Wang Anyi

4–6 PM
November 5, 2001

Lecture Hall 286, Reitz Student Union
University of Florida

Chinese novelist and screenwriter Wang Anyi will give a talk, 4–6 PM, in Reitz Union 286. Her talk will be preceded by a roundtable discussion of her work from both a Chinese and a transnational perspective. The roundtable discussion will be in English. Wang Anyi’s talk will be in Chinese with simultaneous translation.

Roundtable discussants include:

Wang Anyi is one of contemporary China’s most influential and innovative writers. The co-author of the screenplay of Chen Kaige’s recent film Temptress Moon, she has also had numerous books translated into English, including Baotown (1985), Lapse of Time (1988), Love in a Small Town (1988), Love on a Barren Mountain (1991) and Brocade Valley (1992).

Wang was born in 1954, and was sent down to the country-side during the tumultuous Cultural Revolution (1966–1976). She began writing short fiction in the mid-1970s, and has continued to publish prolifically to the present day. Her work is particularly interesting from a feminist perspective because it spans many of the different directions which contemporary women’s writing has taken during the post-Cultural Revolution period. For instance, many of her earlier works (such as the stories included in the translated volume Lapse of Time) were partially autobiographical reconstructions of the devastation wrecked by the Cultural Revolution, with a particular emphasis on its effects on women. Some of her later works, particular her trilogy of “love” novels from the late 1980s (viz. Love in a Small Town, Love on a Barren Mountain, and [Love in a] Brocade Valley), were striking and controversial in imaginatively exploring feminine subjectivity and sexuality.

In many of her more recent works from the 1990s, Wang Anyi joins contemporary writers such as Can Xue in challenging expectations regarding conventional narrative structure, engaging in formalistic experimentation and metatextual reflexivity. Female concerns remain prominent even in many of these most recent works, as can be seen in some of her recent, and as-yet untranslated, long novels. In Reality and Fiction, she attempts to reconstruct her maternal genealogy through a split plot-line which alternates between the modern period and that of her ostensible maternal ancestors during the Mongol-occupied Yuan dynasty roughly 800 years earlier. Her most challenging novel, Changhen Ge (Song of Everlasting Sorrow, 1996), is a beautifully written transhistorical epic tracing the trials and tribulations of a former Shanghai beauty pageant winner from the 1940s to the present.

The event is jointly sponsored by UF’s Asian Studies Program, the Department of English, The Center for Women’s Studies and Gender Research, and the Department of African and Asian Languages and Literatures.