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Author Song, Weijie
Title Mapping modern Beijing: A literary and cultural topography, 1900s--1950s
book jacket
Descript 301 p
Note Source: Dissertation Abstracts International, Volume: 67-04, Section: A, page: 1346
Adviser: David Wang
Thesis (Ph.D.)--Columbia University, 2006
How does an observer, whether a native, a stranger, a scholar, an amateur, or a foreign tourist, look at, listen to, touch, or scrutinize modern Beijing? Does one configure and reconfigure the material life and spiritual aura of the city as a living entity with mind and soul, with the help of romantic and aesthetical narratives? Or trace the long history of the city by a positivist study of countless files and archives? Or analyze economic activities, social organizations, or collective mentalities of Beijing by adopting the methodology of the Annales School? Or highlight the city's human characteristics, spatial diversity, political divisions, cultural inertia, or transformation in the "realms of memories"?
Literary studies should shed light on the (modern) consciousness and sensibility of the cities in the city-texts and the urban spaces. In this dissertation I map out a literary topography of modern Beijing starting from 1900, when Beijing was violently conquered and looted by the Eight Power Allied Force, via June 20, 1928, when Beijing became Beiping after the Nationalist Party (Kuomintang, or KMT) moved its capital to Nanjing, and Beijing therefore lost its status of political center, and via July 29, 1937, when Beijing was occupied by the Japanese army, and to January 31, 1949 and beyond (the 1950s), when Beijing gracefully surrendered to the Communist regime. The constellation of writers that I concentrate on includes Lao She, Zhang Henshui, Lin Huiyin, Lin Yutang, Princess Der Ling, and Victor Segalen, among others. By means of case studies of the individual writers and their Beijing narratives, I aim at highlighting (fictional) realist mapping of Beijing in terms of streets, alleyways, courtyard houses, stinky ditch, teahouse, city and nation-state at large (Lao She); popular mapping of Beijing's topography in terms of literary tourism, romance, and melodrama (Zhang Henshui); modernist, impressionist, and urbanist mapping of Beijing's literary public spaces, daily objects, imperial relics, and modernities in the old and new city (Lin Huiyin); as well as three authors' indigenous articulation and exoticist imagination of Beijing viewed from near and afar, from universalist construction, Orientalist self-exhibition, and an "aesthetics of diversity" (Lin Yutang, Princess Der Ling, Victor Segalen). Across the critical historical moments, a new Beijing emerges along with the fading out of an old Beijing, with the evaporation of the "aura" of the ancient capital. Beijing's modern experiences can be mapped by the traces where the polemic of space and text (space in text, and text in space) is brought into play
School code: 0054
Host Item Dissertation Abstracts International 67-04A
Subject Literature, Comparative
Literature, Asian
Alt Author Columbia University
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