Date of Degree


Document Type

Capstone Project

Degree Name



Liberal Studies


Nancy K. Miller

Subject Categories

American Literature | American Studies | Arts and Humanities | Asian American Studies | Creative Writing | English Language and Literature | Ethnic Studies | Feminist, Gender, and Sexuality Studies | Literature in English, North America | Literature in English, North America, Ethnic and Cultural Minority | Nonfiction


life writing


“If a woman is going to write a Book of Peace, it is given her to know devastation” – Maxine Hong Kingston, The Fifth Book of Peace.

I do not believe I know devastation. I think to be devastated means one has to experience extreme pain, and live in the aftermath of trauma. I think of this in terms of war, famine, and immigration. A little self-reflection shows that in the twenty-something years of my life, I have not encountered any of the three things listed.

What I do recall, however, is the first time I picked up Maxine Hong Kingston’s memoir, The Woman Warrior. It was the first time I had read a text written by an Asian American author about an Asian American girl. The sense of attachment between reader and text was immediate; I was captivated by the narrative. Kingston writes about the experience of familial loss because of immigration, and it is a story about one girl’s recovery. As someone who claims not to have experienced devastation, I too, though, have lost parts of myself because of family history. This capstone project is a part experimental, part autobiographical piece that traces my memory of what it was like to grow up Asian American in New York City. I draw connections between my life experiences with those of the narrator from Woman Warrior. Some key themes include oral history, haunting, and family.