Yuanyuan Su


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Yuanyuan Su

DPhil candidate, Faculty of Asian and Middle Eastern  Studies



Yuanyuan Su is a DPhil candidate in Oriental Studies at the University of Oxford. She completed her BA in Literature, History and Philosophy with a minor in Law and Business Studies one year ahead of the programme schedule at Wuhan University. At SOAS, University of London, she received an MA in Chinese Literature and developed her interest in Manchu literature, especially the zidishu 子弟書 (youth tales), a storytelling genre prevalent among Manchu bannermen in the mid and late Qing dynasty (around 1735‒1912). Moving to Oxford, and under the continued supervision of Prof. Tian Yuan Tan, her current research is a first attempt to question and challenge previous attributions of zidishu’s authorship by generating a new linguistic methodology.

DPhil topic

As one of the ethnic minorities in China, the Manchus’ voices have been disempowered and neglected since the collapse of the Qing empire in 1912. This neglect has led to a narrow view of Manchu literature within Chinese scholarship. Specifically, with regards to pre-modern literature, contemporary scholars tend to pay more attention to the Han Chinese literati and their works, rather than Manchu literati who were in fact the ruling class of the Qing empire. As such, this dissertation aims to fill the significant lacuna by focusing on the zidishu (youth tales), a storytelling genre prevalent among Manchu bannermen from around 1735 to 1912.

Taking one of the zidishu writers, the imperial clansman Aisin Gioro Igeng, and twenty of Igeng’s purported works as case studies, this dissertation is a first attempt to challenge previous zidishu’s authorship attribution by generating a new linguistic framework with a digital humanities approach. Based on new discoveries regarding authorship, Yuanyuan Su argues that Igeng’s individual satirical voice resonates with the declining collective community of bannermen and reflects the multiple collective literary functions that zidishu carried with.