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Embracing the East: White Women and American Orientalism Paperback – November 1, 2002

ISBN-13: 978-0195145342 ISBN-10: 0195145348

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press (November 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0195145348
  • ISBN-13: 978-0195145342
  • Product Dimensions: 9.3 x 6.2 x 0.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 13.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,854,942 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews


"This fine interdisciplinary study incorporates the history of the middle class, art, and literature as it historicizes the ways in which white famles participated in, produced, and benefited from Americans' ambivalent fascination with Japan and China and contributed to the feminization of American orientalism during the Gilded Age. Yoshihara's careful research and nuanced readings of multiple texts...is engaging and provocative, and her analysis of the intersections of gender and race is particularly insightful."--American Historical Review

"A welcome addition to the literature on American Orientalism and imperialism....contributes to a significant discussion about how white women in the United States have enhanced and imperialistic vision and the perpetuation of racial stereotypes."--H-Net Reviews

"Yoshihara's careful research and nuanced readings of multiple texts, particularly in the first two parts of the book, is engaging and provocative, and her analysis of the intersections of gender and race is particularly insightful. This book is a valuable contribution to the history of U.S. women and American orientalism."--American Historical Review

"brings rich and careful analysis to an examination of white women's role in constructing orientalism. Highly original in its approach and extremely suggestive for work in a range of related topics, this book crafts a nuanced analysis of white women's influence in generating and mediating U.S. gendered discourse on Asia."- American Literature

"Yoshihara offers an important gender dimension that is missing from the existing scholarship.... The strength of this book lies in itscareful and nuanced analyses of these texts and figures as well as the cultural circumstances that shaped their creation."-- The Journal of American History

About the Author

Mari Yoshihara is at University of Hawaii, Manoa.

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13 of 17 people found the following review helpful By Jeffery Mingo on August 3, 2004
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Critical legal academics have warned people of "playing the oppression sweepstakes": fighting over which oppressed group is more oppressed. In this work, Dr Mari Yoshihara struggles with that issue as she attempts to flesh out and analyze what happened when fin-de-siecle, class-privileged, white women "embraced the East" or supported and practiced Orientalism.

In this book, Professor Yoshihara (a Brown alumna) jumps genres and mixes mediums. She demonstrates a strong knowledge of how Orientalism impacted business, material art, literature, anthropology, and vice versa. She proves her strong understanding of the histories and cultures of the United States, Japan, and China. This juggling is one of the resons why I love American studies and think the discipline has so much potential. This book continually brings up race, class, and gender simultaneously: Michael Dyson was correct in saying that bell hooks has to stop patting herself on the back for being a scholar able to do this. This was an impressive interdisciplinary book that should be of interest to women's studies majors, Asian Americaninsts, and comparative ethnic studies scholars alike.

On the one hand, a famed white actress who performed in yellowface also helped send nurses to wartorn Japan and A. Smedley applauded Chinese communists for their goals. On the other hand, Amy Lowell excluded Chinese women from her poetry anthology and white female artists purposely portrayed Asian women as submissive and stereotypical. Still, Yoshihara stresses that the women discussed were neither hardened racists or iconic anti-racists. Their success depended on Westerners who wanted to see these images and continues to this day by Asian scholars that are honored by this attention to them and their predecessors.
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4 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Reader on October 15, 2007
Format: Hardcover
The field of transnational cultural and literary studies perhaps gained momentum first in the trans-Atlantic works but seem to have stimulated the publications of some key books in the trans-Pacific arena.

While Yohihara's first book does examine interesting phenomena of white American women writers and authors and their conflicted fascination with East Asia, this is certainly not the book to deserve 5 stars.

In short, Yohihara's book simply lacks the kind of adequate theoretical rigor in order to examine the intersection of love/hate ambivalence, transformative aspect of others' aesthetic cultures and politically priviledged women's urge to violently appropriate them, and the fundamental relations informing these female artists' particular aesthetic experiements and the larger political reality of the US and East Asia.

As a study of literary authors, poets, and artists, the book practically contains no analysis or close reading of aesthetic qualities of these artists' works. For instance, you can read a chapter on Amy Lowell's poems and soon realize that Yoshihara analyzes the content of Lowell's poems but not Lowell's particular poetics. At the end, the book seems to largely give up its attempt to situate these art works/cultural forms in the turbulent history of the Asia Pacific and makes quite amazing assertion that many of these Anglo American artists at least have contributed to promiting positive views of East Asia in America. Well, because it is Said's basic point that even seemingly positive views on other cultures constitute a part of Orientalist apparatus that continutes to buttress the East/West essentialist divide, Yoshihara's thesis at the end of her book on a certain American Orientalism is very unsatisfactory.
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