Purdue University Graduate School

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posted on 2020-07-28, 11:32 authored by Zihan WangZihan Wang

This dissertation examines medical representations, or what I call “fiction medicine,” in post-1949 Chinese literature and film. It is not uncommon to evaluate whether medical facts are scientifically portrayed in literary and cinematic works. Insightful and reasonable as this method is, the interpretation of relevant descriptions from a single medical perspective tends to exclude what may be labeled as misrepresentations from scholarly attention. Therefore, without judging the value of fiction medicine in accordance with scientific standards, this dissertation analyzes how and why medical (mis)representations are formed in the way they are shown, which allows me to unearth those factors, such as politics, international relations, ideology, and the like, that exert considerable influence on the construction of medical landscape in cultural works.

By exploring the interaction between representations and medicine under the Chinese revolutionary context, I argue that during the socialist period (1949-78), while revolutionary concerns tightly regulated the writing of fiction medicine to consolidate the Chinese Communist Party (CCP)’s rule, the production of fiction medicine was not always monolithic, containing tensions and even resistances against the prevailing ideology. I also argue that, after 1978, although socialist fiction medicine was deconstructed in many ways, some remnants of its legacies have kept influencing contemporary literary and cinematic imaginations. Based on my main arguments, I will further explore why some socialist legacies were preserved and remained influential while others were abandoned as reminders of the past. I suggest that this phenomenon was highly related to the shifting goals of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) in the post-1978 political, ideological, and economic reorientation.


Degree Type

  • Doctor of Philosophy


  • Comparative Literature

Campus location

  • West Lafayette

Advisor/Supervisor/Committee Chair

Dino Franco Felluga

Additional Committee Member 2

Beate I. Allert

Additional Committee Member 3

Margaret Tillman

Additional Committee Member 4

Hongjian Wang