Disappearing fairies and ghosts: female and child characters as others in Chinese contemporary children's fantasy

Cathy Yue Wang*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)


Situated within the changing economic and political contexts of China’s modernization and globalization, children’s fantasy novels prove to be apt vehicles for exploring the plights and challenges that women and girls face in the new millennium in China. This article provides a feminist critique of two contemporary Chinese children’s fantasy novels, My Mother is a Fairy by Chen Danyan and Jiujiu From the Ghost Mansion by Tangtang, and examines the marginalization and silencing of the otherworld female/child characters in these narratives. It focuses on how they rework old literary tropes and conventions, employing female children as focalizers. These novels are found to construct a binary opposition between the fantastic-female-child and the rational-male-adult, with the latter dominating the female and the child by repressing their propensity for imagination and fantasy. However, although these fantasy novels might seem to conform to the ideological status quo in terms of the patriarchal family structure, they also have a subversive edge in the way that the binary opposition between male and female is transgressed. Such novels point to the formation of a new kind of intersubjective relationship that is based on understanding and tolerance rather than refusal and dominance.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)433-450
Number of pages18
JournalChildren's Literature in Education
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2020


  • Children’s fantasy
  • Chinese children’s literature
  • Feminist critique
  • Scripts and schemas


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