Janna Odabas

PhD Candidate

Lansstraße 5-9
14195 Berlin

Ghostliness in Contemporary Asian American Literature (Working Title)


Although the last two decades have seen a new emphasis on the ghost in literary as well as scholarly publications, the relevance of Asian American literature in connection to this phenomenon has largely been ignored. It is this deficit that my dissertation project addresses.

My project focuses on the various ghostly presences that haunt contemporary Asian American literature to complicate their readings. In contrast to interpretations of these presences as mere ethnic ornamentation, my project focuses on the ghostly figures themselves on the level of the plot as well as narration. In connecting them to discourses of memory and history, I want to show how they are figures that address not only aspects of ethnicity– as critics have tended to read them – but allow for broader readings as well. In a similar vein, I question the tacit identification of ghosts with femininity. By reading the ghosts in and against their respective traditions – the Western/American, the Asian and especially the Asian American – I hope to emphasize their diversity and ambiguity. In close readings of these presences in the texts, I expect to find not only very different kinds of ghosts but also various underlying discourses. Emphasizing the ambiguity and contradictions of the ghostly figures, I argue that they appear in contexts of unsettled (dis)possessions of (hi)stories, memories, and spaces.


Dahlem Research School
Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft