Anthony Principe-Contreras Humanities and Social Science
Found Identity: A Study of Ocean Vuong's "On Earth We're Briefly Gorgeous"
My research focuses on Ocean Vuong’s 2019 novel “On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous.” Vuong incorporates the epistolary form–narrated by his protagonist, Little Dog, to his mother–to elucidate how Little Dog explores his identity in 21st-century New England as the son of a Vietnamese immigrant. My research will consider how Vuong’s novel integrates scholarship from post-colonial studies, queer and gender studies, and most notably, studies of the novel form. By examining the novel through this diversified lens, I will argue that its contents mimics the social conditions we see in America today and how its ethics creates an affective location for future readers to judge its success. Because the novel involves experiences of Little Dog’s exploration of his sexuality, masculinity, hereditary trauma, and the American-immigrant experience, the novel carries political weight and allows for a reexamination of what we expect from “The Great American novel.” This process will develop into how the novel can be utilized as a form of ethical inquiry and how it becomes a product of the culture.