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The Deconstruction of American Orientalism in Diana Son’s R.A.W. (’Cause I’m a Woman)

  • Journal of Modern English Drama
  • Abbr : JMBARD
  • 2013, 26(3), pp.313-335
  • Publisher : 한국현대영미드라마학회
  • Research Area : Humanities > English Language and Literature > English Literature > Contemporary English Drama

Joo, Kyoung-Jung 1

1University of Hawaii

Accredited

ABSTRACT

This article examines the deconstruction of American Orientalism through stereo-typicality of Asian American women in Diana Son’s R. A. W. (’Cause I’m a Woman) (1993). She is known for her exploration of Asian American identities from various angles with idiosyncratic and disturbing women characters in her plays, 2000 Miles (1993), Boy (1994), Stop Kiss (2000) and Satellite (2006). R.A.W. is significant in presenting possible oriental Asian women stereotypes in various perspectives and creating a new identity of them. These stereotyped images mainly come from American Orientalism. Edward Said’s West Orientalism extends to American Orientalism which is related to American imperialism and it influences on American culture. Asian American women in American culture generally appear as distorted and stereotypical objects; in particular they are sexually objectified. In this article, the identities of Asian American women are analyzed with such critical terms as passivity, Oriental sensuality and unknowability. These stereotypical images discriminate and oppress four female Asian American characters. In the end, they deconstruct the false oriental images and replace them by the obverse images of powerful, independent and positive Asian American women. In other words, they try to be free from oriental negative restraints, in particular race-negative sexuality. This play succeeds in presenting, testing, and subverting deeply rooted Oriental identity of Asian American women. The play theatrically presents deconstructive strategy through avant-garde theatre. Son experiments theatrical devices such as slides, a song, non-characteristic characters, no-dialogues and fragmentary narratives. In particular, she uses theatricality of the Theatre of Image as one of American avant-garde theatre influenced by Bertolt Brecht’s epic theatre. The play presents a new and diverse paradigm to Asian American theatre which was stuck with political realism plays. Ultimately, Son suggests political and social change of American society as well as theatrically subversive avant-garde theater in her play.

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