Cities of fantasy: the construction of the desiring subject in urban China




Stetar, Douglas Andrew

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Raymond Williams argues that a community’s cultural texts naturally draw upon its lived experience, and are thus a trustworthy expression of life within that community. This thesis explores the subject positions expressed in two contemporary texts—Wang Yuan’s Lipstick (又 红), and Ning Ying’s I Love Beijing (夏日暖洋洋)—to understand how urban Chinese individuals experience and comprehend the transformations convulsing their cities. To facilitate this, my primary goal in this thesis is to build a theoretical framework that uses the psychoanalytic work of Jacques Lacan and Slavoj Žižek to create the concept of the fantasy construction of the desiring subject. Using this concept, and drawing on two aspects of the cultural theories of Walter Benjamin—his heavily citational methodology and his theory of the flâneur—I examine the role of fantasy in the construction of contemporary urban Chinese individuals as desiring subjects.



China, Jacques Lacan, Slavoj Žižek, Raymond Williams, Walter Benjamin, subject position, identity, urban subjectivity, desire, fantasy, Ning Ying, Wang Yuan