A study of recent shifts in the depictions of Asian cultural stereotypes
The Tao of S is an engaging study of American racialization of Chinese and Asians, Asian American writing, and contemporary Chinese cultural production, stretching from the nineteenth century to the present. Sheng-mei Ma examines the work of nineteenth-century "Sinophobic" American writers, such as Bret Harte, Jack London, and Frank Norris, and twentieth-century "Sinophiliac" authors, such as John Steinbeck and Philip K. Dick, as well as the movies Crazy Rich Asians and Disney's Mulan and a host of contemporary Chinese authors, to illuminate how cultural stereotypes have swung from fearmongering to an overcompensating exultation of everything Asian. Within this framework Ma employs the Taoist principle of yin and yang to illuminate how roles of the once-dominant American hegemony—the yang—and the once-declining Asian civilization—the yin—are now, in the twenty-first century, turned upside down as China rises to write its side of the story, particularly through the soft power of television and media streamed worldwide.
Sheng-mei Ma, professor of English at Michigan State University, is the author of numerous books, including Off-White and Sinophone-Anglophone Cultural Duet.