(Dis)orienting exile: home and belonging in queer Armenian-American
Cachoian-Schanz, Deanna Marie (2016) (Dis)orienting exile: home and belonging in queer Armenian-American. [Thesis]
Addressing the lacuna of critical work on queer literature in the Armenian transnation, this thesis serves to trace its genealogy. Based primarily on close textual analysis of Arlene Avakian’s Lion Woman’s Legacy and Nancy Agabian’s Me As Her Again, this literary inquiry explores the articulations of exile experienced by queer Armenian- American women’s memoir. Conceptualizing ‘Diaspora’ as a space of movement and (dis)articulation, I problematize its acute nationaist rhetoric that writes nation/home and bodies as a sites of stability. How does transnational heteropatriachal discourse assign women’s bodies to heteronormative reproductive roles that regulate normative gendered/sexual identities? How might this echo the contours of land claim discourse? Who do these hegemons exclude, how do they operate, and within what limits? How does the queer Armenian woman present a particular challenge to this hegemon and its inheritance? How might queerness already align with notions of Diaspora and exile, inscribing flux instead of stability as characteristic of the Armenian diasporic home? Further, is it possible that a queer analysis of Armenian diasporic literature that addresses diasporic mourning and instability, may assist in ushering a new era of production, potentiality and futurity for pluralities in Armenian history and identity production? Through textual exegesis, aesthetic considerations and psychosexual identity (de)construction via language, storytelling and inheritance, I address these questions, arguing that both memoirs are integral in beginning to resist the reproduction of the above monoliths, opening up possibilities for the modes in which Armenian literature and other genres in the transnation are read.
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