chapter  4
24 Pages

Writing Lives in Emily Hahn’s China

WithJeffrey Mather

This chapter focuses on the writings of the American author Emily Hahn and situates her work within the evolving historical context of mid-twentieth-century China. During her nine years in China, Hahn became a well-known figure in America, offering her readers insights into a changing cultural and political landscape from intimate and personal perspectives. This chapter discusses a number of Hahn’s works including The Soong Sisters (1941), her best-selling autobiography China to Me (1944), and her novels Steps of the Sun (1940) and Miss Jill (1949). By examining Hahn’s movements and the travels of her characters, this chapter argues that China’s semicolonial spaces served as a transformative context through which mid-twentieth-century modern and cosmopolitanism identities could be written and performed.