The Literary Territorialization of Manchuria: Rethinking National and Transnational Literature in East Asia
CitationXie, Miya Qiong. 2017. The Literary Territorialization of Manchuria: Rethinking National and Transnational Literature in East Asia. Doctoral dissertation, Harvard University, Graduate School of Arts & Sciences.
AbstractThis dissertation studies modern Chinese, Korean, and Japanese literature written in and about Manchuria from the 1920s through the 1970s. Manchuria, now the northeastern part of China, was once an open frontier. In the first half of the twentieth century, it became a site of contestation and conflict among multiple countries. Along with the political and military rivalries that unfolded there, I argue that literature played an important role in the frontier contestation. At a time when legal territoriality defined by state sovereignty experienced frequent and radical turnovers, literary writers sought to engage with the process of a cultural territory-making through literature. In their writing in Chinese, Japanese, or Korean, the writers developed various thematic and stylistic strategies that suited their circumstances and personal preferences. These strategies allowed them to claim the frontier space for the particular group of people with whom they identified. I call the writers’ literary engagement “literary territorialization,” a process in which frontier writers aimed to territorialize the frontier in ways that were more fluid and flexible but also more fragile than the establishment of legal territory. Through an investigation of a multilingual body of Manchurian literature, my work explores how frontier literature demarcates the nation in a web of translational connectivity.
In the four chapters of my dissertation I discuss frontier writers who have had varying relationships to Manchuria. They include Manchuria-born Chinese writers who were exiled to China Proper after the Japanese takeover in 1932 and sought to reclaim the land through literature; a Manchuria-born Chinese writer who stayed during the Japanese Manchukuo regime (1932-1945) and engaged in transnational linguistic experiments as his form of literary territorialization; diasporic Korean writers in Manchuria who were constantly anxious about the issue of translation; and postwar Japanese repatriation literature by women survivors that deals with their traumatic withdrawal from Manchuria. In individual works, writers may choose to exclude or include characters, languages, and other cultural elements belonging to different groups. Ultimately, however, their textual choices are all different ways to embody their territorial consciousness regarding the frontier in literature. In a time when the frontier was still open to multinational rivalries, literary territorialization functioned to prepare or justify political and military competition for legal territorial rights, or else to compensate for their loss in Manchuria and elsewhere. And when the frontier was closed, former frontier writers used literature to represent and work through the traumatic experience caused by the process of deterritorialization.
Methodologically, my work designates a common space as the ground for comparing literatures of different languages within the same region of East Asia. It also contributes to existing studies of East Asian national and transnational literature. In this dissertation, I offer fresh interpretations of classic texts of the national literatures of three East Asian countries from a transnational perspective. I also engage with current trends in transnational literary studies in East Asia, including Sinophone literature, Japanese colonial literature, and Korean diaspora literature. Ultimately, I argue that frontier literature serves as a bridge between national and transnational literature, because the essence of frontier literature is to claim a national space in a transnational geographic setting and with a strong transnational awareness. In addition, the smaller theoretical issues discussed throughout the dissertation include the spatial imaginary in literature, translation, and linguistic hybridity, among others.
Citable link to this pagehttp://nrs.harvard.edu/urn-3:HUL.InstRepos:41141198
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