Worker as Writer–cfp

CFP: “Worker as Writer in 20th and 21st China” panel
Western Conference of the Association of Asian Studies 2023

Dates: October 5-6, 2023
Location: West Yellowstone, Montana
Hotel/Conference Center: Holiday Inn West Yellowstone (Use Group Code: AAS)

“Worker,” or gongren, in Chinese was specifically connected with manual labor jobs, while “writer,” or zuojia, has been associated with education, professionalism, and intellectuality. However, this dichotomy was challenged with the rise of leftist revolutions in China. As Zhu Ping notes, the “preexisting social hierarchy that placed the mental laborers above the manual laborers” was complicated as early as during the Chinese New Culture Movement. The communist revolutions in the ensuing decades further broke through the hierarchical dichotomy between worker and writer. The hierarchical opposition between the two was further complicated in a commercial society where a writer is increasingly associated with being a “starving artist” or an intellectual who is detached from the real world, while a worker is often associated with technical skills and practical knowledge. This contrast between the two identities is not fixed, and it has evolved over time in response to changing economic and social conditions.

This panel focuses on a specific identity, “worker as writer,” and this dual-identity group of people who lived in different economic conditions and ideological circumstances. It aims to examine the following questions: How have the relationships and our cognitions of the two identities changed in the history of 20th and 21st century China? How can a worker’s identity bring to literary works a different dimension that is not shared by a writer solely? How does a “worker as writer” have different economic, political, and social engagements in a socialist regime and a capitalist society respectively? How are the two identities mutually inclusive and beneficial? How does this identity on the ideological and materialistic levels conform or conflict with each other? We welcome papers that discuss the following topics but not limited to:

  • Worker as Writer” in socialism and capitalism
  • Peasant workers or migrant workers as Writers
  • Slashie (Xiegang qingnian)
  • Cognitives and aesthetics of worker-as-writer
  • Worker-as-writer as a method
  • Literary genre and style
  • Political identity and economic conditions
  • Literature as a tool of social transformation
  • Literary languages
  • Female workers as writers

For the information of the WCAAS Conference, please see Please submit an abstract to no more than 250 words and a brief biography to Sandy Zhang by July 1st, 2023.

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