Photo of Faculty Shuang Shen posing next to the Nittany Lion.

Faculty Fall 2021: Shuang Shen

Cold War and Sinophone Literature at the Borders

Associate Professor of Comparative Literature and Chinese 

I will use the residential fellowship at the Humanities Institute to complete the last stage of my book project, which examines the lively and politically engaged Sinophone cultural sphere spanning from Hong Kong to Southeast Asia from the 1950s to the 1970s. This book, entitled Cold War and Sinophone Literature at the Borders, explores how Sinophone literature in Hong Kong, Singapore, and Malaysia negotiated with the intertwining of territorial and political borders and how literary categories were produced in the context of the Cold War and decolonization. No analysis of Sinophone culture in Singapore and Malaysia can ignore the instrumental role played by Hong Kong, since Southeast Asia’s connections with the U.S., China, and the Soviet Union were largely mediated by this colonial entrepôt. By analyzing literary texts that were both locally produced and transnationally circulated, I show how borders mediated and regulated literary production not only by fostering division but also creating connectivity between localities, ethnicities, and languages, and how aesthetic categorization was entangled with global geopolitics. My book when completed will make a significant contribution not just to Chinese studies, but also to the studies of global Cold War history, Chinese diaspora, and the legacies of decolonization and Third Worldism.