Learning Hong Kong history through “place poems” of the 1970s

Research output: Contribution to conferencePapers

Abstract

1970s Hong Kong was a time of tremendous social changes in the wake of modernization. The city enjoyed growing prosperity because of its “economic take-off.” Partly as a response to the Leftist riots of 1967, the colonial government began to pay great attention to building Hong Kong’s infrastructure, providing more public housing, modernized transportation facilities, compulsory education, and better community services. But the rapid urban changes also brought us problems like crime, commercialization, disorienting transformation of the cityscape, and erosion of traditional values. Experiencing the diverse effects of modernity in everyday life, sensitive poets like Shu Xiancheng, Leung Ping Kwan, Ji Hun and We De have written very interesting poems about specific places in this city. Whether in a conventional realist mode or in more experimental ways, using ornate or deliberately non-poetic languages, these “place poems” tellingly capture the apprehension about as well as fascination with the changing city. Drawing on selected works of the above mentioned poets, this study aims to explore what kinds of historical knowledge they can offer readers of the present time. More specifically, I would like to examine the blindness and insight that we can see in the poems with our historical hindsight, and, so far as possible, investigate the subtle relation between particular kinds of knowledge and different cognitive framework and literary devices. It is hoped that this endeavour will contribute to a better understanding of the “epistemology of Hong Kong literature.”
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2017

Citation

Yu, E. K.-w. (2017, June). Learning Hong Kong history through “place poems” of the 1970s. Paper presented at the The Association of Chinese and Comparative Literature Biennial Conference: Text, media, and transcultural negotiation, The Chinese University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong, China.

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