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RE-IMAGINING REPUBLICAN ERA SHANGHAI AND EMERGING LEGALl DISCOURSE THROUGH CHENG XIAOQING’S DETECTIVE NOVEL SERIES HUO SANG TAN’AN

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Title:RE-IMAGINING REPUBLICAN ERA SHANGHAI AND EMERGING LEGALl DISCOURSE THROUGH CHENG XIAOQING’S DETECTIVE NOVEL SERIES HUO SANG TAN’AN
Authors:Xu, Mei
Contributors:Brown, Shana J. (advisor)
History (department)
Keywords:Asian history
Date Issued:2019
Publisher:University of Hawai'i at Manoa
Abstract:ABSTRACT
Republican Era China and Shanghai (1911-1949) have been the hot topic of research in the field of Chinese studies in recent decades. Scholars shed light on political, social, and cultural aspects of the society at the time. In the Republican Era of China, the emerging awareness of civil society and legality were two characteristics that the Chinese were aspiring towards. The concern for social justice was one of the driving forces behind many social movements and political reforms of that era. The themes of Chinese modernization were represented and addressed in popular culture at the time, especially in literature and film. One genre of literature in particular—detective novels—is the perfect prism to refract the important issues in various aspects of the comprehensive Chinese reality at the time, successfully bridging the gap between China and the West, the traditional and the modern.
In my dissertation, I use the Chinese detective genre, namely 程小青 Cheng Xiaoqing (1893 – 1976), the “the Grand Master” of Chinese detective novels, and his representative Huo Sang Tan'an series, to explore and analyze one aspect of the complex process of modernization, which is not an imitation of the West but self-generated. In the Huo Sang Tan'an series, Cheng constructs modernity through his fine-grained portrayal of everyday living in Shanghai, a modern metropolitan center located on the edge of the Asian continent and the East China sea, which is seamlessly part of the vast Pacific. Cheng’s Shanghai was where East meets West, in a linguistic, ideological, financial, and cultural—truly, a transnational—cauldron of spies, imperialists, white Russians and other exiles, criminal gangs, and ardent Chinese intellectuals and reformers. My dissertation also contributes to the emerging paradigm of historical studies—multi-centered world history instead of the model of the West impacting the native, from the unique angle afforded by detective novels.
The popular detective genre had the largest readership across all social strata during the Republican era. However, unlike the highly politicized writings that were the focus of intellectuals’ and scholars' attention back then, the social and cultural significance of Chinese detective novels has never been given proper recognition or due attention.
The series projected what Republican era Chinese people's ideals were, reflected who they wanted to become, what they wanted to make of their own country in relation to the rest of the world, and how they wanted to navigate between the modern and the traditional while forging a new cultural and national identity that did not merely imitate the West. My dissertation would shed light on the research question “what is modern” in the context of Republican China from a unique angle through the analysis of the historical and social significance of the series.
My project utilizes Cheng’s Huo Sang Tan’an series as a medium to examine and present the complexity and certain aspects of the multifaceted Chinese society in the short-lived yet crucial historical period of China 1911-1949, many aspects of which have been neglected or obscured by dominant discourses in research and in collective memory. The dissertation addresses historical and cultural issues from a global perspective that is based on a polycentric worldview of the interactions between different cultures and civilizations, moving away from the common binaries such as Western impact vs. native response and capitalist vs. communist.
Description:Ph.D. Thesis. Ph.D. Thesis. University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa 2019
Pages/Duration:232 pages
URI:http://hdl.handle.net/10125/63197
Rights:All UHM dissertations and theses are protected by copyright. They may be viewed from this source for any purpose, but reproduction or distribution in any format is prohibited without written permission from the copyright owner.
Appears in Collections: Ph.D. - History


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