Politics of Art

The Creation Society and the Practice of Theoretical Struggle in Revolutionary China


In Politics of Art Zhiguang Yin investigates members of the Creation Society and their social network while in Japan. The study contextualises the Chinese left-wing intellectual movements and their political engagements in relation with the early 20th century international political events and trends in both East Asia and Europe.
The Creation Society was largely viewed as a subject of literary studies. This research, however, evaluates these intellectuals in the context of Chinese revolution and elaborates their theoretical contribution to the Chinese Communist Party’s practice of “theoretical struggle” as a main driving force of ideological construction. As this study tries to demonstrate, theoretical struggle drives the ideological politics forward while maintaining its political vigour.

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Zhiguang Yin received his Ph.D. from University of Cambridge in 2011. He is Lecturer of Chinese Studies at the University of Exeter and a former Assistant Professor at Zayed University in the UAE. He has published many articles in the field of international history, Sino-Middle Eastern Relations, and modern Chinese intellectual history.
"Politics of Art is an innovative study of the political significance of the Creation Society (创造社), a celebrated literary society of 1920s China. Among its many insights, for example, it introduces readers to intriguing connections, such as that between the Frankfurt School and the Creation Society, via the Japanese Marxist Fukumoto Kazuo [...] all in all, Politics of Art makes an important contribution to our understanding of the history and historiography of some of the centrally important questions in twentieth-century Chinese intellectual history, such as the relationship between the intellectual and the people and the dialectics of theory and practice." - Liang Luo, University of Kentucky, MCLC Resource Center Publication, Dec. 2015
“Yin tries to restore the historicity of the politics of theoretical struggle, inherent in the Creation Society’s practice, which has been effaced by depoliticizing discourses, and to illuminate its relevance to contemporary politics. […] This book is a valuable addition to the existing corpus of scholarship on the Creation Society. The author has conducted substantial historical research utilizing numerous first-hand materials and archives.” - Xiangjing Chen, Cornell University, in: Frontiers of Literary Studies, 10.3 September 2016

    Revolution and Its Revisit
    The Main Questions
    Further Reflections

Chapter 1
Intellectual Social Circles and the Gestation of the Creation Society

    Social Backgrounds of the Creation Society Members
    Chinese students’ Life in Japan
    The KMT Exiles in the Chinese Community in Japan
    The Circle of Young China Association and the Establishment of the Creation Society

Chapter 2
The Socio-political Context of Intellectuals’ Self-Recognition

    Social Thinking in Taishō Japan
    Competition for Social and Cultural Capital in the Early Period
    The Tension between Intellectuals and Capital Market
    Assuming a Proletarian Identity
    Proletarian or Not?

Chapter 3
“Mission of Literature” and the Political Involvement of the Creation Society

    “National Literature” and Its Problems
    Becoming Revolutionary Writers: Political Influence from the KMT Guangzhou Government
    Disillusioned Intellectuals after 1926
    Revolutionary Literature: the Social History of a Concept
    “Revolutionary Literature” Under the Scope of Party Politics

Chapter 4
Struggles between Two Souls: Intellectuals’ Theoretical Construction of Class Transformation

    The Proletarian Class Consciousness
    “Proletarian Revolutionary Literature”: A Reflexive Concept
    Temporality and Historiography
    The Misinterpretation and Reinterpretation of “Aufheben”
    The formation of “battle field of ideology” and the Practise of “Aufheben”

Chapter 5
Theoretical Struggle: The Politics of Literature and Arts

    The Dialectics of Theory and Practise
    The Cultural Policy of the KMT from 1925-1931
    Political Propaganda of the CCP, 1925-1930


All interested in modern Chinese intellectual history, literary history, and Marxism in China, with specific focuses on the CCP’s ideological politics and intellectual policy in the early 20th century period.
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