Dissertation > Literature > World Literature > Work reviews and research

Images of China in Modern British and American Texts from the Perspective of Orientalism

Author XuZuo
Tutor CuiYaPing
School Northwestern University
Course English Language and Literature
Keywords Orientalism China images
CLC I106
Type Master's thesis
Year 2009
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In the long course of history, with frequent communication between China and the West, the images of China are interpreted variously in different works of various times. China sometimes is the secular heaven where people live and work in peace and contentment, and at times is the evil hell where wars and plagues are rampant. The western tradition of Orientalism for a long time deeply influences westerners’ impression on the Orient and China. The tradition is obviously shown in some modern British and American texts. The westerners’ prejudices and stereotyped viewpoints towards China are just the product of the long-term history.The thesis first briefly reviews the evolution of images of China and Chinese in western historical documents. Then, the thesis, based on Edward Said’s theory of Orientalism, analyzes and summarizes China’s images in modern British and American texts mainly in 20th century from the perspective of Orientalism by text analysis. The images of China in this thesis mainly refer to the images of Chinese people.By analyzing these modern British and American texts, the writer points out that in the modern British and American texts, the image of China is depicted as an Other opposite from the West. To westerners, China and the West are at opposite poles. West versus China equals to civilization versus barbarism, goodness versus evil, strength versus weakness, and richness versus poverty. Besides, bad customs in China, such as foot binding for women and concubinage, are exaggerated and generalized to be China’s principal images. China’s images are gradually feminized, marginalized, simplified and silenced. Meanwhile, the modern British and American texts often show the imagination that the West redeems or saves China.

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