Inside out: modernism and postmodernism in Chinese literary culture
This collection of papers is the outcome of the symposium "Modernism and Postmodernism in Chinese Literature", which took place at Aarhus University, Denmark in October 1991, was arranged by Bei Dao and Anne Wedell-Wedellsborg of the Institute of East Asian Studies. One of the guiding ideas behind this initiative was to bring together scholars from Europe and America with China in the 1980s, as scholars, critics, editors or as writers. Those who study China, regardless of national origin, are increasingly abandoning the "objective" stance of writing about culture, and insisting on their own right to become participants in the creation of culture. This book brings together essays written by those who breach the categories -- scholars, cultural critics and writers, ethnic Chinese and non-Chinese. All of the contributors are working or studying in Western universities, and many have published in the overseas literary journal "Jintian". This mix marks the study of Chinese literature as a new space where Chinese literary discourse is not only studied, but also created. Although contributions to this volume are diverse, a central theme is the attempt to discover how literature is changing in definition and social function. Essays analyse the concepts of the autonomy of art and creativity, modernism and subjectivity, and the form and structure of narrative language. The focus on theory and rhetoric that informs these essays highlights a concern with the way in which literary discourse is represented by intellectuals, and the way in which this representation itself becomes a frame that constructs literary meaning. Investigations into the Mao Wenti (the Maoist literary style) that persists even in post-Mao writers, the seemingly contentless language of Can Wue's work, the concept "pure literature" and the anti-modernity stance of the poetic Feifei (No-no) school all provide clues to the developing cultural consciousness of contemporary China.
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