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The ecological turn: positioning the natural world in post-Mao fiction and film

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Title: The ecological turn: positioning the natural world in post-Mao fiction and film
Author(s): Dalle, Eric
Director of Research: Xu, Gary
Doctoral Committee Chair(s): Blake, Nancy
Doctoral Committee Member(s): Xu, Gary; Flinn, Margaret; Koshy, Susan
Department / Program: Comparative & World Literature
Discipline: Comparative Literature
Degree Granting Institution: University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Degree: Ph.D.
Genre: Dissertation
Subject(s): Chinese Literature Post-Mao Literature Post-Mao Film Ecocriticism Chinese Ecocriticism Chinese Modernity
Abstract: This dissertation bridges ecocritical perspectives of literature (often understood within the context of European and American literary traditions) with discourses of post-Mao Chinese modernity. Topographical and spatial transformations within Mainland China, accompanying an ideological shift from Maoism to a mode of global neo-liberal capitalism, have challenged individual writers and filmmakers in their narration of identity (cultural, national, or regional), memory (personal and cultural), and history. The term “ecological turn” derives from the work of notable ecocritics such as Lawrence Buell and Greg Garrard and it is assigned within this research to describe a heightening interest among Mainland Chinese intellectuals to study the interactions of humans, places, and the natural world. The individual works of Dai Sijie, Jia Zhangke, Han Shaogong, and Wang Anyi demonstrate in many ways the extent to which the role of the natural world has been explored and positioned within post-Mao fiction and film, echoing the systemic violence inherent to legacies of authoritarianism and colonial conditions. By formulating a relationship between ecologically informed readings with polyvalent discourses of Chinese modernity, this dissertation broadens avenues for further ecocritical interpretive critique of post-Mao fiction. Taken in context of the vast history of Chinese literature, an ecological understanding takes on an even more pressing position. Historically nature has been used to represent human emotion, define society, serve as a metaphor of dynastic change and cyclicality, and formulate spiritual realms. From this perspective, an implicit danger begins to emerge. The rapid industrialization of Mainland China of the past decades not only puts its ecosystem in danger, more perniciously, it also endangers literature, and the primary works read for this study speak in many voices against that danger.
Issue Date: 2012-09-18
URI: http://hdl.handle.net/2142/34252
Rights Information: Copyright 2012 Eric Dalle
Date Available in IDEALS: 2012-09-18
Date Deposited: 2012-08
 

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