Journal Articles

June 2015 - Vol.45 / No.2
“I Suppose It Is Not Sentimental Enough!”: Evelina and the Power of Feeling
Author : Yih-Dau Wu
Keywords : Frances Burney, Evelina, feeling, sentimental fiction, power
Despite its dramatic description of weeping, fainting, nervous disorder and recovery of long-lost family members, Frances Burney’s novel Evelina is traditionally regarded as a novel of manners and thus as a far cry from eighteenth-century sentimental fiction. The representation of feeling in this novel therefore is either dismissed as unimportant or subordinated to the discussion of propriety. This article argues that feeling in Evelina deserves critical scrutiny precisely because the novel is not sentimental enough. By comparing moments of intense emotion in Burney’s novel and those in contemporary sentimental fiction, I would reveal Burney’s disapproval and revision of the emotional paradigms popularized by sentimental novelists. While Laurence Sterne and Henry Mackenzie believe that to feel intensely means to feel spontaneously, privileging impulsive passion that fragments human interactions into moments of transport, Burney maintains that the virtue of feeling lies in its ability to cement interpersonal connections and to last through such desirable ties. This reading will refocus the issue of power in Evelina, not least by showing how and why feeling becomes an unexpected and unlikely source of power for both genders.
Troy in the Troilus and Criseyde
Author : Wei-ko Sung
Keywords : Chaucer, Criseyde, Pandarus, Troilus, Troy
The aim of this paper is to analyze the role of Troy in Geoffrey Chaucer’s Troilus and Criseyde. The paper is broadly divided into two parts. From historical and psychological perspectives, the first part addresses the multifaceted role Troy played in the medieval literary imagination. In the late Middle Ages, a host of European ruling houses embarked on inventing their foundation myths by claiming that they had a long and illustrious pedigree. In this political climate, Troy, because of its unique position in secular history, became a city with which many nations, England included, endeavored to form connections. Geoffrey of Monmouth’s The History of the Kings of Britain, for example, is a typical case wherein the author strives to demonstrate that the British are directly descended from Brutus, a scion of Aeneas. On the other hand, psychoanalytic theories will be drawn on to illustrate why as an extinct city Troy could still entice medieval European nations into eagerly associating themselves with it. The second part surveys the way in which the destinies of some major figures in the Troilus and Criseyde are inextricably intertwined with that of Troy. In the case of Troilus, his fate is bound up with that of Troy and his death therefore augurs Troy’s doom; on the other hand, after Pandarus learns of Criseyde’s fickleness, the always glib matchmaker is rendered speechless. And Criseyde’s departure proves to be a turning point in the destiny of Troy, for it leads to self-pity on the part of Troilus, one of the most important champions of Troy. This part also advances the argument that Chaucer’s reworking of the Trojan saga not only bears eloquent testimony to the contemporary mania in both the Continent and England for the legendary city, but also reflects the extent to which he was informed by the literary conventions prevailing in the Continent.
Time and Utopian Imagination in Murakami Haruki’s Hard-Boiled Wonderland and the End of the World
Author : Virginia Yeung
Keywords : Hard-Boiled Wonderland and the End of the World, Murakami Haruki, utopia, time in literature, contemporary Japanese novels
This study examines the utopian vision in Murakami Haruki’s Hard-Boiled Wonderland and the End of the World. It attempts to analyze the novel’s utopian elements in detail and examine them in relation to the socioeconomic situation during the time it was written. The paper begins with an analysis of the novel’s temporal structure, which aims to make clear that the “utopia” in the novel reveals a strong sense of anxiety over the contemporary urban condition. The observation will be further developed into a discussion of the dialectical tension between the two worlds in the novel: a technologically advanced city and an archaic town. I argue that the disparity between the two worlds can be analyzed from the standpoint of social criticism. The seemingly contrasting worlds work together to mirror and critique modern societies, pointing out a range of social maladies that prevail in the modern urban world. On the one hand, the hard-boiled city unfolds the social mechanisms that control urban people’s lives; it also questions the meaning and value of a predominantly consumerist lifestyle. On the other hand, the idyllic town critiques societal conformism. This work of science fiction also obliquely criticizes historical forgetfulness, a consequence of a materialcentered culture which focuses upon the present and deemphasizes the past. The consequence of severing historical links, on both a personal and cultural basis, is presented and dramatized in the novel as a chaotic memory. The last part of the article focuses on the novel’s ending. It submits that the author attempts to break away from the usual binarism in utopian narratives by foregrounding the theme of memory and self at the story’s end.
Space and Memory in the Huashan Event
Author : Dominique Ying-Chih Liao
Keywords : Huashan Event, Troy, Troy . . . Taiwan, 1996 Taiwan Strait Crisis, Huashan 1914 Creative Park, Taiwaneseness
In response to contemporary social anxieties, performances have been used to recall the past and to invoke collective memory. Such cultural productions and their consequential events provide a space of experience that re-creates cultural meanings and re-shapes memories. The Huashan Event was initiated by the theatrical performance Troy, Troy . . . Taiwan by Golden Bough Theatre in 1997, a cultural response to the political incident 1996 Taiwan Strait Crisis, and followed by a series of cultural and social events including a police raid, protests, and finally turning the performing space, a deserted government winery, into a public artistic space, known as the Huashan 1914 Creative Park nowadays. Thereafter, numerous deserted government properties have been transformed into public spaces. Through making the Taiwanese government return spaces to the public, the Huashan Event seemed to gain a triumphant result, but the struggles for Taiwanese identity that initiated the whole event kept linger on. By applying the cultural materialist approach alongside with discussions regarding memory and social production of space, this paper focuses on the interconnection of performance, inscription of memory, and the spatial production of cultural meanings in the Huashan Event, and argues that this cultural event redefined its contemporary context and further contributed to produce new meanings and memories that redefined a sense of Taiwaneseness in both its artistic and social aspects.
Against the Western “Barbarian”: Narrating Bodily Resistance in Early Nineteenth-Century China
Author : Yingying Huang
Keywords : body, demonization, Westerner, Occidentalism, resistance
Sinologists have made extensive use of Said’s model of Orientalism and Foucault’s discussion of race to research China’s self-image and representation of Westerners, but the Chinese body has not received enough attention. My paper adds to this scholarship by investigating the Chinese construction of an embodied self against the Western body in the first half of the nineteenth century, the opening phase of unprecedentedly intense physical confrontation with the West, and demonstrates how ideologies active in the hegemonic discourse to contain and dominate function as opposition to domination on the part of the invaded. Engaging Occidentalism and postcolonial theories of race, I examine texts from scholarly works and official letters to writings distributed among the common people, to argue that by mapping the “barbarians’” monstrous and yet not invincible physicality, the Chinese sought to construct their bodies as superior, victimized and yet regenerative, in resistance to invasion. My first section looks at the invention, inheritance, and reinforcement of stereotypes about Westerners’ physical deformity, which were employed when demand for self-defense arose. Section two uses post-colonial theories to analyze the mentality and literary techniques in the rhetoric of resistance. Next, I examine textual reactions to Western devastation of the Chinese body, focusing on the victimized self and the difficulty of resistance, which are contrasted to in the following section, where I investigate texts portraying a regenerative self that conquers the Western body. Such representations register a proactive defense of Chinese identity when the people’s epistemological frames were severely challenged during the painful “Open Door.” All four sections underline the reversal of a Eurocentric discourse about race and an Orientalized East, the theme of which I revisit in the conclusion, with a reflection on the continuity and evolution of Chinese Occidentalism and self-image into the twentieth century.
Truly Living as a Woman: Sexual Politics in Alifa Rifaat and Nawal El Saadawi’s Short Stories
Author : Chia-Ling She
Keywords : Egypt, Islam, nationalism, patriarchy, female sexualities, traditions
This paper examines the discourse of female sexualities by comparing the short stories written by two Egyptian women writers, Alifa Rifaat (1930-1996) and Nawal El Saadawi (1931-). This paper regards two short stories from Rifaat, namely “Bahiyya’s Eyes” (1983) and “My World of the Unknown” (1983) and two short stories from El Saadawi, namely “The Death of His Excellency the Ex-Minister” (1974) and “Eye” (1988). The daily lives of Egyptian women in these short stories initiate a present temporality that, in Rifaat’s case, disrupts the myth of tradition created by both fundamentalist and modernist male-led nationalism and that, in El Saadawi’s instance, inevitably connects her writing with the globalizing God’s communities and Western feminist discourses. The contrast between Rifaat’s traditional Islamic lifestyle and El Saadawi’s nationalist-feminist politics attests to the multiple formations of the emergent Islamic feminism starting from the 1980s. Rifaat’s writing demonstrates that cultural origins and identity politics are not static, but rather must be invented and discovered according to a variety of cultural, political, and economic factors. By comparison, El Saadawi’s writing exploits her contradictory stand toward employing and distancing from Western feminist theory simultaneously to give Egyptian women voices and tell their stories. The merits of the vitality, brevity and immediacy make the short story a qualified vehicle to seek cultural belongings amidst the conflicts and interconnections at work between the local and global. Rifaat is neither anti-man nor in pursuit of women’s empowerment from Christianity. Comparatively, drawing discursive power from the West, El Saadawi creates more spaces in the debate of the ideologically fraught feminine virtues in Islam. The short story develops unpredictable migratory processes for Egyptian women situated at the margins of society. The intimate lives of the Egyptian women form a meaning-making process in pursuit of their autonomous identities and build fragmented links with Western gender/sexuality studies in the multiplex border crossings at diverse sites.