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Ella Raidel

This paper sets out to examine the "exhausted narrative" in aesthetic and poetic experience, revealing the affect and effect of Tsai Ming-Liang's film-making. He is notable for his obsession with ruins, defunct construction sites, abandoned buildings, and film itself as a modern ruin. These sites are a reminder of the alienated subjects within its historical context, a fragmented narrative, and an uncertain or failed future to come, just like the ruin-a chapter of a halted story. Tsai's films are not only full of ruinous images and bodies, but even the fragmented narratives are ruinous, turning in elliptical circles, aiming toward their morbid ending until their total exhaustion. This cinematic ouroboros ophis will be discussed in two aspects: first, as an aesthetic practice, and second, as the parallelism between the onand off-screen reality of the mode of production and reception in the cinematic experience. The term "exhausted narratives" refers to the processes of writing meta-fiction, as that of "re-orchestrating" and "re-editing" the past with respect to the present, and to inscribing Tsai's own narrative universe.

G. Andrew Stuckey

Although the notion of the new woman in modern China has received much scholarly consideration, her usually illiterate rural sister has not received nearly as much critical attention. With the exception of Lu Xun’s iconic Xianglin sao—from his 1924 story “Zhufu” (The New Year’s Sacrifice)—almost no depictions of traditional women have been critically appraised in current scholarship. This seems unfortunate when such women can be considered to be both the opposite of and the raw material from which the new woman would spring. This article seeks to begin to address this question by juxtaposing Xianglin sao with another more unfamiliar May Fourth depiction of a rural woman: Liuyi jie (from Bing Xin’s story of the same name). By situating Liuyi jie and Xianglin sao firmly within the family structure, the resulting comparison of both stories reveals the structural obstacles that inhibited traditional women from becoming fully active subjects in the new China. The comparison also shows how the May Fourth project established a new woman, one capable of ushering in a newly modern China, whose very existence relies on the discursive silencing of old-style women unable to make this modern transition.

LUO Zongqiang

With politics as its driving force, the cabinet-style literature came into full bloom in the early Ming dynasty. After Emperor Jingtai’s reign, the literary thoughts started to change, which was also related to the political situation. After Tumu Crisis, the cabinet-style literature lost its political foundation, the cabinet-style practitioners gradually gave up their literary views and the core people of the cabinet-style literature were deprived of their influence as the political leaders. The scholars lost their confidence in the imperial government and the subjects of their literary creation were changed from the celebrating the prosperity of the country to the description of their personal life and interests. More importantly, the emergence of Baisha philosophy of mind broke the dominance of Cheng and Zhu’s idealist philosophy over the country. The focus was shifted from the ideal to the heart and the literary creation aimed at expressing the sincere feelings and representing the true human nature. In terms of the aesthetic interest, the classical and the standard gradually gave way to the natural and the pristine. The emergence of Baisha philosophy of mind and its related literary concepts to some extent led to the emotion-oriented literary thoughts in the late Ming dynasty.

XU Lanjun

This essay examines stories of girls coming of age as depicted by modern Chinese women writers—in particular to the pervasive ness of a certain melancholy in their treatment of the subject. This study offers a vantage point from which it will be possible to survey writers ranging from Ding Ling and Xiao Hong in the 1930s and 1940s to Wang Anyi and Tie Ning in the 1980s and 1990s. As a rule, these seemingly trivial coming-of-age stories are set in the whirlwind of historical change through deep sorrow and grief, not the transcendent aesthetics of the sublime as suggested by grand historical narratives. Mainly based on the close-reading of three literary texts including Xiao Hong’s novel Tales of Hulan River (1941), Tie Ning’s novel The Rose Door (1988), and Wang Anyi’s novel Reality and Fiction (1993), the author argues that the recurrent figure of the “melancholic girl” functions as an important trope in the writing of modern Chinese women writers and that it also serves to reveal various problematic aspects of women’s emancipation in modern China; at the same time, this essay also reveals how melancholy—in the psychological and clinical sense—serves to legitimize a certain degree of ego-formation in its female sufferers.

He Guimei and Hangping Xu

This article posits a genealogical account of humanism as discursive constructs that are historically contingent. Humanism is thus conceived as ideology—“a system (with its own logic and rigor) of representations (images, myths, ideas or concepts).” Specially, it reconsiders the Chinese discourses of humanism in the “New Era” (the 1980s) against the ideological backdrop of the Mao era as well as China’s shifting political economy. Complicating the common assertion that the 1980s discourses of humanism inaugurated the second “May Fourth,” it argues that the process in which humanism in the “New Era” arose largely hinged upon a constant excavation of 19th century Euro-Russian literary and philosophical legacies, the influence of which was already present in the Mao era. By analyzing literary works such as Dai Houying’s Human, ah, Human! (Ren a, ren!) and philosophical-aesthetic discourses by figures like Li Zehou and Gao Ertai, the article traces the discursive practices and subject positions of Chinese intellectuals and writers in the 1980s as they appropriated Western narratives and concepts of humanism and Romanticism when dealing locally with practical issues such as political change and cultural wounds. Ultimately, it suggests a historical approach to humanism as a discursive formation whose ideological underpinnings should be grasped in the context of the 1980s.

Elena Macrì

In his book Time in Ruins, the French anthropologist Marc Augé pointed out that “humanity is not in ruins, it is being built.” These words well fit both the present-day Chinese context and the figurative trend of new shanshuihua in which construction sites, cityscapes and artificial nature territories become the subject of depiction. New iconic elements that provide a visual and conceptual framework for artists’ construction of a different shanshui-type heavily indebted to Chinese social and environmental changes, these new coded depictions substitute the traditional representation of natural landscape, reflect the rise of a new sensibility about nature and challenge the idea of what landscape is in the context of Chinese contemporary art. By focusing on a variety of works related to the theme of artificial nature and representing paradigmatic images of physical and allegorical landscape, this paper aims to explore this visual and conceptual innovations introduced in the context of new shanshuihua and analyze the way in which artists use nature, trying to find a new aesthetic categorization for this artistic genre.

Andrea Riemenschnitter

Mo Yan’s historical novel Sandalwood Death revisits the Boxer Uprising, exploring a local structure of feeling from the point of view of oral transmissions that, one hundred years after the events, appears gradually to be receding into oblivion. It is a project of recuperation or, rather, aesthetic reconstruction of local knowledge. The staging of a variety of local performances, such as Maoqiang opera, seasonal festivals, military and religious parades, as well as of scenes of excessive violence in executions and battle scenes, appears to be a strategy for the cultural reclamation of these local experiences. The story challenges the ingrained dualism between foreign, modern imperialist and nationalist forms of rationality, and pre-modern, local patterns of behaviour and thought. Employing polyphony and multivalent historical representtations, the novel aspires to portray the social dynamics in a given geohistorical circumstances by measuring the spatiotemporal as well as the cognitive distance between the witnessed event, the testifying witness and the future receivers of the transmitted stories. Thus, the inquiry does not focus on the historical events as facts, but rather on their cultural afterlife in (founding) narratives. In times of a growing gap between the modernist vision of human liberation and the actual conditions of growing inequality, delegitimization and dispossession, this tale of unrest in the wake of globalization has as much to say about the world’s peoples around the year 2000, when the novel was published, as about the microcosm of Shandong Gaomi County around the year 1900, when the historical events took place. Taking into account that the novel was written as a local Maoqiang opera in the making and that theatres are major providers of cultural space for the enactment of the human self as the subject of history, Sandalwood Death can perhaps best be described as a theatre of reclamation.


Since its establishment, the Ming dynasty was troubled by border issues and foreign threats. This situation worsened in the sixteenth century with the Japanese piracy crisis, the Manchu threat from the northeast, the European mariners armed with advanced weaponry in Canton, and especially Toyotomi Hideyoshi’s (1537–98) Korean expedition, which severely challenged the suzerainty of China. Written in the last years of the sixteenth century, when Ming imperial authority was perceived to be on decline both at home and abroad, Xiyang ji takes Sino-foreign relations as its primary thematic concern. This paper examines how the foreign “others” are imagined in Xiyang ji. Although Xiyang ji attempts to affirm the age-old myth of the Sinocentric world order by demonizing foreign others and subsuming the outside world within the Chinese order, it also demonstrates a genuine interest in foreign culture and an awareness of cultural relativity. Most importantly, through presenting fearful encounters experienced by the Chinese fleets in foreign lands, Xiyang ji highlights the glaring gap between the old myth of the Sinocentric world order, whereby the foreign others were seen as tribute subjects, and the new reality, in which foreign countries fight fiercely for their status as independent entities. I argue that, in using warfare to reimagine Sino-foreign relations, Xiyang ji draws attention to foreign threats, the limits of the old knowledge system, and the urgency of learning more about the outside world, thus signaling the beginning of a process whereby Chinese scholars gradually ceased to identify China as the center of the world.

Viren Murthy

critique of reification or rationalization from a standpoint before ordinary distinctions between subject and object. It is this standpoint outside of ordinary distinctions, a type of religious perspective that Takeuchi associates with Lu Xun. See Uhl, 2003. Viren Murthy 22 Japan’s involvement in the

just propaganda or a deviation of literary modernity, is actually in profound interaction with the re-imagination of the human subject—a project dating back at least to the invention of the bourgeois universality in Kant, in Early Romanticism, and in the anthropological tradition of philosophy—in a