On and Through the Cameras: Negotiating Gender and Media in Contemporary China
4: The Grassroots Women's Voices in an Age of Short-Video Narratives
Saturday, March 26, 2022
10:30am – 12:00pm EST
Virtual Paper Presenter(s)
University of South Carolina, United States
In post-socialist China, grassroots women’s voices find new possibilities as well as challenges with the technological advancement and the forming of an online field during the trends of globalization and market economy. I study grassroots women vloggers who take advantage of the booming short-video economy and have changed their life situations accordingly. I begin by revisiting the literary space for grassroots women in modern China. Then I analyze the formation of an online arena that witnessed the emergence of grassroots women’s micro-narratives. The main focus is on the self-vlogging of a laid-off divorced single mother who became an undocumented immigrant abroad and later a promising small business owner and vlogger. I explore how women vloggers construct their subjectivities through self-narration, how the literary practice influences their real-life trajectory, and what relationship between life experience and the narrative form. And eventually, how the woman agent’s becoming engages with her understanding of motherhood. I seek to make three contributions: first, scholars of literature have been overlooking these grassroots women vloggers, but their digital narratives illuminate larger problems of gender politics and forms of feminism that are underrepresented in written texts; second, short-video narratives constitute a significant new arena for Chinese literary studies, specifically, autobiographical studies; third, the examination of the historically marginalized grassroots women’s voices calls attention to their agency and literary capacity.