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Miss Annabel Storr

PhD Research

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PhD Research in the School of Modern Languages and Cultures  



I am a PhD candidate in Chinese History Studies at Durham University currently finishing my first year. My research focuses on transnational networks between the three global hubs of London, Shanghai and Tokyo during the period 1860–1900. Utilising these networks I examine the complexity of British conceptions of China and Japan in this period. I previously completed a Bachelor’s degree in History & Politics at Warwick University, beginning my Chinese language studies during my year abroad at Hong Kong University. I have also completed an MA History at Durham University. My research is funded by an AHRC Northern Bridge studentship.

Postgraduate Representative for the Century for Nineteenth-Century Studies: People - Durham University

Current Research

British Conceptions of China and Japan: Transnational Networks of London, Shanghai and Tokyo, 1860–1899

The late nineteenth century was a crucial period of transformation and dynamic change for Brtiain, China and Japan. While by the turn of the twentieth century the narrative within British conceptions of China and Japan was that of Japan’s successful modernisation and China’s failure, prior to the 1894–1895 Sino-Japanese war these views were far more in flux. British conceptions of the relative success of China and Japan and of the balance of power between these two countries underwent continual change throughout the period. My research examines the vital yet often overlooked role of China and Japan in shaping British conceptions of these two countries, analysing the complex network of interactions between individuals, texts and places.

My research examines how British people were writing about China and Japan in the period 1860–1899 as well as who these British people were. Through analysing the writings of different groups of British people and across different types of text my research examines the range of British conceptions of China and Japan and how these different textual representations of these countries could influence another.

The core questions my thesis seeks to address are:

- To what extent do different types of texts produce different images of China and Japan?
- How did British conceptions of China and Japan evolve over the period?
- How did British people use existing texts to establish the authority and legitimacy of their own texts?
- How did interactions between human agents in London, Shanghai and Tokyo impact British conceptions of China and Japan?
- How significant was first-hand experience of China and Japan in influencing the conceptions of China and Japan held by British people?
- How were British conceptions of China and Japan influenced by ideas of East and West during the late nineteenth century?

Research Interests

  • Western conceptions of the 'Other'
  • Transnational connections between cities
  • Victorian travel accounts
  • Newspapers and mass media
  • Digital Humanities