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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 2

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Taiwan New Cinema: A Movement of Unintended Consequences
James Udden
Front Liter Stud Chin. 2013, 7 (2): 159-182.
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Taiwan New Cinema movement that began in the 1980s is arguably one of Taiwan’s greatest cultural breakthroughs; the movement eventually led to numerous awards for Taiwanese filmmakers at the biggest festivals, such as Venice, Berlin and Cannes. This implies that the New Cinema movement was ultimately the result of a carefully orchestrated policy on the part of the Taiwan authority. In truth, however, the New Cinema was more accidental than planned. The initial factors behind the movement were more domestic in orientation than foreign; the movement represented a makeshift attempt to save a domestic film industry that was slowly dying. The multiple awards received by Taiwanese filmmakers were thus unexpected benefits, which the authority and others were slow to recognize. Regardless of its origins, however, the New Cinema’s lasting impact is undeniable. To this day, many of the controversies first raised about the New Cinema remain core issues for Taiwan cinema.

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Voices and Their Discursive Dis/Content in Taiwan Documentary
Guo-Juin Hong
Front Liter Stud Chin. 2013, 7 (2): 183-193.
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Instead of attempting to provide a survey of Taiwan documentary, this article focuses on a few critical moments in its long and uneven history and proposes a potentially productive site for understanding its formal manifestations of representational politics. By honing in on the uses of sounds and words, I show that the principle of a unitary voice—voice understood both as the utterances of sound and the politico-cultural meaning of such utterances— organizes the earlier periods of the colonial and authoritarian rules and shapes later iterations of and formal reactions to them. Be it voice-over narration or captions and inter-titles, this article provides a historiographical lens through which the politics of representation in Taiwan documentary may be rethought. Furthermore, this article takes documentary not merely as a genre of non-fiction filmmaking. Rather, it insists on documentary as a mode, and indeed modes, of representation that do not belong exclusively to the non-fiction. Notions of “documentability” are considered together with the corollary tendency to “fictionalize” in cinema, fiction and non-fiction. Taiwan, with its complex histories in general and the specific context within which the polyglossiac practices of New Taiwan Documentary have blossomed in recent decades in particular, is a productive site to investigate the questions of “sound” in cinematic form and “voice” in representational politics.

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The Postcolonial Appearance of Colonial Taiwan: Film and Memory
Bert M. Scruggs
Front Liter Stud Chin. 2013, 7 (2): 194-213.
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This preliminary consideration of genre and memory explores the appearance of colonial Taiwan in the work of Japanese and Taiwan filmmakers. Visuality and identification in cinema, the pragmatic and affective dimensions of memory, and the colonial and postcolonial viewing subject are discussed. Also noted in this essay are the apparatuses of recording and reproducing music and the human voice, ideologies, and time in Taiwan during the twentieth century. The examination of postcolonial and colonial documentaries and postcolonial fiction films suggests that colonial filmmakers often demonstrate a utopian outlook, while postcolonial cinema tends to adopt a dystopian, retrospective gaze. These examinations, in turn, comprise a reflection, on multiple levels, of diegetic register and on the uniquely Taiwanese visual and aural aspects of these multi-lingual films. In summary, this article is an attempt to highlight the powerful and sometimes subversive uses of film in the propagation and circulation of a postcolonial Taiwanese identity which transcends national boundaries, and the polarizing, moribund research that they engender, so that scholars might better understand the postcolonial condition.

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Bidding Farewell with Regret: Notes towards Affective Articulations and Inter-Asian Writing
Chih-ming Wang
Front Liter Stud Chin. 2013, 7 (2): 214-234.
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This paper proposes an alternative approach to the contemporary discussion of Asia, or more specifically East Asia. Rather than conceptualizing Asia as a geo-economic entity, as a cultural historical construct of Euro-centrism, and as a capitalist vision of the world market, this paper seeks to recapture “Asia” in what I call “affective articulations.” Specifically, I will examine Dazai Osamu’s Farewell with Regret (Sekibetsu, 1945) and Zhang Chengzhi’s Respect and Farewell with Regret (Jingzhong yu xibie, 2008) as two exemplars of inter-Asian writing in which Asia is represented as a loaded symbol of affect. Whereas Dazai’s book was written in the heat of Great East Asia War, to comply with the demands of the Japanese war effort, Zhang’s book was written at the no less challenging time of China’s rise to regional hegemony. Though they differ in style and purpose, both texts hold up a vision of Asia which is distinctly grasped in affective encounters, symbolized by the act of “bidding farewell with regret” (xibie). Intrigued by the affective significance of bidding farewell with regret, this paper first considers “farewell” as a method to recast the discussion of Asia in regional and geopolitical terms, and then performs an analysis of the texts in question so as to identify crucial moments when Asia, despite its internal heterogeneity and complicated history, is grasped in the affective articulation of Sino-Japanese encounters. Such moments, I believe, are real, sincere, and indispensable for our attempt to re-imagine Asia as a translocal solidarity.

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On Zhang Jingsheng’s Sexual Discourse: Women’s Liberation and Translated Discourses on Sexual Differences in 1920s China
Wai Siam Hee
Front Liter Stud Chin. 2013, 7 (2): 235-270.
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This article explores and re-evaluates Zhang Jingsheng’s views on sex education and aesthetic education, as revealed in his book Sexual Histories and in articles that he published in the journal New Culture. His endorsement of sex education and aesthetic education constructed a sexual discourse, advocating the redefinition of Chinese men and women’s gender and sexuality through knowledge/power. Zhang Jingsheng highly valued eugenics and “aesthetic sexual intercourse,” and he attempted to use sex education to improve Chinese people’s innate physical weakness and their “androgynous” sexual characteristics. By prescribing an aesthetic education that covered all fundamental aspects of life, he also attempted to remedy what he saw as the inadequate or inverted models of masculinity and femininity available to Chinese men and women. Furthermore, by collecting and analyzing articles solicited for Sexual Histories and letters addressed to New Culture, he discussed how to cure the sexual perversions that were associated with Chinese men and women’s sexualities. Finally, this article compares the contents of New Culture with the discourses (in Chinese and other languages) on sexual difference published in other Chinese journals in the 1920s, including how the discourses on sexual difference by Havelock Ellis and Edward Carpenter were translated into the modern Chinese context. The article concludes that the contributors to New Culture held unified opinions on the issues of homosexuality and women’s liberation. Thus, in comparison with journals such as The Chinese Educational Review, The Ladies’ Journal, and New Women, New Culture was less tolerant of divergent opinions. Although Zhang supported sexual liberation, he nonetheless sought to eliminate homosexuality from the aesthetic society that he envisioned. His idea of sexual liberation tended to signify women’s liberation and excluded a homosexual agenda because he was homophobic. For most of the May Fourth Generation, including Zhang Jingsheng, sexual and women’s liberation were not equivalent to self-liberation. Instead, the concepts of sexual liberation and women’s liberation were invoked to re-code the bodies of Chinese men and women, with the aim of creating a “Strong Breed to Rescue the Nation.”

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German Popular Music Studies as Part of (International) Media Cultural Studies
Christoph Jacke
Front Liter Stud Chin. 2013, 7 (2): 271-286.
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This paper begins by explaining current developments in popular music research, mainly in connection with approaches used in international media and Cultural Studies. It then provides an overview of German-language research methods and discourses on popular music. In addition to the traditional reflections from musicology and music education, nine perspectives will be described, primarily from the media, communications, culture and social sciences. These nine contemporary perspectives are distributed along lines of thematic focus, moving beyond disciplines or fields per se. This paper will close with a list of suggestions for popular music research and education in the German cultural sphere, insisting above all on a clear connection/link, in the sense of a mixing/incorporation/integration, with (current) international discourses. Finally, the paper synthesizes German research, not only to systematize it but also to illustrate its diversity and multiperspectivity.

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Dactyls and Pterodactyls: New Convergences of Poetics and Science
Ira Livingston
Front Liter Stud Chin. 2013, 7 (2): 287-304.
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If poetics refers broadly to the principles by which things are made, how is the kind of process that yields poetry (in the narrow sense) related to other kinds of making? This essay explores promising resonances between traditional poetics and new paradigms coming out of complexity and systems theory. Of particular interest is Terrence Deacon’s Incomplete Nature, an account of the relationships among layers of emergent order in the universe, under the heading of a general theory of dynamics. In particular, this essay understands poetry in relation to other kinds of making through three principles Deacon identifies as crucial: constraint, emergence, and absence. These principles tend to validate rather than to undermine traditional accounts of poetic making as inspiration, often involving entification in the form of attribution of creative agency to entities such as muses or to the text itself.

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Allegory, the Nation, and the March of Time: An Essay on Modern Chinese Literature in Honor of Fredric Jameson
Eric Hodges
Front Liter Stud Chin. 2013, 7 (2): 305-318.
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In this essay I engage with Fredric Jameson’s theoretical works and ideas, especially his concept of national allegory, and examine their possibilities and limits for use in literary analysis of Modern Chinese Literature. In particular, I examine the themes of the nation and the passage of time in the works of Yu Dafu, Lao She, Xiao Hong, and Zhao Shuli and argue for evidence of a historical development from cyclical narrative to messianic and utopian linear time in their novels. While Yu Dafu’s “Sinking” (Chenlun) and Lao She’s Camel Xiangzi (Luotuo Xiangzi) both display a desire to break free from cyclical time and narration, the narratives fold back into themselves. In contrast, Xiao Hong’s The Field of Life and Death (Shengsi chang) mediates between two different temporal schemes and marks a transition to the linear developments prevalent in Socialist Realist novels such as Zhao Shuli’s Sanliwan Village (Sanliwan). While Jameson’s earlier works on Realism, Marxism, and the “Political Unconscious” all provide valuable insight into Modern Chinese Literature and the novels mentioned, Jameson’s engagement with Chinese authors has also opened up new ways of examining Chinese literature.

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9 articles