BODY AND IDENTITY IN LIAOZHAI ZHIYI

In: NAN NÜ
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Abstract

This paper discusses how Pu Songling (1640-1715) constructs an alternative self-identity through his artistic representations of the body in Liaozhai zhiyi. Pu's fantastic discourse of the body subverts late imperial cultural and fictional discourses, in which the corporeal body becomes a material marker of essentialized cultural identity. In Liaozhai, the body is problematized as a signifier of selfhood. The figure of the phallus as a symbol of power is detached from the physical body and dissociated from conventional concepts of sex and gender. On the thematic level, the deconstructed bodies in Liaozhai may be read as embodiments of class and gender identities transformed through an alternative fictional discourse of self-expression.

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