacement based on gender and race, when their respective spatiality is crisscrossed with their unceasingly adjusted relations with one another ââ¬" as husband and wife (Ralph and Helen) and as brother and sister (Ralph and Theresa).

Author Biography

Lan Dong, University of Massachusetts Amherst

Lan Dong is a Ph.D. candidate in Comparative Literature at University of Massachusetts Amherst. Her research interests include: representations of Asians and Asian Americans in literature and films, immigrant womenââ¬â¢s writing, premodern Chinese culture, translation, and east-west literary and cultural relations. She has written and presented papers on Chinese cinema, Asian American literature and films, Chinese women, and disciplinary crossovers. She is now writing her dissertation on the woman warrior Mulan, historically grounded in premodern Chinese culture and represented in contemporary American literature and cinema.