Modernity with a Cold War Face: Reimagining the Nation in Chinese Literature across the 1949 Divide
Harvard University Asia Center, 2013
CALA Best Book Award 2014, Chinese American Librarians Association
The year 1949 witnessed China divided into multiple political and cultural entities. How did this momentous shift affect Chinese literary topography? Modernity with a Cold War Face examines the competing, converging, and conflicting modes of envisioning a modern nation in mid-twentieth century Chinese literature. Bridging the 1949 divide in both literary historical periodization and political demarcation, Xiaojue Wang proposes a new framework to consider Chinese literature beyond national boundaries, as something arising out of the larger global geopolitical and cultural conflict of the Cold War.
Examining a body of heretofore understudied literary and cultural production in mainland China, Taiwan, Hong Kong, and overseas during a crucial period after World War II, Wang traces how Chinese writers collected artistic fragments, blended feminist and socialist agendas, constructed ambivalent stances toward colonial modernity and an imaginary homeland, translated foreign literature to shape a new Chinese subjectivity, and revisited the classics for a new time. Reflecting historical reality in fictional terms, their work forged a path toward multiple modernities as they created alternative ways of connection, communication, and articulation to uncover and undermine Cold War dichotomous antagonism.