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EADS Fall 2023 Dissertation Workshop: Melissa Karp


Melissa Karp, Ph.D. candidate in Literature

The East Asian and Asian Diaspora Studies (EADS) working group will discuss and share feedback on a working draft of a dissertation chapter, "Sleeping with the Enemy: Queer Collaborators Through and Beyond Caricature," by Melissa Karp, Ph.D. candidate in Literature.

Graduate (PhD and MA) students are welcome to join this in-person conversation. RSVP with your email address and EADS will send Melissa's chapter draft in advance.

About the chapter:

Sleeping with the Enemy: Queer Collaborators Through and Beyond Caricature
This is the third chapter in my dissertation project, which examines the ways collaborators are imagined and circulated in transwar memory narratives throughout France and South Korea. This chapter surveys a variety of works that encode aberrant sexuality as a key trait of collaborators, through whom ethnosexual desires and tensions are acted out. Major works analyzed include the films Hiroshima, mon amour (1959), Hae-eohwa (2016), and Agassi (2016), alongside Chang-rae Lee’s novel A Gesture Life (1999), Yi Kwang-su’s short story Ai ka (1909), Jonathan Littell’s novel Les Bienveillantes (2006), and Jean-Paul Sartre’s essay Qu’est-ce qu’un collaborateur? (1945).

The chapter first excavates the links between collaboration and queerness as pejorative associations meant to pathologize collaborators. I question the caricatures in circulation among these stories that help codify an imagining of collaborators as sexually perverse, lecherous, and submissive yet calculated participants in occupation. My dissertation takes seriously the premise that the way collaborators are imagined does not simply emerge as an organic postwar narrative but is rather co-constructed during and after conflict to reinforce particular nationalist anxieties. Accordingly, this chapter will also draw from works that address colonial intimacy and sexuality (Stoler; Nagel; Fujitani; Virgili). As a counterpoint to these caricatures, the final section of the chapter turns toward narratives where queerness comes to present alternative paths for resistance, recovery, or understanding under occupation.