The Aesthetics of Hysteria in Feminine Melodrama; on Fang Fang's Water Under Time (2008)
Frontiers of Literary Studies in China
Brill Academic Publishers
Water under Time, the novel by the reputed Chinese fiction writer Fang Fang, appropriates and reconstructs the conventions of the hysteric narrative as an affective form of feminine history telling and writing. The novel, which accounts Hankou city’s past through the heroine’s life story, illustrates how feminine hysteria provides a gendered lens of reconstructed historical authenticity via the panorama of China’s early Republican period, the anti‐Japanese War, and the present new millennium. Transcending the official historical accounts, Fang Fang’s narrative features women’s innovative reconfiguration of contesting historical discourses about the city, the community, and the nation. This study of Water under Time suggests that women’s explorations of hysteria actually surpass the psychoanalytical reading of hysteria as paradigms of feminine bodily, sexual, and social abjection, and instead envisions it as a validating narrative aesthetic which carries the potential to rewrite the boundaries of gender, nation, and history.
“The Aesthetics of Hysteria in Feminine Melodrama: On Fang Fang’s Water under Time.” Frontiers of Literary Studies in China (Brill), 11.1 (2017): 73-105.