Organized Panel Session
The prize-winning Pakistani transnational writer Mohsin Hamid has inclusively, evocatively claimed: “We are all migrants through time” and “refugees from our childhoods.” Nonetheless, when (im)migrant writers work across Sinophone/Nippophone/Anglophone divides, and also are feminists working to reshape gender conventions, exceptional talent and energy are required. This panel therefore asks: What are Chinese women writers’ specific, distinctive contributions to feminist diasporic literature? How can we use those contributions in classroom conversations?
We begin with Khanh Van Ho’s investigation of Anchee Min’s feminist methods in novelistic reconstructions of the Empress Dowager, Madame Mao, and the author’s own experience as diasporic subject moving from “sent-down youth” in China to successful immigrant writer in the U.S. Next is a study of Han Suyin’s semi-autobiographical interracial adultery romance, Love Is a Many-Splendoured Thing, which Jiaqi Yao argues is a scrutinization of unsettled Chineseness and incisive articulation of different gender and colonial relationships in Cold War East Asia. Yuki Morioka follows with a study of Yang Yi’s successful intervention into Japanese literature with her fictional depictions of diasporic Chinese experience there. Karen S. Kingsbury then offers a study of Eileen Chang’s posthumously published, Sinophone depiction of Chinese women moving from prewar Shanghai to Cold War America, a tale marked by Chang’s typical strategy of ironic self-displacement. Discussion of these analyses and their classroom application is led by Zang Xiaojia, whose scholarly work includes studies of canon formation and Proust, as well as Chinese translation of Kristéva’s study of Jewish-German diasporic writer Hannah Arendt.