2 0 1 3 年 2 月 2 日

Fleshing out the structure for my dissertation (2013-02-02)


I’m typing up some rough notes and mental ramblings for my dissertation here. This keeps them safe and makes it easy for me to find them again later, and if anyone else is interested in where my dissertation is going at this stage they’re welcome to have a look too.

The list here consists of potential sections and headings that survived a cull from various piles of other notes.

  1. Introduction
  2. Why group 王蒙 and 刘宾雁 together?
    1. Grouped mentions in academic literature
      • Wagner Inside a Service Trade: 1956 Wang and Liu’s 特写
        • Are they one ‘generational faction’?
    2. Biographical life events
      • Both start out as idealistic members of CCP
      • Both labelled rightists in 50s (“fellow rightists”)
      • Both later rehabilitated, re-labelled, rehabilitated etc.
      • Their relationships with wives and families significant / similar?
      • Wang’s late career as Minister of Culture vs. Liu’s exile in America
      • Both spent time in America (Wang at Univ. Iowa)
    3. Comparing their work and lives
      • Core summary: Liu is a reporter, Wang an author
        • Liu as sociologist
        • Wang is artistic in purpose, Liu is not
      • Wang worked on literary theory, Liu did not
      • Both socialist realist writers?
      • Do both writers select techniques and styles based on ideological utility?
      • Comparison to other intellectuals
        • Wang Shuo
        • Hao Ran (Liang Jinguang)
        • Mo Yan
        • Liu Xiaobo
        • Gao Xingjian
      • How do they fit in in the role of intellectuals in China?
        • Spokesperson for regime
        • Spokesperson for people
  3. Trajectories of 王蒙 and 刘宾雁
    1. Approach to literature
      • Wang
        • Wang’s move from 1950s idealism to 1980s symbolism
        • Wang toyed briefly with reportage-style literature (e.g. in 一嚏千娇, Emotions on Visiting the Soviet Union 1984)
        • Wang’s development of form due to form being less “politically contentious” than content?
        • Wang suggests people write articles analysing his use of punctuation alone (i.e. he’s very much interested in writing for writing’s sake)
        • Absurdism
        • Modernism
        • Experimentalism
        • Stream of consciousness
        • Comparison to 相声
        • Wang’s writing “originated in Yan’an” but moved far away from that approach (note Wang was 8 years old at time of Yan’an)
        • Is all of Wang’s writing autobiographical to some extent? I.e. common character threads
        • Does Wang select names for his characters ironically?
      • Liu
        • Split Liu’s life / career into two periods 1951-1957 and 1979-1987?
        • Does Liu pursue self-image in his writing? (and how does this compare to Wang’s semi-autobiographical approach?)
        • Did Liu’s critical approach through literature inspire Wang?
        • Literature should “delve into life”
        • Liu as part of post-Mao “exposure culture”
        • Reportage as sociology
        • Liu’s friendship with Valentin Ovechkin
        • Is Liu didactic?
        • Reportage
        • Realism
          • Socialist realism
      • General
        • What are the assumptions paradigms that Wang and Liu existed in and thought in?
        • 1956 their most similar point / point of divergence?
    2. Political trajectories
      • Both writers increasingly interested in / develop relationship with ‘the West’ as careers go on
      • Liu remained an idealist at least until his move to America
        • Liu’s later move away from idealistic writing on to ‘protest’ and ‘pressure’ tactics
      • Liu’s relationship with his ‘patron’ Hu Yaobang
        • Does Wang have such a ‘patron’?
        • What is the link between Wang’s resignation after Tiananmen and Hu Yaobang?
      • Where do they fit in huge increase of number of intellectuals 1949-1990?
      • Movements they’re caught up in (needs expanding):
        • 1956: Two Hundred Flowers
        • 1957: Anti-Rightist Campaign
        • 1966-1976: Cultural Revolution (大革文化命)
        • 1978: Democracy Wall (西单民主墙)
        • 1979: Fourth Congress of Writers and Artists
        • 1981: Anti Bourgeois Liberalisation Campaign
        • 1983: Anti Spiritual Pollution Campaign
        • Politicisation of morality in China – historical precedent
      • Are intellectuals “responsible for their own destiny” in PRC system?
        • All intellectual positions in China controlled by government to some extent.
        • But intellectuals may have largest influence on government?
        • Why are “state”, “government” and “Party” often confounded in discourse about China?
        • Why does there seem to be little co-operation between intellectuals during this period?
        • Marxist role of intellectuals
          • Intellectuals as ‘a stratum’ vs ‘a class’
      • Angles to approach “political trajectory” from:
        • Political outlook (both go from idealism to cynicism?)
        • Value system (unchanging for both?)
        • Self conception as an intellectual (changes more for Wang?)
        • Attitude about / relationship to the State
    3. How they were perceived by their contemporaries
      • References to each other
  4. Textual analysis and discussion of selected works of 王蒙 and 刘宾雁
    • Wang
      • Newcomer
      • The Butterfly
      • Bolshevik Salute
        • Self-deception
        • ‘Double-think’ and contradiction
        • Comparison to Ah-Q
      • Hard Porridge
      • Loyal Heart
      • Recurring motifs:
        • Flowers, particularly white flower
        • Flight; flying animals
        • Nature / unstoppable forces
    • Liu
      • At the Bridge Construction Sites
      • Internal News of Our Newspaper
      • People or Monsters
      • A Second King of Loyalty
      • ???
  5. 王蒙 and 刘宾雁 as part of the ‘literary field’ of China
    • Intellectual discourse
    • Institution
    • Are Wang and Liu traditional Chinese intellectuals?

Dissertation sources I want to look at next

  • 历史与思想 – 余英时
  • 1985 文学评论
  • China’s Intellectuals and the State, in Search of a New Relationship – Goldman, Cheek, 1987
  • New Trends under Deng Xiaoping and His Successors – Hamrin 1987
  • Chinese Reportage – Laughlin
  • Inside a Service Trade – Wagner
  • Life in the Socialist Chinese Literary System – Perry Link
  • Occidentalism – Chen Xiaomei

notes