Chinese Fiction Scholar, Former Red Guard Member to Speak at 2015 Mahan Lecture
Posted on March 12, 2015 by Timmethy James
Dr. Rae Yang, professor of Chinese fiction at Dickinson College in Carlisle, Pa., will deliver a lecture on “Contested Memory of the Cultural Revolution in China,” as part of the University of South Alabama’s Howard F. Mahan Lecture Series at 7 p.m., Thursday, March 19, in the John W. Laidlaw Performing Arts Center. The event is free and open to the public, and a reception and book signing will follow the lecture. The 14th annual lecture series is co-sponsored by the USA Foundation.
Yang, who specializes in pre-modern and modern Chinese fiction, is the author of “Spider Eaters,” an autobiography that includes her family history, her childhood years and her experiences as a Red Guard in China’s Cultural Revolution. The book has been praised as both frank and compelling by reviewers and is now in its second edition. “Spider Eaters” is often adopted as a college course textbook.
Yang was born in Beijing in the early years of the People’s Republic of China and spent part of her childhood in Switzerland. After the launch of the Cultural Revolution in 1966, Yang spent two years as a Red Guard, or Cultural Revolution activist, before being sent to Manchuria where she worked on a pig farm. Although she was deprived of a college education, she was able to return to Beijing and become a graduate student at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences. She came to the United States in 1981 to study comparative literature. Yang received a Ph.D. from the University of Massachusetts in 1991.
Her research and other interests include Chinese language teaching, Chinese folklore, comparative literature, autobiographical writing, and psychoanalytic criticism.
In 2001, the Howard F. Mahan Lecture Series was created in honor of USA history department founder, the late Howard F. Mahan, who served as chair of the history department from 1964 to 1983. The lecture series was established in honor of Mahan’s enduring contributions to his students, colleagues, community and state. Each year, a prominent scholar visits USA to deliver a major address on a timely topic.
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