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Wan, Fang (2023) Power and Ambiguity: Strong Women on Jinjiang Literature City (2003-2018). PhD thesis. SOAS University of London. DOI:

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Restricted to Repository staff only until 2 December 2026.


The thesis aims to investigate how the internet has permeated manifestations of young urban women’s sociality and creativity in mainland China over the past two decades, by exploring the “Strong Women Narrative”, one of the most popular and representative female-oriented narratives created by female users on Jinjiang Literature City (晋江文学城),from technological, social, economic and cultural perspectives. The first chapter of this thesis provides a detailed analysis of the evolution of Jinjiang from an affective community of female users to a formalised and industrialised media corporation. Drawing on sociological data collected through online participatory observation and offline interviews, this chapter examines how the introduction of different business models, the ever-stiffening government regulation, and new developments in digital technologies are changing the dynamics of the production, distribution and consumption of internet novels on Jinjiang. The following three chapters focus on three genres of the “Strong Women Narrative “on Jinjiang, namely matriarchy fiction, Danüzhu fiction, and cyberpunk fiction, paying attention to the generic reinventions of the three genres and the ambiguous role of digital technology in the production, consumption and circulation of these genres. The three chapters explore not only how the three genres reinforce or weaken the generic expectations by interacting with literary tradition and the gender consciousness of young urban Chinese women, but also how the changes in these genres go far beyond the modification of generic characteristics and are implicated in historical, technological, economic, ideological, and socio-cultural structures. By closely examining literary and cultural conventions, paratextual elements, and digital interactions in relation to the “Strong Women Narrative” on Jinjiang, this dissertation positions the “Strong Women Narrative” in terms of its ambiguity, where both intense empowerment and disturbing exploitation are simultaneously expressed and experienced. Examining the emergence, popularity and metamorphosis of the “Strong Women Narrative” not only provides a pathway of understanding what is at stake in living in 21st-century China for young urban women, but also responds directly to the need for research that enhances understanding of how digital technologies interact with changing social and cultural circumstances, as well as how this interaction shapes the ongoing formation of female subjectivity.

Item Type: Theses (PhD)
SOAS Departments & Centres: SOAS Research Theses
Supervisors Name: Xiaoning Lu, Cosima Bruno and Jieyu Liu
DOI (Digital Object Identifier):
Date Deposited: 08 Dec 2023 13:14

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