Date on Master's Thesis/Doctoral Dissertation


Document Type

Doctoral Dissertation

Degree Name

Ph. D.



Committee Chair

Allen, Annette C.

Author's Keywords

Female Gothic; Carson McCullers; Zhang Ailing; Chinese literature; Eudora Welty; American literature


Women and literature; Gothic revival (Literature); Zhang, Ailing; Welty, Eudora, 1909-2001; McCullers, Carson, 1917-1967


This study seeks to situate our understanding of Zhang Ailing's Chuanqi as part of global women's efforts to establish a voice of their own by way of hijacking patriarchal literary heritage. In order to show Zhang Ailing as a conscious weaver of female Gothic, Chinese style, my study pursues two parallel routes of argument. First, proceeding from Zhang's unique vision of human experience as an interplay of the ordinary and the extra-ordinary, my dissertation delineates her indebtedness to and rebellion against traditional Chinese "Gothic," especially the genre of Chuanqi. To illuminate the common raison d’être of Zhang's modem romances in her collection Chuanqi and its namesake traditional genre, my study bypasses the historicity and cultural specificity of Western Gothic to put forward a definition of "Gothic" that can accommodate Chinese particularities. Second, to demonstrate the general comparability between Zhang's creative imagination and that of widely recognized female Gothicists, this dissertation engages in close textual analysis of a broad spectrum of Zhang's stories and representative works by American writers, Eudora Welty and Carson McCullers, her contemporaries. Focusing on three leitmotifs of female Gothic-the female grotesque, confinement, and escape, my comparative approach generates differences as well as similarities between Chinese and American female Gothic. On a theoretical level, my study has broadened the horizon of female Gothic from the West to the East, demonstrating its power as a vibrant feminist literary form.