Honors Theses

‘There Will Be Fire’: (Re)imagining Vietnamese American citizenship through literature

Author Full Name
Isabella Nguyễn Tilley

Faculty Advisor:

Michelle Dinh

Second Reader:

Roanne Kantor


Informed by the current trend in Asian American studies to question Asian Americans’ and Asian Americanist scholars’ attachments to ‘America,’ this thesis considers how Vietnamese American literature currently contributes to the negotiation and imagination of Vietnamese American citizenship, and the possibilities for this literature to contribute to utopian political projects that imagine a world beyond the U.S. nation-state. In the Introduction, the thesis examines dominant narratives about the Vietnam war to understand Vietnamese American positionality, then analyzes Vietnamese American literature, theorizing that dominant narrative forms (most notably, the ocean-crossing chronotope) have emerged within V.A. literature and problematizing their dominance. The bulk of the thesis is a collection of three original short stories, which are foregrounded with sociopolitical context. The stories explore model minority subject formation and patriarchy, the climate crisis and displacement (and the generic possibility of speculative fiction for Vietnamese American literature), and intergenerational trauma and relationships.

View final Honors Thesis here.