A comparative study of eighteenth to twentieth century Chinese and American country -of -women utopian fictions

Ying Liang, Purdue University


This study surveys a progression toward imperfection and openness in both Chinese and American women‘s utopian fictions over the eighteenth to twentieth century. In particular we investigate the texts that portray a country or a community of women: Cao Xueqin‘s Hong lou meng , Li Ruzhen‘s Jing hua yuan, Sarah Jewett‘s The County of the Pointed Firs, Charlotte Gilman‘s Herland, and Toni Morrison‘s Paradise. ^ Our study hinges on a critique of the equation of perfection with closure. Women‘s utopias have moved toward deconstructing gender opposition, isolation, women-centered radical ideologies, closure of utopian visions, and perfection seeking. Women‘s utopias justify not only the commonly known wish for gender equality, but also the right to be imperfect and open. ^ This study also interrogates the concept of utopian societies. A utopia is a good place that does not exist anywhere, both a “eu-topos” and an “ou-topos.” Our concern used to be with the “eu-topos” part, the traditionally precise and concrete blueprints of an ideal society. In order to continue to grow, a utopia is no longer a place to be or describing a better place, but a place not to be (“ou-topos”) or an empty place. Multiplicity and a growing inclusiveness are the essence and not the destruction of a paradise. ^




Charles Ross, Purdue University.

Subject Area

Literature, Comparative|Literature, Asian|Women's Studies|Literature, American

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