History/GWS 249 Reading Guide


Asian American Immigrant Women

  • Judy Yung, Chapter 3: “First Steps: The Second Generation, 1920s,” in Unbound Feet:  A Social History of Chinese Women in San Francisco (1995), 106-125. (e-reserve)

Text:

  • Maxine Hong Kingston, The Woman Warrior:  Memoirs of a Girlhood Among Ghosts (1976), “No Name Woman,” “White Tigers.”

Questions:

  • How does Yung describe the expectations and the experiences of second-generation Chinese American women between 1900 and 1940?  How does she describe the cultural dilemma they faced?
  • What distinction does Yung draw between acculturation and assimilation?
  • In particular, what cultural conflicts and identity dilemmas did second-generation Chinese American face in their homes?  What three patterns of response to the conflict over gender roles does Yung describe?
  • In 1976, who did Kingston envision as her reading audience?  For whom did she write her "memoirs of a girlhood among ghosts"?
  • With what issues is Kingston grappling, of what she was trying to make sense?  In recounting, retelling, revising her mother’s stories, what is Kingston trying to achieve?
  • What message did her Chinese heritage—as her mother presented it—offer Kingston about women, and about their options?
  • What guidance did her mother give her about girlhood, and growing into womanhood?