The Chinese American and Japanese American Experience in Graphic Novels and Visual Narratives
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The place of the Chinese and Japanese immigrants in America has always been in flux, ever-changing and always in competition with one another. When one group was sidelined, the other was favored. This thesis argues that to cope with their unjust treatment in the United States, Chinese and Japanese Americans have turned to the genre of the graphic novel to express personal and group histories, retell events from their perspective, correct the injustices of the past, and work through their collective trauma. This thesis is divided into two chapters, one for each immigrant group. The chapter on Chinese Americans focuses on Gene Luen Yang’s American Born Chinese (2006), David H. T. Wong’s Escape to Gold Mountain: A Graphic History of the Chinese in North America (2012), and The Stanford University Graphic Novel Project’s American Heathen (2015). The chapter on Japanese Americans focuses on Henry Yoshikata Kiyama’s The Four Immigrants Manga: A Japanese Experience in San Francisco, 1904–1924 (1931), Miné Okubo’s Citizen 13660 (1946), and Laura Atkins’ and Stan Yogi’s Fred Korematsu Speaks Up (Fighting for Justice) (2017). As can be observed through the analysis of the works in this thesis, graphic novels are effective tools to discuss controversial subjects such as race, ethnicity and gender. The genre itself is continuously evolving, indicating that it will adapt to deal with serious issues in the future.
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