Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Comparative Literature

Committee Chair

Daniel Hsieh

Committee Co-Chair

Aparajita Sagar

Committee Member 1

Hongjian Wang

Committee Member 2

Emily Allen


This dissertation is a literary study of how and why late Qing Chinese self-image formation involved the “alien eye,” by which I mean the view of the foreigner observing and writing about China. I investigate writings and occasionally images produced within the period from 1874 to 1911, framed by the founding of the first Chinese-owned modern newspaper and the overthrow of the Qing empire. The literary genres I address include essays, short stories, novels, and plays. While effects of foreign views of China on the Chinese varied from positive stimulation to psychological damage, I argue that Chinese’ appropriation of the alien eye in their public writings empowered while at the same time complicated their reexamination of China, shaping modern Chinese self-identity in intricate ways. Instead of being passively configured in the unifying gaze of the other, Chinese self-images acquired varied forms as a result of the diverse interpretations and rewriting of the foreign vision by Chinese writers in the transnational exchanges of views.