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Title:Anglophone Chinese modernity,1860-1910
Author(s):Tong, Xiao Di
Director of Research:Xu, Gary
Doctoral Committee Chair(s):Warrior, Robert
Doctoral Committee Member(s):Spires, Derrick; Espiritu, Augusto
Department / Program:English
Degree Granting Institution:University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Abstract:On September 6, 1899, in response to the looming threat foreign powers posed to American trade agreements with China, Secretary of State John Hay enunciated the first “Open Door Policy.” It proposed to keep China open to trade with all countries on an equal basis and declared U.S. support for a non-colonized and independent China. Despite Hay’s best effort, China struggled to maintain its territorial integrity from foreign control. The country faced imperial threats from the British and the American in the late days of the Manchu-ruled late Qing, anti-foreign revolts during the Boxer Rebellion, and domestic struggles between the bourgeois reformers and the traditional doctrines of the Confucian school that accumulated in the Hundred Days’ Reform of imperial edicts in the Reform Movement of the 1898. The core issue anchoring these conflicts remains the existential question of what it means to be part of China and to be Chinese? Search for the “self” and guominxing (national character) is key to understanding one’s roots, purpose, and allegiance to a sovereign state. But in an increasingly transient world, monolithic identification appears difficult. Without resorting to a homogenous China-based national literary tradition and dialogue, this dissertation continues the ongoing critical debate on “Sinophone” in China Studies, a coinage in English that denotes “Sinitic-language speaking” written on the margins of “China and Chineseness,” has potentially confronted the hegemony of China-centric studies. My project offers an alternative perspective on Chinese literary modernity and its historical conditions, conceptual presuppositions, theoretical underpinnings, and literariness as defined by Anglophone subjects who lived a cross-national existence between China and the United States. I argue that anti-writing as an American literary occurrence produced four types of realism—temporal geography, object(ive) materiality, liberal realist strategy, and apocalyptic ecology. These Anglophone realist typologies, defying a uniform definition of China, defined the country’s multiple modernities. Instead of focusing on Sinophone, I contend that an American literary construct appropriated by Anglophone transpacific subjects characterized China’s break from monarchial tradition. The four types of realism, permeated with subversive realist techniques, produced an alternative life-writing formula that transgressed into projects that defined China’s multiple beginnings in modernity. These anti-writings were concerned with, and depended on, the reality they observed and the politics they propagated and campaigned against – politicking from within. The cross-national figures that I examine used the autobiographical genre to observe the Chinese civilization and comment on the politics between China and the United States, demonstrating that the China center is continuously threatened to become the new margin by the Anglophone world. Insofar as the realist typologies created a manifesto of China’s political struggle towards reform, diplomatic practices abroad, spiritual reliance on the Christian enterprise, and a project of realism written by Anglophone “others” who defined China in modernity.
Issue Date:2015-11-19
Rights Information:Copyright 2015 Xiao Di Tong
Date Available in IDEALS:2016-03-02
Date Deposited:2015-12

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