Rediscovering the writings of early Asian America


Recovered Legacies

Authority and Identity in Early Asian American Literature

edited by Keith Lawrence and Floyd Cheung

paper EAN: 978-1-59213-119-8 (ISBN: 1-59213-119-0)
$31.95, Jul 05, Available
cloth EAN: 978-1-59213-118-1 (ISBN: 1-59213-118-2)
$85.50, Jul 05, Available
Electronic Book EAN: 978-1-59213-120-4 (ISBN: 1-59213-120-4)
320 pp 6x9

"The editors have cagily combined groundbreaking scholarship on literary texts that no one knows about, with useful, historically grounded criticism of literary texts that established scholars and those interested in learning about Asian American literature are likely to study. The prose is lucid and accessible, the readings are conversant both with Asian American and American cultural history and with relevant Asian American literary scholarship, and therefore the book should be useful not only to scholars but to teachers and students, as the editors indicate was their goal."
Patricia P. Chu, Associate Professor of English, George Washington University

Recovered Legacies: Authority and Identity in Early Asian American Literature employs contemporary and traditional readings of representative works in prose, poetry, and drama to suggest new ways of understanding and appreciating the critically fertile but underexamined body of Asian American writing from the late 1800s to the early 1960s. The essays in this volume engage this corpus—composed of multiple genres from different periods and by authors of different ethnicities—with a strong awareness of historical context and a keen sensitivity to literary form. As a collection, Recovered Legacies re-establishes the rich and diverse literary heritage of Asian America and argues persuasively for the significance of these works to the American literary canon.


Excerpt available at


"...much-needed... This critical collection is particularly rewarding for its historical focus. Recommended."

"Recovered Legacies is a noteworthy, thought-provoking, insightful and informative book on the history and impact of pioneering Asian American literature."
Korean Quarterly

"[T]his collection represents a useful contribution to existing Asian American literary scholarship. The literary archive this collection furnishes is an important one…[T]he Asian American literary field would do well to pay attention to the arguments posited in this collection’s introduction."
American Studies

"[An] important volume…cover[ing] the most important writers, genres, themes and issues that we consider necessary for an overview of pioneering Asian American writing….Recovered Legacies bravely goes against the grain of current Asian American scholarship providing the reader with lucid and invaluable tools with which to read texts of the past and rethink the ways we might unwittingly impose our own prejudices on literary works. By engaging the texts that formed and continue to influence the Asian American cannon, the essays help us rethink the ways we read and teach this literature in evolving contexts."
The Journal of Asian American Studies


Chronology of Works Discussed
Introduction – Keith Lawrence and Floyd Cheung
1. Early Chinese American Autobiography: Reconsidering the Works of Yan Phou Lee and Yung Wing – Floyd Cheung
2. The Self and Generic Convention: Winnifred Eaton's Me, A Book of Remembrance – David Shih
3. Diasporic Literature and Identity: Autobiography and the I-Novel in Estu Sugimoto's Daughter of the Samurai – Georgina Dodge
4. The Capitalist and Imperialist Critique in H. T. Tsiang's And China Has Hands – Julia H. Lee
5. Unacquiring Negrophobia: Younghill Kang and Cosmopolitan Resistance to the Black and White Logic of Naturalization – Stephen Knadler
6. Asian American (Im)mobility: Perspectives on the College Plays 1937-1955 – Josephine Lee
7. Toyo Suyemoto, Ansel Adams, and the Landscape of Justice – John Streamas
8. Wounded Bodies and the Cold War: Freedom, Materialism, and Revolution in Asian American Literature, 1946-1957 – Viet Thanh Nguyen
9. Suffering Male Bodies: Representations of Dissent and Displacement in the Internment-Themed Narratives of John Okada and Toshio Mori – Suzanne Arakawa
10. Toshio Mori, Richard Kim, and the Masculine Ideal – Keith Lawrence
11. Home, Memory, and Narrative in Monica Sone's Nisei Daughter – Warren D. Hoffman
12. The "Pre-History" of an "Asian American" Writer: N.V.M. Gonzalez' Allegory of Decolonization – Augusto Espiritu
13. Representing Korean American Female Subjects, Negotiating Multiple Americas, and Reading Beyond the Ending in Ronyoung Kim's Clay Walls – Pamela Thoma


About the Author(s)

Keith Lawrence is Associate Professor of English at Brigham Young University.

Floyd Cheung is Assistant Professor of English and American Studies at Smith College.

Contributors: Suzanne Arakawa; Georgina Dodge; Augusto Espiritu, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign; Warren D. Hoffman; Stephen Knadler, Spelman College; Josephine Lee, University of Minnesota; Julia H. Lee; Viet Nguyen, University of Southern California; David Shih, University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire; John Streamas, Washington State University; Pamela Thoma, Colby College; and the editors.

Subject Categories

Asian American Studies
Literature and Drama

In the series

Asian American History and Culture, edited by K. Scott Wong, Linda Trinh Vő, and Cathy Schlund-Vials.

Founded by Sucheng Chan in 1991, the Asian American History and Culture, series has sponsored innovative scholarship that has redefined, expanded, and advanced the field of Asian American studies while strengthening its links to related areas of scholarly inquiry and engaged critique. Like the field from which it emerged, the series remains rooted in the social sciences and humanities, encompassing multiple regions, formations, communities, and identities. Extending the vision of founding editor Sucheng Chan and emeriti editor Michael Omi and David Palumbo-Liu, series editors K. Scott Wong, Linda Trinh Vő, and Cathy Schlund-Vials continue to develop a foundational collection that embodies a range of theoretical and methodological approaches to Asian American studies.


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