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Chinese Modernism in the Era of Reforms: Cultural Fever, Avant-Garde Fiction, and the New Chinese Cinema

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Blending history and theory, Chinese Modernism in the Era of Reforms offers both a historical narrative and a critical analysis of the cultural visions and experiences of China’s post-Mao era. In this volume, Xudong Zhang rethinks Chinese modernism as a historical genre that arose in response to the historical experience of Chinese modernity rather than as an autonomous aesthetic movement. He identifies the ideologies of literary and cultural styles in the New Era (1979–1989) through a critical reading of the various “new waves” of Chinese literature, film, and intellectual discourse.
In examining the aesthetic and philosophical formulations of the New Era’s intellectual elites, Zhang first analyzes the intense cultural and intellectual debates, known as the “Great Cultural Discussion” or “Cultural Fever” that took place in Chinese urban centers in the mid- and late 1980s. Chinese literary modernism is then explored, specifically in relation to Deng Xiaoping’s sweeping reforms and with a focus on the changing literary sensibility and avant-garde writers such as Yu Hua, Ge Fei, and Su Tong. Lastly, Zhang looks at the the making of New Chinese Cinema and films such as Yellow Earth, Horse Thief, and King of the Children—films through which Fifth Generation filmmakers first developed a style independent from socialist realism. By tracing the origins and contemporary elaboration of the idea of Chinese modernism, Zhang identifies the discourse of modernism as one of the decisive formal articulations of the social dynamism and cultural possibilities of post-Mao China.
Capturing the historical experience and the cultural vision of China during a crucial decade in its emergence as a world power, Chinese Modernism in the Era of Reforms will interest students and scholars of modernism, Chinese literature and history, film studies, and cultural studies.
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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

“Xudong Zhang opens our eyes to the complex cultural and ideological mutations behind the facade of the economic and political ‘modernization’ of China.”—David Wang, Columbia University

Chinese Modernism in the Era of Reforms will be a first in its elaboration of the social and symbolic construction of Chinese Modernism, and I expect it to elicit a great deal of lively and provocative discussion.”—Wendy Larson, University of Oregon

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780822318460
  • Publisher: Duke University Press Books
  • Publication date: 2/13/1997
  • Series: Post-Contemporary Interventions Series
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 431
  • Product dimensions: 6.16 (w) x 9.20 (h) x 1.28 (d)

Meet the Author

Xudong Zhang is Assistant Professor of Comparative and Chinese Literature at New York University.

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Table of Contents

Introduction 1
Bk. 1 Literary and Cultural Interventions in the New Era 33
Pt. 1 Cultural Discourse 35
1 Main Trends in the Cultural Fever 35
2 On Some Motifs in the Cultural Discussion 71
Pt. 2 Literary Discourse 101
3 Literature of the New Era: Historiography and Ideology 101
4 The Modernist Intervention 122
5 The Avant-Garde Intervention 143
6 Fable of Self-Consciousness: Ge Fei and Some Motifs in Meta-Fiction 163
Bk. 2 Politics of the Visual Encounter: Reading the Fifth Generation 201
Introduction 203
Pt. 3 The Discourse of Modern Cinema 215
7 Generational Politics: What Is the Fifth Generation? 215
8 The Making of a Modern Cinematic Language 232
Pt. 4 Allegories of the Social Landscape 267
9 Ramifications and Allegories 267
10 A Critical Account of Chen Kaige's King of the Children 282
11 Ideology and Utopia in Zhang Yimou's Red Sorghum 306
Pt. 5 The Politics of the New Cinema 329
12 Filmmaker as Artist: The Origins of Modernist Subjectivity 329
13 National Cinema? 347
14 Positions in the Field 367
Notes 391
Index 417
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