Zhuo Feng

Date of Award

Fall 2020

Document Type

Open Access Dissertation


Comparative Literature

First Advisor

Jie Guo

Second Advisor

Michael Hill


In this dissertation, I investigate Han Bangqing (1856–1894), Lao She (1899– 1966), and Su Qing’s (1914–1982) works to study the literary representations of how people purchased, prepared, shared, and ate food in different social contexts allowing them to adapt to new gender norms. I contend that the intersection of food, gender and literature stages the process through which people reconciled different and sometimes conflicting gender norms through their everyday eating practices. When encountering new cooking and eating practices in these literary works, people reflect upon their past lives and, wittingly or unwittingly, begin to accept different gender norms, and modify their subjectivities. This all culminates in the process of “digestion,” which refers not only to the bodily function, but also how individuals internalize cultural norms through culinary and alimentary practices. These authors’ own personal conflicts with food and gender are reflected and negotiated in their writings about how characters establish gender relations by participating in various eating acts. The literary representations of everyday eating acts offer new ways to interrogate and revise how gender relations were imagined, and also shows a fluid understanding of gender in modern Chinese history.


© 2020, Zhuo Feng