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Department of the Languages and Cultures of China and Inner Asia

Bodil Margaret Knuts

Overview

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Name:
Bodil Margaret Knuts
Email address:
Thesis title:
Flight or Fight: the Nation is Lost. The influence of a vagrant life on the notion of "home” in the prose of Xiao Hong (1911-1942) and Xiao Jun (1907-1988)
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Biography

I have been affected by extreme bibliomania all my life: I am passionate about books, and passionate about reading.  My earliest aspíration was to become a librarian, until I realized that librarians do not get spend their days reading.  At that moment I set my heart on university.  Ten years later, in 1997, I enrolled at the University of Helsinki (Finland), with English Philology as my major.  In my first year, I got involved with student drama, and became one of the founding members of an English language drama society. My main interests at this time were Shakespeare and diaspora literature.  As I supposedly settled down to write my MA thesis, dealing with voice and identity in the semi-autobiographical novels by Chinese-American writer Maxine Hong Kingston, I got lured into reading more and more "background" literature.  It began with the poems of Du Fu and down the slippery slope I went.  Being at the mercy of translations did not suit me, so I began taking Chinese lessons.  Then I decided to go to China.  I received a CSC scholarship, and left to study Chinese at Anhui University, Hefei, in 2002.  Returning to Helsinki after nearly two years in China, I felt like an alien in the English Department.  Therefore I shelved my embryonic thesis, and transferred to East Asian Studies.  At long last, I received my BA in East Asian Studies in 2008, and then my MA in 2009. In my BA thesis I used three different feminist theories to analyze, and compare, three short stories by Xiao Hong, and in my MA (supervised by Dr Stephan Kuzay and Professor Juha Janhunen) I attempted to contextualize Xiao Hong's writing within the New Literature Movement.

My current project is in many ways a continuation of my previous ones.  I've chosen to focus on the relationship between Xiao Hong and her common-law-husband of six years, Xiao Jun, and how their self-imposed marginalization and vagrant lifestyle affected their writing.  Contradictory as it seems, as they had alienated themselves from the "home," I  nevertheless believe that their individual attitudes towards the notion of "home," and understanding of the same, is fundamental to the understanding of not only their writing but of their perception of the self as well.