When Routes become Roots: Liu Na'ou, Jiang Wenye, and Their Transnational Cultural Productions, 1923-1945

  • Author / Creator
    Nan, Mei Mingxue
  • This thesis investigates works of two Taiwanese-born, Japanese-educated, and Chinese-based authors during the volatile years of 1923 to 1945 – Shanghai-based short story writer Liu Na’ou 劉吶鷗 (1905–1940) and Beijing-based musician-cum-poet Jiang Wenye 江文也 (1910–1983). They were born in Taiwan under Japanese rule, sent to Japan for education, and intriguingly, they both chose to relocate to China against the backdrop of rising Sino-Japanese tensions which eventually led to the outbreak of the Second Sino-Japanese War. Liu was assassinated and Jiang was persecuted for the crime of being national traitors. Ironically, Liu is remembered as a Chinese writer and Jiang as a Japanese musician, deflecting attention from the particularly transnational character of their body of work.
    The central argument of my thesis is that, in their writings, Liu Na’ou and Jiang Wenye responded to East Asian colonial modernity differently from their Chinese and Japanese peers, as their cultural productions lacked nationalist overtones. In my first chapter, I will demonstrate that Liu Na’ou used the fugitive movement of modern girl in his urban writing to conduct a multi-layered and multi-directional critique of Shanghai’s semicolonial, modern, and capitalist condition. In my second chapter, I will show how Jiang Wenye employed the survival tactics of disidentification in his publications to circumvent the twin mechanism of censorship and propaganda. By tracing the cacophonies of colonialism, imperialism, and nationalism reflected in Liu’s and Jiang’s writings, I aim to show that there are insights only visible beyond national borders, reimagining transnational peoples’ cultural in-betweenness as opening a world of original and creative cultural practice.

  • Subjects / Keywords
  • Graduation date
    Spring 2020
  • Type of Item
  • Degree
    Master of Arts
  • DOI
  • License
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