Theses Doctoral

The Path Toward the Other: Relational Subjectivity in Modern Chinese Literature, 1919-1945

Cannella, Shannon Marie

This thesis explores the uncharted territory of relational subjectivity in modern Chinese literature. As a model of identity that positions the self in a web of social interaction, emotional connectivity, relational subjectivity suggests that the self is continually partial, open, and constantly "under construction." Lacking an autonomous "closed system," subjects remain open to exchange and to becoming agents of co-created meaning. Through readings of the fiction, essays, and poetry of Lu Xun, Ye Shaojun, Shen Congwen, Bing Xin, Xiao Hong, and Eileen Chang, I investigate the ways these writers manipulated narrative structure, texture and voice to present a discourse of openness, receptivity, and tolerance for difference. My investigation uncovers a wider range of subjectivities and relational yearning than was previously recognized for this era. Chinese writers also linked the discourse of relational subjectivity with a more generalized epistemological openness characterized by neutral visual attentiveness and acts of listening. This study reflects a growing interest in locating forms of sociality in the modern Chinese context. As such, my work furthers the theoretical discourse for examining self-other relationships, especially those shaped by multiple-perspectivism, non-hierarchy and horizontal ways of seeing. Finally, this research offers possibilities for locating an alternative beginning for modern Chinese conceptualizations of self in community.

Geographic Areas


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More About This Work

Academic Units
East Asian Languages and Cultures
Thesis Advisors
Wang, David Der-wei
Ph.D., Columbia University
Published Here
January 6, 2014