AALL 150S Intellectuals/History/Culture: Post-Mao China 
Asian and African Languages and Literature
Professor Jing Wang

Time: TTh 12:40
Office Hours: TTH 2-3 or by appointment
Phone: 684-2902/4309
E-Mail:

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Course Objectives and Requirements
Required Texts
Schedule of Readings/Discussion (Go To A Specific Week):

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Description of Objectives and Requirements:

COURSE DESCRIPTION

This course examines major debates over politics, aesthetics, and popular culture in contemporary mainland China, focusing on the 1980s and 1990s. Materials for discussion include narrative fiction, films (both documentaries and feature films), and critical essays. Theoretical discussions will move between examinations of Euro-American universalistic paradigms of modernity/postmodernity, and mainland Chinese critic-intellectuals' engagment in appropriating and/or critiquing those paradigms. Topics include: the modernist narratives of "world history" (i.e., "center" against "periphery"), the postmodern turn of debunking "universal history" or metanarrative, the resurgence of Mao fever, the Chinese search for modernity, the controversy over "Chinese postmodernism," the 1990s's resurgence of neo-nationalism and new conservatism in China, state sponsorship and the new meanings of "culture as leisure."

 

REQUIREMENTS:

Atendance and participation in class discucssion 30%

Composing a question (based on assigned readings) for each class session. To be sent on the e- mail by 9 a.m. on Tuesdays and Thursdays (questions received after 9 a.m. will not count). 15%

4 responses papers (no more than 3 pages, double-spaced, typed, summaries of readings are not accepted). 40%

A term project due on the last day of class 15%



Required Texts:

REQUIRED TEXTS:

Supplementary materials for electronic scanning

Feature Films and Documentaries (On Reserve in Lily Library)

Bibliography for AAL 150S (Course Pack): Chinese Modernism in the Post-Mao Era



Schedule of Lecture/DiscussionTopics and Readings:



WEEK ONE

Readings:

9/2* T Introduction

9/4 Th TOPIC: Modernity as a Cultural-Philosophical Discourse

Assignments: First Class Lecture

We will start the class by talking about China's Mao Zedong fever. Politics and aesthetics are closely intertwined. Contrary to our common understanding of aesthetics, the category of the "beautiful" is not universal. It is culturally and historically specific. The construction of the aesthetic artifact is also inseparable from the construction of the dominant ideological forms of modern society. This was especially true in Mao's China where for decades, art and literature was subjugated to the needs of political ideology. And even after his death, artists and writers continued to be engaged in ideological battles with questions about Mao and his legacy, Marxism, socialism, now, about global capitalism. For instance, modernism and the avant-garde, which this course will cover, should be understood first and foremost as literary movements that had deep ideological roots in the Chinese people's collective memory of the Cultural Revolution. So without knowing that past of China's modern history--which was glorified and condemned at the same time--we wont be able to talk about contemporary Chinese literature meaningfully.

period: The post-Mao era--after 1976 after the fall of "the Gang of Four."

--1978 Democracy Wall Movement: young activists called for democracy as the "Fifth modernization," demanding the ouster of "Maoists," Deng Xiaoping came back to power

The Question of Mao

**the political necessity of preserving Mao as a symbol of revolutionary legitimacy.--to recapture the uncorrupted Maoism of the years prior to 1957, before Mao had succumbed to pernicious radical and utopian ideas

Assessment of China's Future

**Deng and reformers advocated the decentralization of economic power and decision-making to individual enterprises operating on a profit-making basis.

**The most striking departure from Maoist practices has been the establishment of several "special economic zones" designed to attract foreign capital by permitting the exploitation of Chinese labor and natural resources on terms more profitable than can be obtained in HK or Taiwan.

**in the countryside, the market-type reforms have had the greatest social/economic impacct. By the early 1980s, the communes had been all but dismantled, and collective agricultural production had been largely replaced by individual family farming.

The Question of Socialism/Capitalism

Deng, like Mao before him, is committed to making China both modern and socialist. But while Mao believed the crucial elements in the construction of socialism to be the values, consciousness, and will of the people involved in the process regardles of the economic conditions in which they found themselves, Deng has returned to more orthodox Marxist views on the relationship bet economic and social development.

If there is little socialist about Chinese society in the post-Maoist period, does it mean that it is capitalist?

(1) To ideologically sanction capitalist practices within what is said to be a basically socialist system, post-Maoist theoreticians have revived the orthodox Marxist view on the historically progressive nature of capitalism. While Mao believed that China had been fortunate to suffer under only a relatively brief and underdeveloped capitalist regime, thus making the prospects for socialism all the more promising, his successors view the absence of a full and genuine capitalist phase as one of the great tragedies of modern Chinese history.

(2) The promotion of market forces is but an expedient means to serve the nationalist and modernizing ends of the Chinese state. So what all too easily is labeled "capitalism" in post-Mao China is not rooted in private property, but rather is almost entirely dependent on the sanction and patronage of the state. The Chinese state is still the master of the Chinese economy.

**The reappearnce of petty private enterprise in the cities has been hailed variously as "an economic reform" and, by some Western observers, as a sign of the rebirth of capitalism. ???



WEEK TWO

Readings:

9/9 T TOPIC: Modernism: A New Aesthetics

9/11 Th



WEEK THREE

Readings:

9/16 T TOPIC: Chinese Modernity in the Making: Enlightenment & Revolution

9/18* Th TOPIC: Mao Zedong Fever



WEEK FOUR

Readings:

9/23 T TOPIC: The 1980s's Debate on Modernity in China

9/25 Th


WEEK FIVE

Readings:

9/30* T

10/2 Th TOPIC: Root-Searching Literature



WEEK SIX

Readings:

10/7 T

10/9 Th



WEEK SEVEN

10/10-10/14 Fall semester break



WEEK EIGHT

Readings:

10/16 Th



WEEK NINE

Readings:

10/21 T TOPIC: Postmodernity

10/23 Th TOPIC: Postmodernism


WEEK TEN

Readings:

10/28 T Topic: The Debate over Chinese Postmodernism

10/30 Th



WEEK ELEVEN

Readings:

11/4 T TOPIC: China after 1989: Nationalism

11/6 Th



WEEK TWELVE

Readings:

11/11 T

11/13 Th



WEEK THIRTEEN

Readings:

11/18 T TOPIC: New Conservatism

11/20 Th Finding Fun (film)


WEEK FOURTEEN

Readings:

11/25 T TOPIC: Mass Consumption and Popular Culture

11/26-12/1 Thanksgiving recess


WEEK FIFTEEN

Readings:

12/2 T

12/4 Th Term projects presentation (5)


WEEK SIXTEEN

Readings:

12/9 T Term projects presentation (5)

12/11 Th Term projects presentation (6)

Final paper due



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Copyright 1998 by Jing Wang.
This page last updated May 29, 1998