Frontiers of Literary Studies in China

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ISSN 1673-7423 (Online)
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A Controversial Poet, a Forgotten Dynasty: Jin Dynasty Poets’ Reception of Bai Juyi and Its Historical Significance
SHANG Yongliang
Front Liter Stud Chin    2011, 5 (1): 25-47.
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A certain dispute that arose during the early Jin dynasty regarding Bai Juyi that seemed to be a coincidental occurrence was to some extent inevitable. On one hand, it foreshadowed the opposition that would later arise between followers of the Tang and Song stylistic schools; on the other, it represented both the Tang school poets’ disdain for the “ornamental avant-garde” poetry that was fashionable at the time as well as their own search for a new creative direction. The re-evaluation of Bai Juyi that occurred during that period, particularly the frequent comparison of Bai to Tao Yuanming, indicates that Bai Juyi’s poetry was widely accepted at the time, which itself represented not only a challenge to traditional perspectives, but also a historical landmark in Bai Juyi’s history of acceptance. Jin dynasty poets’ creative imitation of Bai Juyi’s carefree as well as his satirical poems spurred a maturation of Bai’s spirit of concern for self and reality, which later incorporated itself into the spirit of Chinese literati in general.

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Changing Old Tune to New Tune: Liu Yong’s Urban Narrative and the Urban Cultural Construction in the Mid-Song Dynasty
WANG Xiaoyun
Front Liter Stud Chin    2011, 5 (1): 48-77.
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In the 1920s, the Japanese scholar Naito Konan put forward the famous theories of “the Song dynasty is the beginning of modern China” and “the cultural transformation was completed during the Tang and Song dynasties,” which exerted far-reaching influence in the academic circle. However, although full of the “numerous academic growth points and exuberant academic vitality, the theories have not been well explored and illustrated yet.”1 This paper, taking Liu Yong as a case study, is intended to provide concrete examples to Naito’s theories. The urban narrative in Liu Yong’s lyrics—the multi-role discourse practice of a prodigal poet, a talented lyricist, and a traveling official—inherited the discourse splitting trend of the late-Tang and Five dynasties and finished the transformation from the elite to the mass discourse. Accordingly, it set the narrative mode of amorous themes and discourse mode of “talented lyricist plus amorous affairs,” which exerted far-reaching influence on the construction of the new urban culture in the Song dynasty.

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“One Cane, One Life”: On the Cultural Implications of the Cane for Song Dynasty Writers
SHEN Jinhao
Front Liter Stud Chin    2011, 5 (1): 78-89.
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The cane is a frequent subject in Song Literature. Its tremendous variety is starting. Meanwhile, cane-related materials, costumes, circumstances and activities reflect distinct inclination, carrying rich cultural and aesthetic implications. From the “cane literature,” we see clearly the evolution of worldviews, values, aesthetic tastes and literary claims of Song writers, as well as the selective inheritance of Song culture from preceding literatures. It can be concluded that, in a certain sense, the cane of ancient Chinese writers embodies a history of literature, of aesthetic, and of philosophy.

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Happiness, Ownership, Naming: Reflections on Northern Song Cultural History
Stephen OWEN
Front Liter Stud Chin    2011, 5 (1): 3-24.
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This essay talks about a significant moment in Chinese intellectual and literary history, centrally involving the nature of human happiness, which remains one of the great questions in all philosophical traditions. The Northern Song version of this question continues to have resonance in the contemporary world because we often still link happiness with particular situations and often, like our Northern Song predecessors, with particular sites and possessions. These questions can indeed be found earlier in the Chinese tradition, but in the major social transformations of the Northern Song—a growing commercial culture, and an elite defined by cultural prestige rather than by family background—this question came to enjoy a new intensity of discursive reflection.

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Lu Xun and James Joyce: To Heal the Spirit of a Nation
Jerusha McCormack
Front. Lit. Stud. China    2016, 10 (3): 353-391.
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Although James Joyce and Lu Xun were both writing at a time when a new nation was being created out of former empire, little has been written about the extraordinary synchronicities of their early careers or their common mission. Both understood a new nation must first be created in the hearts and minds of its people. Coming from a medical background, each regarded their countrymen as sick in spirit, paralyzed by slavish dependencies. Joyce saw such servility as fostered by Ireland’s long colonization under the British Crown, a subservience seconded by the “tyranny” of the Roman Catholic Church. For Lu Xun, this spiritual paralysis manifested itself as a legacy of the Confucianism of the late Qing dynasty. Working from a medical model, both writers present a detailed, precise, and cold account of the speech of their characters to reveal the true nature of their disease-while allowing the reader to reach his own diagnosis. By means of this new kind of narrative, both James Joyce and Lu Xun sought to liberate the “soul” or “spirit” of their people, granting them a voice of their own which itself clarified to what extent they had been conscripted by the words of others.

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The cultural turn in translation studies and its implications for contemporary translation studies
XIE Tianzhen
Front Liter Stud Chin    2009, 3 (1): 119-132.
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The author of this paper attempts to make a detailed analysis of the impact the notion of the cultural turn exerted upon the translation studies at home, and to explore the historical elements of the notion and its inevitability of the emergence. The author also intends, at the conclusion of the paper, to present his view on the broad vista that the notion of the cultural turn has opened up the new areas for the current translation studies.

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Beyond Boundaries: Women, Writing, and Visuality in Contemporary China
Géraldine Fiss, Li GUO
Front. Lit. Stud. China    2017, 11 (1): 1-6.
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Food Nostalgia and the Contested Time
Front. Lit. Stud. China    2016, 10 (1): 58-85.
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In this article, I examine several narratives that express nostalgia through the food of Nanjing, especially those representing the famous halal (qingzhen 清真) restaurant Ma Xiangxing 马祥兴, in order to investigate how narrative time can be manipulated in order to variously position and frame history. After outlining the context of prevalent cultural nostalgia in contemporary China, I begin with a publicity narrative generated by Ma Xiangxing. I then move on to literary representations by authors such as Wu Jingzi 吴敬梓, Huang Shang 黄裳, and Ye Zhaoyan 叶兆言. Finally, I look at “Nanjing 1912,” a high-end shopping and entertainment district that attempts to invoke the Republican era in order to attract consumers. As food nostalgia evolved from a rebellion against modernity to a marketing strategy in China, it has generated narratives that embody a mix of restorative and reflective nostalgia. A linear narration of history and tradition coexists with a circular narration that challenges its accuracy; thus, not only does originality eventually become a meaningless concept, but simulation also precedes and creates reality in the general commercialization of nostalgia in post-reform China.

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Ghost Marriage in Twentieth-Century Chinese Literature: Between the Past and the Future
Front. Lit. Stud. China    2016, 10 (1): 86-102.
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This article examines the adoption of ghost marriage (冥婚) as a literary theme in twentieth-century Chinese literature, arguing that this theme reflects a set of changes in perceptions of temporality from the premodern to the modern period. As a traditional ritual of holding marriage for the dead, ghost marriage embodies premodern views of time and space wherein the living and the dead are perceived as coexisting in parallel spaces, and the boundary of life and death is seen as transcendable through the extension of kinship. In this way, the dead are kept within the family, maintaining the warmth of familial relationships that transcend being and non-being. Modern authors, promoting a linear view of time, have taken up ghost marriage as an anchoring point of nostalgia for an unrecoverable ethics-based society. For instance, Yan Lianke’s 阎连科1994 novella Searching for the Land (寻找土地) announces the utter corruption—and therefore the death—of ethics-based society, suggesting that the only alternative is to confront the future as a road to hope rather than indulge in an illusion of the past. Through an analysis of Yan’s novella, this essay discusses how the theme of ghost marriage fits into the broader literary context of the early 1990s while also anticipating some of the distinctive elements of Yan Lianke’s subsequent novels.

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The classics of ancient Chinese literature
WU Chengxue, SHA Hongbing
Front. Lit. Stud. China    2007, 1 (1): 50-79.
Abstract   PDF (411KB)
This essay discusses the ancient Chinese literary classics by borrowing the prospective of canon  from the studies of Western literature. Studying the central issues of establishment, quality, type, and influence of ancient classics, the authors attempt to present their ancient history, decadent practices, and their central position in ancient literature and literary criticism. Moreover, from a broader perspective of modern theory, this essay argues that ancient classics are part of the important resources to release the tension between the traditional and the modern world.
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Mythorealism and Enchanted Time: Yan Lianke’s Explosion Chronicles
Xuenan CAO
Front. Lit. Stud. China    2016, 10 (1): 103-112.
Abstract   PDF (198KB)

In The Explosion Chronicles (Zhalie zhi 炸裂志), Yan Lianke combines ancient and contemporary practices of constructing and destructing, building and burning, in a literary style he calls mythorealism. The fictional chronicles relay a history of development written in the modern language of growth, documenting the development of a community called Explosion, which subsumes a discussion of economic growth within a theme of twisted temporality. This article uses The Explosion Chronicles to interrogate the temporal assumptions inherent in contemporary discourses of economic development in China. At the heart of my analysis of these tropes is a critique of the ideological function of linear time. Time can be arrested in economic growth, becoming an interface that activates intersubjective gazes before narratives mature.

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An overview on the research history of the modern literary journals in China
LIU Zengren
Front Liter Stud Chin    2009, 3 (1): 97-118.
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Based on the brief account of the outline and the systematic research of China modern literary journals, including the past and the present, this paper emphasizes that the modern literature journal is one of the modern literature carriers and even one of the primary research topics on modern literature. Research of the modern journals can possibly renovate the modern literature research and provide a new perspective on it.

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Evolution of Ci Poetry of the dynasties of Tang and Song in the perspective of dissociation and integration of Shi and Ci
WANG Zhaopeng
Front. Lit. Stud. China    2007, 1 (3): 449-475.
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The development of Chinese literary genres is largely a history of dissociation and integration. Ci and shi are closely associated at all times, separated at one time, and fused with each other at others. A brief survey of dissociation and integration of ci and shi falls into four periods: 1) starting from the early to the mid-late Tang Dynasty (Tang Chao Ug CE 618–907), when ci was derived from shi and no distinction existed between the two; 2) the late Tang Dynasty and the following Five Dynasties (Wu Dai N擭? CE 907–960), during which ci was separated and known from shi; 3) the Northern Song Dynasty (Bei Song S[? CE 960–1127), when ci developed and experienced a transform and took an initial inosculation into shi; and 4) the Southern Song Dynasty (Nan Song SW[? CE 1127–1279), when ci was shifted completely to shi (poetry) and the two were thoroughly merged.
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Writing Green Snake, Dancing White Snake, and the Cultural Revolution as Memory and Imagination—Centered on Yan Geling’sBaishe
Liang LUO
Front. Lit. Stud. China    2017, 11 (1): 7-37.
Abstract   PDF (490KB)

Following Kenneth King’s pioneering transmedial synthetic writings on post‐modern dance practices and Kimerer L. LaMothe’s call for dance to be treated seriously in religious and philosophical discourses, I examine Yan Geling’s novella Baishe (White Snake, 1998), in relation to Lilian Lee’s novel Qingshe (Green Snake, 1986–93), with a focus on how dancing and writing function literally, metaphorically, dialectically, and reciprocally, in these narratives. In my textual and contextual analyses of Yan’s White Snake text, I borrow Daria Halprin’s therapeutic model for accessing life experiences through the body in motion. I argue that, through a creative use of writing and dancing as key metaphors for identity formation and transformation, Yan’s text, in the context of contemporary China, offers innovative counter‐narratives of gender, writing, and the body. Yan’s White Snake is considered in the following three contexts in this paper: firstly, the expressiveness of the female body in the White Snake story; secondly, the tradition and significance of writing women in Chinese literary history; and thirdly, the development of dance as a profession in the PRC, with a real‐life snake dancer at the center. These three different frameworks weave an intricate tapestry that reveals the dialectics of writing and dancing, and language and the body, throughout the latter half of twentieth‐century China. Furthermore, Yan’s text foregrounds the Cultural Revolution as an important chronotope for experimentation with a range of complex gender identities in relation to the expressive and symbolic powers of dancing and writing.

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A Study on the Basic Theory of Lu Xun’s Literary Translation: “Everything Is an Intermediate Object”
WU Jun
Front. Lit. Stud. China    2016, 10 (3): 408-429.
Abstract   PDF (326KB)

Although among the modern Chinese intellectuals endeavoring for the enlightenment of the people, Lu Xun is the most rebellious and resolute, his rebelliousness against tradition does not mean that he has nothing to do with tradition itself. On the contrary, in order to fight against a tradition, as a precondition he must have a deep understanding and cognition toward that tradition. The emergence of Lu Xun’s philosophical proposition, “everything is an intermediate object” (yiqie doushi zhongjianwu ), occurs exactly in this way. With the evocation of this philosophical thought, the “intermediate object” (zhongjianwu ), we see the inseparable indigenous tie predestined between Lu Xun and Chinese traditional culture, even while he fiercely fights it. Lu Xun’s innovative idea was produced in the process of deducing and developing the excellent and discarding the worthless in Chinese traditional culture, while absorbing and learning from the advanced thought of the West. Furthermore, his philosophy of the “intermediate object” forms the basis of his study and practice in translation. His purpose in translation is to bravely step out of the circle of inherent traditional culture, to come to the advanced “middle zone” where Chinese and Western cultures collide, and to probe into the new cultural factors from the West. In doing so he seeks to reform and improve Chinese traditional culture, and thus meet “the third era which China has never experienced before.” However, Lu Xun’s idea of “intermediate objects” is neither the traditional idea of the “golden mean” (zhongyong zhidao ) nor that of “hypocrisy” (xiangyuan 乡愿). Unfortunately they are often mixed together into chaos by many people. So it is necessary to have further discussion about these terms and distinguish them separately.

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Translating Hong Kong Female Writing into English—Wong Bik‐wan’s Language of the “Repressed”
Isaac Hui
Front. Lit. Stud. China    2017, 11 (1): 206-231.
Abstract   PDF (530KB)

If a domesticated translation from Chinese to English can be understood as an act of eurocentrism, then the difficulties in translating Wong Bik‐wan’s latest novel Weixi chong xing (The re‐walking of Mei‐hei, 2014) reveal how this Hong Kong female writer uses language to escape patriarchal and colonial influences. This article examines how Wong makes use of the strategy of writing as a “repressed” individual (both in terms of her subject position and language style). Even though her language and sentences are at times short and dense, and the rhythm is fast, Wong demonstrates how one can reveal more by seemingly saying less. Attempts to reduce her text to a single interpretation have only resulted in failure. If it is hard for the repressed to speak without oppression, Wong illustrates how one can circumvent the constraints through the tactic of evasion, and demonstrates how the repressed can explode from gaps and silence.

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Ending as Beginning: Chinese Translations of Edward Bellamy’s Utopian Novel Looking Backward: 2000–1887
Kenny K. K. NG
Front. Lit. Stud. China    2016, 10 (1): 9-35.
Abstract   PDF (399KB)

The Chinese translation of Edward Bellamy’s Looking Backward: 2000–1887 (1887) at the turn of the twentieth century has been little studied, in spite of Bellamy’s obvious influence on Chinese intellectuals and reformist thinkers. Enthusiastically embraced by the intelligentsia as a gospel of social change, the utopian fiction has inspired subsequent Chinese writings of science fantasy in popular fiction. Bellamy’s tale centers on the adventure of time-traveler Julian West, a young Bostonian who is put into a hypnotic sleep in the late nineteenth century and awakens in the year 2000 in a socialist utopia. He discovers an ideally realized vision of the future, one unthinkable in his own century. This article argues that Chinese translators, in their conventional form of storytelling, have intentionally converted Bellamy’s original religious prophesy into a vision of a new and modernized state that is in line with the Chinese evolutionary historical imagination. It discusses the problematic of imagining the future by delineating the relationships of utopianism, social modernity, and temporality as the novel was written by an engaged American writer and then rendered into various Chinese versions by Western missionaries, Chinese intellectuals, and popular writers.

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The abridgement of famous Tang Dynasty poetry by later generations
Front. Lit. Stud. China    2009, 3 (3): 455-478.
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Some famous Tang Dynasty poems were once abridged by later generations. The earliest abridgements occurred in the Tang Dynasty because the music officials in charge of music intended to make the poems suitable for singing. However, the success of some abridgements was attributed to literary creation. Among the various abridgements of the famous Tang poems, the most successful instances formed a truncated verse by segmenting four lines from the original works. The author holds that this phenomenon in literary history indicated the pursuit of terseness, which was a popular feature of ancient Chinese poetic creation. Moreover, it also reflected the later poets’ criticism and amended the artistic criterion of the Tang poetry.
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Literary Criticism, Public Space, and Social Justice
WU Jun,
Front. Lit. Stud. China    2010, 4 (2): 253-282.
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Taking the profound impacts of generalized system, new electronic media, and subculture into consideration, this paper holds that, presently China has entered an era of comprehensive social transition, along with the tendency that the era of the former unified or centralized literature (criticism) values will come to an end. For this reason, literary criticism will probably go into public space in a generalized form. The formation and bearing of public reason and social justice or moral law should become the conscious duty of current literary criticism. This article, whose textbook cases arise, in the main, out of Renmin wenxue put out from 1949 to 1976, states how the accredited commission to write on the given topics in the general sense has acquired the special status of political culture, and therefore assumed the specially-designated significance, function and value in the literary institution of modern China. And organizing manuscripts not only occupies a direct role in being involved in the creation of literature, but also makes a subtly different history of literature that gives a reflection of the politically motivating force for the authorized literary compositions.
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The description concerning foreign affairs and exotic imagination in the fiction of the Ming and Qing dynasties
LIU Yongqiang
Front Liter Stud Chin    2008, 2 (4): 531-560.
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The description concerning the foreign affairs and exotic imagination in the vernacular fiction of the Ming and Qing dynasties, in a way, reveal the Chinese people’s vision of the world, which does not only lend a vivid note on the contemporaneous Sino-foreign relationship and its challenge to the traditional society, but also provides an interesting proof for attesting the “others’ perspective” found at the core of contemporary culture theory. This text expounds the historical and cultural contexts of such description and imagination, especially those of Korea, Japan, Vietnam and Thailand. It makes clear that the exotic areas described in fiction do not necessarily equal to those of real countries existing now. Only after the Qing dynasty, did Chinese fiction begin to give clear features of foreign countries and fully exhibit their literary values. So the change of exotic imagination is the landmark between ancient and modern fictions.

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DING Shumei, ZHU Chongzhi, YONG Youxin, FANG Guanghua, WANG Xiaobing, CHEN Yinchi, HUANG Zhusan, YANG Bo, DANG Shengyuan
Front Liter Stud Chin    2011, 5 (1): 115-137.
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Xiang Chu , Zhang Zikai , Tan Wei , He Jianping. Tangdai baihua shipai yanjiu;Zhao Shanlin. Zhongguo xiqu chuanbo jieshou shi;

Zheng Jiewen . Zhongguo Moxue tongshi;Zhu Shangshu . Songdai keju yu wenxue;Chen Yunji . Fojiao yu Zhongguo wenxue lungao;

Huang Tianji , Kang Baocheng . Zhongguo gudai xiju xingtai yanjiu;Lu Shengjiang . Wenjing mifulun huijiao huikao;Xia Jing. Liyue wenhua yu Zhongguo wenlun zaoqi xingtai yanjiu

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Representing Dagongmei (Female Migrant Workers) in Contemporary China
Amy Dooling
Front. Lit. Stud. China    2017, 11 (1): 133-156.
Abstract   PDF (387KB)

Neither comrades nor yet full‐fledged consumers, Chinese dagongmei (female migrant workers) and their experience(s) are an essential part of the story of China’s globalizing economy. The growing body of scholarly literature on internal migrant workers exposes a chilling underside to China’s passionate embrace of market‐oriented reform—which certainly should give pause to those otherwise inclined to hail the rise of global capitalism as a glorious shift toward democracy and greater personal freedom. My particular interest in the subject lies in the intersection of the rural‐to‐urban labor migration phenomenon, gender, and the realm of contemporary cultural expression. This article examines the diverse array of literary and visual representations of dagongmei, a site of distinctly post‐Mao ideological contestation. It begins with a discussion of dagongmei within popular and mainstream media. It then turns to the broad historical and cultural contexts that have spurred the grassroots emergence of worker literature in recent decades in southern China. The article concludes with an analysis of work by two women writers―poet Zheng Xiaoqiong and novelist Wang Lili―that offers highly gendered accounts of the contemporary migrant labor experience.

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Modern Characteristics in Modern Chinese Literary Theory
WANG Yichuan,
Front. Lit. Stud. China    2010, 4 (1): 19-31.
Abstract   PDF (346KB)
Being in accord with the great transformation of modern Chinese literature, modern Chinese literary theory is formed against the backdrop of changing modern cultural values in modern China. The multi-roles it has played in modern Chinese society include cultural intervention, social act, and construction of anesthetic experience and literary appreciation. It thus, through a dynamic dialogue between authoritative Western literary theory and traditional Chinese literary theory, manifests distinct features of modernity: vernacular written language, academic institutionalization, cultural explicitness, revolutionary radicalness, Westernization of inner system, and implicit Chinese traditions. It also has developed to a new stage where the localization of Western literary theory in China needs to be constructed and addressed.
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The Sing-song Girls of Shanghai: The pioneering work of modern popular fiction
FAN Boqun
Front. Lit. Stud. China    2008, 2 (3): 472-490.
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Haishang hua liezhuan is a distinctive marker of the transition from traditional to modern Chinese literature. No matter whether one looks at its choice of subject matter, character depiction, use of language, artistic technique, or even its publication channels, in every aspect this work’s originality shines through, illustrating how Chinese literature, even without the influence of foreign literary trends, also could walk the road towards modernization, because it possessed the innate dynamic towards it. The Haishang hua liezhuan is thus an excellent representative of popular fiction, one which—a quarter century before the emergence of the New Literature Movement—quietly ushered Chinese literature into modernity.
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Note of the Editor-in-Chief
Front Liter Stud Chin    2011, 5 (1): 1-2.
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Art history: A Western discipline’s centennial experience in China
Front. Lit. Stud. China    2007, 1 (4): 523-542.
Abstract   PDF (340KB)
In 1882, the American scholar E. F. Fenollosa first introduced the new western discipline art history  to Japan in a series of lectures entitled The True Meaning of Fine Art  in Tokyo. The next year, the French word esthetique was translated into Japanese using Kanji by Nakae Chomin. The term fine arts  first appeared in the Chinese language in a translation by Wang Guowei, who put the words in a glossary attached to the Chinese version (1902) of Motora Yujiro’s book Ethics. From the time when Wang employed the term in his famous article Confucian’s artistic education  (1904), then Huang Binhong and Deng Shi co-compiled The Library of Fine Arts (1911), to the year of 2003 when Fan Jingzhong began his monumental work The Shapes of Art History, the introduction of the western discipline has a history of one hundred years, which demonstrates the rich understanding of art history  which has played an increasingly prominent role in East Asian cultures.
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On the Theatricality of the Ci-Poetry in Tang and Song Dynasties
TAO Wenpeng, ZHAO Xuepei
Front Liter Stud Chin    2010, 4 (4): 578-601.
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Ci-poetry and drama are both genres of musical literature and the theatricality of the ci-poetry is demonstrated from many different aspects, such as the first-person narration, the emotional lyrics with unique features, the musical dialogues between two people or among many people, the dramatic conflict presented in the lyrics, the dramatic actions and the dramatic situations, etc. There are all kinds of plays in the ci-poetry, namely the serious drama, the comedy, the tragedy, the comedy with tears, the fantasy and the allegorical play. The ci-poetry of the Tang and Song dynasties exerted great influence on drama and on the other hand, the army-joining drama of the Tang dynasty and the miscellaneous drama of the Song dynasty to some extent inspired the creation of ci-poetry. The relationship between ci-poetry and drama confirms the mutual infiltration and cross reference among different literary genres in the Song dynasty.

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