Huang, Xin (2014) “In the Shadow of Suku (Speaking-bitterness): Master Scripts and Women’s Life Stories”, Frontiers of the History in China, Vol. 9, No. 4, p.584-610.
Xin Huang’s article explores the enduring effect of a narrative model known as suku (“speaking bitterness”) in the post-Mao era, and in particular its gendered effect when women adopted it to represent their own lives. Using the oral life-story of a woman who lived through the Mao era as an example, the article explores the ways suku operates as a master script in people’s narratives about their lives. It argues that the adoption of the model in a certain sense resulted in the de-narration of gendered experience, as well as the de-narration of life in the post-Mao era, it further demonstrates that the suku narrative model limited not only the representation of certain experiences but also the construction of gender subjectivity. Furthermore, in the post-Mao era, instead of being the master script, the suku model often has to negotiate with other scripts, being revised, extended, redirected, and in some cases, replaced. One of these encounters, between the suku model and a feminist script, will be examined. The article argues that such encounter has the potential to challenge the master script and to create narrative space for women to narrate their gendered experience, and to construct a self-defined, more adequately articulated gender subjectivity.