Publication Date


Document Type


First Advisor

Gómez-Vega, Ibis, 1952-

Degree Name

Ph.D. (Doctor of Philosophy)

Legacy Department

Department of English


American literature; Asian Americans--Study and teaching


This research probes into the representations of the Nanjing Massacre in Chinese American literature, in particular Shouhua Qi's When the Purple Mountain Burns, Ha Jin's Nanjing Requiem, Geling Yan's The Flowers of War, and Wing Tek Lum's The Nanjing Massacre: Poems. In light of Rene Girard's theories of violence, in particular his ideas of a circle of violence, mimetic desire, sacrificial substitution, and myth as connected with stereotypes of persecution, this research diagnoses the terrors and horrors depicted in the above-mentioned texts and argues that the Nanjing Massacre as represented in Chinese American literature is no ordinary act of war, but sheer violence---violence taking innocent civilians and surrendered soldiers as scapegoats. Focusing on how each text addresses violence through the lens of perpetrators, rescuers, scapegoats, and secondary witnesses, this research concludes that the surge of the Nanjing Massacre texts at the beginning of the twenty-first century is the collective efforts of Chinese American writers, who are concerned about the witnessing crisis of the Nanjing Massacre and wish to reconstruct the forgotten history by drawing a panoramic view of the intensity and scale of violence borne in this catastrophe.


Advisors: Ibis Gomez-Vega.||Committee members: James R. Giles; Mark Van Wienen.||Includes bibliographical references.


201 pages




Northern Illinois University

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