Theses Doctoral

Writing Diplomacy: Translation, Politics and Literary Culture in the Transpacific Cold War

Bo, Lamyu Maria

This dissertation explores how literary translators mediated cultural diplomacy between the U.S. and China during the Cold War period. Focusing on best-selling bilingual authors Lin Yutang, Eileen Chang, Hua-ling Nieh Engle, and Jade Snow Wong, I show how these “cold warriors” negotiated political boundaries, concepts, and agendas while they wrote and translated literary texts. Their works, usually divided into Asian vs. Asian American literature, are here productively read together as pawns in the same ideological struggle, even as they exceed the traditional bounds of Cold War periodization, polarized nation-states, and disciplinary canons. Together, they evince new forms of transnational cultural production that shaped policies of containment, propaganda, resistance, de-colonialism, and racialization. This project thus theorizes translation as its own process of ideology-formation, rather than overlooking it as a mere medium for communication. In the end, examining linguistic exchange in the Cold War redefines what we conceive of as Asian-American, by reconfiguring the outright ideological struggle between Democracy and Communism as an equivocal conflict in the space opened up by translation.


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More About This Work

Academic Units
English and Comparative Literature
Thesis Advisors
Adams, Rachel
Liu, Lydia
Ph.D., Columbia University
Published Here
April 26, 2018