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Exploiting the Old Empire : : Korean and Taiwanese Literature and Film in Semicolonial China, 1923-1943

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Abstract

This dissertation examines the inter-colonial aesthetics of diasporic Korean and Taiwanese artists who engaged Chinese audiences as well as those in their native lands. Their works were far from consciously pursuing antinationalism or internationalism. Yet, their aesthetic fluency in multi-nationalist issues across East Asia unwittingly challenged colonial and semicolonial nationalism. By aesthetic fluency, I mean that diasporic literature or film freely allies itself with other national issues and also separates from them with the same freedom. The issues ranged from China's discursive movements of imbuing its people with "national spirit" and Korea's inner schism around anticolonial principles, to Taiwan's trauma of failed anticolonial uprisings and a Japanese massacre. I argue that the model of fluency or flexibility, not that of identity, illuminates how inter- colonial aesthetics was differentiated from both nationalism and antinationalism. While analyzing the intersection of colonial art and political struggles, this dissertation also investigates the structures of feeling in literature and film that conflict with the political orientation of writers. Diasporic artists from colonized Taiwan and Korea boldly suggested that their audiences strategically dissociate from the idea of nation-salvation, and meditate on the authentic needs of their lives that political change cannot bring about. Chapter One illustrates the political contexts where the formation of an ideal inter-East Asian alliance was circumscribed. In Chapters Two through Five, I examine various forms of aesthetic fluency, which include reviving Daoist discourses, romanticizing anticolonial struggles, reconfiguring political matters into modern women's issues, and appealing to communist sympathy. By looking at these examples, this project provides a hermeneutical model that analyzes imbrication and incommensurability between aesthetic and political practices, semicolonial and colonial sensibilities, and a nation and an individual subject in colonial East Asia

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This item is under embargo until June 12, 2021.