From Daughter to Wife: The Trajectory of Married Women in Ling Shuhua and Feng Yuanjun’s May Fourth Period Works

  • Author / Creator
    Shi, Ruinan
  • This thesis investigates works of two late-Qing period born, well-educated, May Fourth period first-generation female writers, Ling Shuhua 凌叔华 (1900-1990) and Feng Yuanjun冯沅君 (1900-1974) who both had a literary creation peak during the 1920s-1930s. Born in a high-ranking official family, Ling is known as a Chinese modernist writer and painter. Born in a wealthy literati family, Feng being known as a scholar of Chinese classical literature and literary historian. A similar life trajectory didn’t make them write comparably but having a remarkably different one.
    By looking at Temple of Flowers花之寺 (1928) by Ling Shuhua and Trace of Spring春痕(1927) by Feng Yuanjun, the central argument of this thesis is that the authors’ writing style is considered different simply because they have depicted women in different marital states. The theme of marriage is through-line which connects both writers and also reflects experiences of women’s lives during the May Fourth period. The first chapter examines the male figures among Ling Shuhua and Feng Yuanjun’s work, where there is always a lack of specific description as well as the male characters being physically absent in the stories. Although these stories show the independent side of women and criticize men who are unfaithful in love, there are subconscious limitations on the self and female consciousness through the authors’ historical milieu. Chapter two looks at the empowered elder woman roles in the traditional family system who functions as the unexpected oppressor towards the younger generation in the patricidal society. By tracing May Fourth feminism, individualism and female awareness in Ling and Feng’s writing, I aim to show an inner conflict between modern ideologies and traditional morality in the two writers’ works, and their depiction of women is formulaic.

  • Subjects / Keywords
  • Graduation date
    Fall 2021
  • Type of Item
  • Degree
    Master of Arts
  • DOI
  • License
    This thesis is made available by the University of Alberta Libraries with permission of the copyright owner solely for non-commercial purposes. This thesis, or any portion thereof, may not otherwise be copied or reproduced without the written consent of the copyright owner, except to the extent permitted by Canadian copyright law.