NameLu, Yingjiu (author), Wang, Ban (chair), Walker, Janet (co-chair), Tschanz, Dietrich (internal member), Song, Weijie (outside member), Rutgers University, Graduate School - New Brunswick,
Chinese fiction--20th century--History and criticism,
Zhang, Ailing--Criticism and interpretation
DescriptionThis dissertation aims to articulate the sociological and cultural meaning of the representative fictional writings of Zhang Ailing (1920-1995) in contexts and approach that befit the nature of Zhang’s work. To do that requires nothing short of a revision of the existing paradigms in the study of modernity and of the conventional approaches to literary history.
In the introduction, I argue that Zhang’s fictional texts must be read against an expanded understanding of the (Chinese) modern experience in the urban context to include what I call “ordinary modernity.” And I argue that Zhang’s fictional language – with rich generic and stylistic layers that cut across the great divide between the high and the low modern literature – registers the cultural logic of the ordinary urban community, its “style of abundance” corresponding to the latter’s provincial cosmopolitanism and eclectic cultural anarchy.
It is necessary and productive to read such a body of fiction with the method of Marxist-Structuralist genre criticism under the premise of Raymond Williams’ belief that “culture is ordinary.” In the body of the dissertation, I conduct such generic criticism on three of Zhang’s most representative novellas: Aloeswood Incense: the First Brazier (1943), Love in a Fallen City (1943), and Red Rose, White Rose (1944), which feature respectively three central themes that informed high and low modern fiction in urban China: (urban) reality, individualism (and love), and (modern) sexuality. By juxtaposing the high and low literary culture’s responses to these themes in a relationship of mutual completion and mutual testing, Zhang’s fiction made possible an in-depth dialogue and exchange between the two traditions. With expanded and deepened understandings of modern experience and culture, Zhang then developed her own, essentially modernist, responses to the central themes of modernity.
In the conclusion I argue that in her novelistic thought and practice (which I call “vernacular modernism”) Zhang created a new literary paradigm in which the key relationships that defined China’s modern literary culture – those between art, culture and the people – were reconceived.
NoteIncludes bibliographical references (p. 224-231)
Noteby Yingjiu Lu
CollectionGraduate School - New Brunswick Electronic Theses and Dissertations
Organization NameRutgers, The State University of New Jersey
RightsThe author owns the copyright to this work.