Dissertation Information for Shirley Jennifer Lim
MPACT Status: Fully Complete
Title: Girls just wanna have fun: The politics of Asian-American women's public culture, 1930-1960
Abstract: In the middle of the twentieth century, mass media, popular periodicals, and recreational activities provided Asian American women powerful initiations into modern American culture. That culture took gendered forms. In this dissertation, "Girls Just Wanna Have Fun: The Politics of Asian American Women's Public Culture, 1930-1960," I examine sites where Asian American women negotiated and formed modern, middle-class, gender-differentiated, identities as strategies for claiming American citizenship. This dissertation analyzes Japanese American, Chinese American, and Filipino American women's cultural practices from 1930 to 1960. During an era of racial segregation, Asian American women challenged the prevalence of European American domination of public culture and standards of femininity, and sought to gain acceptance as Americans. For movie roles as Chinese women, Chinese American actress Anna May Wong competed with European American actresses such as Myrna Loy and Luise Rainier. At the University of California, Los Angeles, the members of the first Asian American sorority in the country, Chi Alpha Delta, fought for equal access to scholarship money and housing. After World War II, Scene magazine depicted cultural practices which exhibited its adherence to American democratic values and to heal wartime hatreds. Chinese Americans and Filipino Americans staged their annual beauty pageants on the Fourth of July to demonstrate American patriotism and ethnic pride to their communities and to the mainstream American public. Given racial segregation and bars to citizenship, that creation of American identity was frequently provisional especially Vis-à-vis mainstream society. However though they could not always convince European Americans, through the practice of appropriate cultural behaviors, Japanese Americans, Filipino Americans, and Chinese Americans constituted themselves as Americans to their own communities. "Girls" shows not only the growth of a national pan-Asian American culture but the formation of global culture.
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