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"Friends and foes on the battlefield": a study of Chinese and U.S. youth literature about the Sino-Japanese War (1937-1945)

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Title: "Friends and foes on the battlefield": a study of Chinese and U.S. youth literature about the Sino-Japanese War (1937-1945)
Author(s): Chen, Minjie
Director of Research: Hearne, Elizabeth G.
Doctoral Committee Chair(s): Hearne, Elizabeth G.
Doctoral Committee Member(s): Jenkins, Christine A.; Shao, Dan; Tilley, Carol L.
Department / Program: Library & Information Science
Discipline: Library & Information Science
Degree Granting Institution: University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Degree: Ph.D.
Genre: Dissertation
Subject(s): Sino-Japanese War, 1937-1945 World War, 1939-1945 Children’s literature, Chinese--History and criticism Children’s literature, American--History and criticism Comic books Oral history Censorship Comic strips
Abstract: In order to understand how postwar generations’ understanding of the history of World War II has been shaped by the information sources made available to them, this dissertation examines the representation of the Sino-Japanese War (1937-45)—fought between Imperial Japan and China, with U.S. as the latter’s major military ally—in youth literature published in mainland China and the United States from 1937 through 2007. The study is based on a sociopolitical analysis of the historical context in which Chinese and American youth literature about ethnic Chinese experiences during the Second World War was produced; a content analysis of 360 titles of illustrated popular reading materials in Chinese; and a literary and visual analysis of important works of youth literature in both countries. Those who obtained the opportunity to “tell” the war history, which part of it they told, and how they told it were all highly politicized. In China, the subject matter and main themes of war stories served the shifting agendas and needs that might or might not be shared among different political and interest groups, from the war years, through the establishment of the Communist regime in 1949, to the post-Mao era after 1976. Further comparison between public literary sources about the war and Chinese private memories of it suggest a chasm between the ruling Party’s master narrative and the way individuals remember their own experiences during the years of 1937-45. In the United States, the narrative space for ethnic Chinese wartime experiences expanded or contracted in a racialized society that perpetuated Asian Americans’ alien identity. The result was a dearth of information that could help ethnic Chinese youth to understand their ancestors’ role during the war and, in the larger American society, amnesia about a military conflict with ongoing political, economic, and social ramifications.
Issue Date: 2011-08-26
URI: http://hdl.handle.net/2142/26320
Rights Information: Copyright 2011 Minjie Chen
Date Available in IDEALS: 2011-08-26
2013-08-27
Date Deposited: 2011-08
 

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