This article explores propaganda and self-portrayals among women rulers in seventh and eighth century Tang China, a unique era in which court politics were dominated by female leaders. I analyze the way in which these leaders themselves wished to be rhetorically constructed, the images and allusions with which they desired to be figured, and the way in which they were rhetorically reconstructed by later writers after their deaths. I focus on the theme of auspiciousness—in particular, the definition of the “natural” in relation to gender identity and power. Female imagery is deployed in late seventh- and early eighth-century works to create the image of a particular brand of far-reaching, generative power possessed and/or desired by the leaders of the time. Beyond revealing the images and allusions with which the female power-holders wished to hear themselves be described and exalted, and what occasions were deemed worthy of exalting, these works offer a fascinating counterpoint to materials which retroactively defame this image. The rhetorical strategies and images later used to delegitimize and denigrate the power of these women often represent opposite treatments of themes present in the court literature from the Zhou-Jinglong era. This paper argues that reconstructions of these women’s identities as female power-holders indicate the prerogative of later writers to reshape their images in accordance with their own judgments, conceptualizations, and fears of female power.
This article examines the phenomenon of women writers burning their own manuscripts, which took place during the Ming-Qing period. By analyzing women’s poems and biographies of women, this study explores the reasons and implications behind “burning.” The self-censorship embodied by “burning” was geared towards protecting female virtue or enabling women writers to express their intense personal emotions while promoting an ideal public self-image. For example, due to their gender and class-consciousness, upper-class women tended to portray themselves as virtuous ladies, whereas, in contrast, courtesan writers were fascinated with the power of love. However, the act of burning manuscripts could both lead to partial loss of an author’s works and imbue her writing with the tantalizing aura of an unfulfilled promise, thereby immortalizing the manuscripts that had almost been turned to ashes and publicizing the work of the formerly obscure author. In this sense, the “burning” is transformed into a literary conceit which promotes women’s writings instead of destroying them. This article demonstrates the dual functions of manuscript burning by Ming-Qing women: self-censorship and self-promotion.
Contemporary Chinese female writer Zhang Kangkang’s novel Zhima uses the lives of rural migrant women to symbolize the experience of the individual in Chinese urban modernity. The novel exposes the gender and class discrimination suffered by the rural migrant woman Zhima, but it does not fully unmask or probe the deeply institutionalized imbrications between gender, class and power in both rural and urban society. The challenge posed to the hierarchical distinction between rural/urban in this text’s narrative ultimately gives way to the discourses on suzhi (quality) and “population control” that actually reinforce the rural/urban differences. The author’s self-proclaimed feminist standpoint is also overshadowed by the text’s complicity with developmentalist modern urban values. This literary text thus affirms, rather than calling into question, the post-socialist discourses of modernity, which are distinguished by their promotion and celebration of urbanization and free market.
The literary anthology is one of the key categories in ancient Chinese literary theory and criticism. Theoretically, anthology criticism focuses on three main areas: the preface and postscript, the annotation of the anthology, and the works selected for inclusion in the anthology. Anthology criticism is unique in its methodological synergy, including the direct and indirect communication of literary judgments and the amalgamation of critical theory and practice. This paper argues that the anthology as a form of literary criticism possesses great theoretical value; it sheds light on the development of literary concepts and forms, as well as suggesting the nature of literary transmission. Therefore, the literary anthology plays a key role in the canonization of Chinese literature.
This is a study of the earliest poetry by the modern Chinese writer Guo Moruo (1892–1978), composed between 1904 and 1912. He became famous mostly due to his “early poetry” composed in the 1920s, such as Nüshen (The Goddesses), but he was also an author of autobiographies. His autobiography Shaonian shidai (Childhood) and the poems published in the volume Guo Moruo shaonian shigao (Guo Moruo’s childhood poetry), are analysed here in comparison with the traditional Tang poetry.
The concept of World Citizen was not introduced to China by Lu Xun, but it is an important term in his thought. The most obvious difference between Lu Xun and other cultural pioneers during the May Fourth period is that rather than understanding and promoting cosmopolitanism as a social or systematic phenomenon, he was mainly interested in human nature and therefore attempted to formulate the concept of World Citizen in terms of a humanistic or spiritual dimension. In so doing, he profoundly expressed an ideological appeal for the significance of the human consciousness, understood within its historical context. This particular conception of cosmopolitanism is symbolically valuable and relevant to the present ideological reality.
Although contemporary Chinese writers attach great importance to the translation of their works and their introduction into the English-speaking world, especially North America, their efforts are rarely able to improve the international status of Chinese literature. There are various obstacles and prejudices faced by Chinese writers that can be roughly divided into three categories: institutional language filters, selective translation based on “Cold War logic,” and self-proclaimed literary evaluation criteria by the English speaking critics. These factors interact to influence the dissemination of contemporary Chinese literature in English-speaking world, especially North America.
The article approaches Wong Kar-wai’s cinematic work using the notion of “minor literature” as coined by Gilles Deleuze and Félix Guattari. Minor literature—or, in other words, minor language—signifies oppositional/resistant uses of a major/hegemonic language. It appropriates hegemonic language and deterritorialises it by re-signifying its original meanings. By transferring this concept from literature to cinema, we can describe Hong Kong cinema, which deterritorialises Hollywood cinema, as a minor cinema in relation to Hollywood. Following this interpretation, Wong Kar-wai’s movies appear as a “minor language of a minor cinema” because they are significantly different from Hong Kong’s mainstream action cinema. Consequently, Wong’s movies possess a high level of deterritorialising power, which opens up new spaces of meaning and gives voice to positions usually oppressed by mainstream cinema. Finally, a close reading of Wong’s movie Happy Together shows how “minor movies” challenge the mainstream’s unison and give space to a resistant and transforming polyphony.
The practice of fanxin, literally, “turning hearts and minds,” was widespread in the Liberated Areas of Northern China during the Land Reform Movement of 1946–48. This article examines the forms of power relations emerged during the course of revolutionary education and transformation which were geared towards awakening the peasants’ “self-consciousness of mastership.” Taking ku/suffering as the focal point, the article investigates two main types of thought-power, “speaking bitterness” (suku) and “visiting the suffering people” (fangku), both of which were important to the practices of fanxin. Through the investigation of fanxin, this empirical study reveals an important feature of the Chinese revolution: that is, the significance of the mind/heart, thought, or “spiritual elements.”