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Title: Western residents of China and their fictional writings, 1890-1914
Author: Young, Jacqueline
Awarding Body: University of Glasgow
Current Institution: University of Glasgow
Date of Award: 2011
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China was subject to increasingly pressing foreign presence and influence from the mid-nineteenth century onwards, but it was never formally colonised. Accordingly, foreign residents of many nationalities occupied an ambiguous position in the country. This was particularly so during the latter decade of the nineteenth and early part of the twentieth centuries, a period of internal unrest, revolution and external wars that saw expatriates either dismissed as irrelevant bystanders in China’s radical process of domestic change, or subject to sporadic but sustained campaigns to rid the country of their presence. Focusing on fiction written by Western residents of China during the period during 1890–1914, this thesis investigates, from a primarily historicising perspective, the extent to which their ambivalent ‘insider/outsider’ status, and the turbulent political and social conditions that they experienced or witnessed during this time, informed the work that they produced for domestic expatriate or overseas markets. It addresses the fictional output of several expatriate novelists, principally: Homer Lea; Mrs Archibald Little (A.E.N. Bewicke); Charles Welsh Mason; Paul and Veronica King (‘William A. Rivers’); and Bertram Lenox Simpson (‘Putnam Weale’). All produced factual works as well as fiction, and careful examination of their diverse fictional subtexts uncovers points of view often radically at variance with their opinions of record. Variously involved in social reform work, employed in Chinese government service (in the form of the Chinese Maritime Customs), engaged in criminal enterprise and associated with revolutionaries, these authors were also part of extensive professional, family and friendship networks throughout the country. An examination of their fictional representations of two social concerns – interracial liaisons and footbinding – reveals that in the context of the latter there is a significantly gender-differentiated response; while the Boxer Rebellion and the 1911 republican Revolution prompt both male and female writers to embark on remarkably similar generic explorations of events, as they universally invoke Romantic and Gothic strategies respectively in otherwise diverse works. In their similarities and in their differences, expatriate authors’ literary engagement with revolutions both social and political suggest that the China they sought to portray in fiction was as subtly varied as their own, distinct, personal relationships with the country they called home.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: PR English literature