This essay identifies a need for a postvisible definition of Asian American literature. Traditionally Asian American literature has been identified by the racial descent of the writer and recognizable “Asian American” content, but such qualifications are no longer sufficient and prompt the question, “But is it Asian American?” In order to theorize a postvisible definition, this essay engages twentieth-century philosophy of art to delineate three distinct approaches to definition in Asian American literary history: a “real” definition in its founding period that pursued exactitude and empiricism in substantiating a new category of art called Asian American literature, to an anti-definition in the 1990s, and to the pluralist, nonnormative definition since 2000 in which identifying a text as Asian American is an exercise in persuasively situating the text within the Asian American literary artworld, not in identifying visibly “detectible” properties.

You do not currently have access to this content.