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postgraduate thesis: Constructed meanings and contesting voices : the Opium War in archival, historical and fictional Anglophone narratives

TitleConstructed meanings and contesting voices : the Opium War in archival, historical and fictional Anglophone narratives
Authors
Advisors
Advisor(s):Ho, EYL
Issue Date2014
PublisherThe University of Hong Kong (Pokfulam, Hong Kong)
Citation
Kelly, R. O.. (2014). Constructed meanings and contesting voices : the Opium War in archival, historical and fictional Anglophone narratives. (Thesis). University of Hong Kong, Pokfulam, Hong Kong SAR. Retrieved from http://dx.doi.org/10.5353/th_b5270541
AbstractThis thesis explores the ways in which the Opium War has been represented in both non-fictional and fictional Anglophone narratives. It looks at the construction of various 19th century discourses surrounding this historical event and the different meanings it has been endowed with through such discourses. It then examines the ways in which some of those meanings have been challenged in more recent accounts. The purpose of this thesis is to show how and why certain ideas are constructed and propagated, and how these in turn can be questioned, challenged and reinterpreted, giving us a wider perspective, and thus better understanding, of the said event. The study is divided into two parts: non-fiction and fiction. The non-fiction section includes two chapters on the discourses of the Opium War, one on translation and one on historical texts while the second section focuses on two contemporary fictional narratives of the Opium War. Chapters one and two are based on a selection of 19th century archival documents and constitute a discussion of the discourses that have been formed around the Opium War in five specific fields: political, economic, religious, medical and legal. An analysis of these discourses will show them to be part of a larger sinophobic discourse that constructed China as Britain’s cultural inferior around the time of the conflict. To view the Opium War in terms of cultural encounter requires a discussion of translation. Chapter three investigates the role and importance of translation and translators in creating and/ or sustaining the meanings created by these various discourses. Chapter four is an analysis of two more recent historical narratives: one a history of opium, the other a history of the Opium War. These texts contribute to an expanded understanding of the 19th century conflict as they offer different and more contemporary meanings with regard to the war that partly challenge earlier ones. Because of that, they also mark a transition towards my discussion of fictional narratives where the focus is on introducing new speaking positions that contest those ideas, images and ‘truths’ propagated by narratives such as those that are part of the Opium War discourses. Chapter five investigates how Timothy Mo’s An Insular Possession goes against an important aspect of such discourses, that of hierarchy, by emphasizing cultural incommensurability and cross-cultural miscommunication between the British and the Chinese while refusing to stratify the two into cultural and civilizational hierarchies. Chapter six examines the ways in which Amitav Ghosh invents a new narrative of the Opium War in the first two parts of an intended trilogy: Sea of Poppies and River of Smoke. This last chapter looks at how, by focusing on the silenced Indian aspect of the Opium War and the unexplored Sino-Indian side of the conflict, Ghosh transforms the war from an exclusively Sino-British to a more global event.
DegreeDoctor of Philosophy
SubjectBritish literature - 19th century - History and criticism
Dept/ProgramEnglish
Persistent Identifierhttp://hdl.handle.net/10722/206694

 

DC FieldValueLanguage
dc.contributor.advisorHo, EYL-
dc.contributor.authorKelly, Rita Olivia-
dc.date.accessioned2014-11-25T03:53:19Z-
dc.date.available2014-11-25T03:53:19Z-
dc.date.issued2014-
dc.identifier.citationKelly, R. O.. (2014). Constructed meanings and contesting voices : the Opium War in archival, historical and fictional Anglophone narratives. (Thesis). University of Hong Kong, Pokfulam, Hong Kong SAR. Retrieved from http://dx.doi.org/10.5353/th_b5270541-
dc.identifier.urihttp://hdl.handle.net/10722/206694-
dc.description.abstractThis thesis explores the ways in which the Opium War has been represented in both non-fictional and fictional Anglophone narratives. It looks at the construction of various 19th century discourses surrounding this historical event and the different meanings it has been endowed with through such discourses. It then examines the ways in which some of those meanings have been challenged in more recent accounts. The purpose of this thesis is to show how and why certain ideas are constructed and propagated, and how these in turn can be questioned, challenged and reinterpreted, giving us a wider perspective, and thus better understanding, of the said event. The study is divided into two parts: non-fiction and fiction. The non-fiction section includes two chapters on the discourses of the Opium War, one on translation and one on historical texts while the second section focuses on two contemporary fictional narratives of the Opium War. Chapters one and two are based on a selection of 19th century archival documents and constitute a discussion of the discourses that have been formed around the Opium War in five specific fields: political, economic, religious, medical and legal. An analysis of these discourses will show them to be part of a larger sinophobic discourse that constructed China as Britain’s cultural inferior around the time of the conflict. To view the Opium War in terms of cultural encounter requires a discussion of translation. Chapter three investigates the role and importance of translation and translators in creating and/ or sustaining the meanings created by these various discourses. Chapter four is an analysis of two more recent historical narratives: one a history of opium, the other a history of the Opium War. These texts contribute to an expanded understanding of the 19th century conflict as they offer different and more contemporary meanings with regard to the war that partly challenge earlier ones. Because of that, they also mark a transition towards my discussion of fictional narratives where the focus is on introducing new speaking positions that contest those ideas, images and ‘truths’ propagated by narratives such as those that are part of the Opium War discourses. Chapter five investigates how Timothy Mo’s An Insular Possession goes against an important aspect of such discourses, that of hierarchy, by emphasizing cultural incommensurability and cross-cultural miscommunication between the British and the Chinese while refusing to stratify the two into cultural and civilizational hierarchies. Chapter six examines the ways in which Amitav Ghosh invents a new narrative of the Opium War in the first two parts of an intended trilogy: Sea of Poppies and River of Smoke. This last chapter looks at how, by focusing on the silenced Indian aspect of the Opium War and the unexplored Sino-Indian side of the conflict, Ghosh transforms the war from an exclusively Sino-British to a more global event.-
dc.languageeng-
dc.publisherThe University of Hong Kong (Pokfulam, Hong Kong)-
dc.relation.ispartofHKU Theses Online (HKUTO)-
dc.rightsCreative Commons: Attribution 3.0 Hong Kong License-
dc.rightsThe author retains all proprietary rights, (such as patent rights) and the right to use in future works.-
dc.subject.lcshBritish literature - 19th century - History and criticism-
dc.titleConstructed meanings and contesting voices : the Opium War in archival, historical and fictional Anglophone narratives-
dc.typePG_Thesis-
dc.identifier.hkulb5270541-
dc.description.thesisnameDoctor of Philosophy-
dc.description.thesislevelDoctoral-
dc.description.thesisdisciplineEnglish-
dc.description.naturepublished_or_final_version-
dc.identifier.doi10.5353/th_b5270541-

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