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6 - Of Post-Isms and May Fourth

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  04 June 2019

Els van Dongen
Affiliation:
Nanyang Technological University, Singapore
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Summary

Continuing the reassessment of the May Fourth Movement in Chapter 4 and the impact of commercialization on intellectual life between 1992 and 1995, Chapter 6 looks at the engagement with radicalism and neo-conservatism in discussions on the literary revolution, which was part of the May Fourth Movement. The assessment of the May Fourth legacy took the form of engagement with Chinese language and modernity to raise questions about cultural identity. Amidst globalization, rapid commercialization and the Marxist crisis of faith, postmodernist theories entered the debate as part of a broader effort to rethink Chinese modernity and the Chinese knowledge model. Specifically, the chapter discusses the role of the poetess Zheng Min in the discussion, as well as her exchanges with intellectuals in China and abroad. Behind these exchanges we discover the concern with the role and identity of Chinese intellectuals during reform. The chapter argues that post-theories became part of a conservative argument about historical continuity because both postmodernism and reflections on radicalism engaged with socialist and liberal manifestations of modernity in China. However, paradoxically, post-theories in this context, as did reflections on radicalism, also became incorporated into a modernization narrative and the quest for a better modern.
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Chapter
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Realistic Revolution
Contesting Chinese History, Culture, and Politics after 1989
, pp. 164 - 195
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2019

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