AALL 150S Intellectuals/History/Culture:
Asian and African Languages and
Professor Jing Wang
Time: TTh 12:40
Office Hours: TTH 2-3 or by appointment
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Course Objectives and Requirements
Schedule of Readings/Discussion (Go To A Specific Week):
Description of Objectives and Requirements:
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."
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%
- Mo Yan. Red Sorghum.
- Jing Wang. High Culture Fever.
- Wang Shuo. Playing for Thrills.
- Jing Wang. China's Avant-Garde Fiction: An Anthology
- Chinese Nationalism. Ed. Jonathan Unger
Supplementary materials for electronic scanning
Feature Films and Documentaries (On Reserve in Lily Library)
- China in Revolution
- The Shock of the New (part 1: The Power that Be//Part 2: The
- He Shang (River Elegy)
- Yellow Earth
- Finding Fun
- A Beijinger in New York (1st episode)
Bibliography for AAL 150S (Course Pack):
Chinese Modernism in the Post-Mao Era
- Barme, Geremie R. Shades of Mao. M. E. Sharpe, 1996.
- Cahoone, Lawrence. The Dilemma of Modernity: Philosophy, Culture,
and Anti-Culture Albany: State University of New York Press. 1988.
- Calinescu, Matei. Five Faces of Modernity. Durham: Duke University
- Can Xue. "The Hut on the Hill." Worlds of Modern Chinese
Fiction. Ed. Michael Duke. M. E. Sharpe, 1991. 41-44.
- Chow Tse-tsung.The May Fourth Movement: Intellectual Revolution
in Modern China. Cambridge: Harvard UP, 1960.
- "Debates over Yellow Earth." Seeds of Fire. Ed. Geremie
Barme and John Minfold. Hong Kong: Far Eastern Economic Review,
- Eagleton, Terry. "The Conditions of Postmodernism."
New Literary History 28:1 (1997). 1-6.
- Ge Fei. "Green Yellow." China's Avant-Garde Fiction:
- Goodman, David S.G. "The Politics of Regionalism."
China Deconstructs. London and New York: Routledge, 1994. 1-20.
- Peter Gries, Review of China Can Say No. The China Journal 37
(Jan. 1997). 180-185.
- Han Shaogong. "After the Literature of the Wounded."
Modern Chinese Writers: Portrayals. Ed. Helmut Martin and Jeffrey
Kinkley. M. E. Sharpe, 1992. 147-55.
- Harvey, David. The Condition of Postmodernity. Blackwell, 1990.
- -----. "Flexible Accumulation through Urbanization: Reflections
on `Post-modernism' in the American City." Post-Fordism: A Reader.
Ed. Ash Amin. Blackwell, 1994.
- Hassen, Ihab. The Postmodern Turn: Essays in Postmodern Theory
and Culture. Columbus: The Ohio State University Presss, 1987.
- Jameson, Fredric. "Postmodernism and Consumer Society."
Postmodernism and Its Discontents. Ed. Ann Kaplan. London and New York:
Verso, 1988. 13-29.
- Kim, Samuel S., Dittmer, Lowell. "Whither China's
Quest for National Identity?" China's Quest for National Identity.
Ithaca and London: Cornell University Press, 1993.
- Li Hangyu. "The Last Angler." Best Chinese Stories
(1949-1989). Beijing: Panda Books, 1989.
- _____. "Seeking Roots Among the Gechuan River." Morning Sun:
Interviews with Chinese Writers of the Lost Generation. Ed. Laifong
Leung. M. E. Sharpe, 1994. 88-96.
- Li, Youzhuo. "Will Neo-Conservatism Dominate Post-Deng
China?" China Strategic Review. Vol.2, No. 2 (1997). 31-40.
- Meisner, Maurice. "The Maoist Phase of the Revolution and
the Yanan Legacy." Mao's China and After. New York, The Free Press,
- Mo Yan. "Creator of the Red Sorghum Series." Morning
- "The Preface and Epilogue of China Can Say No. China Strategic
Review. Vol. 1, No. 8. 11-16.
- Peck, Jamie and Tickell, Adam. "Searching for a
New Institutional Fix: the After-Fordist Crisis and the Global-Local Disorder."
Post-Fordism: A Reader. 280-315.
- Pound, Ezra et al. Readings for Western Modernism. Excerpts.
- Smith, Paul. "Note on Terminology." Discerning the
Subject (Minneapolis: U of Minnesota Press, 1988). xxxiii-xxxv.
- Su Tong. "The Brothers Su." Chairman Mao Would Not
Be Amused. 25-68.
- Su Xiaokang and Wang Luxiang. Deathsong of the River:
A Reader's Guide to the Chinese TV Series `He Shang'. Ithaca: Cornell University
- Wang Zengqi. "Buddhist Initiation." Chinese Short
Stories of the Twienth Century. New York and London: Garland Publishing
Inc., 1995. 173-201.
- _____. "We Must Not Forget Our Historical Roots." Modern
Chinese Writers: Self-Portrayals. 156-63.
- Yan Jiaqi. "From Communism to Democracy: Democratic Trangsofrmation
in the Post-Deng Era." The China Strategic Review, Vol. 2, No. 1 (1997).
- Yu Hua, "One Kind of Reality." Running Wild: New Chinese
Writers. Ed. David Wang and Jeanne Tai. New York: Columbia University Presss,
- _____. "Noon of Howling Wind." Anthology of the Chinese Avant-Garde.
- Zha Jianying. "China's Popular Culture in the 1990s."
China Briefing: The Contradictions of Change. Ed. William A. Joseph.
Armonk: M.E.Sharpe, 1997. 109-50.
- Zhao, Y. H. Henry. "Post-isms and Chinese New Conservatism."
New Literary History 28: 1 (1997). 31-44.
- Zhong Acheng. "The First Half of My Life." Modern
Chinese Writers: Self-Portrayals. 106-17.
- _____. "The Tree Stump." Spring Bamboo: A Collection of Contemporary
Chinese Short Stories. Ed. Jeanne Tai. New York: Random House, 1989.
- Zhou Yi. "Before and After the Publication of China Can
Say No." China Strategic Review. Vol. 1, No. 7. 19-21.
Schedule of Lecture/DiscussionTopics and
9/2* T Introduction
- Chronology of Important Events Since 1949
- Clippings from The Shock of the New, part 1 (in class)
9/4 Th TOPIC: Modernity as a Cultural-Philosophical Discourse
- Matei Calinescu, "The Idea of Modernity," 13-26, 41-46,
- David Harvey, "Modernization," 99-112
- Lawrence Cahoone, "The Modernity Debate," 2-7
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
--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
**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
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
(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
**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. ???
9/9 T TOPIC: Modernism: A New Aesthetics
- Excerpts from Yeats, Pound, Eliot, Williams
- Ihab Hassan, "Modernism," 34-37.
- Matei Calinescu, "Versions of Decadence," 151-171
- Discussion of Yeats, Pound, Eliot, Williams, continued
9/16 T TOPIC: Chinese Modernity in the Making: Enlightenment & Revolution
- China in Revolution (documentary: Lily Library)
- Chow, The May Fourth Movement
- Maurice Meisner, "The Maoist Phase of the Revolution and
the Yen'an Legacy," 31-54
9/18* Th TOPIC: Mao Zedong Fever
- Geremie R. Barme, excerpts from Shades of Mao,
- "The Mao Phenomenon," 140-146
- "From Sartre to Mao Zedong," 149-150
- "The Red Sun," 192-194
- "A Place in the Pantheon: Mao and Folk Religion,"
- "The Imprisoned Heart: Consuming Mao," 215-220
- "MaoSpeak," 224-227
- "Galluping Mao: A 1993 Opinion Poll," 261-268
- "Chairman Mao Graffiti," 269-275
- "Musical Chairman," 282-284
- Class Debate on Mao Zedong
- Political Pop on Mao
9/23 T TOPIC: The 1980s's Debate on Modernity in China
- Yellow Earth (film)
- Debate over Yellow Earth, 251-269
- Jing Wang, High Culture Fever, Chapter 2, "High Culture
- Yellow River Elegy (Episode 1 shown in class)
- Jing Wang, Chapter 3, "The Paradox of The Chinese Enlightenment"
10/2 Th TOPIC: Root-Searching Literature
- Wang, High Culture Fever: Chapter 4 (138-48; 180-86)
- Wang, High Culture Fever: Chapter 5 (206-224)
- Paul Smith, "Notes on Terminology"
- Li Hangyu, "Seeking Roots Along the Gechuan River"
- Zhang Chengzhi, "Not Like Other Writers"
- Wang Zengqi, "Buddhist Initiation"
- Wang Zengqi, "We Must Not Forget Our Historical Roots"
- Li Hangyu, "The Last Angler"
- Zhong Acheng, "The Tree Stump", "The First Half
of My life"
- Han Shaogong, "Homecoming", "After the Literature
of the Wounded"
10/10-10/14 Fall semester break
- Mo Yan, Red Sorghum
- Mo Yan, "Creator of the Red Sorghum Series"
10/21 T TOPIC: Postmodernity
- David Harvey, "Fordism," "From Fordism to Flexible
- Matei Calinescu, "A New Face of Modernity," "Epistemology
and Hermeneutics: From Modernity to Postmodernity," 265-75.
10/23 Th TOPIC: Postmodernism
- Ihab Hassan, "Toward a Concept of Postmodernism",
- David Harvey, "Postmodernism," 39-65.
- Fredric Jameson, "Postmodernism and Consumer Society"
10/28 T Topic: The Debate over Chinese Postmodernism
- Yu Hua, "One Kind of Reality", "Noon of Howling
- Can Xue, "The Hut on the Mountain"
- J. Wang, Introduction to China's Avant-Garde Fiction: An Anthology
- Su Tong "The Shu Brothers"
- Ge Fei "Green Yellow"
11/4 T TOPIC: China after 1989: Nationalism
- Gries, Review on China Can Say No.
- Excerpts from China Can Say No
- Barme, "To Screw Foreigners Is Patriotic: China's Avant-Garde
Nationaists" in Barme, Chinese Nationalism
- Pye, "How China's Nationalism Was Shanghaied" in Chinese
- Crane, "Special Things in Special Ways: National Economic
Identity and China's Special Economic Zones" in Chinese Nationalism
- A Beijinger in New York (episode one)
- David Goodman, "The Politics of Regionalism: Economic Development,
Conflict, and Negotiation," China Deconstructs, 1-20.
- Samuel Kim and Lowell Dittmer, "Whither China's Quest for
National Identity?" 237-90.
11/18 T TOPIC: New Conservatism
- Henry Zhao, "Post-Isms and Chinese New Conservatism,"
- Li Youzhuo, "Will Neo-Conservatism Dominate Post-Deng China?"
11/20 Th Finding Fun (film)
- Terry Eagleton, "The Contradictions of Postmodernism,"
11/25 T TOPIC: Mass Consumption and Popular Culture
- Zha Jianying, "China's Popular Culture in the 1990s,"
- Jing Wang, a paper on Leisure Culture of the 1990s's China
11/26-12/1 Thanksgiving recess
- Wang Shuo, Playing for Thrills
- Jing Wang, High Culture Fever, chapter 7
12/4 Th Term projects presentation (5)
12/9 T Term projects presentation (5)
12/11 Th Term projects presentation (6)
Final paper due
Copyright 1998 by Jing Wang.
This page last updated May 29, 1998