Occidentalism: A Theory of Counter-Discourse in Post-Mao China

Oxford University Press
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Xiaomei Chen offers an insightful account of the unremittingly favorable depiction of Western culture and its negative characterization of Chinese culture in post-Mao China from 1978-1988. Chen examines the cultural and political interrelations between the East and West from a vantage point more complex than that accommodated by most current theories of Western imperialism and colonialism. Going beyond Edward Said's construction in Orientalism of cross-cultural appropriations as a defining facet of Western imperialism, Chen argues that the appropriation of Western discourse--what she calls "Occidentalism"--can have a politically and ideologically liberating effect on contemporary non-Western culture. Using China as a focus of her analysis, Chen examines a variety of cultural media, from Shakesperian drama, to Western modernist poetry, to contemporary Chinese television. She thus places sinology in the general context of Western theoretical discourses, such as Eurocentrism, postcolonialism, nationalism, modernism, feminism, and literary hermeneutics, showing that it has a vital role to play in the study of Orient and Occident and their now unavoidable symbiotic relationship. Occidentalism presents a new model of comparative literary and cultural studies that reenvisions cross-cultural appropriation.
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Oxford University Press
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Published on
Sep 7, 1995
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Literary Criticism / Asian / Chinese
Social Science / Anthropology / Cultural & Social
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Eligible for Family Library

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The first of its kind in English, this anthology presents translations of twenty-two popular plays published between 1919 and 2000, accompanied by an introduction to the historical, cultural, and aesthetic evolution of twentieth-century Chinese spoken drama. Primarily comprising works from the People's Republic of China, though including representative plays from Hong Kong and Taiwan, this collection showcases more than the revolutionary rethinking of Chinese theater and performance that began in the late Qing dynasty. It also reflects the formation of Chinese national and gender identities during a period of tremendous social and political change, as well as the genesis of contemporary attitudes toward the West.

Early twentieth-century Chinese drama embodies the uncertainty and anxiety brought on by modernism, socialism, political conflict, and war. After 1949, the PRC theater paints a complex portrait of the rise of Communism in China, with the ideals of Chinese socialism juxtaposed against the sacrifices made for a new society. The Cultural Revolution promoted a "model theater" cultivated from the achievements of earlier, leftist spoken drama, despite the fact that this theater arose from the destruction of old culture. Post-Mao drama addresses the Chairman's legacy and the attempts of a wounded nation to reexamine its cultural roots. Taiwan's spoken drama uniquely synthesizes regional and foreign traditions, and Hong Kong's spoken drama sparkles as a hybrid of Chinese and Western influences. Immensely valuable for scholars of cross-disciplinary, comparative, and performance study, this anthology offers essential perspective on the theatricality and representation of political life.

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