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Modeling Citizenship: Jewish and Asian American Writing

Cathy Schlund-Vials

Publication Year: 2011

Navigating deftly among historical and literary readings, Cathy Schlund-Vials examines the analogous yet divergent experiences of Asian Americans and Jewish Americans in Modeling Citizenship. She investigates how these model minority groups are shaped by the shifting terrain of naturalization law and immigration policy, using the lens of naturalization, not assimilation, to underscore questions of nation-state affiliation and sense of belonging.

Modeling Citizenship examines fiction, memoir, and drama to reflect on how the logic of naturalization has operated at discrete moments in the twentieth century. Each chapter focuses on two exemplary literary works. For example, Schlund-Vials shows how Mary Antin's Jewish-themed play The Promised Land is reworked into a more contemporary Chinese American context in Gish Jen's Mona in the Promised Land.

In her compelling analysis, Schlund-Vials amplifies the structural, cultural, and historical significance of these works and the themes they address.

Published by: Temple University Press

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pp. vii-ix

First and foremost, I owe an enormous debt of gratitude to Janet Francendese and the editorial staff at Temple University Press. Without Janet's willingness to see the early manuscript's potential and her guidance through multiple revisions, this book would have remained buried in a Microsoft Office folder labeled "future projects." Amanda Steele was...

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Preface: Modeling Citizenship and Modeled Selfhood

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pp. xi-xix

As 1980 came to a close, the third week of December witnessed the cinematic premier of Richard Fleischer's remake of The Jazz Singer at New York City's Ziegfeld Theater.1 Carrying the provocative tagline "Sometimes you have to risk it all," the 1980 version marked Jewish American singer/songwriter Neil Diamond's film debut.2 Like its 1927 Al Jolson...

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Introduction: Perpetual Foreigners and Model Minorities: Naturalizing Jewish and Asian Americans

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pp. 1-19

Two years after the first Persian Gulf War, Robert Olen Butler's A Good Scent from a Strange Mountain was awarded the 1993 Pulitzer Prize in fiction.1 Centered on Vietnamese refugees, Butler's debut collection of fifteen short stories was praised by critics for its revision of a then-established Vietnam War script. As New York Times reviewer George...

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1. "Who May Be Citizens of the United States": Citizenship Models in Edith Maude Eaton and Abraham Cahan

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pp. 20-51

Four years after California was granted "free soil" statehood, a seemingly innocuous article appeared in the December 6, 1854, issue of the German Reformed Messenger, a weekly Chambersberg, Pennsylvania paper. Placed among alarmist reports of "An Immense Subterranean Lake in Michigan," touristic accounts of "Bird-Egging on the...

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2. Interrupted Allegiances: Indivisibility and Transnational Pledges

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pp. 52-85

On December 21, 1898, following the fin-de-si├Ęcle U.S. victory in the Spanish-American War, President William McKinley addressed American citizens at home and newly annexed Filipino subjects abroad. The twenty-fifth commander-in-chief maintained that American forces came "not as invaders or conquerors, but as friends, to protect the...

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3. Utopian and Dystopian Citizenships: Visions and Revisions of the "Promised Land"

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pp. 86-122

As the 1912 presidential campaign moved into full swing, the "party of Lincoln" faced a crisis of divisive proportions. On the national stage, the conservative probusiness agenda of Republican incumbent William Howard Taft was pitted against the reform-minded antitrust philosophy of former president Theodore Roosevelt, also a Republican. In an...

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4. Reading and Writing America: Bharati Mukherjee's Jasmine and Eva Hoffman's Lost in Translation

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pp. 123-151

At 9:28 p.m. on July 3, 1986, President Ronald Reagan addressed an exuberant crowd assembled on New York's Governors Island. At the president's side was First Lady Nancy Reagan (an Empire State native), festively clothed in red and white. Standing behind a podium emblazoned with the presidential seal, the former California governor wore subdued...

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5. Demarcating the Nation: Naturalizing Cold War Legacies and War on Terror Policies

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pp. 152-175

Despite the war's traumatic resonance within U.S. national memory, the April 7 crash received scant media attention due to another event in the South China Sea. Six days prior to the Hanoi crash and 297 miles away, a U.S. Navy surveillance plane collided with a Chinese military jet over Hainan Island in the People's Republic of China.3 Labeled in major...

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Epilogue: "A Sense of Loss and Anomie": Model Minorities and Twenty-First-Century Citizenship

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pp. 177-184

In July 2010, Time magazine published an op-ed authored by Jewish American cultural critic and sometimes-comedian Joel Stein entitled "My Own Private India."1 Focused on shifting demographics in a post- 1965 Hart-Cellar Act America, "My Own Private India" commences with nominal and thematic allusions to Gus Van Sant's dystopic film...


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pp. 185-206


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pp. 207-214


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pp. 215-224

E-ISBN-13: 9781439903193

Publication Year: 2011