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Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

The mosaic of the city: Reading Taiwanese urban fiction and film in the late 20th century
by Shie, Shr-tzung, Ph.D., Yale University, 2007, 292; 3293409
Abstract (Summary)

In the last decade, scholarship on social space has blossomed in disciplines as various as cultural geography, urban sociology, cultural studies, architecture, and anthropology. Synthesizing this work of scholarship with Bakhtin's theory of chronotopes, this project seeks not only to systematically study Taiwanese urban fiction and film from the 1980s, a subject that has not received enough critical attention, but also to balance the studies of characters, plot, and thought in the critical tradition of the West with the rethinking of the role of space—both its symbolic meanings and narrative functions—in fiction and film.

Chapter One identifies the segmentation of urban space as a structuring principle of the city that creates the image of alienated urban dwellers who keep their distance as strangers and fall prey to the mechanism of stereotyping. In Chapter Two, I further argue that various media transgress the walled, segmented residential space and bring in the knowledge of alternative lifestyles, thus helping the residents reflexively negotiate new identities and plan new life trajectories. Through the lens of feminist geography, Chapter Three focuses on the quotidian practices of gendered agents, practices that not only transgress the confines of domestic space but also challenge the patriarchal division of the public and private. The final chapter emphasizes urban dwellers' spatial practices that tactically resist the segmentation of urban space, whereas the system of the city has become more flexible, porous, and tolerant to minute antagonism, a condition that paradoxically renders urban reform all the more difficult.

In the conclusion of the dissertation, the idea of the city mosaic is evoked to highlight the significance of micro urban spaces, like the various pieces of a mosaic, and to contest the conception of the city as a representable whole, as an entity with boundaries, fixity, and identity. Without disregarding the notion of representation in the study of urban literature, this research suggests the need of maintaining a gradation of spatial scales on which a corpus of urban literature can be analyzed without surrendering its complexity and inner contradiction to a reductive and totalizing representation of the city.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Laughlin, Charles A.
School: Yale University
School Location: United States -- Connecticut
Source: DAI-A 68/12, Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Asian literature, Geography, Motion pictures
Keywords: Bakhtin, Mikhail, China, City, Fiction, Film, Mikhail Bakhtin, Space, Taiwanese, Twentieth century, Urban fiction
Publication Number: 3293409
ISBN: 978-0-549-37353-7
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