Tran Ngoc Hieu (PhD) is a Lecturer at Hanoi National University of Education. He earned a PhD in Literary Theory in 2012. His research interests include literary theories, contemporary arts, Vietnamese modern literature, and comparative literature. He has contributed to edited volumes, such as Southeast Asian Ecocriticism: Theories, Practices and Prospects (Lexington Books 2018), Environment, Media, and Popular Culture in Southeast Asia (Springer Singapore 2022), and The Palgrave Encyclopedia of Urban Literary Studies (Palgrave 2022). E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
Tran Hoang Kieu Trang teaches Vietnamese Literature at Vinschool Secondary and High School. She received a bachelor’s degree in Philology and Education from Hanoi National University of Education. Her academic interests encompass Vietnamese modern poetry, comparative literature, and translation studies.
Posthuman Writing and Writing Posthumanism in Contemporary Vietnamese Poetry: The Cases of Nguyen Bình Phương and Nguyễn Quyến
Abstract: The concepts of “posthuman” and “posthumanism” are still not popular in the fields of humanities scholarship and artistic creativity in Vietnam. However, if “posthumanism questions how relations between humans and nonhumans operate within the environments where they are assembled” (Clarke and Rossini, 2017), then many aesthetic practices in Vietnam share this concern. This paper analyzes posthumanism in the works of two contemporary Vietnamese poets: Nguyen Bình Phương (born in 1965) and Nguyễn Quyến (born in 1975). The writings of these two notable representatives of Vietnamese poetry in the Reform period demonstrate an effort to break away from the poetics of socialist realism, which had been dominant for a long time, towards a poetics of modernism. The paper shows that posthumanism plays a role in their works, both as an ethical sensibility and an aesthetic ideal. It will first discuss the question: Can posthumanism emerge in the Vietnamese cultural and literary context? Religious and ideological traditions such as Buddhism and Lao Zhuang philosophy, as well as Vietnamese native culture, have many points in common with the current ideas of posthumanism. However, these traditional ideas were suppressed when the ideology of communism dominated. Socialist realism in art and literature amplifies the atheistic ideology of communism and promotes the image of the human as a giant subject. The paper analyzes the posthumanism of Phương and Quyến’s poetry in three aspects: the imagination of the human ego, the poetic representation of nonhumans, and the ghost-like/child-like voices of the lyric subject.
Keywords: posthuman, posthumanism, Vietnamese contemporary poetry, modernism, nonhuman representations