Year

2012

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy

Department

School of English Literatures and Philosophy

Abstract

Though Chinese Australian writers have produced a large number of works in both Chinese and English, there is little research on their representation of Chinese masculinity. In particular, there is an absence of scholarship on the representation of Chinese masculinity in works by Chinese Australian writers of mainland background. This thesis intends to fill this void.

I focus on fiction and autobiography by writers of mainland background. Writers who have published in Chinese or English include Ouyang Yu, Liu Guande, Huangfu Jun, Yan Tiesheng, Li Wei, Liu Ao, Ying Ge, Zhong Yazhang, Jin Kaiping, Li Cunxin, Cai Zixuan, Jin Xing, He Yuqin, Lingzhi, Shi Guoying, Su Shan’na, Xibei, Bi Xiyan, Xia’er and Wang Hong. I also include a study of Brian Castro’s novels in English, Birds of Passage and After China.

This thesis aims to identify the models of Chinese masculinity that figure in the texts used in my research, as well as to examine the extent to which these models fit or challenge theories of masculinity. I combine gender theory, masculinity theory in particular, with narrative analysis. Relevant concepts include Kam Louie’s wen-wu dyad of Chinese masculinity, R.W. Connell’s ‘hegemonic masculinity/marginalised masculinity’ and ‘protest masculinity’, and Anthony S. Chen’s notion of the ‘hegemonic bargain’.

The thesis argues that there is a marked difference between male Chinese authors, Chinese women writers and Brian Castro in their representation of Chinese masculinity. Male characters created by male writers are either confined to traditional models of Chinese masculinity epitomised by the scholar/intellectual or conform to the male ideal of the capitalist world embodied in the successful businessman. Models of masculinity constructed by male writers have attributes of Chinese patriarchy. However, male-constructed models of Chinese masculinity are challenged in the works of Chinese women writers. A shared feature in the texts of women writers is their incorporation of gender equality in the construction of ideal masculinity, which, in most cases, is embodied in a Western man. Castro’s Chinese men deviate from any established models of Chinese masculinity. The ‘hegemonic bargain’ that has been used to describe the North American Chinese diaspora does not necessarily apply to the male Chinese characters in these Australian texts. This thesis shows how marginalised Chinese masculinities negotiate their contemporary position in an Australian multicultural and multiracial context.

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