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M. Butterfly : Poststructuralist Approaches (2)

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M. Butterfly : Poststructuralist Approaches (2)

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  1. M. Butterfly : Poststructuralist Approaches (2) Postmodernism & Poststructuralism Q&A M. Butterfly: Discourses & Subject Positions (M. Foucault) M. Butterfly: Deconstruction Assignments

  2. Postmodernism: Q & A • Do you think that our society with its fast processing of images and news is symptomatic of depthlessness? • What is hyperspace? Is Living Mall a kind of hyperspace? Do you feel lost in it? • How does Jameson characterize & explain postmodernism? How is postmodernism related to poststructuralism?

  3. Post-Structuralism Defined • A theoretic grounding and explanation of postmodern society and postmodernism. • An anti-foundationalist mode of thinking prevalent in the second half of the 20th c. Turns structure into structuration, or différence. • Foundations: • Reality Representation • Man Subject • Truth; History; God, . . ., any kind of Totalization and Center. Différance & Discourse

  4. Poststructuralist critiques of foundations • “Representation” (wk 1)– Re-presentation or realistic presentation is impossible. metafiction (next wk) – Meanings of a text cannot be fixed; must be un-decidable or multiple. Deconstruction • (today)Textualization of Knowledge, Subject and Society e.g. Foucault – Truth is provisional. – Subjects are fragmentary. – Society is a network of discourses.

  5. M. Butterfly: Possible Poststructuralist Approaches • representation & identity: Its use of meta-theatrical devices to present how gender and racial identities are constructed. • Parody of Madame Butterfly by exposing the play of power in the characters’ role play. • Subject Positions & Competing Discourses. (Foucault & Orientalism)

  6. Identity Construction Roles = Clothes = Identity? • Costume change on the stage: 9, 14 (Marc), 86-87 • Renee: We fight wars because we wear clothes. P. 55  We assume different positions of power. • Undressing: Gallimard not undressing Song. 60 -- Is there truth underneath clothes? Or is clothing a part of identity? -- Does Gallimard turns to love Song at the end of Scene 6. What’s the “something new, something unnatural, . . . Something very close to love”?

  7. From Language to Discourse: M. Foucault 1) Truth is provisional; constructed within a certain discourse, or “regime of truth.” e.g. Orientalism 2) Subjects are fragmentary (positions). 3) Society is a network of discourses. (Our course: Language Forms Race) discourse

  8. P. 26 – 27 Values: Rules about the “sayable” and “thinkable”; the good and the bad; Authority of knowledge, and exclusion of other statements Practices within institutions in their historical circumstances Orientalism – a system of knowledge provided by some authorities (e.g. traveler); institutions –Oriental Studies, publishers, government, import/export companies, etc. History – changes of international relationship. e.g. Changing constructions of the Japanese. Elements of a Discourse (1)

  9. p. 55 – 56 Foucault 1). Hierarchy of Position; 2). “Other” as a subject positions. (e.g. Butterfly) Orientalism: experts; in-betweeners; the exotic The West as Man, Savior; The Orient as Woman and backward/wicked Elements of a Discourse (2): Subject Position (Note: two ideas of subject: 1. Conscious & autonomous subject; 2. Subject to someone else’s control. )

  10. Discourse Theory: Application to M. Butterfly • 1. M. Butterflychanges history to make itself a critique of Oriental Woman. • 2. M. in a network of discourses: • Private: competing discourses. • Public: Colonial and communist discourses in context • Public: related discourses

  11. M. Butterfly: critique of the discourse of Orientalism A. Transformation of a historical event into a parody of Madame Butterfly, which is part of the discourse of Oriental Woman. 1) History of Bernard Bouriscot and Shi Peipu –differences from M. Butterfly (source: 20/20) -- Six months after their friendship, Shi Peipu said he was not the man he appeared to be, but was a woman in disguise as a man.  M. Butterfly: the tradition of Chinese opera. -- BB no previous sexual experience; M. Butterfly relates his desire to male voyeurism;

  12. Turning History into a critique of Oriental Woman (2) -- BB more active: stayed in China twice: left China in 1966, went back four years later to search for Shi and their son. -- BB more implicated in China: because he was obsessed with being able to continue to see Peipu, Bernard began smuggling secret documents out of the French embassy and bringing them to the two Communist Party officials. (in China) [less power play among the French]  M. Butterfly: --Butterfly’s return to the empire; -- historical junctures: Cultural revolution  Vietnam war May Revolution in 1968 France

  13. Turning History into a critique of Oriental Woman (3) -- After B. is summoned back to France, he had affairs with women, but he also realized he was sexually attracted to men.  M. Butterfly: G concentrates on his ideal woman. -- 1982, Shi visited Paris with his son. -- 1986 caught because of their spy acts.

  14. Competing Versions of Fiction • Song: ironic overtones: pp. 30; 41; 51; 63 • 3) Song’s intrusion: pp. 47(scene 4); 63 (Scene 7),67, 78-79 G: “I am a man who love a woman created by a man.” G as an author 4) Final switching of roles: Song: -- “theatre of China” 85 -- stripping to take another role -- “ a man, and not just a man.” -- your fantasy -- “Butterfly? Butterfly?”

  15. Competing Fictions outside the play BERNARD BOURSICOT: And instead of beating him, I told, “But I want to see.” And he told, “Oh, it does not matter, no problem.” And he took his pants down and he told me, “You can see.” And a week after, I wanted to die, because I was thinking, “Okay, now I am not only a prisoner, not only a spy, but a foolish person.” B: . . . there is the theory that you were homosexual all those years ago, but couldn't face it, and so you allowed yourself to be deceived. How do you answer that? BERNARD BOURSICOT: It is possible, but it's not the sole explanation.

  16. Competing Fictions (5): P’s version BARBARA WALTERS: Just a friend? SHI PEIPU:(through interpreter) Of course. BARBARA WALTERS: Nothing more? SHI PEIPU: (through interpreter)Yes, but there is no use talking about it. It's over. It's over. BARBARA WALTERS: How did you meet Monsieur Boursicot? SHI PEIPU: (through interpreter)I have forgotten, and besides, I don't speak about him anymore. BARBARA WALTERS: Did you ever tell Monsieur Boursicot that you were a woman? SHI PEIPU: (through interpreter)He said that? I don't think so. I'm not crazy like that.

  17. Setting Orientalism in Context: Authorities/”God” in Politics Challenged • The story—set in 1960-1970 in Beijin; 1966 - (1968)-- 1986 in Paris; Why?Connecting sexual politics to (Inter-)national politics  time of wars & revolutions Traces of public history in M. Butterfly: -- the play of power between Toulon and Gallimard (Toulon being the “God”?—transcendental signifier) -- e.g. changes of power of Comrade Chin & Song as an artist; Scene 10 –11 (Chairman Mao)

  18. Official history: Colonizers and Asia Historical Background  the subversion of several authorities -- Cultural revolution -- 1966-1976; fixed roles -- Vietnam War : History: 1860 – French colonization started, followed by Japan during WWII; After WWII ~ 1955: France fought hard to regain their former territories without success. 1954-- the country divided into North and South

  19. History and Fiction : Official history 1955 -- the U.S.’s involvement 1961-- support forces arriving since then, Nov. 1963-- President Diem overthrown and executed. 1965 -- US intense bombing started, 1969 -- US’s withdrawal started, 1973 –total withdrawal May 1975 -- the fall of Saigon. France:May 68: France's month of revolution -- a week of clashes there between extreme right wing groups and students campaigning against the Vietnam War. (More strikes and demonstration followed)

  20. Reality: interracial marriages between white men and non-white women Discourse 1 (e.g. Suzie Wong, Pocahontas in Hollywood films and fictions) White men: promises of freedom of choice; progress and material prosperity; Women: Cinderella-like transformation into “American” (Marchetti 117) Related Discourses of Orientalism • Society is a network of discourses “White knight” in romantic love: [Romantic love – spiritual transcendence, against social stigma.] The male lover – worthy of woman’s submission and self-sacrifice. (Marchetti 110)

  21. Deconstruction • Binaries Subverted or Made Undecidable 1) self = Dress/Body/Mind, 2) Reality/Fantasy, 3) Communism/Capitalism, 4) Male/Female (Madame/Monsieur), East/West, Cunning & Wicked Asian (Fu Man Chou or Dragon Lady)/Submissive Woman (China Doll) * Only subverted? Do we still have the stereotypes of Asian – as cunning and manipulative, and West –as idealistic, trusting and misinformed? * the final un-decidable: “M”

  22. Deconstruction • Hwang wants to create a “deconstructivist Madame Butterfly.” • Butterfly as a floating sign, to be possessed in different ways by Gallimard and Song. Binaries: White man Oriental Woman Gallimard Song Gallimard & Song ? Gallimard/Butterfly Song/Butterfly “I am a man who love a woman created by a man.” Creating his own love object  becoming his own object.

  23. Reference: • “THE STRANGEST LOVE STORY OF ALL - THE REAL M BUTTERFLY.” Program script. ABC’s 20/20, segment #02. Anchor: Barbara Walters. Date: Aug 12, 1994. • Marchetti, Gina. Romance and the “Yellow Peril”: Race, Sex, and Discursive Strategies in Hollywood Fiction (U of California P, 1993)

  24. Assignments: • Poststructuralism (1): Deconstruction • Postmodern Taiwanese poems “我把一條河弄丟了”(p. 125﹚ and/or 夏宇的詩