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The Humanities Conference 2003

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Western Humanism and Individuals: Representations of The Chinese Feminine in Contemporary Literatures in English

Amy W.S. Lee.

One of the distinguishing features between the Chinese and Western perception of the individual is the centrality of the self in the western narrative, backed by centuries of writings celebrating the individual. Humanities scholars have suggested different historical and cultural landmarks as the birth of the individual: the concept of Humanism in Italian Renaissance which advocates individual achievement and fame, or the birth of erotic literature in France beginning with Molière. The Chinese “individual”, however, emerges only at the beginning of the 20th century when western approaches to learning were deliberately brought into China in a massive scale. Since then, one sees an increasingly distinct Individual occupying contemporary Chinese literary writing, modeled against the western autobiographical and the confessional forms. This paper proposes to examine some examples in contemporary Chinese writing to trace the formation of this Chinese individual subject which grows from a feminine victim of the times to an increasing physical feminine individual.


Amy W.S. Lee  (Hong Kong Special Administrative Region of China)
Assistant Professor
Humanities Programme
Hong Kong Baptist University

Amy Lee teaches in the Humanities Programme and the Department of English Language and Literature at the Hong Kong Baptist University. Her research interest includes narratives of marginal experiences and identities, new literatures in English, and detective fiction.

  • Humanism
  • Autobiography
  • Confession
  • Feminine
  • Individual
Person as Subject
  • Zhang, Jie Mah, Adeline Wei, Hui

(Virtual Presentation, English)