Advisor(s) - Committee Chair
Frank Steele, Elizabeth Oakes, Joseph Survant
Department of English
Master of Arts
In my investigation of Li-Young Lee's poetry, my concerns were two-fold: first, to find evidence of an androgynous quality or ideal; secondly, to demonstrate that ideal as authentically feminist. In the introduction, I investigate the feminist debate about the traditional definition and concept of androgyny, demonstrating the difference between the patriarchal traditional androgyny and the androgynous elements in Lee's poetry.
In Chapter Two, the rose as image and as symbol in Lee's poetry is examined and found to be strikingly androgynous as a symbol. As an image, however, it is more often than not used as a vehicle to describe the destructive nature of social tyrannies such as the patriarchal symbolic order.
In Chapter Three, Lee's heavy implications of an existing "other" is examined. This examination is particularly pertinent when considering the feminist debate, since one of the major problems with the idea of androgyny is that it often necessitates a binary thought system in which the male is usually the "one" and the female is usually the "other." In Lea's poetry, I found no significant evidence of that kind of phallocentricism; rather, I found substantial evidence that Lee's poetry demonstrates the destructiveness of insisting on any being's otherness. Lee's search for identity, and for the meaning of personal identity, involves the acceptance of the mutability of identity.
In conclusion, although I don't find androgyny to be authentically feminist, I find Lee's poetry--and its particular use of an androgynous ideal--to be authentically feminist.
Arts and Humanities | Chinese Studies | East Asian Languages and Societies | Feminist, Gender, and Sexuality Studies | Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Studies | South and Southeast Asian Languages and Societies | Women's Studies
Qualls, Barbara, "The Poetry of Li-Young Lee: Identity, Androgyny & Feminism" (1993). Masters Theses & Specialist Projects. Paper 2737.