Tapestry of Light

Aesthetic Afterlives of the Cultural Revolution


Tapestry of Light offers an account of the psychic, intellectual, and cultural aftermath of the Chinese Cultural Revolution. Drawing on a wide range of works including essay, fiction, memoir, painting and film, the book explores links between history, trauma and haunting. Challenging the leftist currents in Cultural Revolution scholarship, the tone pervading the book is a rhythm of melancholia, indeterminacy but also hope. Huang demonstrates that aesthetic afterlives resist both the conservative nostalgia for China’s revolutionary past as well as China’s elated, false confidence in the market-driven future.

Huang engages with prominent Chinese intellectuals, writers, artists and filmmakers, including Ba Jin, Han Shaogong, Hong Ying, Zhang Xiaogang, Jiang Wen and Ann Hui.

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Yiju Huang, Ph.D. (2011), University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, is assistant professor of Chinese Studies at Bowling Green State University. Her recent publications include an article on French philosopher Alain Badiou’s writing on the Chinese Cultural Revolution.

"Tapestry of Light offers an intriguing take on how the aftermath of the Cultural Revolution, and the silence/secrecy surrounding some of its horrors, can continue to shape the aesthetics of literature, art, and cinema. [...] constitutes an interesting and valuable intervention, laying the foundation for a timely and much needed discussion of the past, trauma, and artistic expression in the continuing aftermath of that period of history." Rebecka Eriksson, Lund University, MLCL Resource Center Publication, October 2015

"Yiju Huang's gracefully written monograph contributes to the studies of the Cultural Revolution with a theoretically rigorous approach and an ingenious emphasis on elaborating the signification of this turbulent period by considering what amounts to its traumatic afterlives. [...] Huang's book is not one to be skimmed through. The wandering, fragmented nature of its highly evocative prose gives rise to illuminating sparks that ultimately form a collective tapestry of light resisting totalization and universalization. [...] The monograph is a necessary addition to any collection on the cultural historical ramifications of the Cultural Revolution."
ZHANG Zhen, Union College, Frontiers of Literary Studies in China, Vol. 9, No. 4, 2016



Embroidering a Tapestry of Hope

Familial Secrets
Mao’s Famine in Hong Ying’s Daughter of the River

Aesthetic of Heterogeneity
Roots in Han Shaogong’s Theoretical and Literary Writings

Ghostly Vision
Zhang Xiaogang’s “Bloodline: Big Family”

Protean Youth
Redemptive Poetics in In the Heat of the Sun and The Postmodern Life of My Aunt

Ba Jin: Toward an Ethical Relation to History

All interested in the Cultural Revolution and modern Chinese literature, cinema and art, and anyone concerned with trauma studies.
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