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This chapter examines the way two related genres, science fiction (SF) and the weird, deploy horror to critique the sources and expressions of “American horror” – namely, the dark side of American exceptionalism and the social and environmental consequences of its imperialist projects. The two genres share similar generic genealogies, but they diverge teleologically. SF is built on the assumptions of scientific rationalism and therefore follows an identifiable internal logic, relying on our implicit or explicit belief in the plausibility of the story. The weird, by contrast, is resolutely committed to the inexplicable. Both, however, use horror to disrupt our reliance on realist modes of representation that flatter our epistemological certainties. As such, both SF and the weird have been platforms for colonialist and nationalist imaginations, but both have also been potent vehicles for revealing, resisting, and repairing the brutalities of such imaginations.
Huang and Mendoza’s introduction to the fourth volume of Asian American Literatures in Transition offers a refresher on Lisa Lowe’s formative critical work, Immigrant Acts (1996), published at the beginning of the time period covered in this volume. The authors reframe Lowe’s terms “heterogeneity,” “hybridity,” and “multiplicity” within several watershed moments affecting Asian Americans and other groups in the USA: including the Defense of Marriage Act (1996), the September 11 attacks, the decriminalization of sodomy (2003), the COVID pandemic, and the Black Lives Matter movement. While many of these events exacerbated the vulnerability and precarity of some Asian American groups, the turbulence of the time fueled the Asian American literary imagination as writers in this period drew on more representational strategies for their literary experimentations than in previous periods. This volume covers precisely these tensions: artistic proliferations in the face of injustice, recognition in the face of social erasures, innovation in the face of neoliberal white supremacy’s monopoly on wealth and violence.
This volume examines the concerns of Asian American literature from 1996 to the present. This period was not only marked by civil unrest, terror and militarization, economic depression, and environmental abuse, but also unprecedented growth and visibility of Asian American literature. This volume is divided into four sections that plots the trajectories of, and tensions between, social challenges and literary advances. Part One tracks how Asian American literary productions of this period reckon with the effects of structures and networks of violence. Part Two tracks modes of intimacy – desires, loves, close friendships, romances, sexual relations, erotic contacts – that emerge in the face of neoimperialism, neoliberalism, and necropolitics. Part Three traces the proliferation of genres in Asian American writing of the past quarter century in new and in well-worn terrains. Part Four surveys literary projects that speculate on future states of Asian America in domestic and global contexts.