Straw Sandals, Two Pairs

Chin Ang (2010). Straw Sandals, Two Pairs PhD Thesis, School of English, Media Studies and Art History, The University of Queensland.

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s34564262_phd_finalthesis.pdf Final thesis application/pdf 1.62MB 18
Author Chin Ang
Thesis Title Straw Sandals, Two Pairs
School, Centre or Institute School of English, Media Studies and Art History
Institution The University of Queensland
Publication date 2010-09
Thesis type PhD Thesis
Supervisor Dr Bronwyn Lea
Br Bronwen Levy
Total pages 396
Total black and white pages 396
Subjects 19 Studies in Creative Arts and Writing
Abstract/Summary This thesis is in two parts, a Creative Project and an accompanying Critical Essay, which together examine Chinese women‘s agency and the representation of Chinese women in contemporary diasporic writing. The Creative Project, a novel, entitled Straw Sandals, Two Pairs, explores the themes of power, race and identity, with China‘s civil war of 1932-1949 as its background. My principal protagonist, Wong Mimi, is inspired by women who, at great personal cost, left their homes and families to participate in the great Chinese revolutions of the twentieth century. Mimi joins the Red Army and undertakes the Long March of 1934-35, accompanied by an Australian, Daniel Whitehead, who later becomes her lover. Mimi has no questions about her Chineseness or her role in revolution. By contrast, Daniel has many questions, about identity, race, and how to live a meaningful life. These differences influence their views about war, power, and what the revolution is meant to achieve. As Mimi discovers her vulnerability, she learns about self-knowledge and acceptance. The novel ends with Mimi making a painful choice between emotional fulfilment and her duty to the nation. The Critical Essay is entitled "Half the Sky: Female Agency in the Novels of Hsu-Ming Teo, Hwee Hwee Tan, and Lau Siew Mei." It examines female agency in five novels by women writers of the Chinese diaspora: Love and Vertigo, and Behind the Moon, by Hsu-Ming Teo; Foreign Bodies, and Mammon Inc., by Hwee Hwee Tan; and Playing Madame Mao, by Lau Siew Mei. These works offer a counter-discourse to racist and sexist stereotypes. The novels show Chinese women‘s sensibilities, and hence their agency, changing, especially in regard to women‘s thoughts about power, inequities in society, and patriarchy in Chinese society. Teo explores the subservience and rebellion of women; Tan‘s undomesticated female agents proceed briskly with inverting, subverting, and perverting the power relations that characterise patriarchal society; and Lau‘s enigmatic protagonist, in Playing Madame Mao, exercises more political and personal power than most of the male characters. The essay argues that the novels provide evidence of a lively interest in several types of women‘s agency among women writers of the Chinese diaspora.
Keyword Agency, Australia, Chinese, diaspora, fiction, Malaya, Nanyang, Singapore, women

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Created: Thu, 09 Jun 2011, 14:38:59 EST by Ms Chin Ang on behalf of Library - Information Access Service