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Love, power and resistance : representations of Chinese-Caucasian romance in twentieth-century Anglophone literature

Zeng, Shu


Shu Zeng


Feng, Lin (Writer on Chinese cinema)


This thesis has examined a body of Anglophone literature centred on Chinese-Caucasian romance across the twentieth century, a time when such interracial literature started to emerge in a wide range of genres. Aiming to map out the evolution of the representations of interracial alliances in the works of British and American writers, the thesis has incorporated literary texts published chronologically across the century. In analysing the primary texts within a socio-historical context and under the theoretical framework of Orientalism, the discursive writerly strategies deployed to represent the Chinese – the racial Other – have been investigated. Concurrently the discussions have gone beyond Orientalism through accentuating the pitfalls in the indiscriminate application of this approach. This thesis has also undertaken a comparative study of how Western writers and Western writers of Chinese ancestry represent the motif of Chinese-Caucasian romance differently, and how the cultural hybridity of the latter group has influenced their perceptions of the Chinese and complicated the boundary between the Self and the Other.

This thesis has discovered that literary representations of successful interracial union were rare in the twentieth century. In order to sidestep the miscegenation laws or compromise the textual ambivalences regarding interracial relationships, most of the texts end with the death of the protagonists, the transformation of an interracial alliance into an intra-racial one, or the displacement of interracial love from the metropolitan West to the peripheral East. In addition, the Chinese characters are largely silenced and associated with darkness in literary works before the 1940s, while the works of the mid-twentieth century start to give centre stage to a Chinese presence. This study also gives prominence to the heterogeneity of literary texts, which suggests the possibility of intertextual dialogues through challenging the ‘Madame Butterfly’ or ‘white knight’ narratives. These counter-energies further contest the monolithic voice of the Orientalist discourse. By categorizing the primary texts, this thesis proposes two terms – manifest stereotyping (an uncontroversial negative representation of the Other) and latent stereotyping (a hidden or unconscious abstraction of the Other), which help draw attention to the problematics of intercultural representations.


Zeng, S. (2015). Love, power and resistance : representations of Chinese-Caucasian romance in twentieth-century Anglophone literature. (Thesis). University of Hull. Retrieved from

Thesis Type Thesis
Deposit Date Jun 25, 2018
Publicly Available Date Mar 2, 2023
Keywords English
Public URL
Additional Information Department of English, The University of Hull
Award Date Nov 1, 2015


Thesis (2.4 Mb)

Copyright Statement
© 2015 Shu Zeng. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced without the written permission of the copyright holder.

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