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The Australian National University

HRC seminar series: 'Dangerous romances: the stranger in Chinese narratives, past and present'

Presenter: Assoc. Prof. Paola Zamperini, Northwestern University, US
Event date: 
4.30–5.45pm 30 May 2017
Venue: Seminar Room 1, Sir Roland Wilson Building (#120), ANU

In many contemporary and past cultural contexts the foreign/er is associated with the erotic but risky thrill of the exotic for the individual viewer, while also bearing larger dangers (and enticements) for the collective. Chinese literature, from its inception, has been particularly engaged with representations of the foreign and the strange in this dual role, and many authors, past and present, have chosen to explore the tensions of the arrival of an unknown man or woman through the lens of love, lust, and their aftermath.

Aiming to join this very rich but still much understudied arena, this paper focuses on the recently rediscovered eighteenth century pornographic work Guwang yan 姑妄言, ‘Preposterous Words’, as a primary example of the ways in which strangers enter the circuit of narratives of sex, love, and mating. Using the theoretical and analytical tools of gender studies, literary and critical theory, we shall uncover how characters perform, embody, challenge, and shed the identity as strangers throughout the course of this protean and surreal novel.

Paola Zamperini is a Professor of Pre-modern Chinese Literature and Gender and Sexuality Studies at Northwestern University.

 

Lecture followed by light refreshment.

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