112th Annual Conference - Riverside Convention Center, California
Friday, October 31 - Sunday, November 2, 2014

This page is about the 2014 conference. For 2015 conference info, go to PAMLA 2015.

Propagating Love in Enemy’s Tongues: Wu Mansha and Sinophone Popular Romance in Wartime Taiwan, 1937-1945

Chun-yu Lu, Washington University, St. Louis

This paper examines the complexity of “Chineseness” in Sinophone writings by studying a popular writer, Wu Mansha, a “Chinese alien” in colonial Taiwan, and his popular romances published during the Second Sino-Japanese War. This paper probes how “Chineseness” is constructed vis-à-vis the contesting powers of nationalism, colonialism and the War.

Proposal: 

This paper examines the complexity of “Chineseness” in Sinophone writings by studying a popular writer, Wu Mansha, and his popular romances published and consumed in colonial Taiwan. A “Chinese alien” in Taiwan—then Japan’s colony—during the Second Sino-Japanese War, Wu wrote popular romances in Sinitic languages (including vernacular Mandarin and Minnan dialect) to propagate Japan’s wartime ideology of Greater East Asia via romantic love story when his fatherland was at war with Japan. Love and politics are inevitably intertwined in Wu’s wartime works. His literary works beg the following intricate questions: How did Wu use popular romances, a sentimental genre about feelings, especially the tender feeling of love, to propagate the political ideologies of nation, revolution and war? How did he use the language of his fatherland to promote China’s enemy—Japan’s wartime ideology? What exactly is “nation” in Wu’s narratives, especially when the author wrote in the tongues of Japan’s enemy to propagate Japan’s Holy War in Japan’s colony? Which “nation” should the characters in Wu’s stories love—the fatherland China, the colonizer Japan, the colonized Taiwan, or even the imaginary Greater East Asia? How was “Chineseness” constructed vis-à-vis the contesting powers of nationalism, colonialism and the war?

            This paper focuses on two popular romances: The Spring of the Earth and Dawn of East Asia. The former novel is about a group of Chinese students in Hangzhou, China, who campaigns to strike down the malicious local gentry and ends up supporting the Japanese wartime ideology of “friendship between Japan and China,” while in the latter story a girl avoids marrying a man she does not love by volunteering to become a nurse in the battlefield of “Greater East Asian War of establishing new society.” Through scrutinizing the two novels, I study how the author internalized and negotiated with the dominant political discourses and how the author used the popular genre as a tactic to survive wartime politics by positioning his Sinitic writings as a tool to “convert” the Chinese enemy in Japan’s Holy War and the love story as affective and effective means of propaganda.

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