Through multi-site, multi-media, and multi-language ethnographic and historical research, the author demonstrates that during the twentieth century, as the mainstream definition of Americanness changed from whiteness to assimilation and to ethnic diversity, the meaning of being Chinese evolved. Jinzhao Li demonstrates the shifts that occurred from non-assimilation in the 1910s and Americanization in the 1930s to exoticization in the 1950s-1960s, pan-ethnicization in the 1970s, and localization in the 1990s and 2000s. She focuses on the transformation and self-representation of the Chinese American community through its biggest annual events. Different from many contemporary studies of U.S. ethnic festivals and beauty contests that adopt a white/non-white analytical binary, this book proposes a colonial settler-indigenous triangular model in understanding U.S. racial relations and ethnic self-representation.
The 20th Quarter-Annual Horse Contest is a comedy about two thirty-something men (Jim Lucas and Ron Treland) in the 80's who come together periodically to deepen their long-term friendship through the playing of a basketball game called "HORSE". They have developed their own peculiar way of playing the game, where the object of the game is superseded by the creativity of their playing styles and shot selections. It is more of a creative ritual than a competitive game. The game is continuously "interrupted" (sometimes in real time, mostly not) by Ron's parents, Jim and Ron's high school basketball coach, Jim's college basketball coach, and Jim and Ron's wives. The "interruptions" constitute the evolution of the relationships between Ron, his parents, and his wife, and between Jim, his old coaches and his wife. Ron is caught in his father's business and under the command of his father's crusty personality, whereas Jim is caught in his past high school glories and college failures. Jim's wife, Lynne, is relatively economically and emotionally stable, and this stability is both a source of strength and resentment for Jim, who is less stable in those areas. Ron's wife, Jeannette, is tired of the whole thing and wants Ron to deal with his blustery and obnoxious father and live his own life, but she is unwilling to separate from Ron as he works on his relationship with his father. Jim's high school coach serves as Jim's much valued connection to his glory days in high school and Jim's college coach serves as his hurtful reminder of his failure to sustain a college basketball career. All of these characters impinge upon the personal development of Jim and Ron in both positive and negative ways. Jim and Ron are fearful of doing what they really want to do in life. The basketball game, played out in its own peculiar way, serves not only as means of deepening the friendship between the two men but as a forum for their emotional growth and development. The 20th Quarter-Annual Horse Contest is a fast-moving, scene-shifting, dialogue-overlapping story of how two young men come to terms with their past connections to glory in sport and their current relationships with their wives and family. Though this play transcends realism through its shifting, integrated scenes, it 'plays' realistically. Shifts in time and place are integrated into a whole that 'seems' quite natural.
After the death of his wife, Jhonen Blackwell is content to pass the years of his dotage reading books while anticipating the birth of his great-grandson. When he finds an ancient book buried beneath the dust in the attic of his newly bought home, he soon becomes transfixed by the bizarre Inuit writings and rituals scrawled on the pages between its mildewed, leather-bound covers. He begins reading its dark messages, and he learns how the past can affect the future and how words have great power that can span the ages.
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