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Humour in Chinese Life and Culture: Resistance and Control in Modern Times

Overview

This book investigates the use of humor in the public sphere and in personal life in China. The contributors cover modern and contemporary forms -- comic films and novels, cartooning, pop-songs, internet jokes, and humor in advertising and education. The second of two multidisciplinary volumes designed for the general reader as well as academic audiences, the book explores the relationship between political control and popular expression of humor, including the mutual exchange of comic stereotypes between China ...

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Overview

This book investigates the use of humor in the public sphere and in personal life in China. The contributors cover modern and contemporary forms -- comic films and novels, cartooning, pop-songs, internet jokes, and humor in advertising and education. The second of two multidisciplinary volumes designed for the general reader as well as academic audiences, the book explores the relationship between political control and popular expression of humor, including the mutual exchange of comic stereotypes between China and Japan, and draws out important methodological implications for psychological and cross-cultural studies of humor.

Hong Kong University Press

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Editorial Reviews

Kam Louie

Humour in Chinese Life and Culture takes the analysis of Chinese humour in its highly informative companion volume Humour in Chinese Life and Letters: Classical and Traditional Approaches into the modern era. It is well known that humour is extremely difficult to appreciate cross-culturally, especially when one of the cultures (Chinese) is so rich in linguistic puns and socio-political contexts. This is especially true of the modern era, when joking one day can the following day be interpreted as political subversion and the joker punished. It is simply impossible for one person or one approach to analyze modern Chinese humour successfully. The editors have wisely commissioned a group of scholars from diverse geographical and disciplinary backgrounds to write about significant aspects relating to the topic. The result is another book that should be both fun and enlightening to read.

Giselinde Kuipers

Humor is one of the best ways to gain a deep understanding of a culture, as it reflects a culture's ideals and anxieties, its taboos and its obsessions -- but often in ways only understandable to those well versed in the culture. This volume highlights how well humor works as an 'entry point' into Chinese culture: making visible both deeply rooted cultural patterns, as well as novel developments as a result of economic progress, technological changes, and increasing cultural exchange.

Jeremy Goldkorn

This book is a fascinating tour of Chinese humour, its contexts and history, and its contemporary manifestations on- and off-line.

Stephen FitzGerald

With colourful description of political and social currents and intellectual life in Chinese society providing essential context to the explication of Chinese humour in different decades, settings and modes, Humour in Chinese Life and Culture becomes, almost, an unintended short history of China since the 1920s, and one marvelously accessible, readable and enjoyable. Its revelatory historical gems are many, for example Barak Kushner's important piece on Japan in twentieth-century Chinese humour, explaining much about how the World War II victory over Japan is an essential part of the sense of identity and the idea of "we Chinese" in today's China. And on questions that so puzzle the West -- what are people in China, now, thinking about, concerned with, debating, and what's the nature of their discourse -- there are wonderful, and some wonderfully funny, insights on today's Chinese internet and social media, for example Christopher Rea on spoofing culture on the internet and X. L. Ding on the social meaning of freedom and political humour.

Giselinde Kuipers
Humor is one of the best ways to gain a deep understanding of a culture, as it reflects a culture's ideals and anxieties, its taboos and its obsessions — but often in ways only understandable to those well versed in the culture. This volume highlights how well humor works as an 'entry point' into Chinese culture: making visible both deeply rooted cultural patterns, as well as novel developments as a result of economic progress, technological changes, and increasing cultural exchange.
Jeremy Goldkorn
This book is a fascinating tour of Chinese humour, its contexts and history, and its contemporary manifestations on- and off-line.
Stephen FitzGerald
With colourful description of political and social currents and intellectual life in Chinese society providing essential context to the explication of Chinese humour in different decades, settings and modes, Humour in Chinese Life and Culture becomes, almost, an unintended short history of China since the 1920s, and one marvelously accessible, readable and enjoyable. Its revelatory historical gems are many, for example Barak Kushner's important piece on Japan in twentieth-century Chinese humour, explaining much about how the World War II victory over Japan is an essential part of the sense of identity and the idea of "we Chinese" in today's China. And on questions that so puzzle the West — what are people in China, now, thinking about, concerned with, debating, and what's the nature of their discourse — there are wonderful, and some wonderfully funny, insights on today's Chinese internet and social media, for example Christopher Rea on spoofing culture on the internet and X. L. Ding on the social meaning of freedom and political humour.
Kam Louie
Humour in Chinese Life and Culture takes the analysis of Chinese humour in its highly informative companion volume Humour in Chinese Life and Letters: Classical and Traditional Approaches into the modern era. It is well known that humour is extremely difficult to appreciate cross-culturally, especially when one of the cultures (Chinese) is so rich in linguistic puns and socio-political contexts. This is especially true of the modern era, when joking one day can the following day be interpreted as political subversion and the joker punished. It is simply impossible for one person or one approach to analyze modern Chinese humour successfully. The editors have wisely commissioned a group of scholars from diverse geographical and disciplinary backgrounds to write about significant aspects relating to the topic. The result is another book that should be both fun and enlightening to read.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9789888139248
  • Publisher: Hong Kong University Press
  • Publication date: 8/1/2013
  • Pages: 348
  • Product dimensions: 5.90 (w) x 8.90 (h) x 0.90 (d)

Meet the Author

Jessica Milner Davis researches crosscultural humor and comedy at the University of Sydney, Australia. A life member of Clare Hall Cambridge and past president, International Society for Humor Studies, she convenes the Australasian Humour Studies Network (www.sydney.edu.au/humourstudies).

Jocelyn Chey is a visiting professor at the University of Sydney, whose research interests include Chinese culture and international relations. Her lengthy diplomatic career concluded with a posting to Hong Kong as consul general for Australia (1992--1995).

Hong Kong University Press

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