This book provides a psychoanalytic reading of Asian American texts, particularly focusing on the affect of traumatic enjoyment. It defines traumatic enjoyment as a translation of Jacques Lacan’s “jouissance”, a violent yet blissful shattering of the self. Lacanian psychoanalysis offers alternative epistemologies and ethics regarding the concept of power, in relation to how Asian American domestic narratives reveal tropes of the racial “other” as inhuman. These tropes are viewed as figures that threaten the boundaries of human and elicit the trauma of jouissance for the normative national subject. The chapter cites Jessica Hagedorn’s poem “Ming the Merciless” in explaining the concepts of traumatic enjoyment, the racial inhuman, and the domestic. Asian American domestic formations can be interpreted as signs of America’s relationship to its national fantasies, and to the jouissance that both threatens and underlies these fantasies.
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