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postgraduate thesis: Sentiment, orientalism and American women writers in Republican China

TitleSentiment, orientalism and American women writers in Republican China
Authors
Issue Date2015
PublisherThe University of Hong Kong (Pokfulam, Hong Kong)
Citation
Jin, J. [金佳怡]. (2015). Sentiment, orientalism and American women writers in Republican China. (Thesis). University of Hong Kong, Pokfulam, Hong Kong SAR. Retrieved from http://dx.doi.org/10.5353/th_b5719470
AbstractThis thesis is a critical analysis of memoirs and novels written by American women writers during the Republican era in China. This period was a time of social, cultural and political instability, which not only affected China internally but also altered the discourse of Sino-American relations. This thesis is interested in the changes and continuities in American literary representations of China. Building upon the existing discourse of western depictions of China, this thesis examines Alice Tisdale Hobart’s Pioneering Where the World is Old, By the City of the Long Sand and Oil for the Lamps of China, in addition to Pearl Sydenstricker Buck’s House of Earth trilogy: The Good Earth, Sons and A House Divided. As progressive women writers, the sentimental and middlebrow literary traditions are instrumental in enabling Hobart and Buck to subvert western perceptions of China and the Chinese. They deploy elements of American sentimental and middlebrow literature to cultivate emotional connections and points of identification to shape an accessible and familiar representation of China. Their depictions of China contribute to the project of challenging conventional Orientalist views of China and facilitate cross-cultural understanding. The writers gain traction with the American readership by creating characters and narratives that foster feelings of identification with China instead of alienation. Whereas popular attitudes towards China were marked by apprehension or misunderstanding, Hobart and Buck strive to depict China in a positive and sympathetic light. This thesis discusses the implications behind their sympathetic representations under the framework of ‘Sentimental Orientalism,’ which delves into the problematization of American sentimentalism towards China as yet another form of Orientalism. Chapter One explores the expatriate business experience in Alice Hobart’s memoirs Pioneering Where the World is Old and supplemented by By the City of the Long Sand. It shows how Hobart negotiates among different visions of China as primitive, modern and spiritual at the same time, while also documenting the alienating experience of overseas Americans. In addition, this chapter explores the business perspective in her Oil for the Lamps of China. It argues that the character development of Stephen Chase, the novel’s protagonist, reflects Hobart’s critique of Western capitalism and increasing appreciation of the humanistic Chinese. Chapter Two discusses the development of Chinese identities and visions of China in Pearl Buck’s trilogy, in which Buck writes from the voices of Chinese characters. The Good Earth demonstrates how Buck creates sympathetic representations of the Chinese peasant and an idyllic vision of the agricultural countryside, which symbolizes Buck’s singular vision of China and Chinese identity. Sons and A House Divided, however, expand beyond the countryside into warlord and modern China. Buck’s representations here encompass the landlord, the businessman, the warlord, the modern woman and the Western-educated scholar, and in doing so, she comes to terms with the diversity and multiplicity of Chineseness.
DegreeMaster of Philosophy
SubjectSentimentalism in literature
Orientalism in literature
Dept/ProgramEnglish
Persistent Identifierhttp://hdl.handle.net/10722/223616

 

DC FieldValueLanguage
dc.contributor.authorJin, Jiayi-
dc.contributor.author金佳怡-
dc.date.accessioned2016-03-03T23:16:50Z-
dc.date.available2016-03-03T23:16:50Z-
dc.date.issued2015-
dc.identifier.citationJin, J. [金佳怡]. (2015). Sentiment, orientalism and American women writers in Republican China. (Thesis). University of Hong Kong, Pokfulam, Hong Kong SAR. Retrieved from http://dx.doi.org/10.5353/th_b5719470-
dc.identifier.urihttp://hdl.handle.net/10722/223616-
dc.description.abstractThis thesis is a critical analysis of memoirs and novels written by American women writers during the Republican era in China. This period was a time of social, cultural and political instability, which not only affected China internally but also altered the discourse of Sino-American relations. This thesis is interested in the changes and continuities in American literary representations of China. Building upon the existing discourse of western depictions of China, this thesis examines Alice Tisdale Hobart’s Pioneering Where the World is Old, By the City of the Long Sand and Oil for the Lamps of China, in addition to Pearl Sydenstricker Buck’s House of Earth trilogy: The Good Earth, Sons and A House Divided. As progressive women writers, the sentimental and middlebrow literary traditions are instrumental in enabling Hobart and Buck to subvert western perceptions of China and the Chinese. They deploy elements of American sentimental and middlebrow literature to cultivate emotional connections and points of identification to shape an accessible and familiar representation of China. Their depictions of China contribute to the project of challenging conventional Orientalist views of China and facilitate cross-cultural understanding. The writers gain traction with the American readership by creating characters and narratives that foster feelings of identification with China instead of alienation. Whereas popular attitudes towards China were marked by apprehension or misunderstanding, Hobart and Buck strive to depict China in a positive and sympathetic light. This thesis discusses the implications behind their sympathetic representations under the framework of ‘Sentimental Orientalism,’ which delves into the problematization of American sentimentalism towards China as yet another form of Orientalism. Chapter One explores the expatriate business experience in Alice Hobart’s memoirs Pioneering Where the World is Old and supplemented by By the City of the Long Sand. It shows how Hobart negotiates among different visions of China as primitive, modern and spiritual at the same time, while also documenting the alienating experience of overseas Americans. In addition, this chapter explores the business perspective in her Oil for the Lamps of China. It argues that the character development of Stephen Chase, the novel’s protagonist, reflects Hobart’s critique of Western capitalism and increasing appreciation of the humanistic Chinese. Chapter Two discusses the development of Chinese identities and visions of China in Pearl Buck’s trilogy, in which Buck writes from the voices of Chinese characters. The Good Earth demonstrates how Buck creates sympathetic representations of the Chinese peasant and an idyllic vision of the agricultural countryside, which symbolizes Buck’s singular vision of China and Chinese identity. Sons and A House Divided, however, expand beyond the countryside into warlord and modern China. Buck’s representations here encompass the landlord, the businessman, the warlord, the modern woman and the Western-educated scholar, and in doing so, she comes to terms with the diversity and multiplicity of Chineseness.-
dc.languageeng-
dc.publisherThe University of Hong Kong (Pokfulam, Hong Kong)-
dc.relation.ispartofHKU Theses Online (HKUTO)-
dc.rightsThe author retains all proprietary rights, (such as patent rights) and the right to use in future works.-
dc.rightsCreative Commons: Attribution 3.0 Hong Kong License-
dc.subject.lcshSentimentalism in literature-
dc.subject.lcshOrientalism in literature-
dc.titleSentiment, orientalism and American women writers in Republican China-
dc.typePG_Thesis-
dc.identifier.hkulb5719470-
dc.description.thesisnameMaster of Philosophy-
dc.description.thesislevelMaster-
dc.description.thesisdisciplineEnglish-
dc.description.naturepublished_or_final_version-

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