Trees and the Making of Modern China

Date of Award

Spring 2022

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


East Asian Languages and Literatures

First Advisor

Tsu, Jing


This dissertation traces the adaptation and transformation in the concept of environmentalism in modern Chinese literature and culture. Drawing on literature, film, newspapers, archives, and scientific documents, I focus on the period of 1912-2020, in which China began to make its modern shift from an agricultural to an industrial economy, as writers and intellectuals become more invested in partaking in conversationist discourse. Departing from the existing frameworks for approaching modern Chinese literature and culture, this dissertation analyzes how ideas about nature in political ideology, cultural engineering, and China’s modern developmental narrative come together, at pivotal moments throughout the twentieth century, as a powerful platform to articulate the dynamic changes as well as the complexity of China’s environmentalism.

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