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Coming of age in a time of trouble : the Bildungsroman of Su Tong and Yu Hua Li, Hua

Abstract

The focus of this study is coming-of-age in a time of trouble reflected in contemporary Chinese Chengzhang xiaoshuo/Bildungsroman fiction. Selected works of two major Chinese writers--Su Tong and Yu Hua--are treated as cultural metaphors that reflect on the growth and future of Chinese youth in an abnormal era--the Cultural Revolution--and how they deviate from Mao Zedong's promotion of the "morning sun at eight or nine o'clock" and "the socialist new man." The chief scholarly significance of studying these writers' coming-of-age stories are two. First, this study will expand the boundaries of studies of the literary genre of Bildungsroman. By referring two Chinese authors' stories to the theoretical corpus of the Bildungsroman, I explore the interaction between the literary genre and individual Chinese literary works, and demonstrate how these Chinese stories enrich the Bildungsroman literary genre by providing a body of parodic chengzhang xiaoshuo. Second, this study will contribute to our understanding of the social history of the Cultural Revolution, the two writers providing an alternative perspective to show the disastrous effects of Chinese Cultural Revolution on the Chinese people, especially the young. The methodology of this dissertation is a combination of close readings of original Chinese literary texts and literary analysis informed by scholarship on the Bildungsroman genre and psychological and sociological theories of adolescence.

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