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The Writing of Fiction in the Great Transformative Epoch of Modern China, 1937-1949
In Contending for the "Chinese Modern", Xiaoping Wang studies the writing of fiction in 1940s China. Through a practice of political hermeneutics of fictional texts and social subtexts, it explores how social modernity and literary modernity intertwined with and interacted upon each other in the development of modern Chinese literature. It not only makes critical reappraisement of some renowned modern Chinese writers, but also sheds fresh lights on a series of theoretical problems pertaining to the issue of plural modernities, in which the problematic of subjectivity, class consciousness and identity politics are the key words as well as the concrete procedures that it employs to undertake the ideological analysis. The manuscript signifies a new paradigm in studies of modern Chinese literature.
Ideas and History in China’s "Independent Cinema", 1988-2008
In Postsocialist Conditions: Idea and History in China’s “Independent Cinema,” 1988-2008, WANG Xiaoping offers a comprehensive survey and trenchant critique of China’s “Independent Cinema” by the sixth-generation auteurs. By showing the multi-valence of the postsocialist conditions in contemporary Chinese society, their films articulate a new cultural-political logic in postsocialist China, which is also the logic of the market in this era of neoliberal transformation, brought about by the forces of marketization since the late 1980s. The directors laudably show the spirits of humanism and the humanitarian concerns of the underclass, yet the shortage and repudiation of class analysis prohibits the artists from exploring the social contradictions and the cause of class restructuration.

This paper discusses the criteria according to which literature is categorized as “high (-brow) literature” or “low (-brow) literature” in modern China. I suggest that these standards change over time and are intimately tied to the problematics of canonization, legitimization, and cultural hegemony. In modern China, the criteria are also closely related to class differentiation. Furthermore, I contend that, in the Chinese academic world, there is often a tendency to interpret certain forms of middle-brow literature as belletristic literature that breaks though the boundary between “high (-brow) literature” and “low (-brow) literature.” In discussing “middle-brow” literature in modern China, this paper takes “Mandarin Ducks and Butterfly” literature as the object of its analysis and proposes that middle-brow literature is essentially the moralization of political and social issues, which serves to displace social-economic and political concerns. This is usually accomplished through the glorification of conservative ethical-moral viewpoints.

In: Frontiers of Literary Studies in China

Suzhou River, a 2000 film directed by Lou Ye, explores several tragic love stories set in Shanghai around the transitional period of 1980s and 1990s. Many critics have praised its technical excellence, yet generally they have not paid sufficient attention to its subject matter. This paper departs from previous interpretations of the film, which have tended to be premised on superficial readings of the plotline, and contends that the work constitutes a poignant socio-political critique, which is conveyed through the construction of differing love stories set against a changing socio-cultural landscape. The past and the present incarnations of the cardinal female protagonist—who can be understood as a symbol for the average Chinese (woman)—suggest the fact that the society has transformed dramatically across the three disparate eras of the past half a century; accordingly, the identity of the Chinese also shifts tremendously. In this way, Lou Ye in effect constructs a diachronic re-presentation of the changing social mores and varied cultural ethos in a synchronic structure, which is subject to be read as an ingenious historical allegory.

In: Frontiers of Literary Studies in China

A new trend has emerged in Chinese film over the past two decades in which the story of the working class has been narrated aimed at an authentic representation of the nation’s socialist past, against the general demonization of the Maoist era. Still, there are a number of problems existed in this cinematic “new wave.” This paper analyzes a recent example of this tide, The Road (Fangxiang zhi lü, 2006), and its implications. A careful examination of the film’s narrative strategy reveals that it is oftentimes entrenched in the bourgeois ideology of “human nature,” which circumscribes its intended agenda of making a genuine reflection on the past and present of Chinese workers. On the surface, this film offers a positive image of the Maoist period by presenting a vivacious revolutionary work ethic in the female protagonist and her master. However, on a deeper level, the film only gives an impression of pity for this wretched workwoman who has completely wasted her life. Her “human nature” has been distorted by her socialist work ethic that had been inscribed with imprints of Maoism. In the mean time, the movie’s repetition of political clichés against revolutionary discourse, and an artificial binarity between socialism and commercial culture, bring out the real effect that rather than departing from stereotypes, it in effect merely perpetuates the popular narrative that has come to stigmatize the Maoist era. By this strategy, the film also evades the responsibility of accounting for the real reason for the gigantic social-political transformation.

In: Frontiers of Literary Studies in China

This paper offers a new interpretation of Zhao Shuli’s (1906–70) stories by examining how his efforts were coinciding, or sometimes perhaps in conflict, with the Communist Party of China’s mandate of creating a “new direction” for society. The discussions of his stories reveal the general historical experience of a rural society in transition in the “liberated area.” There are two major themes: social improvement under the intervention of the new government, and the “standing up” of the subaltern peasant class. These motifs often overlap to various degrees, and sometimes there is a hybrid narrative which combines the two. The last section of this paper briefly explores the supposed paradox of Zhao Shuli’s “direction,” its contributions to representing and educating the masses, and its limitations in fulfilling the party’s long-term ideological goal of reforming the peasants’ ethical-moral world.

In: Frontiers of Literary Studies in China

Qianzi wen exerted great influence in Japan. Nowadays, experts find it necessary to further study the numerous and diverse sequels of Qianzi wen, because no systematic research had actually been made on them. This article, focusing on the spread of Qianzi wen in Korean Peninsula and Japan, is intended to discuss its influence on East Asian literature, especially on Sinological literature.

In: Frontiers of Literary Studies in China
In: Postsocialist Conditions
In: Postsocialist Conditions
In: Postsocialist Conditions