||Drawing on the insights of three Franco-phonic critics of the Generation of May ’68, Julia Kristeva, Susan Sontag, and Roland Barthes, I argue that Hsia Yü’s poetry is an intimate revolt against interpretation. By this, I mean her work is designed to undermine our compulsion to make sense, or what Jonathan Culler terms “epistemophilia”—the analytical drive to master the text in the sense of arriving at an interpretive closure that, in effect, writes off the richness and complexity of our engagement with the work in the eros of reading. In taking this approach, I help to explicate the discrepancy between the growing popularity of Hsia Yü’s work among those who read for pleasure and the virtual silence among critics and scholars in recent years.
In Chapter One, through a close reading of representative poems from her first two collections, I show that the semantic open-endedness of Hsia Yü’s work invites the play of interpretation but resists the scholarly drive to master the text in the sense of reaching interpretative closure. In Chapter Two, in a “walk-through” of Hsia Yü’s détourne volume ●摩擦●無以名狀[●Moca●Wuyimingzhuang], I demonstrate that Hsia Yü’s poetry invites us to engage the text in ways that remind us that reading is not just a decoding process and that the material form and context in which we encounter the text shapes the sense we make of it in “the pleasure and plenitude of the reading moment.” In Chapter Three, I present a wide variety of readers who use online platforms as virtual stages for what Barthes calls “writing aloud” to lay bare the nature of this intimate revolt, for Hsia Yü’s work not only liberates the readers from the compulsion to make sense but also transforms reading from a relatively passive act of consumption into a far more active engagement with the work as both a site and an incentive for actions that are not just transgressive but often creative. In concluding this thesis, I attend to what I call “A Scandal in Academia” to reflect upon our restraining discipline that reinforces a discourse of “critical distance,” which predisposes us to write off our complex and often intimate responses to the text, and hence may lead to a virtual oversight of the actual, material work in front of us. In hopes of remedying such critical neglect, this thesis puts forward a literary criticism that aspires to the condition of an erotics of reading, an unrepressed engagement that will not preclude analysis but will give voice and credence to the potentially infinite ways in which we can work the text and be worked in turn.