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Frontiers of Literary Studies in China

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, Volume 11 Issue 3 Previous Issue   
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Orginal Article
How the Yue Yi lun Was Lost: Calligraphy, the Cultural Legacy, and Tang Women Rulers
Rebecca Doran
Front. Lit. Stud. China. 2017, 11 (3): 427-461.   DOI: 10.3868/s010‐006‐017‐0023‐2
Abstract   PDF (540KB)

Dating back to at least the Han dynasty, calligraphy has been a powerful object of culture and a medium of elite education, document preparation, and character evaluation. Discourses surrounding rulers and calligraphy form an important sub‐strand in materials on calligraphy, and these accounts often depict calligraphy as a vehicle capable of reflecting a ruler’s moral character. This paper explores narratives that blame early Tang women power‐holders, in particular, the Taiping and Anle Princesses, for borrowing and subsequently losing precious calligraphic items that were considered the authentic work of Wang Xizhi. The analysis focuses on the ways in which the different narratives describe the physical movement or location of the Wang Xizhi pieces in relation to contemporary rule and factional politics. The narratives interpret the calligraphic manuscripts as an example of the cultural inheritance, to which the ruler should properly relate in particular ways. In this way, the fate of the Wang Xizhi artifacts is understood in terms of the complex relationship between imperial power and the court’s cultural legacy.

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Literary Activities among the “Educated Youth”: Background on Bei Dao’s Waves
SUZUKI Masahisa
Front. Lit. Stud. China. 2017, 11 (3): 462-487.   DOI: 10.3868/s010‐006‐017‐0024‐9
Abstract   PDF (392KB)

This paper discusses how the literature was created based on the experiences of the “Educated Youth” in the reform and opening‐up era. Firstly, the author summarizes the network and literary activities of the Educated Youth. Second, he analyzes the poetry of literary magazines that they expressed their own experiences in the reform era, and thirdly, he discusses the trial by the magazine’s editorial staff to describe their experiences in fiction and its difficulties. Furthermore, this paper examines the origin of Chinese literature on 1980s, especially the origin of modernism literature in China.

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Female Relations: Voiceless Women in “Liuyi jie” and “Zhufu”
G. Andrew Stuckey
Front. Lit. Stud. China. 2017, 11 (3): 488-509.   DOI: 10.3868/s010‐006‐017‐0025‐6
Abstract   PDF (300KB)

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.

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Media, Redemption, and Myth Superscription in Zhang Yimou’s Riding Alone for Thousands of Miles
Luying CHEN
Front. Lit. Stud. China. 2017, 11 (3): 510-535.   DOI: 10.3868/s010‐006‐017‐0026‐3
Abstract   PDF (368KB)

This article analyzes scenes of media and redemption in Zhang Yimou’s 张艺谋 film Qianli zou danqi 千里走单骑 (Riding Alone for Thousands of Miles, 2005) as a critique of Romantic Orientalism. Whereas in Western Romantic poetry, the themes of retreating to nature and journeying abroad are strengthened by imagining the Orient and appropriating the local voice, Riding Alone negates that motif by depicting the divided subjectivities of Kenichi, a historian of Oriental Art at Tokyo University, and his failed redemption during his journey to China. The film offers his father Takata’s alternative journey, which involves the foreign traveler losing his subject position before asserting his own, leading to the revival of the Lord Guan story. Much of the historical myth‐making of Lord Guan in Buddhist, Daoist, and Confucian religious practices involves a reinvention of a cultural tradition as a response to foreign threat; all share the features of what Prasenjit Duara calls “the apotheosization of a hero and his role as guardian” in a process of the “superscription of symbols.” By contrast, Riding Alone is secular and forward‐thinking while reenacting several meanings of the Lord Guan myth such as repentance, sacrifice, redemption, and guardianship. The film interpolates the Japanese into a new “Oriental” subject position that has to lose its Western Orientalism as well as the negative impact of industrialism while retaining democratic subjectivity, and the Chinese into a new democratic subject position that maintains autonomy.

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The Absurd and the Comical in The Piano in a Factory
Xiaoling SHI
Front. Lit. Stud. China. 2017, 11 (3): 536-562.   DOI: 10.3868/s010‐006‐017‐0027‐0
Abstract   PDF (334KB)

Whereas scholarship on Zhang Meng’s acclaimed film The Piano in a Factory is scarce and mainly focuses on working‐class identities, the present article contributes to the discussion by investigating the film’s tragicomic style. By taking an existentialist viewpoint about the absurd, it demonstrates that the furloughed workers in fact live in an absurdist existence. Moreover, the changing era rather than character flaws is blamed for the absurdity. Specific images are examined in order to reveal a symbolism having to do with the demise of industrialism and the advent of commercialism. While absurdity is the undercurrent, the characters use humor as a strategy to evade, elude, and cope with life. The third section employs theories of comedy to investigate the comicality of the movie, which derives from exaggeration of negative traits in the characters. The paper argues that by manipulating the scenario at the end, Zhang holds out hope for the working‐class’ future. Piano is hence able to transcend the absurdist existence and end up with joy, hope and faith.

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Yang, Guobin, China’s Contested Internet
Shaohua GUO
Front. Lit. Stud. China. 2017, 11 (3): 563-566.   DOI: 10.3868/s010‐006‐017‐0028‐7
Abstract   PDF (250KB)

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So, Richard Jean, Transpacific Community: America, China, and the Rise and Fall of a Cultural Network
Yurou Zhong
Front. Lit. Stud. China. 2017, 11 (3): 566-572.   DOI: 10.3868/s010‐006‐017‐0029‐4
Abstract   PDF (250KB)

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Song, Geng, and Qingxiang Yang, The Sound of Salt Forming: Short Stories by the Post-’80s Generation in China
Xin Yang
Front. Lit. Stud. China. 2017, 11 (3): 572-576.   DOI: 10.3868/s010‐006‐017‐0030‐8
Abstract   PDF (250KB)

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Li, Chen, Chinese Law in Imperial Eyes: Sovereignty, Justice, and Transcultural Politics
Johanna Sirera Ransmeier
Front. Lit. Stud. China. 2017, 11 (3): 576-580.   DOI: 10.3868/s010‐006‐017‐0031‐5
Abstract   PDF (250KB)

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9 articles