Public Discourses of Contemporary China: The Narration of by Yipeng Shen (auth.)

By Yipeng Shen (auth.)

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Example text

I examine the cultural-political changes from the 1980s to the 1990s that gave rise to new urban masses and media elites. In this context, I dissect the aesthetics of a 1992 bestselling book Manhattan’s China Lady and a 1993 TV drama A Beijinger in New York, whose discourses bifurcate on the configurations of gender, class, and the ideology of everyday life. I then study responses of the mass society to this civil sentiment in light of the publicized tensions between Beijinger and Lady. Through the lens of this particular sentiment as a new social horizon around which public culture was constructed, I delineate an early-1990s national public diverse in gender, utopianism, and patriotism.

The lesson that history gives to the Chinese people is that China must avoid destructive upheavals in the process of social change; progress and innovation must replace upheavals. As the old things fall apart, we should let new factors develop that could replace the old ones. (Su and Wang 1991, 198) The use of auspicious terms such as “change” (biange), “progress” (jinbu), and “innovation” (chuangzao) illustrates a mutually complementary relationship between the sorrow consciousness and wenming in Jin’s understanding of Chinese modernity.

I examine the cultural-political changes from the 1980s to the 1990s that gave rise to new urban masses and media elites. In this context, I dissect the aesthetics of a 1992 bestselling book Manhattan’s China Lady and a 1993 TV drama A Beijinger in New York, whose discourses bifurcate on the configurations of gender, class, and the ideology of everyday life. I then study responses of the mass society to this civil sentiment in light of the publicized tensions between Beijinger and Lady. Through the lens of this particular sentiment as a new social horizon around which public culture was constructed, I delineate an early-1990s national public diverse in gender, utopianism, and patriotism.

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