Date on Master's Thesis/Doctoral Dissertation


Document Type

Doctoral Dissertation

Degree Name

Ph. D.



Committee Chair

Zeng, Li

Author's Keywords

Gender studies; Masculinity; Man; Asian literature; Chinese; Comparative literature


Jin; Ha; 1956-; Masculinity in literature; Chinese literature--20th century; Sex (Psychology) in literature


This dissertation consists of readings of three selected novels by Ha Jin-Waiting, The Crazed, and A Free Life. These novels cover three historical periods of Contemporary China under the rule of the Communist Party in sequence-the Mao's era (1949-1976), post-Mao era (1976-1989) and post-Tiananmen Square Incident era (1989 onwards). The readings are predominated with gender issues in the literary works, particularly with the construction and representation of contemporary Chinese masculinity. Drawing mainly on the Kam Louie's theory which pins down traditional Chinese masculinity in terms of wen (literary power) and wu (physical power)-the two concepts deeply entrenched in Confucianism, the dissertation explores how wen and wu qualities continuously define contemporary Chinese manhood in the novels. Because the characters of the selected novels mainly are intellectuals, the emphasis of my analysis is on wen masculinity represented by this community. In terms of literary theories, the dissertation adopts mainly the Structuralism perspective, exploring dualities underlying the texts, which include, heroes vs. anti-heroes, nationalism vs. humanism. Apart from emphasizing the cultural continuity in the construction of Chinese masculinity, the dissertation also attempts to reveal the transformations of Chinese manhood in the broader context of the socio-political environment of contemporary China.