A Vietnamese's Looking Glass for America: Spectatorship & Representation in Viet Thanh Nguyen's The Sympathizer and Lan Cao's Monkey Bridge Open Access

Pham, Gloria (Summer 2020)

Permanent URL: https://etd.library.emory.edu/concern/etds/jh343t43q?locale=en


Given the monumental role that film and media have played in reshaping the global perspective of the Vietnam War, it is undeniable that the western gaze exerts an impact upon its subjects that renders them inhuman prior to any physical threat, thus justifying the ongoing function of the war machine. However, while acknowledging the disproportionate power of the American culture industry, it is also essential to recognize that spectatorship is not a one-way relation. This thesis examines how Viet Thanh Nguyen’s The Sympathizer and Lan Cao’s Monkey Bridge subvert the paradigm of western voyeurism by critiquing representations of representations and employing the motif of dreams, illusions, and hallucinations. In so doing, both Nguyen and Cao restitute agency to the Vietnamese, whose subjecthood is so often effaced in American-produced narratives of the war. 

Table of Contents

Table of Contents

INTRODUCTION………….                                                                                            8

I.                   UNDER THE GAZE                                                                                18                  

II.                 IMAGINING A WAY OUT                                                                        45

III.               WOMEN, ARTIFICE, & FORM                                                               68

CONCLUSION    ……………                                                                                         78

BIBLIOGRAPHY  ……………                                                                                        80           

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