Date of Award

2015

Degree Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Graduate Group

English

First Advisor

David L. Eng

Second Advisor

Josephine Park

Abstract

The Korean War (1950-1953) marked a major turning point in matters of race in the United States. One the one hand, the desegregation of the U.S. armed forces during the war inaugurated state-mandated institutional racial integration as a putative path to full and equal citizenship for racial minorities, particularly for African American soldiers and their families. On the other, the lifting of racially exclusive immigration laws signaled changing conceptions of who could become an American citizen at all, paving the way for the mass migration of Asian immigrants in the second half of the twentieth century. The dissertation reads the Korean War as the event that set these twin processes of integration and immigration in motion—processes that transformed the racial order in the post-45 period in the United States. It examines recent and contemporary works of literature by American writers of color, including novels by Ha Jin, Rolando Hinojosa, Chang-Rae Lee, and Toni Morrison, in order to work through the profound but often unthought effects of the Korean War for minority subjects in U.S. culture. Through these readings, the dissertation argues that the Korean War heralded a new mode of liberal inclusion for racial minorities in the United States.

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