Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name


Organizational Unit

College of Arts Humanities and Social Sciences, English and Literary Arts

First Advisor

Joanna Howard

Second Advisor

Bin Ramke

Third Advisor

Patrick Cottrell

Fourth Advisor

Jennifer Pap


Creative writing, Literature


The creative component of this dissertation is a collection of short prose that investigates the longing for the self, the longing for another, and the longing for connection between the self and another during periods of mourning and transition. Hot Fruit, though vocally, stylistically, and perspectivally fragmented, finds its unification through attention to the minute, the quotidian, and the domestic. It likewise attends to small actions performed as acts of care, empathy, and discovery, foregrounding the minor exchange or the minor memory as a means of understanding. Transracial adoptee and Asian American identities; food, ritual, and home; potentiality and impossibility; immigration and acculturation; financial precarity in proximity to wealth; familial loss and parental estrangement; unstable memory; and empathetic, poetic hybridity underpin this manuscript. Though Hot Fruit is not an auto-fictional collection, the project draws from my personal experiences as a Korean American adoptee, as a person actively searching for her birth parents, as a person living in the wake of her adoptive father’s recent death, and as a person whose identity often feels unmoored, unstable, and hybrid. The pieces in this collection constellate the sensations of this hybridity: the in-betweenness of Asian Americanness, of the adoptee experience, and of the desire to understand that which is inherently unknowable—an ultimately empathetic act, upon which I elaborate within my critical apparatus.

The critical apparatus first presents an account of post-1960s Asian American avant-gardism and its relationship to appositional experimental movements (e.g., the Black Arts Movement, Language poetry) to explicate Asian American avant-gardism’s complicated fomentation—one that disallows for a truly unified Asian American experimental aesthetic. I argue that despite the relative impossibility of articulating a cohesive contemporary Asian American experimental aesthetic, poetic poly-subjectivity loosely binds together much of the Asian American avant-garde writing I examine. To further elucidate the mechanisms of this poly-subjective tradition, I account for Mei-mei Berssenbrugge’s fraught relationship with ‘I’ as it relates to the self, concluding that her want for subject-object indistinguishability speaks to a sentimentality of place: a longed-for connection to an impossible site of belonging. It is this sentimentality that enacts Berssenbrugge’s spatialized empathy.

Publication Statement

Copyright is held by the author. User is responsible for all copyright compliance.

Rights Holder

Erinrose Mager


Received from ProQuest

File Format




File Size

212 pgs


Literature, Creative writing