Dr Qi Chen

Supervised by

  • Finn Fordham First/primary/lead supervisor


  • Anne Varty First/primary/lead supervisor


  • Anne Varty First/primary/lead supervisor


Personal profile

    My interest in 'Comparative Literature and Globalisation of English Culture' began while I was writing a BA dissertation about 'the reader response to George Gordon Byron in China during the 1920s' at Fudan University (Shanghai) in 2004. It analysed the interaction between the popularity of Byronic hero and the construction of Chinese nationalism. In the same year, I obtained a first class degree (equivalent) and then continued to read for an MA in Comparative Literature with a scholarship. I focused on the translation and reception of British aestheticism in China and Japan. My Master's dissertation, 'Circulation of Aestheticism in East Asia', received a 'distinction' at the viva.

    In the summer of 2007, I came to England and embarked on my PhD project on the British aesthetic movement funded by ORS and Thomas Holloway Research Awards, under the supervision of Dr. Anne Varty at Royal Holloway, University of London.

    My PhD thesis 'Oscar Wilde and East Asia: Empire, Nation-State, and the Globalisation of Aestheticism' tries to provide a new insight into the cosmopolitanism of Oscar Wilde, enlarging understanding of Wilde in a broader than national context. It illustrates how the interaction between the British Empire and the Far East contributed to Wilde's aestheticism and literary career, and how his writings were translated, comprehended and transformed in the Far East.

    The first part, 'East Asia of Oscar Wilde: The Aesthetic Movement in the Empire', explores the multi-relationships of the aesthetic movement, the British Empire, and the global circulation of oriental (Chinese and Japanese) commodities/immigrants/ideas, arguing Wilde's writings were cultural products of globalisation. The aesthetic movement was part of the Victorian mass culture, and closely tied to the expansion of the British Empire to the Far East in the late nineteenth century. It perceives Wilde's aestheticism and his participation in the British aesthetic movement as economics of the global commerce after the Industrial Revolution, as politics of accelerated movement of peoples and ideas across national borders within the British Empire.

    The second part, 'Oscar Wilde in East Asia: Aestheticism in National Modernisation' examines the translation, reception, comprehension, adaptation and transformation of Oscar Wilde's writings in the social-cultural context of turbulent modern China and Japan during the early twentieth century. It assesses the cultural and social impacts of Wilde on the Chinese New Culture Movement, which included the campaigns for reform of education, women's liberation and individual freedom. It also argues that aestheticism in Japan was associated with the socialist movement, social reform, and Japanese cultural nationalism. Wilde was appropriated both to enhance and rethink Westernisation.    

    The thesis finally concludes with a discussion of 'Oscar Wilde's Aestheticism and the Global Circulation of Modernity', expanding the theoretical discussion on aestheticism against the social-historical background of globalisation and modernisation.

     I am a member of British Association for Victorian Studies (BAVS, 2008\2009\2010)

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