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Snake Sisters and Ghost Daughters

Feminist Adaptations of Traditional Tales in Chinese Fantasy

Cathy Yue Wang

Fairy-Tale Studies, Gender, Language and Literature

The Donald Haase Series in Fairy-Tale Studies

Published: August 2023
ISBN: 9780814348628
Pages: 248 Size: 6 x 9
Illustrations: 3 b&w illus.
Published: August 2023
ISBN: 9780814348635
Pages: 248 Size: 6 x 9
Illustrations: 3 b&w illus.
Published: August 2023
ISBN: 9780814348642

Contemporary Chinese film and literature often draw on time-honored fantastical texts and tales which were founded in the milieu of patriarchy, parental authority, heteronormativity, nationalism, and anthropocentrism. Author Cathy Yue Wang examines the processes by which modern authors and filmmakers reshape these traditional tales to develop new narratives that interrogate the ingrained patriarchal paradigm. Through a rigorous analysis, Wang delineates changes in both content and narrative that allow contemporary interpretations to reimagine the gender politics and contexts of the tales retold. With a broad transmedia approach and a nuanced understanding of intertextuality, this work contributes to the ongoing negotiation in academic and popular discourse between past and present, traditional and contemporary, and text and reality in a globalized and postmodern world. Snake Sisters and Ghost Daughters offers an engaging interdisciplinary investigation of issues at the heart of these traditional tales such as gender and status hierarchy, marriage and family life, and in-group/out-group distinction. Beyond the content of these individual stories, Wang ties these narratives together across time using cognitive literary criticism, especially affective narratology, to shed new light on the adaptation of literary and cultural texts and their sociopolitical contexts.

Cathy Yue Wang is a lecturer in the Department of Chinese Language and Literature at Shanghai Normal University and a member of their Innovative Team of High-Level Program in International Comparative Literature. Her research and work are focused on applying feminist and queer perspectives to examinations of East Asian popular culture, transmedia storytelling, and subcultures and fandoms. She has previously published works related to media and literature studies in Children’s Literature in Education, Asian Studies Review, and Series: International Journal of TV Serial Narratives.

In Snake Sisters and Ghost Daughters, Cathy Yue Wang dives into the rich repository of Chinese myths and legends and examines their adaptations in the modern and contemporary world through a feminist lens. Through extensive research and incisive reading, she makes available to the Western audience a dazzling array of Chinese sources, which are not cold gems frozen in the past but shifting dynamisms addressing current issues within and beyond China. Her critical mind and lyrical voice contribute to fairy-tale studies, genre fiction studies, and feminist scholarship in general and invite further explorations along the path she has paved for us.

– Zhange Ni, associate professor of religion and literature, Virginia Tech

Theoretically informed and skillfully written, this book deeply engages with a wide range of fantastic female figures in contemporary adaptations of traditional tales. Weaving cognitive narratology in close textual analyses to reveal dynamic communications between readers and writers, Wang makes excellent contributions to the interdisciplinary studies of Chinese fantasy.

– Liang Luo, author of The Global White Snake

Snake Sisters and Ghost Daughters is as intriguing as its title. Having watched and waited for Chinese children’s literature scholarship to explode on the international stage, this book’s commitment to tracing adaptations of Chinese traditional stories is a welcome contribution to the ever-growing body of research in this area. It will prove useful to both the novice and the expert in children’s literature wishing to consider the rich tradition of Chinese literature and its entanglement with the fantasy genre.

– Emily Murphy, senior lecturer in children’s literature, Newcastle University