Literature, Intellectual History, and China’s Road to Empire


Author: Kun Qian
Imperial-Time-Order is an engagingly written critical study on a persistent historical way of thinking in modern China. Defined as normalization of unification and moralization of time, Qian suggests, the imperial-time-order signifies a temporal structure of empire that has continued to shape the way modern China developed itself conceptually. Weaving together intellectual debates with literary and media representations of imperial history since the late Qing period, ranging from novels, stage plays, films, to television series, Qian traces the different temporalities of each period and takes “time” as the analytical node by which issues of empire, nation, family, morality, individual and collective subjectivity are constructed and contested.

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Kun Qian, Ph.D (2009), Cornell University, is Assistant Professor of Chinese Literature and Film at the University of Pittsburgh. She has published critical essays and encyclopaedia entries on modern Chinese literature and cinema in both English and Chinese language.
Note on Romanization and Script
List of Illustrations

Part One: The Imperial-Time-Order
1. The Imperial-Time-Order: The Eternal Return of the Chinese Empire

Part Two: Time, Unity, and Morality from the Late Qing to Mao’s China
2. Suspended Time: Grounding the Present in the Late Qing
3. Split Time: Enlightenment and its Discontent
4. Continuous Time: Heroes in the ‘Protracted War’
5. Transitional Time: Defining the ‘People’ and the ‘Nation’ in Mao’s China

Part Three: The Return of ‘Empire’ in the post-Mao Period
6. Resurgent Time: The Return of ‘Empire’ in Post-socialist Representation
7. Love or Hate: The First Emperor on the Cinematic Screen
8. The Fascinating Empire: Emperors in Contemporary Novels
9. Tianxia Revisited: Empire and Family on the Television Screen
10. Becoming-Minority: Chinese Characteristics in Minority Historical Fiction


All interested in Chinese history and culture, particularly students and scholars in Chinese studies, empire studies, and academic libraries.