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. 

1 comment:

  1. Magical Realism and Feminist Subversion in China and Beyond

    K.R.’s definition of magical realism: A kind of literature where there is something magical, but it is described in the same way as things that are very real. This is done with the goal of destabilizing some form of hierarchy or domination.
    The female-oriented online literature station Jin Jiang/晋江 possesses 2.77 million novels of different genres, 70,000 contracted writers, and millions of registered readers. Chinese novels cited:
    Go Princess Go/太子妃升职记 
The Queen of Amazon/亚马逊女王
Mirror Series/镜系列
    Recommended Reading:
    Chi Zijian: Last Quarter of the Moon
    Can Xue: Frontier
    Anything by Marie NDiaye, Sylvie Germain, or Maryse Condé
    Leta Hong Fincher: Betraying Big Brother: The Feminist Uprising in China
    Kate Rose (ed): Displaced: Migration, Indigeneity, and Trauma (available 2020 with Routledge) (information and activism - feminism in China)
    Bio: As an author, academic, and editor, Kate Rose coordinated a forthcoming book in Routledge’s Series on Contemporary Literature, titled Displaced: Migration, Indigeneity, and Trauma. A professor at China University of Mining and Technology from 2013 to 2019, she moved to Flagstaff in August and will teach this spring semester in Northern Arizona University’s sociology department. She spent 12 years in France, earning a PhD in Comparative Literature focusing on magical realism as a subversive tool in contemporary women’s writings (subject of her first book, Décoloniser l’imaginaire). Her stories have appeared in literary journals such as The Fictional Café, International Human Rights Art Festival, cc&d, Anti-Heroin Chic, Page and Spine, Literary Yard, The Conglomerate, and Diagram as well as several literary journals in French (she also published an experimental novel in French). She has published in academic journals such as Studies in American Indian Literatures, World Literature Today, Dignity: A Journal of Sexual Violence and Exploitation, Journal of Asian Women’s Studies, and her edited book China Beyond the Binary: Race, Gender, and the Use of Story was published by Cambridge Scholars in 2019. She will be Flagstaff’s Writer in Residence starting January, 2020, and offer many free workshops and talks. Send her an email to be informed, or check the library’s website.
    Professor Kate Rose - - Web page (including many publications):