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Contemporary environmental crises have their origin in the anthropocentric view of humans as separable from and superior to the natural world. Anthropocentrism also marks the realist author of modern Chinese fiction. Departing from that human-centered view, Shen Congwen’s work evinces a biological perspective and affirms an ecological understanding of life in which the writing self must trace its roots to and reciprocate with other organisms and all-encompassing nature. The animistic language of Shen’s writing delves into the ecological and bodily foundation of beauty and arts. Shen’s notion of the longue durée of biology and evolution debunks the transient zeitgeist of modern transformation and accelerations, propelled by the human domination of nature and alienation of the human body. Shen’s portrayal of sexuality reasserts the reciprocity and entwinement of inner nature with outer nature.

In: Remembering May Fourth


Liang Qichao's novel The Future of New China views culture and commerce in international contexts under the rubric of datong. While the novel begins with a scene of cultural exchange and commerce, it soon centers on the foreign education and travel of two young protagonists, who are to become the founding fathers of a constitutional nation-state. The urgency of nation building plays out in the two young men's over the political, moral or populist means of achieving the nation. How does nation-state building relate to the initial datong cosmopolitanism? This paper suggests that Liang's nation contains international dimensions. The new Chinese nation is situated in a geopolitical network of nation-states, but it also aspires to self-determination and equality with other nations. The nation is to be built by resorting to a moral reform that contains the idea of tianxia (all under heaven). In his Discourse on the New Citizen, Liang calls for personal outlooks based on culture and morality rather than institutions or actual politics. The novel analyzes China's debates on reform and revolution; the present paper traces the connection between this moral quality of a nation and internationalism. I contend that Liang's nation-building projects an international type of aspiration toward tianxia.

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In: Frontiers of Literary Studies in China
In: Culture and Social Transformations
Essays on the Language of the Chinese Revolution
As China joins the capitalist world economy, the problems of social disintegration that gave rise to the earlier revolutionary social movements are becoming pressing. Instead of viewing the Chinese Revolution as an academic study, these essays suggest that the motifs of the Revolution are still alive and relevant. The slogan “Farewell to Revolution” that obscures the revolutionary language is premature. In spite of dislocations and ruptures in the revolutionary language, to rethink this discourse is to revisit a history in terms of sedimented layers of linguistic meanings and political aspirations. Earlier meanings of revolutionary words may persist or coexist with non-revolutionary rivals. Recovery of the vital uses of key revolutionary words proffers critical alternatives in which contemporary capitalist myths can be contested.
In: Words and Their Stories
In: Words and Their Stories
In: Culture and Social Transformations in Reform Era China
Editors: and
With China’s economic boom, continuous political stability, and increasing influence, it is time to ask if the trajectories of the Chinese Revolution--its troubled interaction with the world market, its national independence movements, its pursuit of egalitarianism, communism, and socialism, and its post-socialist reform—could be understood as a meaningful and consistent historical experience. It is important now to see how China’s past efforts have contributed or obstructed its progress since the Qing empire was thrust into the international system of nation-states in the late 19th century. This series aims to place the study of China in the contexts of the international system of nation-states, global capitalist and market expansion, imperialist rivalry, the Cold War, and recent waves of economic globalization. It welcomes analytical attempts to frame intellectual, historical, and cultural analysis conducive to dialectical relations between these categories. Ideas will not be studied in the abstract but be set in motion and intertwined with praxis through analysis of historical contexts and enriched by close analysis of aesthetic texts, such as literature, narratives, and phenomena of everyday life.

Authors are cordially invited to submit proposals and/or full manuscripts to the publisher at BRILL, Stephanie Carta and Masja Horn.

Please see our Guidelines for a Book Proposal. All submissions are subject to a double-anonymous peer review process prior to publication.
In: Configurations of the Real in Chinese Literary and Aesthetic Modernity
In: Configurations of the Real in Chinese Literary and Aesthetic Modernity