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With the publication of her first novel in 1990, writer/performer Jessica Hagedorn emerged onto the national literary scene in the midst of U.S. culture wars. The era’s two critical currents of liberal multiculturalism and postcolonial studies impacted how scholars and readers figured Hagedorn’s authorial voice—as multicultural and hybrid, postmodern but never also postcolonial—in relationship to cultural authenticity. Chapter 3 listens against common tropes of authorial voice in order to hear Hagedorn’s early writing and performances with her poet’s band, The Gangster Choir, and performance trio, Thought Music. Following Hagedorn’s artistic route from post-World War II Manila to 1970s San Francisco to 1980s downtown New York, this chapter reckons with authorial voice as collaborative and improvised, evidence of migrations and places, and both a portrait of an artist as well as a fan.

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