Magical Realism and Feminist Subversion in China and Beyond



Thursday, Nov. 7, 4:00 pm in Liberal Arts Building #136



How do Chinese activists today get around increasingly repressive political censorship? While the pro-democracy demonstrations in Hong Kong, and Beijing’s severe reaction to them, confirm the lack of rights in China, young people on the Mainland are creating more roundabout ways to communicate their subversive ideas. 

Online literature in China flourishes, with reinventions of traditional genres such as sword-fighting, with a subversive, contemporary edge. Young women use creative linguistic innovations to subvert censorship of feminist social media. After the censorship of the Me Too movement, they used the emojis of rice (mi) and rabbit (tu) in place of the English words (homophones for “Me” and “Too”). 

Persecution of feminists in China is on the rise, with both activists and authors imprisoned. Through the veil of magical realism, brave women continue to voice opposition via hugely popular online novels. As repression increases, so does resistance. This is similar to how magical realism was originally used in Latin America to criticize dictatorships while avoiding political censorship and persecution. In addition to the China focus, this lecture provides keys to understanding magical realism, including how the imagination shapes our ways of seeing and acting in the world. Drawing from my book Décoloniser l’imaginaire: du réalisme magique chez Maryse Condé, Marie NDiaye; et Sylvie Germain (L’Harmattan, 2007), it includes examples from China, the Francophone world, and beyond. 


Professor of Literature Kate Rose is currently on leave from China University of Mining and Technology. She graduated Magna Cum Laude from Boston College and went on to get her PhD in Comparative Literature from Université de Montpellier, France. 

She is the author or co-author of multiple books, chapters, academic articles, and reviews on feminism, traumatic memory in literature, social linguistics, French Literature, Chinese literature, and indigenous literature of the Americas. She is also the author of several fictional short stories and one novel.

She is the editor of a forthcoming book in Routledge’s Series on Contemporary Literature, titled Displaced: Migration, Indigeneity, and Trauma. Currently she is seeking a department at NAU interested in integrating her interdisciplinary and international teaching and research. In the meantime, she works as a freelance editor, and part-time for a local publishing house. 



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