C. (Tracy) Lee MA

  • Guest PhD student (2007, supervisor prof.dr. E.J. van Alphen)
  • Literary Studies

Fields of interest

  • Postcolonial and minority literature
  • Ghosts
  • Specters
  • Space
  • Language and the role of medium


Working title of project:
Ghosts Here and There: Spectral Resistance and Dialogue in Postcolonial Literature

Concerning the relationship between ghost/specter and trendy issues like time, space and language, my proposed research focuses on the concept of spectrality and the role of medium in the reimagining of a dialogic society in postcolonial literature. By way of comparative study I aim to explore how spectrality, especially referring to the metaphor of ghost, acts as resistance to the constructed discourses and ideology in different contexts. Compared to the discussion of how people create ghosts through repression, prejudice and self-alienation, this project mainly concerns the alternative concept embedded in spectrality. Drawing on theories of postmodernism, postcolonialism, psychoanalysis and feminist criticism, I will discuss what spectral time, space and language are and how they are presented as subversive potentials against the dominant ideology and oppressed society. In addition, I will carefully inquire the role of a medium in the interaction with different forms of spectrality. The aim of this thesis is to figure out some literary and figurative strategies for establishing a dialogic society where the prevailing stereotypes of the self and other, the concept of unity and order, are destabilized through reconsideration of the critical potential of ghost and medium.

Chapter 1 -Spectral Time and the Haunting of the Repressed In the first part of this project, I will examine the critical potentials of a ghost in terms of time, its repetition or its haunting of the past, present and future. Based on Derridas Hauntology, I will devote this chapter to the investigation of how the haunting of ghosts and the repressed memory deconstruct the established authority, stereotypes, hierarchy, and identity and how it challenges the official history and knowledge. By applying theories of the relationship between time, specter and justice to my close reading of various postcolonial novels, I will discuss how the haunting of the ghosts that takes different forms such as the resurrection of a ghost, the revenge of the oppressed or the return of the erased past relates to the deconstruction of the fixed ideology and the coming of the justice. In other words, I will suggest the repetition or haunting endows the ghosts the rebellious spirit against any forms of injustice, and direct readers attention to the critical potential of Other in terms of time.

Chapter 2 -Spectral Space and the Crossing of the Identity In this chapter, I would like to probe how the concept of spectral space is represented and becomes productive in deconstruction of rigid geographical and national boundary or identity forced on human beings in postcolonial novels. By stimulating discussions of the connection between specter and space, I will first explore how one can combine the two ideas together to create a geographical and discursive space that shares the deviant spirit of the specter of the other. By applying Derridas hauntology, Foucaults idea of heterotopias, Mbembes argument of ghosts terror, I will demonstrate that spectral space at least includes space of heterogeneous time, space of fluidity and space of uncanny. Besides, I will elaborate how they deconstruct temporal, geographical and discursive boundaries and free people from a time-bound, place-bound or socially constructed identity. In other words, the main purpose of the chapter is to analyse how spectral space occupies a problematic site to the fixed hierarchy and hegemonic discourses and functions as an artists fictional strategy for drawing attention to the ideological rift within a given society.

Chapter 3 -Spectral Language and the Disruption of the Hegemony The third chapter will be devoted to the discussion about the specter's language and its subversive power to the injustice and symbolic order (a form of violence) in three minority woman writers works, including Toni Morrison's Beloved, Maxine Hong Kingston's The Woman Warrior and Joy Kogawa's Obasan. The main concern is to investigate how the figure of other provides a means to rewrite the history and reconstruct ones ethnic identity. What kinds of alternative languages do a ghost of the other use to manifest itself and how do they function in revision of language, memory and identity? Putting the questions in a more specific way, I will divide the chapter into two major parts. The first part deals with the relations between the construction of narratives and the historical/individual silence. The second part explores what is the language of ghosts. By demonstrating an ambiguous role the silence and fragmented voices of the ghosts play in the novels, I will suggest that the language of ghost is a language of both sounds and silence, which includes the language of madness and the language of uncanny silence. Besides, I will show how these alternative ghostly languages that own the open-ended and communal qualities challenge the established hierarchy embedded in the master narratives and reconstruct the Self.

Chapter 4 -Works of Medium in Dialogic World In this chapter, I will raise questions about how to approach the ghost of the other when they usually appear in a horrified, irrational or obscure way. How can people recognize and enter the spectral spaces? Is there a kind of bridge between the worlds of the living and the dead, who is able to interpret the messages from the absent present and enact in the communication between the self and the other? Through a careful analysis of two South African postcolonial novels, including J.M. Coetzee's Waiting for the Barbarians and Zakes Mda's The Heart of Redness, I will explore the definition of a medium and two different ways in which he or she plays a role as a spokesman or interpreter of the otherness inhabited in spectral time, space and language to provoke the dialogue between binary domains and redefine the boundary, subjectivity and history in a coming dialogic society.

Key publications

  • Lee, Chia-Sui. "Ghost's Language and the Recreation of Identity in Toni Morrison's Beloved, Maxine Hong Kingston's The Woman Warrior and Joy Kogawa's Obasan." New Academia: An International Journal of English Language, Literature and Literary Theory 4.1 (2015): 137-49.
  • Lee, Chia-sui. "Haunting  Effects of Spectral Spaces  in Postcolonial Literature." JELLiC 3.1 (2014)
  • Lee, Chia-sui. "Towards a Dialogic World: Mediums at Work in Post/Colonial South Africa."  Cross-cultural Studies 1.11 (2014): 23-42
  • Lee, Chia-Sui. "The Magistrate as the Passive Medium in J.M. Coetzee's Waiting for the Barbarians."  Fiction and Drama 23.1 (2013): 23-43
  • "Spectral Space and Boundary Crossing in Postcolonial Literature", in Annual Journal of Taiwanese Society of Young Scholars for Humanities and Social Siences (2008)

Last Modified: 10-12-2015