Kai Zhang

Publication Date


Document Type


First Advisor

Giles, James Richard, 1937-

Degree Name

Ph.D. (Doctor of Philosophy)

Legacy Department

Department of English


Jen; Gish--Criticism and interpretation; Chin; Frank; 1940---Criticism and interpretation; Lee; Gus--Criticism and interpretation; Kingston; Maxine Hong--Criticism and interpretation; Masculinity in literature


White society's stereotypes of emasculated Chinese American men are a consequence of the politically, historically, and culturally enforced "feminization" of Chinese American men in American society. To correct the skewed image of Chinese American men, both male and female Chinese American writers endeavor to reconstruct Chinese American masculinity. This dissertation thematically studies how Chinese American male and female writers reconfigure Chinese American male figures and redefine Chinese American masculinity. While many critics are limited by gender, cultural, and racial dualism, this dissertation offers close readings and critical analyses of male characters in Maxine Hong Kingston's China Men, Frank Chin's Donald Duk, Gish Jen's Typical American, and Gus Lee's Honor and Duty from the perspective of gender and cultural negotiation. It does not attempt to discover an idealized paradigm of Chinese American manhood that can appeal to feminists or nationalists or both. Rather, demonstrating the heterogeneous characteristics of Chinese American manhood requires regarding them as individuals with different qualities of manhood, placing them into various social contexts, and locating them in the "ups" as well as the "downs" in their lives. Since manhood is not static, but constantly changing and is socially, historically, and personally constructed, I position the subjects in the interlaced categories of ethnicity, gender, class, family, generation, sexuality, and various social contexts. The study manifests the fluidity and heterogeneity of masculinity and demonstrates that Chinese American men are changing in their efforts to participate in gender and culture negotiation.


Includes bibliographical references (pages [176]-183).


183 pages




Northern Illinois University

Rights Statement

In Copyright

Rights Statement 2

NIU theses are protected by copyright. They may be viewed from Huskie Commons for any purpose, but reproduction or distribution in any format is prohibited without the written permission of the authors.

Media Type