Project: Nostalgia and Memory in 1930’s Chinese Literature










This research proposal will be based upon the question of what is nostalgia and memory, and how they both are connected to one another, when taken under the terms of Lao She and Shen Congwen. The research proposal will focus on the works of Lao She upon the literature of memory while the works of Shen Congwen will focus on the approach towards nostalgia. All these approaches and ideologies will be kept in terms with the world of 1930s. Furthermore, the significance of each study will be mentioned extensively. Furthermore, the sources and methodology that will be used in creating this research paper will also be mentioned briefly inside this research proposal. Finally, an extensive literature review will be conducted so as to bring a viable conclusion to the research proposal.


Nostalgia is the affection that someone has to some location or particular incident that occurred in the past. On the other hand, memory refers to the events that a person remembers from the past. Both concepts are highly linked with one another in the way that both use cognitive abilities for a person to remember events from the past. However, both cognitive abilities are also different in the manner that each cognitive ability has a different emotion for the person in relation to his past. This is because in nostalgia, a person is definitely attracted and in love with an event, which occurred in the past, while a memory is an event, which the person may not want to remember, but still does because it is instilled in his psychological system. Furthermore, the concept of both nostalgia and memory have had a great and important impact on people from around the world. However, the two most authentic people, who have contributed the most to nostalgia and memory in terms of literature and explanations, are Congwen and She. To any philosopher’s knowledge, both Lao She and Shen Congwen are philosophical and psychological writers that have been deeply involved themselves in the teaching of nostalgia and memory. They have described these two terms in more than one way. While Congwen is fully adamant in providing knowledge related to nostalgia to his people during his time of writing while Lao She was responsible for allowing the literature in memory to increase tenfold while he was still writing on the topic and while he was still deeply interested in the topic. Hence, it becomes only more than necessary for people to understand what nostalgia really is, what memory really is, how they are both similar to one another as well as how they are both different to one another. All in all, this research proposal is one that is based on such research questions and that will follow up such research questions in the final research paper upon the same given topic.


The significance of this study is to follow up an extensive literary approach toward nostalgia and memory in terms and perspectives of the ideology that Congwen and She were drastically carrying in their own times. The significance of this study is also to relate both concepts and approaches and link them with one another so as to show that both great Chinese writers were on a similar path, with different cognitive feelings and emotions kept in mind. Furthermore, the significance of this study is also to highlight the meanings and definitions of nostalgia as well as memory in the psychological understanding, where both feelings and emotions are seen as cognitive skills that most human beings are capable of having.


The first source that will be used in the research is related to the origins of Lao She so as to bring a formal background and general information about the writer. The second source will be similar to the first source. However, the second source will consist with knowledge that is based upon Shen Congwen and will focus on his literary success that Shen Congwen was able to achieve upon literary topics in his lifetime. Therefore, the first two topics will primarily be based upon the teachings and introduction to the two main Chinese philosophical writers who have shed an entire new era upon the terminology of nostalgia and memory.

The third and fourth sources that will be used in this research paper would include studies that have already been implemented upon the cause and effect of nostalgia in the common workplace and in average human minds by Lao She. Moreover, the sources will also include a study on the implementation and knowledgeable information that is based entirely upon the approach of memory and the concept of memory. These sources will also look at how both nostalgia and memory are linked with one another in their psychological terminologies as well as in their general meanings.

The methodology would include a comparison and contrast of the approaches that both Shen and Lao use in their ideologies for the purpose of identifying the meaning of nostalgia and memory. The methodology would then include factual real meanings by contrasting definitions, supported by their own sources. Finally, both Shen and Lao’s work would be researched and mentioned in the paper, comparison and contrasted, so as to bring a definite background on the two great Chinese writers.


Oakes states in his source as to how Shen Congwen saw how the Chinese society was changing in modernity (Oakes, 1995). The source sees Shen relate modernity with nostalgia in a new kind of way. Shen states in the study that modernity is related to new kinds of landscapes and geographical areas through which nostalgia is deeply associated. He states that people in such positions tend to have nostalgia of their previous lands and locations, which they must have visited at one given time or the other. This led to the people in receiving pleasure from remembering such moments and therefore, the entire scenario of nostalgia becomes an important factor for the entire person’s individual personality.  Furthermore, Shen states that the land associated pleasure is simply a form of nostalgia, and is different from memory in the manner that it allows people to have pleasure rather than just remember a particular event, location or place in their minds. It is also exciting as to how the entire study is actually factual of the events that were currently taking place in China back in the 1930s. Britt Towery proclaims in her book as to the life of Lao She in his prime era and his contributions to society. Towery claims that Lao had an affection over his assimilation in terms of memory. He was frightened by the fact that he could not remember much and most of what he could remember would pain him deeply (Towery, 2011). Therefore, it is stated that Lao She began an affection with the ideology of memory and consulted that it is associated not with the mind but with the heart and the defection of age. Lao has been known to create multiple writing documents on the approaches of memory in every single individual that lives on the planet. Yet, his approaches fell short of what their demands actually kept in mind, and this led to a more overall confusion in part to his approach of identifying memory from the rest of the cognitive abilities. David Herman explains in his journal article as to what nostalgia is (Herman, 2005). He states that Nostalgia is a feeling or emotion that arises through the pleasure of visiting an event, location, ceremony, or any other subjective approach that allows a person to feel in complete empathy. This strikingly clear perception of nostalgia is similar to the teachings which were taught by Shen Congwen in the 1930s when he was deliberately providing his own approach to the ideology and basis of nostalgia in the general public. Herman goes on to say in his journal article that nostalgia is not related to Emory and other tasks in any given way whatsoever. All the more, it is a completely different cognitive ability and experience when compared to the cognitive ability and experience of memory. Dina Georgis contemplates the review of memory and the several different approaches to memory in her journal article (Georgis, 2013). She repeatedly reiterates her approach toward the basic concepts of memory and establishes a basic concept on the purpose of seeking ideological differences in memory and nostalgia. She says that both terminologies are different abilities and cognitive functions that are associated with different parts of brain in most places and are filled with pleasure moreover, she establishes the fact that memory is a primitive function while nostalgia is a feeling or emotion that comes naturally and cannot be nourished in a person it cannot be manipulated such as memory can be done and that is why the approach to nostalgia and the approach to memory are different. In this manner, Georgis resembles the ideology of Lao she when she reiterates how nostalgia and memory are two completely different functions in the same human body.


Georgis, D. (2013). Memory and Migration: Multidisciplinary Approaches to Memory Studies. University of Toronto Quarterly, 485-487.

Herman, D. (2005). Yesterday’s Self: Nostalgia and the Immigrant Identity. Symploke, 360-362.

Oakes, T. S. (1995). Shen Congwen’s Literary Regionailsm And The Gendered Landscape of Chinese Minority. Swedish Society for Anthropology and Geography, 93-107.

Towery, B. (2011, May 20). Lao She’s Yellow Storm Staged in Beijing. Retrieved from China’s Master Storyteller: