- 'Hong Kong as a Test Case in World Literature.' Sanglap 4.1 (2017): 9-23.
- 'In Dialogue: Contesting the Politics of Globalization in Hong Kong Literature in English.' The Future of English in Asia: Perspectives on Language and Literature. Ed. Michael O’Sullivan, David Huddart and Carmen Lee. London: Routledge, 2016. 173-189.
- 'Educational Inequalities in Higher Education in Hong Kong.' (co-written with Michael O’Sullivan) Inter-Asia Cultural Studies 16.3 (2015): 454-469.
- 'English writing as Neo-colonial Resistance: An Exchange of English Poetry in Hong Kong.' Asiatic: IIUM Journal of English Language and Literature 8.2 (2014): 36-56.
- 'Strategies of Intercultural Adaptation for Zainichi Chūgokujin (Chinese resident in Japan): A study on Acculturation in the Novels of Yang Yi [楊逸の作品における在日中国人の異文化適応について――文化変容を中心に].' (In Japanese). Japan Journal [Hong Kong] 14 (2011): 224-238.
Conference and Seminar Presentations
- 'Whither Hong Kong English Poetry?' 131st Modern Language Association (MLA) Convention, Austin, Texas, United States of America. 7-10 January 2016. Abstract here
The common response to my doctoral research on Hong Kong English writing is: Is there even poetry written in English from Hong Kong? The fact that this is asked no matter I am inside or outside Hong Kong underlines the persistent invisibility surrounding Hong Kong English-language poetry. This paper seeks to discuss some of the reasons behind the widespread neglect on Hong Kong English writing, focusing among them on the ambivalence of Hong Kong’s geographical classification in (South)East Asia, the simmering competition with Chinese-language writing in a city where Cantonese and written Chinese are dominant, and the lack of proper literary education pathways amidst a culture that embraces capitalist pragmaticism. In light of these factors, this paper then surveys what has been done to increase the visibility of Hong Kong English writing, paying special attention to creative writing class in university English departments. Creative writing is seen here as a key way to promote poetry-writing to a broader spectrum of locally born and education students. Finally, to illustrate this broader process of a slow but firm maturation of Hong Kong English writing, and to demonstrate how poetry should engage with social issues to increase visibility, this paper will look at some of the English-language poetry produced by the English-writing community in Hong Kong in response to the recent Umbrella Revolution in 2014. As a space and event that inspires a variety of creative expressions, the Umbrella Revolution provides a perfect opportunity for Hong Kong English-language poetry to both engage with the local mass and transmit voices from Hong Kong to the world. Clearly, this paper argues that Hong Kong English-language poetry needs to engage with the popular and the public, rather than closing its doors and staying narrow as a minority.
- 'Multiculturalism and English Literary History: Xu Xi’s History’s Fiction.' International Conference on the History of Hong Kong, Hong Kong Institute of Education and Hong Kong Shue Yan University, Hong Kong. 10-11 April 2015. Abstract here
This paper investigates the intersection of Hong Kong’s history and its English literary development in two main approaches. It starts by charting a brief literary history for English literature in Hong Kong, and argues that the proliferation of English writing in recent years is the fruit of various seeds sown in earlier periods of Hong Kong history, from the popularisation of education and English language learning, to Hong Kong’s gradual development into an international financial metropolis which, under the logic of neoliberal globalisation, has to keep reproducing its multicultural, even cosmopolitan, image. The fact that most English literary activities in Hong Kong are concentrated in the most metropolitan and urban districts catering for a mixture of local and expat audience illustrates this point. Although, unbeknownst to most Hongkongers, English writers in Hong Kong see themselves shedding light on an important marginalised fabric of Hong Kong society by depicting mixed-race or non-Chinese characters. In this respect, Hong Kong’s English literary development hinges upon the city’s ability to proclaim its multicultural, globalised impression: an English literary culture thrives in conjunction with Hong Kong’s international status.
Hong Kong English-language writers’ championing of a multicultural/cosmopolitan narrative about the city-state is however plagued by a tendency to ignore a more nuanced portrayal of Hong Kong along the issues of class (the widening of socioeconomic inequalities) and access (uneven opportunities of mobility to disadvantaged social groups). The second half of the paper addresses this Janus-faced nature of multiculturalism in Hong Kong English writing through a study of the short story collection History’s Fiction (2001) by Xu Xi, Hong Kong’s chief English-language novelist. The periodisation of 13 short stories in History’s Fiction suggests an analogy of maturation which coincides the narrative of Hong Kong’s economic development from a manufacturing hub (secondary industry) in the 60s to a global financial metropolis (tertiary/quarternary sectors) in the 90s. But it is also a different kind of maturation, stressing a group of characters with overseas, multicultural experiences and flexible citizenships that correspond to Xu Xi’s own background as described in her autobiography. Further, this discrepancy is problematised to interrogate what has been effaced in the foregrounding of such experiences – what, in effect, is the price being paid to salute multiculturalism in Hong Kong. Ultimately, this paper calls for a careful, holistic evaluation of the modalities and misgivings in the intersection between Hong Kong sociohistorical development, multicultural discourse, and English literary history.
- 'Politics in Hong Kong Literature: Language, Canon and Translation.' British Comparative Literature Association Postgraduate Conference: Alternatives, University of Glasgow, Scotland. 24-25 April 2014. Conference Presentation. Abstract here
To study the politics of canon formation and translation, we should examine the linguistic and literary tensions in specific geographical and sociocultural contexts. This is especially true if we look further than monolingual Anglophone contexts to bi-/multilingual places, where the literary canon is no longer limited to English-language texts and may thus cause conflicts in canon-formation.
Hong Kong, I argue in this paper, is an example that nuances the politics of literature. Despite its “biliteracy and trilingualism” policy on Chinese and English proficiency, Hong Kong literature as a “canon” is almost always in Chinese. Anglophone literature does exist, but due to sociolinguistic reasons that I will explain in my presentation, it remains largely invisible to the general public. The presence of English-language writing, combined with the language politics in Hong Kong, pose a rethinking to the hegemony of Chinese-language works in the canon formation of Hong Kong literature.
The last part of my paper is about the issue of translation. Although translations can “undermine an established canon”, my observation is that translation in Hong Kong is part of the canon. Translation in Hong Kong is most often carried out from Chinese to English, in order to participate in the canon of world (English) literature. Only sporadic, if not little, efforts have been done to translate local English writing back to Chinese. The lack of initiatives further alienates English writing from mainstream awareness, and shows that even translation can be caught in overarching tensions of canon formation in a bilingual context.
- 'A "Chinese" City: Racism and its Discourse in Post-colonial Hong Kong.' Race. Migration. Citizenship: Postcolonial and Decolonial Perspectives, Birmingham Midland Institute, UK. 4-5 July 2013. Conference Presentation. Abstract here
In post-handover Hong Kong, forced assimilation into mainland China has strengthened what Rey Chow wrote back in 1997: that the Chinese population all over the world “had refused to forget that Hong Kong was a Chinese city” (Chow 307). This however becomes a peculiar statement when one juxtaposes it with how Hong Kong has always branded itself as a “global” “international” financial centre. This contradiction between, on the one hand, the fetish to brand its cosmopolitanism and globality, and, on the other, the chauvinistic claim to ethnoracial purity, has led to contravening treatments of racial discrimination against ethnic minorities in Hong Kong. Against a background of recent alleged cases of racial discrimination, including the Southeast Asian domestic helpers’ lawsuit for permanent residence and some South Asians’ failed applications for naturalisation as Chinese nationals, this paper will analyse two aspects of racial discourse in Hong Kong: a) the conflictual definitions of “race” and “ethnicity” between the laws of Hong Kong and China; and b) the promotion of Chinese language education to non-Chinese students (NCS). The paper aims to critique sinocentric assumptions in these seemingly antiracist endeavours, thus revealing the ways in which racial hierarchies and prejudice exist in a post-colonial, but not decolonized, city.
- 'In Dialogue: Postcolonial Studies and Hong Kong Literature in English.' The Future of English in Asia, Department of English, The Chinese University of Hong Kong. 19-21 April 2013. Conference Presentation. Abstract here
There have only been sporadic efforts to connect perspectives from postcolonial theories with the academic or public understanding of Hong Kong Literature in English. This paper hopes to contribute to this under-articulated area and forge a preliminary dialogue between postcolonial theories and postcolonial Hong Kong, and between postcolonial literary studies and Hong Kong English literature.
There is evidence suggesting that Hong Kong’s smooth transition between one colonizer (Britain) and another colonizer (China) to secure its status quo as a global financial metropolis – in other words, that Hong Kong has money but no independence – disqualifies it from discussions prevalent in early postcolonial studies on “national liberation”, “resistance”, and “independence”. Postcolonial studies needs to be sensitive to other marginalized ex-colonies and to various existing and new forms of imperialism. This position is partly undertaken in a series of articles by leading postcolonial scholars, collected in a recent feature in New Literary History whose title “What’s Left in Postcolonial Studies?” seems another effort in the past two decades to do away with postcolonial studies. Suggestions were made in these essays to steer postcolonial studies towards a project of tasking the global capitalist imperialism. An adapted version of this position, I argue, may potentially benefit understandings on Hong Kong Literature in English because it would draw our attention to the privileges of English writing as a form of symbolic capital and linguistic capital. It also urges those of us who write and research in this literary field to be critical and reflexive on the various forms of privilege, not least material, that we enjoy. I will supply this argument with a critique of sample discourses on Hong Kong English writing so far. Through this examination I wish to present a different approach toward Hong Kong Literature in English.
- 'Postmodern Sex and Love in Murakami Haruki's Norwegian Wood.' The Asian Conference on Cultural Studies 2011. The International Academic Forum, Osaka, Japan. 23-25 March 2011. Conference Presentation. Abstract here
Murakami Haruki, whose novels are often acclaimed for its depiction of a postmodern world in connection with themes such as alienation, loss and detachment from the society, said in his acceptance speech at the Jerusalem Prize 2009 that his novels are aimed to “bring the dignity of the individual soul to the surface and shine a light upon it”. The individual, according to Murakami, is an antithesis of a wall called The System, which is supposed to protect human beings but sometimes “take on a life of its own”. This paper examines the notion of “The System” in light of gender representations in Murakami’s Norwegian Wood (1987). Carnal “sex” and spiritual “love” are two recurring motifs in this novel, but they are posited as two distinct aspects of a heterosexual relationship. This paper will look into how sex and love shape the individual character of the protagonist Watanabe Toru, and his relationship with two love interests, Naoko and Midori. Through an analysis of gender relations in the novel, this paper will look into the conflict between an individual soul and “The System”, and what gender and love mean in a so-called postmodern world.
- 'The System VS The Individual - Postmodern Sex and Love in Murakami Haruki's Norwegian Wood.' Wendesday Gender Seminar Series, Spring 2011. Gender Studies Programme & Gender Research Centre, The Chinese University of Hong Kong. 9 March 2011. Seminar talk. Abstract here
Murakami Haruki, whose novels are often acclaimed for its depiction of a postmodern world in connection with themes such as alienation, loss and detachment from the society, revealed in his acceptance speech at the Jerusalem Prize 2009 that his novels aimed to “bring the dignity of the individual soul to the surface and shine a light upon it”. The individual, according to Murakami, is the antithesis of “the System”, which is supposed to protect human beings but sometimes “takes on a life of its own” and “begins to kill us”. If the individual soul is what Murakami’s novels glorify, and the System what they revolt against, then we must ask: What exactly is the System? In what ways is it related to our lives, our society, our culture? And who is this individual? Does the individual carry the same sense for men and women alike?
By examining the notion of “the individual” and “the System”, this seminar evaluates Murakami’s treatment of the individual soul in light of gender representations in his novel Norwegian Wood (1987). Focusing on the entangled webs of love and sex for protagonist Watanabe Toru, his love interests Naoko and Midori, the speaker will discuss the production of gender relations being a point of enquiry of Murakami’s notion of postmodern world.
- 'Man's Room Versus Woman's Room - Rethinking the Public and Private in A Doll's House and Trifles.' 3rd Postgraduate Research Symposium: Language and Cultural Studies in the Pearl River Delta. The Hong Kong Polytechnic University. 26 April 2010. Conference Presentation. Abstract here
A woman’s room is Virginia Woolf’s famous concept in A Room of One’s Own. It explores the concept of a space that belongs and is owned by the woman herself. Yet as this conception of a woman’s space is celebrated, it remains a concept and many questions about the spatial practices of this space is unexplored. For instance, if space invariably involves carriers of power and power relations (Lefebvre, 1991), then in a room that is all to the woman herself, who carries which type(s) of power relations? Moreover, the concept of a woman’s room may at first sight seem to reinforce the stereotypical association of maleness with the public and femaleness with the private. However, Woolf’s another concept, the Outsiders’ Society, clearly suggests the sense of unity women should have to form a coherent group of their own. The gap between these two ideas is seldom addressed but, if bridged carefully, may offer new ideas on the concept of a woman’s space.
This paper analyses drama plays with a view to explore what it means for a woman to own a room. It starts by revising the popular public/private distinction and its association to male/female, suggesting a more careful scrutiny of these dichotomous relationships. Then it turns to drama and looks at Henrik Ibsen’s A Doll’s House (1879) and Susan Glaspell’s Trifles (1916), two so-called feminist plays due to their exposure of issues on woman’s freedom and duties in a home setting. By contrasting the physical settings and power relations between the characters in these two plays, this paper suggests that the physical setting in drama plays often foreshadow the gender problem they seek to expose and the resolution they offer. Moreover, it argues that the kitchen in Trifles has in effect become a woman’s room, and, looking at the interaction between the male and female characters in the play, suggests what a woman’s room can do as a point of connection with other women. Finally it returns to the concept of space and concludes the meanings for the owning of a woman’s room.
- 2017-2018. School of Modern Languages, Newcastle University
- Introduction to Japanese History and Society
- Contemporary Japanese Popular Culture
- Literary and Cultural Expressions in Contemporary Japan
- 2012-2017. Seminar Tutor - Department of English and Comparative Literary Studies, The University of Warwick
- Modern World Literatures
- Global City Literature
- New Literatures in English
- Modes of Reading
- Modern World Literatures
- 2009-2011. Tutor - Department of English, The Chinese University of Hong Kong
- Gender and Literature
- Introduction to Literature
- Renaissance to Enlightenment
Other Activities and Qualifications
- 2017-Present. Editor, Hong Kong Studies.
- April 2012-Present. Staff Reviewer, Cha: An Asian Literary Journal.
- April 2014. Recognised as an Associate Fellow of the Higher Education Academy.
- December 2010. Pass in Level N1 (highest level), Japanese-Language Proficiency Test (JLPT).