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HUI-CHUAN CHANG, University of Massachusetts Amherst


As a generic study of literary utopia and Chinese utopian literature, this dissertation is mainly concerned with a refutation of generic confusion pervasive in critical studies of Chinese utopian literature, and the methodology owes much to cultural and literary semiotics. The preliminary chapters are dedicated to an investigation of the conventions indigenous to literary utopia. The paradigmatic inquiry in Chapter II helps to locate several codes pertinent to literary utopia through the articulation of an inter-generic dialogue among utopia and its neighboring genres. The syntagmatic inquiry in Chapter III, using late nineteenth-century American literary utopias as an appropriate example, pinpoints the genre's dynamic feature: it is the existence of a generic contract, through the articulation of an intra-generic dialogue, that guarantees the diverse texts as truly belonging to the genre. Investigations of the alleged Chinese utopian literature in Chapter IV has led to the conclusion that most celebrated Chinese utopias of the classical era are paradisiacal myths. It is not until the late Ch'ing (ca. 1840-1911) that, in an obscure body of literature, literary utopia typical of the genre emerges on the Chinese scene. Chapter V is devoted to a study of these late Ch'ing texts in the light of the generic conventions of literary utopia. The significance of this exploration lies in the discovery of the uniqueness of Chinese utopias: drastically different from their predecessors and much under foreign influence, late Ch'ing utopias still assume a distinct identity apart from their Western counterparts. This dissertation addresses problems related to thematic approaches to utopian literature in general and misconceptions in regard to Chinese utopian literature in particular.

Subject Area

Comparative literature|American literature|Asian literature

Recommended Citation

CHANG, HUI-CHUAN, "LITERARY UTOPIA & CHINESE UTOPIAN LITERATURE: A GENERIC APPRAISAL" (1986). Doctoral Dissertations Available from Proquest. AAI8612022.