This book is a significant gathering of ideas on the subject of modern Chinese literature and culture of the past several years. The essays represent a wide spectrum of new approaches and new areas of subject matter that are changing the landscape of knowledge of modern and contemporary Chinese culture: women's literature, theatre (performance), film, graphic arts, popular literature, as well as literature of the Chinese diaspora. These phenomena and the approaches to them manifest four interconnected trajectories for new scholarship in the field: the rewriting of literary history, the emergence of visual culture, and the quotidian apocalypse--the displacement of revolutionary romanticism and realism as central paradigms for cultural expression by the perspective of private, everyday experience.
"This book examines the cultural and historical dynamics of modern China as manifested in literary and visual texts. By visualizing a network of histories continuously cutting across one another, the book provides a powerful critique of conventional paradigms of modern Chinese literature. It spans from the late nineteenth century to the turn of the new millennium, and it covers a very wide range of issues, from cultural production to gender politics, from national identity to the aesthetics of imagined community and citizenship, from urban ethics to diasporic crisis, and from spatial 'demolition' to visionary 'apocalypse'. The contributors have done most impressive work in making a comprehensive volume on the multifaceted dimensions of Chinese (post)modernity." - David Der-wei Wang, Harvard University
"Engaged responsively with yet going far beyond the critical and thematic conventions handed down by the May Fourth tradition, the contributors to this volume raise fundamental questions of conceptualization, definition, archival research, and interpretation that will likely help transform and reshape the field of knowledge known hitherto as 'modern Chinese literature.' Editor Charles Laughlin is to be congratulated on his vision and leadership in this excellent collective endeavor." - Rey Chow, author of Woman and Chinese Modernity and editor of Modern Chinese Literary and Cultural Studies in the Age of Theory
"Contested Modernities is a wonderfully diverse collection of essays-ranging in topic from the literature of the Republican era, to post-Mao fiction, theater, and film, to theater and film in Taiwan, to diaspora literature-that will further expand the ever-shifting boundaries of Chinese literary modernity. Some of the essays explicitly question conventional definitions of modern Chinese literature by diagnosing how and why those definitions came to be. Others, by drawing attention to new kinds of content, themes, and characters in recent literature, demonstrate that literary modernity in China is in a constant process of transformation and renewal." - Kirk Denton, The Ohio State University
"Constituting what might be called the 'fourth generation' of American intellectuals engaging with 20th-century Chinese literature, these scholars have definitively moved beyond the old canon of modern Chinese writing that informed and determined the work of many of their predecessors. Ranging from introductions of previously marginalized voices to critical re-evaluations of the old mainstream, and demonstrating a keen interest in contemporary developments both inside and beyond the boundaries of China, these essays convincingly demonstrate the contested nature of Chinese modernity, as set out in Charles Laughlin's masterful introduction. This book shows, more than any collection I know, the vitality of modern Chinese literature as a field of study and its relevance to investigations and theories of global culture." - Michel Hockx, SOAS, University of London"This collected volume is a timely and solid contribution to the burgeoning field of modern Chinese literature in North America from a new generation of scholars who are likely to play major roles in the field in the future... [W]e are grateful to all of the book's contributors for these fresh lines of inquiry that are opening new critical horizons, and we owe special thanks to Laughlin for presenting these diverse inquiries in such a thought-provoking and coherent form." - Yibing Huang, Connecticut College