Journal Articles

December 2022 - Vol.53/No.1
Haunting Objects, Material Diaspora, and the Unhomely Home: Ghostliness in Amelia B. Edwards’ Ghost Stories
Author : Han-ying Liu
Keywords : Amelia B. Edwards, ghost stories, the uncanny, diaspora, Egyptology
Renowned for her expeditions and travelogues, Amelia Ann Blanford Edwards was not merely an Egyptologist and journalist, but also a celebrated author of many literary works. One literary genre she is particularly prolific in is ghost stories. However, while Dickens’s eerie spirits have become a Victorian archetype, Edwards’s ghosts, often appearing in the same periodicals alongside Dickens’s, are seldom ghostlike. Furthermore, as Simon Cooke points out, the Victorian ghost story is “firmly located within the bourgeois household, a modern haunted house of up-to-date fittings, prosaic décor and mundane ritual.” Thus essentially the Victorian ghost story is the story of a haunted house. However, Edwards’s ghosts almost never appear in the domestic space, for her narrator—usually the sole witness of the ghost— is usually an Englishman travelling or working away from home. On the other hand, according to Edwards, her home is “filled and over-filled with curiosities of all descriptions,” especially Egyptian objects. She even goes as far as to claim that the two mummified human heads in her bedroom might “talk to each other in the watches of the night” when she is asleep. Here a sense of the uncanny permeates into her house, and both her stories and her own home are characterized by a plenitude of curious objects. It is the contention of this paper that, without ghostlike ghosts and without a haunted house, Edwards’s stories are still ghostly. I argue that their ghostliness does not lie in the ghosts themselves, but in the material details. Furthermore, as exotic objects pervade her texts, a sense of material diaspora becomes prominent, and such diaspora brings forth a sense of haunting. Together the curious details, haunting diaspora, and the unheimlich home create a sense of ghostliness that her ghosts and setting seem to lack.
Weakness in Wu Ming-Yi’s Kuyu Zhi Di
Author : Julian Chih-Wei Yang
Keywords : Wu Ming-Yi, Kuyu zhi di (The Land of Little Rain), weakness, nature, spiritual evolution, formal weakness
In this paper, I will examine the various kinds of weakness presented in Taiwanese writer Wu Ming-Yi’s Kuyu zhi di (The Land of Little Rain). Before Kuyu, the term “weakness” has pervaded both his life and writings. In Diedao (The Dao of Butterflies), Wu confesses his visual weakness, which triggers his interest in light and color-related entities. In Midiezhi (The Book of Lost Butterflies), he endorses Bryan G. Norton’s notion of weak anthropocentrism. In his literary works, including the well-acclaimed novels Fuyan ren (The Man with Compound Eyes) and Danche shiqie ji (The Stolen Bicycle), Wu articulates the weakness of nature in face of human exploitation. While various senses of weakness—including “disability,” “mildness,” and “vulnerability”— are expressed in different texts, he plays with the semantic variety and multiplicity of the word further in Kuyu: its six stories depict diverse types of human weakness, roles of nature, and interplays of the two in different processes of human spiritual evolution. This suggests that the novella collection features weakness both in theme and form. To clarify the importance of my approach to Kuyu, I will first sketch the relationship between humans and nature as reflected in Wu’s writings and by the critical reception of them. Then, I will explain what I mean by “weak definition” and “weak depiction” to elucidate the significance of what I call “formal weakness.” Afterwards, I will analyze Kuyu in terms of its rendition of human weaknesses, the functions of nature, and the correlations of the two in human spiritual evolution and do so according to Wu’s design (i.e., pair by pair). For the conclusion, I will discuss formal weakness or the weak annihilation of annihilation as his answer to the inquiry after “the meaning of annihilation as an essence of life” in Kuyu.
The World Literature of Bruce Lee by Way of Cross-Cultural Adaptations and Translations
Author : Chung-an Chang
Keywords : translation, adaptation, circulation, Internet meme, world literature
As part of the aura of a renowned cultural icon from the twentieth century, Bruce Lee’s on-screen martial arts prowess and chiseled physique stand out to most fans of cinema across the globe. In recent years, however, rising interest in his role as a thinker introducing the philosophical wisdom of the East to Western audiences and readers has been supplementing his image as a film star. The persona of Bruce Lee has not been the creation of Lee himself, shaped in his lifetime, but rather a process of continuous reconstruction carried out by critics, media, and posthumous publications. This ongoing discourse has contributed to the accumulation of the necessary momentum for the resurgence in circulation of Lee’s filmic and TV works around the world. Scholars have taken note and started paying closer attention to the philosophical and pedagogical value of Lee’s body of works. Under worldwide circulation, Lee’s adaptation and translation of Asian philosophical teachings into highly accessible audiovisual media have become influential, exhibiting an impact no less astounding than the Asian originals and becoming works of independent stature themselves. The endless copies, clones, manipulation, proliferation, transmutation, and sharing of his works on digital platforms have further enhanced the dissemination and reception of Lee’s expressed philosophy and helped carry his writings and audiovisual presentations into the domain of world literature.
The Sinicized Posthuman Future: Reimagining Cyberpunk and the Cyborg in Chen Qiufan’s Waste Tide
Author : Pattarapong Kongwattana
Keywords : Chen Qiufan, science fiction, cyborg, Waste Tide
Chen Qiufan comes from a new generation of Chinese science fiction (SF) writers who use a style of SF realism to interrogate problems in Chinese society. In 2013, his novel Waste Tide (2013) won a Chinese Nebula Award. The novel depicts a dystopian posthuman China where a female protagonist is forced to transform into a cyborg and seek justice for members of the underclass who lives on a hazardous waste site. This paper aims to examine how Chen’s Waste Tide applies cyborgs to counter the impacts of globalization, environmental destruction, and the hegemony of the premodern system of Chinese society. In doing so, this paper employs the concept of a cyborg from Donna Haraway to explore the embodiment and functions of a cyborg, particularly in the context of Chinese society, together with the concept of “slow violence,” a term coined by Rob Nixon to explore environmental issues. Four main discussions are presented in this paper. First, the paper suggests how Chen’s SF realism sheds light on a relationship between the premodern Chinese clan system and globalization, which becomes a cause of environmental exploitation and oppression of subordinate humans and nonhumans in the novel. Second, the paper scrutinizes how Chen integrates Chinese elements into his cyberpunk narrative to resist the oppression of marginalized people in Chinese society. Third, the Sinicization of Chen’s cyborg is discussed. The narrative illustrates how Chen uses the female body as a radical figure to challenge the concept of human beings through supporting the subaltern, thus subverting dominant Chinese culture. Finally, the paper concludes with a discussion of the limitations of Chen’s narrative regarding a cyborg and how his narrative reflects elements of traditional Chinese gender ideology.