Area: China and Inner Asia
Presentation Type: Panel Presentation
Lina Qu, Michigan State University, United States (organizer, chair, presenter)
Xiqing Zheng, Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, China (presenter, discussant)
Nan Wang, University of Hawaii at Manoa, United States (presenter)
Jia Xu, University of Hawaii at Manoa, United States (presenter)
The past few decades have witnessed China undergoing waves of social and cultural restructuring against shifting dynamics of political and economic systems, which consequently results in drastic reshaping of everyday life experienced by every social stratum. To navigate the shifting scenes of the everyday, modern Chinese literature and media prioritize the task of negotiating individual lives with the imposition of political and economic systems. This panel probes the implications and consequences of the swiftly changing daily scenes through dissecting literary and cultural representations in fiction, poetry, and Chinese cyberspace. Discursive and communicative strategies are undertaken in order to expose, satirize, but also, disguise, and circumvent the intrusive infiltration into everyday life. Negotiation and compromise between control, violence, and resistance showcase the discursive and communicative strategies underlying the politics of the everyday.
This panel comprises four individual papers focusing on varied historical moments and diversified literary genres and media. Xiqing Zheng’s paper investigates the debate on queerbaiting in Chinese online fan community and its negotiation with the ever-tightening governmental censorship and the homophobic social environment. Lina Qu’s paper examines the mechanical and posthuman symbols and imageries conjured up by Zheng Xiaoqiong’s poems on factory lives of Chinese women migrant workers in light of Donna Haraway’s cyborg feminism. Nan Wang’s paper explores the tension between the ordinariness of language and the violence interrupting everyday scenes in Shuang Xuetao’s work Moses On the Plain. Finally, Jia Xu’s paper interprets Chen Yingzhen’s Comedy of Tang Qian in The Literature Quarterly to expose social implications of misusing western theories in Chinese intellectuals’ daily life.
Poetics of the Iron Age: Posthuman Conditions of Migrant Women Workers in Zheng Xiaoqiong’s Poems
When Donna Haraway was revising her canonical pierce “A Cyborg Manifesto” from 1985 for her 1991 book Simians, Cyborgs and Women, she had read another path-breaking work by Aihwa Ong. Ong in her 1987 book interrogates the intrusion of global capitalism into the conservative Muslim society of Malaysia and the co-opting of rural Malay women into industry labor. Her keen observation on the everyday lives of factory women from the Global South demonstrates women’s convoluted connection to machines and automation. Intrigued by Ong’s project, Haraway adds in her revision: “These real-life cyborgs (for example, the Southeast Asian village women workers in Japanese and U.S. electronics firms described by Aihwa Ong) are actively rewriting the texts of their bodies and societies.” Conjuring up the imagery of factory women as prototypical real-life cyborgs, Haraway’s posthumanist feminist manifesto is reified as the lived experiences of women workers and their embodied transactions with machines. In light of Haraway’s cyborg feminism, this paper examines the mechanical and posthuman symbols and imageries conjured up by Zheng Xiaoqiong’s poems on the factory lives of Chinese women migrant workers. While some of her poems explode the dehumanization and the violent deformation of human bodies under the domination of mechanics endorsed by the state-led industrial policy, others explore the affective connection between machines and women workers against emerging posthuman conditions in human society. As industry labor is femininized, factory women are mechanized. The liminal transformation of women migrant workers in Zheng Xiaoqiong’s poems allegorizes the posthuman process of becoming
Block the Closet Door: Disciplined Fandom between Queerbaiting and "Survival Instincts"
This paper investigates the debate on the issue of queerbaiting in Chinese online fan community and its negotiation with the ever tightening governmental censorship and the homophobic social environment.“Queerbaiting ” refers to strategies taken by media producers that construct seemingly queer characters in a media text to encourage identification from queer audience but then refuse to acknowledge them (Ng, Eve, 2018). A general equivalence for “queerbaiting” in Chinese is “maifu,” literally, to sell rottenness, which usually refers to strategies taken by program producers and celebrities to induce female fans’ consumption of imaginary homoerotic relationship among fictional characters and real-life celebrities. The cultural differences between these two concepts reflects perfectly on the different connotation between “fu” and “queer.” In other words, as the queerness in media text is supposed to be purely imaginary in the Chinese context, discussion of the “maifu” concept in Chinese is strictly forbidden from civil right advocacy topics. The flimsy boundary between an online space for Chinese fans’ queer imagination and the “mainstream” public is easily trespassed. This paper details and analyzes a set of fandom rules on Chinese social media, Weibo, to demonstrate how the Chinese fans reinforce the self-constructed invisible borderline of queer imagination through self-censorship to prevent any possible regulation or punishment from the government. Such self-censorship performances have a euphemism, “survival instinct.” Under such circumstances, reading queer elements from mainstream media texts becomes delicate and conflicted dynamic between accusation of “maifu” and performance of “survival instinct.”
Lost on the Way to the Promised Land: Moses On the Plain as a Post-Socialist Allegory
Loosely centered on a murder case, Shuang Xuetao’s work Moses On the Plain is composed of fourteen short stories, which are named directly by narrators’ names. Through replacing the previous narrator with a new one in a new story, the fragmented story has been constantly denied, estranged and rewritten. Although a larger picture of the case is successfully established in the end, it has lost its primacy in the narration. What is revealed through seeking for the truth of the murder case, however, is the everyday life of ordinary people living in northeast China of post-socialist era. By examining the function of the variety of narrators, the constitution of timeline and spatial form, and the tension between the ordinariness of language and the overwhelming violence shaking and breaking everyone’s daily life, this research will argue that, this work reflects the juxtaposition of diverse historical narratives resulted from the division of social class after the collapse of socialist China, and ordinary people’s inability to figure out the historical transition in post-socialist era.
Intellectuals' Theories, Sexual Violence and Departure: Comedy of Tang Qian by Chen Yingzhen
In the background of the Cold War, White Terror, pro-the United States and anti-communism, the Taiwanese writer Chen Yingzhen intensively meditated on reality and the future. He published Comedy of Tang Qian in The Literature Quarterly in 1967, which depicts three male intellectuals and the heroine Tang Qian. The author consciously embeds metaphorical ethnic nationalism in the characters, who wrongly equip themselves with western theories. This short story fully displays the puzzlement, inanition, and degeneration of these intellectuals. It leads to the deep meditation where the Taiwanese intellectuals to go in the future. By probing into the story and placing it into the historical background, this paper interprets how the story shows the male intellectuals misused western theories in their everyday life, how they mistreated the female with sexual violence, and how they experienced inferiority in the United States as the third-world males
This panel is on Wednesday - Session 03 - Room 5
Go to Room 5