Document Type


Date of Degree

Spring 2010

Degree Name

MA (Master of Arts)

Degree In

Comparative Literature

First Advisor

David Wittenberg

First Committee Member

Maryann Rasmussen

Second Committee Member

Steven Ungar


This thesis examines how Chang-rae Lee's A Gesture Life (1999) represents the issues of war crimes. Writing the comfort women issue, Lee handles the bitter history of the Second World War in a postmodernist way. Against the modernist perspective on war history that draws on a simple and moral conclusion, Lee's writing underscores the function of narrative and the influence of trauma in the representation of the war crime. It offers a literary approach to the issue that complicates the role of the perpetrator and the victim, thus distances itself from the common understanding of war crimes. I argue this literary representation of the history of war crimes could be more powerful than historical writings, because it will ultimately challenge the concept of war itself.


Modern Novel, Narrative, The Comfort Women Issue, Trauma, War Crimes (WWII), War Memory


iv, 60 pages


Includes bibliographical references (pages 59-60).


Copyright 2010 Ying-bei Wang