Location: Pane Room at Alexander Library
Abstract: Since the rise to power of Xi Jinping in 2012, it has been widely reported that public expression in China has become more restricted. This is readily apparent in the area of political expression, as well in ongoing attempts to curb academic freedom. In the realm of literature and the arts, the situation is less clear. Most observers point towards Xi Jinping's meeting with representatives of literature and art circles in October 2014 as an indication that Chinese state policies towards literature are shifting back towards more authoritarian control. Some have even suggested that Xi's speech at the 2014 forum (which was published in book form in 2015) constitutes a return to the policies of the Cultural Revolution.
This paper will test these assumptions by surveying the moralistic aesthetic standards that are ubiquitous in discourse used by Xi and his speech writers in public policy statements about literature and the arts. Special emphasis will be placed on Xi's use of the famous triad "True, Good, and Beautiful" (zhen shan mei 真善美) in his attempt to construct a new value system for literature and art. Professor Hockx will argue that this value system remains closely linked to state policies of the reform era, rather than harking back to the Cultural Revolution. I will also show how these policies have affected literary production, especially online literary production, since 2012.