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Frontiers of Literary Studies in China

ISSN 1673-7318 (Print)
ISSN 1673-7423 (Online)
CN 11-5745/I
Postal Subscription Code 80-982


, Volume 7 Issue 1

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The Subversion of Modernity and Socialism in Mu Shiying’s Early Fiction
Christopher Rosenmeier
Front Liter Stud Chin. 2013, 7 (1): 1-22.
Abstract   HTML   PDF (271KB)

Mu Shiying’s first short story collection, North Pole, South Pole (Nanbeiji) from 1932, is usually seen as socialist or proletarian literature preceding his later modernist writings. I argue that this view needs to be revised. In one short story Mu deliberately parodies the social agenda of contemporary leftist writers. The protagonists are neither enlightened workers nor victims of social injustice. On the contrary, they turn to rage, misogyny, and self-righteous violence, and their motives are rooted in their sexual frustrations and inability to cope with modern life. Their righteous ideals are based on fiction and an imagined tradition. Mu’s construction of the fictive tradition plays an important part in these early short stories, and, in this respect, I compare them with Shi Zhecun’s writings.

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Psalm 137 According to Zhang Xiaofeng: The Wailing Wall in Post-1949 Taiwan Literary History
Marián Gálik
Front Liter Stud Chin. 2013, 7 (1): 23-36.
Abstract   HTML   PDF (298KB)

The aim of this essay is to analyze the first story by Zhang Xiaofeng, Taiwan writer, playwright, known in the mainland of China mainly as an excellent essayist. The Wailing Wall (Kuqiang) was written in 1968 in the atmosphere of the Six Days War in Israel, the atrocities during the first years of the Cultural Revolution in the mainland of China, and war in Vietnam. Wailing Wall is a poetic symbol of sadness and suffering mostly of the innocent people. For the author of the story it is reminiscent of the biblical Psalm 137 depicting the moods of the Hebrews in the Babylonian Captivity after 586 B.C. and the situation of her compatriots who were forced to leave their old homes in the Mainland before Oct. 1, 1949. Zhang Xiaofeng is a Christian author regarding love as the cornerstone of inter-human relations. She believes in love of God for all human beings and in the universal love. The short story consisting of one woman and her relations with two brothers between October 1949 and June 1967, against the background what happened in the world around them, and in their vicinity, brought her an unpleasant cognition: The true love is hardly possible where the human beings should live between, or behind the walls, where hate is prevailing.

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Family “Drama” and Self-Empowerment Strategies in the Genealogy Writings of Yuan Jingrong 袁镜蓉 (1786–ca.1852)
Binbin Yang
Front Liter Stud Chin. 2013, 7 (1): 37-64.
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This article focuses on a genre of late imperial women’s writing that has rarely been explored, namely, genealogy writing. By “genealogy writing,” I refer not only to family histories composed of lists of descendants and ancestors’ biographies, but also, more broadly, to writings specifying the terms for ancestral rites. This genre of writing conferred ritual and moral authority, especially during a time when ancestral worship became the defining attribute of a lineage and was held in supreme importance by local families and lineages. Women, however, almost never enjoyed such authority. My selection of the case of Yuan Jingrong (1786–ca.1852, wife to the Vice Minister of Rites, Wu Jie) is based precisely on this concern of genre. By appropriating the authority conferred by genealogy writing, Yuan Jingrong gained the upper hand in her family’s dramatic shifts of fortune and power, and pushed women’s self-empowering strategies to extraordinary proportions.

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The Natural Imagery in the Zhuangzi: A Preliminary Study
Chun Liu
Front Liter Stud Chin. 2013, 7 (1): 65-86.
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This essay presents a preliminary examination of the use of natural imagery in the Inner Chapters of the Zhuangzi. The essay analyzes the characteristics of this imagery and the possible reasons for Zhuangzi’s particular use of fantastic language, exaggeration, and fiction in connection with natural images. In doing so, I also compare the Zhuangzi with several important classical Chinese and Greek texts. In addition, I explore the possible motivations for and influence exerted by Zhuangzi’s use of natural imagery. The essay aims to demonstrate that an analysis of the roles played by natural imagery in the Zhuangzi contributes significantly to our understanding of the work as a whole, as well as its abiding influence on later works.

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Estrangement: A Possible Lens through which to Understand the Femininity of Contemporary Chinese Intellectual Women
Meng Li
Front Liter Stud Chin. 2013, 7 (1): 87-116.
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The paper analyzes the femininity of Chinese intellectual women through reference to the historically and culturally significant concept of estrangement. The paper explores what it manes to be a contemporary Chinese intellectual woman with an emphasis on how popular cultural images of Chinese intellectual women articulated particular, historically-conditioned tensions. The paper focuses on the theoretical construction of “estrangement,” an important concept in the fields of psychoanalysis, socialist feminism and French feminism. My discussion of “estrangement” centers on the way in which the femininity of intellectual women is constructed, in particular, the degree to which they are depicted as adhering to or becoming estranged from the norms for feminine behavior. I focus on the female writer Huang Beijia’s novellas, published between 1981 and 1994. The paper concludes that estrangement constitutes a haunting motif that is used to represent/understand Chinese intellectual women in the contemporary context and that the contemporary intellectual woman’s predicament is, in turn, a telling motif for understanding historical changes in Chinese gender relations.

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The Problematic of “High (-Brow) Literature” and “Low (-Brow) Literature”: Some Thoughts on the Origins of Modern Chinese Literature
Xiaoping Wang
Front Liter Stud Chin. 2013, 7 (1): 117-141.
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This paper discusses the criteria according to which literature is categorized as “high (-brow) literature” or “low (-brow) literature” in modern China. I suggest that these standards change over time and are intimately tied to the problematics of canonization, legitimization, and cultural hegemony. In modern China, the criteria are also closely related to class differentiation. Furthermore, I contend that, in the Chinese academic world, there is often a tendency to interpret certain forms of middle-brow literature as belletristic literature that breaks though the boundary between “high (-brow) literature” and “low (-brow) literature.” In discussing “middle-brow” literature in modern China, this paper takes “Mandarin Ducks and Butterfly” literature as the object of its analysis and proposes that middle-brow literature is essentially the moralization of political and social issues, which serves to displace social-economic and political concerns. This is usually accomplished through the glorification of conservative ethical-moral viewpoints.

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8 articles