Swaying between Grace and Pomposity: The Imagined Modernity of Soong Mayling

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2021-04

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Abstract

This paper is centrally concerned with the inconsistencies between the practices of the Orientalized modernity and the Chinese indigenous sociocultural situation in the Republic of China. I focus on Soong Mayling, the first lady of Generalissimo and President Chiang Kai-shek, by tracing her early education in the US, marriage life, as well as her political involvement after returning to China. I examine Orientalized figures’ attempts and possibilities to reconcile the discrepancies that existed between western countries and China. I argue that Soong and her husband endeavored to take outer forms of the West to construct their imagined naive modernity. Their ignorance of Chinese culture and a complete adaptation of linear (evolutionary) ideology cut their reforms off from Chinese people’s sentiments. Their reforms were inconsistent with China’s socio-cultural situation and found no echo in people’s hearts. Failure was inevitable. For sources, the core of the paper is mainly drawn from the speeches, written works, and diaries of Soong Mayling and Chiang Kai-shek, while a major portion of this paper includes news from both China domestic and worldwide newspapers and magazines. I have also supplemented this information with the works and diaries of several intellectuals such as Hu Shih, Sun Yat-sen, and Lin Yutang to enrich my portrait of Soong Mayling.

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Liu, Qianyu Thea (2021). Swaying between Grace and Pomposity: The Imagined Modernity of Soong Mayling. Capstone project, Duke University. Retrieved from https://hdl.handle.net/10161/23333.


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