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25 September 2021, Volume 41 Issue 5 Previous Issue   
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Issue in Focus: Studies of Xiqu

How Did Yuan Zaju Become “Literature of Its Time Period”: Revisiting the Idea “Every Time Period Has Its Own Literature”

Xu Dajun
2021, 41 (5):  1-12. 
Abstract ( 48 )   PDF (1721KB) ( 9 )  

The sequence of literary form that “poetry of the Tang dynasty, ci-poetry of the Song dynasty and drama of the Yuan dynasty” is often used to advocate the value of Yuan zaju. However, it does not necessarily lead to the assertion that “every time period has its own literature”. In each period of history this assertion conveys different meanings, including the origin, coordination and variation of Yuan zaju, but the value judgements were based on Yuan zaju’s property of verse, considering it as successor of folk-song-styled verse, the exemplary model of dramatic poetry, or the highest level of Chinese poetry. In contrast, Wang Guowei focuses on Yuan zaju’s property of drama and uses the above sequence of literary forms in order to advocate the value of Yuan zaju, and proposes the groundbreaking argument that Yuan zaju can be considered as “literature of its time period”. The argument is rooted in the individual thought of Wang Guowei and the context of his time, and is subsequently developed by later scholars. As a result, the research related to the discourses on Yuan zaju helps solve problems in the history of Chinese literature, theatre and scholarship.

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Revisiting the Relationship between Xiqu Illustrations and Stage Performance in the Ming Dynasty

Zhu Hao
2021, 41 (5):  13-24. 
Abstract ( 40 )   PDF (2679KB) ( 16 )  

Since the 1990s, the relationship between xiqu illustration and stage performance in the Ming dynasty has attracted increased scholarly attention. The conclusions, “performing in accordance with pictures” and “drawing in accordance with performances”, have almost become a self-evident consensus in the history of ancient Chinese printmaking. However, if we re-examine this issue from an interdisciplinary perspective of art history and theatre history, we will find that it is a pseudo-proposition raised to meet specific standards. Xiqu actors did not “perform in accordance pictures, which was booksellers’ advertising strategy. On the other hand, the problem of “drawing in accordance with performances” is that scholars are eager to establish a causal chain between the similarities of language format, character movements and composition style, but deliberately avoid the inner reasoning of art history. Just like illustrations of other genres, xiqu illustrations in the Ming dynasty were delineations that imitate scenes of life rather than stage performances.

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Hong Shen’s Artistic Experience and Psychological Journey in the Early 1920s: A Study of Newly Discovered Correspondence Between Hong Shen and George Pierce Baker

Zhao Tingting
2021, 41 (5):  25-35. 
Abstract ( 45 )   PDF (1693KB) ( 17 )  
 I did archival research at Harvard University in the summer of 2019 and found that there were eight letters between Hong Shen and his mentor, Professor George Pierce Baker, from 1920 to 1923. Moreover, a letter that Professor Baker wrote to a certain editor referred to Hong Shen. Most of these letters have never been mentioned in the literature, and those that were mentioned require further study. As these letters from a hundred years ago are valuable to research on Hong Shen, I have specially translated them into Chinese and have done a preliminary study. These letters not only reveal Hong Shen’s early experience of studying drama in the United States, his exploration and thinking expressed in these letters can also help scholars rebuild Hong Shen’s connections and relationships in the American drama circle. Facts uncovered in these letters have proven that Hong Shen was not an outsider to Broadway Theater in the 1920s in the United States, but rather an active and involved participant on the theater scene. The directors and actors mentioned in Hong Shen’s letters came not just from the United States but also from all over the world. They projected world culture onto the theater stage, and regarded theater as a world stage. Under the influence of such diverse cultures, Hong Shen’s vision was global and cross-cultural. Hong Shen’s early experiences at Harvard and New York had a profound impact on his future theater career in China.
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Western Literary Theory
Cruelfictions of Psychoanalysis: from Freud to Kafka; from Derrida to Mignotte
Jean-Michel Rabaté
2021, 41 (5):  36-47. 
Abstract ( 46 )   PDF (1369KB) ( 27 )  
Derrida has asserted that the main problem encountered by psychoanalysis is the existence of cruelty, a question that has never been solved. Touria Mignotte has responded to these criticisms and queries in Cruelty, Sexuality, and the Unconscious in Psychoanalysis by deploying a concept of cruelty that is not simply cultural but psychoanalytical. Following Mignotte’s lead, I attempt to situate the investigation at a foundational level that looks at the body. Derrida’s argument about psychoanalysis is compared with Deleuze’s essay on sadism and masochism, after which I outline points of convergence in their approaches, which leads to discussions of texts by Freud, Nietzsche and Hegel. I conclude by tackling Kafka’s rethinking of cruelty via a short text on Prometheus.  
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How the Althusserian Critics Inherit and Develop Marx’s Thought of Artistic Production
Duan Jifang
2021, 41 (5):  48-57. 
Abstract ( 38 )   PDF (1355KB) ( 26 )  

How Althusserian critics inherited and developed Marx’s thought of artistic production is an important theoretical issue in the development of Marxist theory on literature and art. Louis Althusser, Pierre Macherey and Terry Eagleton put forward important theoretical concepts such as “symptomatic criticism”, “silence” and “aesthetic ideological criticism” within the framework of Marxist philosophy and ideology, expanding Marx’s thought of artistic production in the light of the relation between ideology and aesthetic discourses, and thus they have enriched the theoretical connotation of Marx’s theory and promoted the thought of artistic production, enabling it to take root in textual criticism and move towards more specific literary research. A delineation of this issue and summarization of its theoretical implications in the development of Marxist literary theory may illuminate contemporary interpretation of classical Marxist literary theory.

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Robert T. Tally Jr.’s Spatial Literary Studies

Fang Ying
2021, 41 (5):  58-67. 
Abstract ( 31 )   PDF (1367KB) ( 21 )  
The “Spatial Turn” in humanities and social sciences has given rise to “spatial literary studies” in the field of literature. Robert T. Tally Jr., an American scholar, has been playing a leading role in promoting spatial literary studies in the United States and around the world. Over the course of about 20 years’ work in this area, Tally has built up a theoretical system consisting of such concepts as topophrenia, literary cartography, literary geography, geocriticism, and cartography, which correspond to the framework of “being-writing-text-criticism-theorizing”. He has also carried out a profound theoretical exploration with much originality about literary mapping, spatial concepts, utopia, and so on. In addition, he has produced a wide range of criticism on the works of Herman Melville, Edgar Allan Poe, and J. R. R. Tolkien. These studies not only show  the possible geocritical approaches to texts, but also reveal the applicability and explanatory power of spatial theories in critical practice, as well as demonstrate the innovation and prospect of spatial literary studies. More importantly, his research is largely influenced by Fredric Jameson and other Marxist theorists, and is deeply rooted in the tradition of Marxist literary criticism. He has not only inherited the theoretical achievements of his predecessors, but also developed and extended their theories and methods into new areas of critical practice.
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Speculative Aesthetics and Subject-Object Relation: Michelangelo Antonioni and Samuel Beckett as Examples

Chen Chang
2021, 41 (5):  68-78. 
Abstract ( 37 )   PDF (1388KB) ( 24 )  

Speculative realism explores the substance of objects existing outside of humans’ subjective frame of thought. Under its radiation, Western aesthetics in the last five years has developed a new trend of speculative aesthetics composed of various branches, stimulating a shift in existing art paradigms. However, inside this trend, two camps of aesthetic discussions, with speculative materialism and object-oriented ontology as their respective starting points, are in great division. This article attempts to work through and clarify the tension as well as interaction among the various branches of speculative aesthetics, by mainly focusing on how speculative aesthetics talks about art outside of humans’ subjective frame of thought—that is, how it solves the subject-object relationship of art in a brand-new way. This article finds its foothold in N. Katherine Hayles’s object-oriented inquiry, which complements and shows advantage against the existing speculative aesthetic modes, and takes the artistic creation of Michelangelo Antonioni and Samuel Beckett as examples. By mapping out the landscape of speculative aesthetics and by interpreting Hayles’s aesthetic paradigm, this paper intends to demonstrate that speculative aesthetics, unlike speculative realism, does not remove or expel humans’ mediating roles; rather, it tries to transcend anthropocentrism and truly display the equal and symbiotic subject-object relationship among artists, artwork, and the viewers.

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Classical Literary Theory and Criticism

 Evaluation of the Identity of “Fengren” in Classical Chinese Poetics

Lv Shiwei
2021, 41 (5):  79-84. 
Abstract ( 43 )   PDF (1318KB) ( 21 )  

 “Fengren” is a reference of identity from The Book of Poetry. Classical Chinese poetics has formed a unique evaluation of the identity relevant to the discourse of “Fengren,” which is suggestive of the ethics in The Book of Poetry. In contrast to the identity of “Saoren,” “Fengren”’s identity is linked with political criticism and sarcasm. As “Feng” and “Ya” are gradually distinguished, “Fengren” is differentiated from “Cairen” and becomes increasingly recognizable in terms of expressing meanings metaphorically through things. Thanks to the author community and the content of “Feng,” the style of folk lyric is formed with “Fengren” at its centre, which, as a result, foregrounds a different evaluation of popular poetics represented by “the style of Fengren.” It is thus essential to understand the poetic value of “Fengren” and its contribution to the identity of classical Chinese poets.

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Pre-Qin Concepts of “Image” and Aesthetic Imagism in Chinese Poetry

Huang Yiming
2021, 41 (5):  85-95. 
Abstract ( 41 )   PDF (1722KB) ( 29 )  

Chinese culture and Chinese way of thinking  share the characteristic of imagistic correlation, which may be termed  as “image-oriented thinking” or “imagistic thinking”. This characteristic is related to many concepts concerning images such as “regarding objects for images” and “watching for image through divination”  in The Book of Changes, “no shape in the grand image” in Laozi, and “intangibility of images” by Zhuangzi. A delineation and analytical examination  of the concepts concerning image in the pre-Qin literature may illuminate our understanding of how the concepts of image influenced the direct representation of images in the poetry, and the prioritization of imagism in poetics and poetic criticism in Chinese aesthetics. The above discussion may lead to further investigation of the important role of “imagery beyond images” in poetic criticism.

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 An Exploration into the “Essence of Things” in the Poetics of the Jin and Song Dynasties

Cai Danjun
2021, 41 (5):  96-106. 
Abstract ( 30 )   PDF (1376KB) ( 18 )  

The discovery and representation of the sound and color of things became the core content in the development of the poetics of the Jin and Song Dynasties, a trend criticized by such critics as Zhong Rong and Liu Xie, who denounced  the poetry that indulged in  description of things and maintained that poetry should resume the traditions of metaphor and evocation (bixing 比兴) from the Han and Wei dynasties and of  the relationship between the object and the self as expressed in “correspondences between feelings and objects.” Such criticism was advocated by later generations, and resulted in many negative comments on the Jin and Song poetics. In fact, the intellectual environment between the two dynasties strengthened the poets’  will to explore the world. The poets regard the myriad things, and connect the “essence of things” or thingness of the object  with the “essence of physicality” of the subject in  metaphysical thinking. Therefore, the mode of “feeling things” was placed in a secondary position. The poets’ explorations into the “essence of things” led to the equality and commensality between things and man, and they are of great innovative significance. Both the presentation of “things” and the understanding of “essence” in the Jin and Song poetry are a developments in terms of philosophical thinking and language art.

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On the Tongcheng School’s Preposition of “Both Poetry and Prose Following One Principle”
Pan Wuzheng
2021, 41 (5):  107-119. 
Abstract ( 44 )   PDF (1742KB) ( 21 )  

In the Ming and Qing dynasties, literary theories tended to consider poetry and prose as following one principle of composition. The Tongcheng School in the Qing Dynasty emphasized on differentiating genres and opposed the blending of elements of other genres into the ancient-style prose, but this school excelled at both poetry and prose writing, and their proposition of “both poetry and prose following one principle” became a consensus. While the Gong’an School and Yuan Mei’s xingling (spirituality) poetics exploited the Confucian poetics to promote the writing of private life and personal sentiments, the Tongcheng School advocated the virtues of the ancient-style prose to reform poetry and promote individual morality. Aiming at bracing the feebleness of spirit in poetry accumulated since the vernacular language and shenyun (spiritual resonance) poetics in the Song Dynasty, the Tongcheng School borrowed the tradition that “literature is mainly built on qi (air, spirit)” and adopted various classical writing techniques to build up qi and invigorate the writing. The Tongcheng School introduced the spiritual resonance of poetry into the ancient-style prose so that the prose was also invigorated with the spirit and the gap between poetry and prose was bridged with a new concept of “both poetry and prose following one principle.” In the Qing dynasty, not only were poetry and prose integrated, but literature, painting and other art forms also gradually converged in subtle ways.

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Issue in Focus: Digital and Literary Studies
Reexamining Prototype Theory from the Perspective of Eleanor Rosch’s New Conception of Categorization
He Huibin
2021, 41 (5):  120-130. 
Abstract ( 27 )   PDF (1703KB) ( 21 )  

 Classic categorizations, such as “human beings are animals with two feet,” have obvious defections, as they are too limited to cover the wide range of instances or not rich enough to fully represent the characteristics of the type of beings. The literary prototype theory based on the classic categorization, which regards prototypes as combinations of universal properties and specific particularities, is essentialist and incapable of exploring the true value of prototypes. It is discovered by Eleanor Rosch and other scholars that the abstract attributes are not the criteria for classification of types in everyday life; rather, the most typical prototypes are often used as models to specify the members. A case in point is the robin which has most of the attributes of birds such as laying eggs, beak, wings, feathers, but other members within this category do not equally share the same attributes, with a gradience from the prototypes to the marginal ones, hence the display of richness and extensiveness. The literary prototype based on such theory can fully represent the kind of people, transcending the essentialist theory of prototype both vertically and horizontally. Rosch also divides categories into three levels. On the basic level, the category, such as a dog, is perceptively distinct. It is the base of the whole category system and the prototype of the superordinate and subordinate levels’ categories. On the superordinate level, categories such as the animal have only a few common characteristics. Members of the category on the subordinate level, such as the retriever, have only a few differences. Literary prototypes are based on the basic concept of mankind in general sense, characterized by subordinate categories, such as the hero and the miser. Its richness underscores its universality.

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A Study of the Concept of “Cyborg”

Li Guodong
2021, 41 (5):  131-139. 
Abstract ( 33 )   PDF (1691KB) ( 23 )  

 “Cyborg” has gradually become a popular term in academic research and popular culture since the 1960s, but its connotation is often ambiguous. From the perspective of its conceptual genealogy, the term “cyborg” invented by Manfred E. Clynes and Nathan S. Kline is based on the image of the mechanized man, but the definition of “cyborg”—“cybernetic organism”— covers the idea of pure machine. Interpreting “cyborg” from the perspective of postmodern philosophy, Donna J. Haraway explicates it as an ontological metaphor and a political myth of irony, producing an intellectual discourse about cyborg that separates the concept from what it originally signifies. These two interpretations enrich the substantive meaning and metaphorical meaning of “cyborg,” but also cause confusion of its signification. According to Wittgenstein’s theory, what “cyborg” expresses is a gamified lexical field and an aggregated image group. It is embodied in four types of entity: the supplementary, the machine-implanted, the agentic, and the virtual model. If a consensus on the substantive meaning of “cyborg” is denied, it may end up in chaos due to the endless metaphors.

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From Textual Experiments to Experimental Texts: Expressive Repetition in “Artificial Intelligence Literature”
Zhu Tianhua
2021, 41 (5):  140-147. 
Abstract ( 70 )   PDF (1348KB) ( 25 )  

In the 70 years since the birth of artificial intelligence, attempts at literary “creation” with computers have run through the course of technological development, creating what one might call “artificial intelligence literature” (AI literature). Evolving from “textual experiments” carried out by technological researchers to “experimental texts” that explore the possibilities of literary conceptualization, AI literature integrates original problematics including machine thinking, text generation, and machine creation, which exhibits the two-way interaction between social ideas and technological practice. In the early stage, the closed-loop of mutual verification between artistic ideas and technological choices turned out to be a failure, while AI-driven expressive repetitions are made probable in the contemporary technological context, paving the way for the transformation of AI literature from confirmation of technological possibilities to self-verification of literary value.

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On the Unity of Body and Mind in VR Painting Space: A Study of Spatial Phenomenology from the Perspective of Maurice Merleau-Ponty

Su Xin
2021, 41 (5):  144-156. 
Abstract ( 48 )  

In the perceptual field where the body is taken as the figure-background, this article takes body space as foundation and incorporates virtual space into body space, in order to widen the range of perception. Drawing on Maurice Merleau-Ponty’s concept of invasion, this article describes the relationship between the body space and the virtual reality space as intertwining, mutually influencing, and collectively presenting a state of mutual invasion. The creators of VR painting produce meaning through intentional creative activities. In this sense, VR painting experiences enrich the structure of body schemas, breaking the dualistic definition of virtual space as either real or false, and dispelling the myth of body-mind distinction in virtual space.

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Issue in Focus: Phenomenological and Hermeneutic Studies

 Semiotic Analysis of “Repulsion” and Its Social and Aesthetic Functions

Tan Guanghui
2021, 41 (5):  148-156. 
Abstract ( 27 )   PDF (1366KB) ( 23 )  

 Repulsion is not a pure negative emotion. With repulsion, people can tell cleanness from dirtiness, beauty from ugliness, and good from evil. Central to repulsion is the denial of the existence of the other. Repulsion can be divided into physical, material, emotional, and symbolic loathness. Repulsion may be combined with other emotions to form new feelings such as nausea, contempt, pessimism, and arrogance or destructive desire. Most moral norms in human history are constructed through cultivation of people’s repulsion or sense of disgust. In the first place, people construct taboos by defining dirtiness, establish morality through taboos, and stabilize moral systems through group aversion. Changes in ideas about repulsion can even change customs, and stabilize and unite the society. Repulsion is always accompanied by aesthetic activities and participates in aesthetic process, and repulsive things can also be aesthetic objects. It is an important goal of modern art to express or arouse repulsion. Art and literature constantly attempt to explore the field of aversion, in order to form the motive for revolutions in art. Critical literary works, through arousing a common sense of repulsion, achieve the goal of transforming the society, and as such arousing a common sense of disgust is a mission of writers.

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 A la Recherche du Temps Perdu: Enlightenment on "Hatred" and "Love"

Guo Xiaolei
2021, 41 (5):  167-175. 
Abstract ( 35 )   PDF (1353KB) ( 8 )  

 Marcel Proust's long narrative A la Recherche du Temps Perdu reveals that the inevitable form of existence of the temporal ego, “I”, is alienation, with desire as its psychological expression and "hating the neighbor" as its ethical expression. But Proust also suggests an extra-temporal ego, the “true I.” The narratives of the "true I" and "I" are isomorphic to Sartre's "pre/non-reflective consciousness" and "reflective consciousness." The temporal ego is fictional and the ego is polyphonic. This means that, although "hatred" is the inevitable ethical impulse of the "I" towards the world, "non-hatred" is also a realistic and existential possibility. Lacan intends to demonstrate the inevitability of "loving your desire as yourself" so as to provide an ontological proof for "loving your neighbor as yourself" and to overcome traditional moral legalism’s abuse of existence. However, Jacques Lacan has in reality risked losing love’s ethical value. The "I" in A la Recherche refutes Lacan's optimistic prospect of "loving your neighbor as yourself," while the "true I," free from of alienation because of its extra-historical nature, provides a "negative" logical starting point for love. By exposing the polyphonic form of existence of the ego, A la Recherche has given love and hatred ethical significance.

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Self-Understanding before the Text: Paul Ricoeur's Conceptualization of the Textual Meaning

Wu Fei
2021, 41 (5):  176-183. 
Abstract ( 46 )   PDF (1348KB) ( 20 )  

Paul Ricoeur rejects the Structuralist view of language as a closed system of symbols, and maintains, from the perspective of semantics, that language inherently possesses a dynamic structure of signification. This signification structure implies the discourse, in linguistic domain, is realized as an event and understood as meaning. But meaning is not wholly subjective, as it is substantialized in linguistic forms during the process of externalization, which to a certain degree enables the comprehensibility of human experience. The act of externalization culminates in literary works. With the cancellation of the realistic context, literary texts are allowed the capacity to refer to existence as a proposition and expand the horizon of being. Therefore, meaning is inevitably directed to the objective understanding of the subject itself.

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Spatial Rhetoric and the Visual Generation of Cultural Memory: A Rhetorical Investigation of the National Museum of China
Zhang Wei
2021, 41 (5):  176-183. 
Abstract ( 18 )   PDF (1367KB) ( 18 )  

 Derived from visual rhetoric, the rhetorical  of space depends on the physical development of visual rhetoric, the modern generation of visual context and the establishment of space as a mechanism for the production of its meaning. The rhetorical discourse in public cultural space not only has an impact on individual's aesthetic experience, but also regulates the generative logic of cultural memory and cultural identification. The production of spatial rhetoric in the National Museum of China effectively promotes the rhetorical practice of the visually "persuasive" discourse through the spatial layout and structural design of the architecture, the aesthetic application of lights and enclosures, and the scenic restoration of the narrative context of exhibits. The intervention of multiple symbols based on technical media allows the spatial rhetoric of the museum to change from the physical space to the symbolic space, virtual space and emotional space. The intertextual structure of representational symbols becomes the modern representation of the spatial rhetoric of the museum.

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Issue in Focus: Cultural Studies

 On the Four Forms of Contemporary Cultural Criticism

Xiao Minghua
2021, 41 (5):  195-206. 
Abstract ( 53 )   PDF (1367KB) ( 22 )  

In the last 30 years, cultural criticism emerged in studies of literature and art thanks to changes in social and cultural context. Some scholars are appealed to interpretative criticism as a result of epistemological interest in the rising popular culture. Some are stimulated to practice cultural criticism by the anxiety about the change of intellectual identity. Some are dedicated to cultural criticism in order to break through disciplinary restraints or to fulfil intellectuals’ role of responding to public concerns. These forms of cultural criticism can be respectively dubbed as “cultural criticism as popular literary criticism,” “cultural criticism as cultural research,” “cultural criticism as cultural debate” and “cultural criticism as literary criticism.” Despite their differences, for example, in research object and conceptualization of publicness—either on the conscious or unconscious level—these forms of cultural criticism share a vision of interdisciplinarity, a spirit of publicly addressing social-cultural issues, and an awareness of maintaining effective knowledge production. A continuation of the 30-year tradition of cultural criticism is significant to the development of literature, art, culture, and society.

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 Cultural Studies and the Intellectual Genealogy of Chinese American Scholars:The Controversies on Lydia H. Liu's Study of the “National Character” and Beyond
Li Shi
2021, 41 (5):  207-216. 
Abstract ( 36 )   PDF (1701KB) ( 20 )  

 Lydia H. Liu's criticism on Lu Xun's discourse of national character is not an isolated case in literary criticism, but part of the theoretical nomadism of “translated modernity.” Be it Lydia H. Liu’s conceptualization of “translated modernity,” Leo Ou-fan Lee’s “pursuit of modernity,” David Der-wei Wang’s “repressed modernity,” Rey Chow’s “repressed visuality” or Shu-mei Shih’s “lure of the modern,” the theoretical purport of theirs tends to examine the complex relationship between Chinese literature and politics in the 20th century from the perspective of power criticism, and reflect on the “repressive regime” behind the modern nation-state. The formation of this knowledge production mechanism is isomorphic with the development of American cultural studies, and it exposes two issues in the cross-cultural theoretical travel. On the one hand, under the influence of postmodernism, when the theory game is pushed to the extreme, it falls into a loop of discursive games and is dominated by theoretical presuppositions. Such discursive game fails to delve into the real experience and core questions of the literary texts. On the other hand, the kinship between works of Chinese American scholars and cultural studies has led to their great dependence on the nomadic “hunting” of Western cultural theories and methods, which results in their influence in Chinese domestic academia. However, thanks to the accentuation of Chinese academic subjectivity and more extensive intellectual sharing, this knowledge group is facing the challenge of enhancing its own theoretical originality.

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