Does School Popularity Distribution Matter?

  • WENG, Weiwei (PI)

    Project: Research project

    Project Details


    This project investigates a unique case in the history of criticism: the rise of modern Chinese literary criticism and its engagement with discourses of revolutionary politics and national survival. It will study the emergence of modern Chinese literary criticism as part of the intellectual globalization that started in the early twentieth century, much earlier than the capital globalization we have been ambiguously experiencing now. Apart from the former Soviet Union, China is the only major communist country where literature and criticism are first-hand witnesses of as well as means to such eventful political events as the Chinese Revolution and the Cultural Revolution (1966-76). By their direct participation in politics, literary intellectuals -- their work, their treatment, and their social place -- have helped index the shifting ideological emphases in the evolving process of the Communist Party’s self-consciousness.

    My research’s point of departure is the critical consciousness of Hu Feng 胡风 (1902- 85) within the historical context of these modernizing and revolutionary transformations. Hu Feng, a prominent Marxist literary critic, a fellow traveler of the CCP, and Lu Xun’s last protégé, was the most representative figure of his generation of radical writers. His institutional life and critical work were central to the key debates of leftwing literary circles. I hypothesize that research into a series of debates between Hu Feng and the CCP’s cultural leaders will show how Marxist literary criticism turned from a creative revolutionary force into a hegemonic formation, especially following the founding of The People’s Republic in 1949.

    My study is itself an instance of advanced work in the literary humanities, applying the techniques of theoretically informed historical and philological criticism to demonstrate its continuing vital contributions to research and cultural values. I will show that the complex relation between intellectuals and the structure of power was not just one of top-down control, but rather one in which intellectuals willingly interact, negotiate, and even collaborate with institutional powers that treat criticism with suspicion.

    The principal outputs of this project will be two articles and a publishable book- length manuscript. These outputs will be among the first attempts to reassess a generation of leftwing intellectuals as not just “victims” of Mao Zedong but also as embodied agents of state and institutional power. Mine will also be the first book-length study of Hu Feng in English and, as such, will insert Hu Feng into global conversations about modern criticism and politics.
    Effective start/end date1/01/1330/06/15


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