(Re-) Writing Trauma: Eilleen Chang$S Dialectics of Mimesis and Anti-Mimesis in Eighteen Springs and the Rouge of the North

Project Details


This two-year project is derived from the second-year prospectus in last year’s MOST application. Iintend to employ trauma as my analytic lens. For that purpose I will appropriate Ruth Ley’sunderstanding of this very affect’s mimetic structure.to delineate the dialectics of mimesis andanti-mimesis at work in Eileen Chang’s body of work. While the former has Chang’s characters turnfrom victims to victimizers and in the meantime mimetically simulate, as if in a hypnotic trance, aprimal scene that in its repeated staging has continuously subjected to mimicry anyone who comesclose to the same scenario of suffering, the latter, on the contrary, resorts to a cluster of deathimageries to highlight Chang’s characters’ self-consciousness, and in so doing defends itself againstthe plethora of attempts on the part of the mimetic drive to infringe upon the integrity of theirconsciousness. I argue that it is Qiqiao from “The Golden Cangue” and Manzhen from EighteenSprings who come to occupy the antithetical poles of mimesis and anti-mimesis respectively, whileYindi from The Rouge of the North is situated somewhere in between. Since I have analyzed thismimetic drive in “The Golden Cangue” in a paper earlier presented at a conference, this two-yearproject will undertake to proceed with the other two aforementioned positions in a consecutivemanner. If the agency of Eighteen Springs is to be located in Manzhen’s inanimate state, the agencyof The Rouge of the North, for its part, consists not in the heroine’s acts or the lack thereof, butrather in the anti-mimetic drive undergirding her imagination of others’ judgments against herself ina sealed-off psychic enclosure. This anti-mimetic force foregrounds the protagonist’sstream-of-consciousness-like trains of thoughts to spell out her motivations and invoke the reader’ssympathy. The dialectic of sympathy constituted by the above mimetic and anti-mimetic structuressuggests a radical affective politics that mobilizes potential antagonism against Chinesecommunitarianism.
Effective start/end date1/08/1731/07/18

UN Sustainable Development Goals

In 2015, UN member states agreed to 17 global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure prosperity for all. This project contributes towards the following SDG(s):

  • SDG 16 - Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions
  • SDG 17 - Partnerships for the Goals


  • Eileen Chang
  • trauma
  • (anti-)mimesis
  • the virtual
  • performativity
  • theatricality
  • free indirectdiscourse
  • Eighteen Springs
  • The Rouge of the North


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