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CGED Research Seminar Series

Transpacific Celebrity: Xiao Hong, Agnes Smedley, and Eileen Chang


Speaker: Clara Iwasaki, Assistant Professor, Department of East Asian Studies, University of Alberta

Discussant: Nicole Huang, Professor and Chair, Department of Comparative Literature, School of Humanities, HKU

Moderator: Elizabeth LaCouture, Director and Assistant Professor, Gender Studies Programme, School of Humanities, HKU

Date: Wednesday, March 9, 2022

Time: 10:00 am Hong Kong Time

Click here for the Zoom recording

This talk focuses on the way three authors, Xiao Hong, Agnes Smedley and Eileen Chang, circulated around the transpacific. All three writers are strongly associated with autobiographical writings and in the case of Xiao and Chang, their sensational biographies (particularly their love lives) have frequently overshadowed their writing. All three women deployed their literary personae, but their control over their image was never absolute. Xiao Hong and Agnes Smedley were friends and more importantly, they circulated each other’s works and literary images. Xiao Hong sees in Smedley’s work a universal feminist struggle. Smedley sees in Xiao Hong a vision of a progressive and particularly Chinese proletarian feminism. For Eileen Chang, her autobiographical novels remained unpublished until many years after her death because her stark self-revelation was inconsistent with the image of old Shanghai glamor that her earlier fiction had conjured up.

Clara Iwasaki is an assistant professor in the department of East Asian Studies at the University of Alberta. Her book Rethinking the Modern Chinese Canon: Refractions across the Transpacific was published by Cambria in 2020.

This event is co-presented by the Committee on Gender Equality and Diversity and the Gender Studies Programme at the University of Hong Kong, with the support of the Center for the Study of Globalization and Cultures (CSGC) and the Department of Comparative Literature, School of Humanities, HKU.

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