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Not afraid of ghosts: stories of the spectral in modern Chinese fiction


Imbach, Jessica Elizabeth. Not afraid of ghosts: stories of the spectral in modern Chinese fiction. 2017, University of Zurich, Faculty of Arts.

Abstract

This study explores literary representations of ghosts and the spectral in Mainland Chinese fiction from the Republican period (1912-1949) to the present. The first two chapters trace the politicization of Chinese ghost culture and literature within intellectual debates and fictional writings from the early 20th century. I argue that ghosts and narratives of haunting provided writers with a powerful metaphor and script to reflect on and negotiate a modernization project caught between the rejection and the strategic appropriation of China's cultural history. Reading ghosts as a fictional space, which challenges normative hierarchies between the past and the present, China and the West, chapter three discusses the phantom romance plot in late Republican Shanghai fiction and the representation of female phantoms as gendered reflections of, and on, Shanghai's commodity culture, cosmopolitanism, and the changing real and symbolic roles of women. Chapter four focuses on the conjunction of Chinese ghost culture and classism in Mao-era literary production an analyzes the socialist adaptation of the anomaly account collection in “Stories About Not Being Afraid of Ghosts” (1961). Lastly, chapter five discusses two urban ghost novels from the post-Tiananmen period (1989-) which reimagine older models of cosmography to reflect on critical issues in China today, such as heritage destruction, migration and air pollution.

Abstract

This study explores literary representations of ghosts and the spectral in Mainland Chinese fiction from the Republican period (1912-1949) to the present. The first two chapters trace the politicization of Chinese ghost culture and literature within intellectual debates and fictional writings from the early 20th century. I argue that ghosts and narratives of haunting provided writers with a powerful metaphor and script to reflect on and negotiate a modernization project caught between the rejection and the strategic appropriation of China's cultural history. Reading ghosts as a fictional space, which challenges normative hierarchies between the past and the present, China and the West, chapter three discusses the phantom romance plot in late Republican Shanghai fiction and the representation of female phantoms as gendered reflections of, and on, Shanghai's commodity culture, cosmopolitanism, and the changing real and symbolic roles of women. Chapter four focuses on the conjunction of Chinese ghost culture and classism in Mao-era literary production an analyzes the socialist adaptation of the anomaly account collection in “Stories About Not Being Afraid of Ghosts” (1961). Lastly, chapter five discusses two urban ghost novels from the post-Tiananmen period (1989-) which reimagine older models of cosmography to reflect on critical issues in China today, such as heritage destruction, migration and air pollution.

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Additional indexing

Item Type:Dissertation (monographical)
Referees:Riemenschnitter Andrea Hong Anrui, Malinar Angelika, Yue Meng
Communities & Collections:06 Faculty of Arts > Institute of Asian and Oriental Studies
UZH Dissertations
Dewey Decimal Classification:490 Other languages
Language:English
Place of Publication:Zurich
Date:2017
Deposited On:05 Jan 2018 20:52
Last Modified:15 Apr 2021 14:42
Number of Pages:240
OA Status:Green

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