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25 September 2022, Volume 42 Issue 5 Previous Issue   
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Issue in Focus: The 15th Annual Forum of Chinese Association for Theory of Literature and Art

The Paradox of Modernity and the Enlightenment through Myth: Hans Blumenberg’s Theory of Myth and Its Political Implications

Hu Jihua, Shan Yu
2022, 42 (5):  1-10. 
Abstract ( 45 )   PDF (1318KB) ( 18 )  

Focusing on the paradox of modernity, Hans Blumenberg suggests that myth will not be transcended by reason, but he must defend the Enlightenment and the legitimacy of the modern it initiates. His studies of myth can be read as an alternative critical theory, or the disclosure of a heterogeneous aspect of critical theory. Enlightenment and myth are dichotomously connected, not so much in the sense that Enlightenment turns itself into myth, but in the sense that myth asserts itself through Enlightenment, or that subjectivity asserts itself through myth when it is in decline. The modern doctrine of political myth based on the dialectics of Enlightenment is a continuation of the classical humanist tradition, but gives myth a critical function. The key to understanding myth is that at any given moment, multiple myths must operate simultaneously, and that no one myth can override the others. Based on this notion, Blumenberg reads Goethe's singular aphorism—"Nemo contra deum nisi deus ipse” (no one can resist God but God himself)—in terms of a polytheistic aestheticism of new mythology, suggesting a new Enlightenment and calling for a new philosophy of hope. 

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Being Is Media: Heidegger’s Media Ontology and Its Poetic Effect

Shan Xiaoxi
2022, 42 (5):  11-20. 
Abstract ( 33 )   PDF (1730KB) ( 12 )  

Media ontology is the theory that explains being from the perspective of media. The media in the form of material substance is the media being; and the “media being” is the way of “coming forth to be”, in which media beings present such “non-beings” as intermediating, gathering, revealing, unconcealing/concealing, etc. The Heideggerian ontology is in essence media ontology, which reaches the truth of existence through a certain media being; that is, “media-being” is its basic mode of thinking. The core of Heidegger’s theory can be summarized as “being is media.” In other words, the world of being comes forth simply in the form of mediatization. The existential construction of Dasein is also the mediated operation of Dasein, which yields the “ready-to-hand” equipment and promotes the interconnection of all things or the mediatization of the world. The language medium names and reveals all things through Dasein’s “speaking” or “saying” by itself, so that things, human beings and the world all return to the self, and being appears. The thing media that is free from the control of language “gathers” the heaven, the earth, gods and human beings, “thing things”, “world worlds”, summoning being itself as the “intimate difference.” This technology, which is originally the poetic unconcealment, enters the modern era as a “framework” and comes forth to unconceal via challenging, setting up, gathering, and ordering nature and reality as well as “dispensing” people. Eventually, it becomes the dangerous concealment. According to media ontology, artworks are media beings; that is, art itself is the mediatized existence of artworks. The (coming forth to) being of artworks means constructing a world and the earth in a mediatizing way to further induce “intimate conflict,” showing the explicit-implicit operation of being. Art’s essence of being is then realized when truth is unconcealed. In this way, “being is media” is embodied as “art is media.” This is precisely the poetic effect of media ontology.

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Reparative ReadingPostcritique, and Methodology in Literary and Cultural Studies

Yang Ling
2022, 42 (5):  21-30. 
Abstract ( 23 )   PDF (1007KB) ( 17 )  

The ongoing reflection on critique in Western academia has given rise to a debate about the hermeneutics of suspicion and the methodology of reading, which finds its origin in Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick’s 1997 essay “Paranoid Reading and Reparative Reading.” In that seminal essay, Sedgwick draws on Melanie Klein’s psychoanalytical theory and Silvan Tomkins’s affect theory to identify paranoid reading as the dominant mode of contemporary literary studies. She also proposes, on the basis of queer reading and cultural practices, an alternative approach, namely, the reparative reading style. Sedgwick’s influential reading theory forces us to attend to the importance of affect in knowledge production in the humanities and reconsider the value of interpretation, as well as the relationship between the interpreter and the object of study. Informed by the theory of reparative reading, scholars such as Ann Cvetkovich and Rita Felski have developed new forms of criticism that would reinvigorate literary and cultural studies. 

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Western Literary Theory

Beginning, Renewal and Spirit or Ashes: On Heidegger's Historical Consciousness in His Discussions of Hölderlin's Poetry

Chen Xiaoming
2022, 42 (5):  31-40. 
Abstract ( 43 )   PDF (2390KB) ( 13 )  

Heidegger's discussions of Hölderlin's poetry plays an important role in his philosophy of existence. However, it also sparks great controversies, which mainly focus on whether the Heideggerian interpretation implies Heidegger’s “Fighting Spirit” of devoting himself to reality. This article does not view such controversy as a theme of significance, but examines how such a convoluted thought in Heidegger’s philosophy of existence is related to the historical depth as he’s perceived., The relation is expressed through the interpretation of poetry, and the philosophy of existence places Hölderlin’s poetry in the same critical temporal point when a nation faces a decisive historical moment for a new prospect. At this juncture, poetry is related to history, philosophical thinking and even politics, to construct a “historical Dasein” within this world. The paper explores the implications of how historical consciousness permeated with philosophical thinking is thoroughly combined with poetic understanding. This article also tackles the issue concerning Derrida’s deconstruction of Heidegger’s thoughts on “spirit,” claiming that this action of Derris’s has so incisively and subtly penetrated Heidegger’s “historical consciousness.” 

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Two Faces of Literary Ethics: Martha Nussbaum’s Literary View and Its Inner Tension

Fan Yun
2022, 42 (5):  41-50. 
Abstract ( 31 )   PDF (1329KB) ( 19 )  

As an influential thinker and public intellectual, Martha Nussbaum is distinguished in the field of philosophy by her great passion for literature and arts. She not only brings to the fore literary imagination/narrative in intellectual discussions, but also inherits and develops such classical idea as “the alliance of poetry and ethics” in the contemporary context. She has effectively explored the contribution literature has made in response to the ethical question as to “How should one live?” In her explication of the literary ethics, Nussbaum refers to the value of literary ethics in two respective dimensions, “perception” and “therapy,” which not only reflects the inner tension and complexity of her literary view, but also underlines the problem and predicament of contemporary literary theories of liberalism. As John Gray would have it, the “two faces of liberalism” is remarkably presented within Nussbaum’s theories. 

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Faust’s Three Experiments and the Birth of Friedrich Kittler’s Interpretation of Discourse Network 1800

Yu Cheng
2022, 42 (5):  51-60. 
Abstract ( 32 )   PDF (1310KB) ( 5 )  

Faust is a key channel into what Friedrich Kittler refers to as the “discourse network 1800”. Faust’s three experiments unwittingly present the process of the birth of a new discourse network: seeking to be freed from the infinite cycle of historical materials, setting the mind or spirit as the foundation for free translation through interpretation and translation experiments, and establishing new sources and rules of discourses. The minimal elements of meaning that derive from the mind or spirit constitute the prerequisite for a new discourse network. Regarding literature as a discourse channel that maintains the established practice of writing and reading as well as rewriting Michel Foucault’s analysis of discourse into an analysis of cultural techniques, Kittler reminds us of the significant role of changes in the details of cultural techniques in the process of the transformation of discourse networks.

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From Cultural Studies to Literary Studies: The Evolution, Turn, and Problems of Diaspora Theory

Zhou Qixing
2022, 42 (5):  61-70. 
Abstract ( 27 )   PDF (2200KB) ( 10 )  

As an interdisciplinary theory that emerged in the 1990s, the discourse of diaspora theory has engaged with varying fields: ethnicity studies, postcolonial studies, globalization, and literary studies. With the continuous evolution and deepening of the diaspora phenomenon, this theory has remained open. Cultural identity, as the core of diaspora theory, is emphasized as being constantly constructed and produced by the subject, and being in a state of hybridity, while the traditional fixed and single identity is overthrown. With the fading of (post)colonial history, globalization has risen to the forefront of diaspora theory, replacing (post)colonization; meanwhile, the core of diaspora theory shifts from the resistance of marginal groups within a postcolonial society to a fusing power that bridges the gap between individuals and society, the local and the global. From the new millennium onwards, diaspora has been used as an analytical term in the research on overseas Chinese literature, corresponding largely with the interpretation of Chinese migration history and indicating some core characteristics of overseas Chinese literature. However, diaspora as a literary discourse features noticeable internal tension, contradictions and weakness, and thus there are still areas to be explored and supplemented in the study of diasporic literature. 

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Potentiality, Resistance and Bare Life: Giorgio Agamben on Melville’s Bartleby

Wang Yanjun, Wang Yaping
2022, 42 (5):  71-80. 
Abstract ( 57 )   PDF (3500KB) ( 14 )  

The idea of potentiality runs through Giorgio Agamben’s political philosophy. In his analysis of Herman Melville’s Bartleby, the Scrivener, Agamben thoroughly interprets potentiality and bare life through Bartleby’s “I prefer not to”. Agamben believes that Bartleby’s inoperativeness is the highest form of resistance, which exists as pure potentiality against the power apparatuses in modern society. Agamben considers Bartleby’s inoperativeness as the exact way to redeem bare life in modern society, where the state of exception already becomes normality. This article starts with Agamben’s reading of Bartley, focuses on potentiality, resistance and bare life to analyze the pure and thorough way of redemption represented by Bartleby, and hopes to explore why Bartleby exemplifies Agamben’s bio-political thought.

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Denotation and Meta-Narratives: Double-Layered Narrative of Films Based on Real Stories

Zhao Yuping
2022, 42 (5):  81-90. 
Abstract ( 22 )   PDF (3562KB) ( 11 )  

Reconstructing real events in film is almost as old as filmmaking itself. Films based on real stories have received considerable scholarly attention, which engages a wide variety of inquiries including the question of non-fictionality and fictionality and the boundary between feature films and news. The most remarkable characteristic of real-story-based films is that they form a world of denotation, which at once constructs stories and presents facts, depicting the events while interpreting their meanings at the same time. Those films have a dimension on the meta-level, in which events—the basis of the meta-narrative—are interpreted and turned into stories. The denoted world of these films highlights the meaning through meta-interpretation, calling attention to the real life on its basic level. Such double-layered narrative of films based on real stories is investigated from a semiotic perspective in this article. It explores, through analysis of their denotation and meta-narrative, the ways in which films based on real stories simultaneously present and shape the meaning of events. 

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Modern and Contemporary Literary Theory

On the Motivations of the Theory of Imposed Interpretation and Their Paradoxes

Fu Qilin
2022, 42 (5):  91-100. 
Abstract ( 13 )   PDF (1198KB) ( 3 )  

Zhang Jiang’s article “A Renewed Discussion on Imposed Interpretation” intends to return to the meta-question of hermeneutics and to further clarify the inherent motivations for imposed interpretation, and it can be taken as an effort of contribution to the theoretical basis for contemporary Chinese hermeneutics. However, this article fails to effectively solve the aporia of imposed interpretation, and its constructive strategies proposed appeared paradoxical. The future of hermeneutics is not only a linear development from deconstruction to construction, but also a presence with paradoxes mixed with construction and deconstruction, and the resulting hermeneutics presented as a paradoxical one implicated with the wisdom of “harmony without uniformity”.

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From Unfortunate Ending to Conscious Will: The Transformation of Wang Guowei’s Tragic Ideas

Si Wei
2022, 42 (5):  101-110. 
Abstract ( 22 )   PDF (1821KB) ( 20 )  

This article analyzes the significant transformation in Wang Guowei’s tragic ideats from unfortunate ending to conscious will. Influenced by the anthologies of Taoka Reiun and The World as Will and Idea (1883), Wang Guowei initially accepted Schopenhauerian theory and considered unfortunate ending as an absolute criterion and indispensable element for tragedy. After his contact with Friedrich Nietzsche’s theory, Wang Guowei gradually abandoned his previous understanding of will centering on blind desire, departing from his translation of Psychology (1902). Consequently, he considered the foundation for will no longer as desire, but as consciousness. This change has led Wang Guowei to the idea that the will of the hero is the highest criterion for tragedy.

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Postemotional Representations and Psychological Symptoms in the Narrative Mechanism of Internet Literature

Wang Wanbo
2022, 42 (5):  111-120. 
Abstract ( 27 )   PDF (1259KB) ( 31 )  

Emotionalism has undergone a series of transformations since the late 1980s until the rise of Internet literature. Such writing techniques as teasing, joking, and skepticism unfold the trend of postemotionalism in Internet literature. Fictional writings such as the journey to immortality and fantasy novels are particularly engaged with fantastic emotions. Fictions of popular genres on the internet moves emotions from the dignified and elegant to the ordinary and the everyday. System novels and ACGN novels employ ACGN culture and game realism to create new patterns of emotions, that is, the pursuit of emotional depth is replaced with the upgrading of characters in the system. As a result, writing increasingly deviates from the metanarrative under the influence of “database writing.” Mechanisms of pleasure, visual effect and disenchanting writing become new approaches to creating emotions in Internet literature under the business mode. Readers’ autonomous interpretation is governed by “fan economy” and replaces the exploration and experience of the author’s emotion. Fredric Jameson’s postmodernist explanation of emotional commercialization has further impact on Internet literature, a literature that is permeated with postemontionalism characterized by consumer culture. The cultural psychology and emotional comfort underlying postemotional representations reflect the erotic desire and spiritual undertones of both the authors and the readers, and contribute to the unique charm of Internet literature.

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Bodily Practice and Symbolic Overflow: How the Perceptual Becomes a Theorist in Practice

Liu Weibang
2022, 42 (5):  121-130. 
Abstract ( 18 )   PDF (2069KB) ( 4 )  

Aesthetics, as a science of perception, starts from the embodied “sense” and ends up becoming a theoretical “science.” It focuses on the ways in which sense becomes a theorist in practice. Reconstructing aesthetics via the dimension of body is neither a simple negation of practical aesthetics nor a mechanical repetition of contemporary Western aesthetic discourse, but a coordinating framework of “history-body-field” with the perceptual practice of body at its core. Such process allows aesthetics to be restored as “body-semiotics.” The body is not only the perceptual base of narrating, historicizing and rationalizing the embodied practice, but also the material support for the spatialization, presentation and sensationalization of history. Symbolization is the key to integrating “body” and “history,” “embodied sensibility” and “practical rationality.” It is in the interaction of body, symbol and history that human beings establish a dualistic world view that ties the ancient to the modern times. This dualistic world view would then evaluate human beings themselves, resulting in the devaluation of existence. Aesthetics serves to preserve the value of existence, that is, the ultimate “theorist” is the highest affirmation of individual existence in practice.

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Issue in Focus: Texts and Style

The Institutional Nature of Texts: On the Reform of Yuan Zhen’s Imperial Proclamation Writing

Zhong Zhihui
2022, 42 (5):  131-140. 
Abstract ( 18 )   PDF (4579KB) ( 5 )  

In Yuan Zhen’s reform of imperial proclamation writing, content is given priority over form. The content covered two parts of the instructions to officials on the responsibilities and obligations and the descriptions of merits and demerits of officials, both belonging to the institutional attributes of imperial proclamation. When Yuan Zhen sought the support of imperial power for his reform, his reform was then subjected to the operation of the institutional power. As a result, his reform of linguistic style in the proclamation drafting was doomed to be incomplete. However, his efforts to introduce a less archaic style into the imperial writing gradually took on and was emulated. Yuan Zhen was critical to the imperial proclamation in the early Tang dynasty, but did not flatly reject it. Instead, he absorbed some elements that conformed to his idea. His imperial proclamation writing was modeled after the ancient Book of Documents, but he did not reproduce it. Yuan Zhen’s intention was to reform the stereotyped diction of imperial proclamation and to implement his literary idea of fact-seeking in order to realize the institutional function of imperial proclamation to promote and discredit. Different from other reforms that attempted to influence politics through literature, Yuan Zhen’ reform of imperial proclamation writing was a top-down endeavor, which represented a new change in literary reform. 

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The Construction of Shuobu in the Genealogy of Zixue

Wu Wenqing
2022, 42 (5):  141-150. 
Abstract ( 20 )   PDF (2116KB) ( 6 )  
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Qu-poetry in the Republic Era and the Construction of New National Poetry: Centering on Lu Qian’s Non-dramatic Qu-poetry

Kang Shijia
2022, 42 (5):  151-160. 
Abstract ( 18 )   PDF (1781KB) ( 4 )  

Since the May 4th Movement, in addition to new vernacular poetry modelled on foreign poetry, another group of scholars represented by Lu Qian actively explored the new forms of Chinese national poetry from the reality of protecting classical music and literature. Lu Qian found a different way in his exploration of “popularization” and “localization” of literature and transforming the classical concept of folk rhymes in the spirit of Music Bureau poetry to the modern ideal of new poetry. He thus created non-dramatic qu-poetry, originally a type of “song of poetry” and made it the new vocal poetry of the Chinese nation. In this sense, he moved from the theory of “qu-poetry in the Republic Era” to the musical transformation and “nationalizing” creation of non-dramatic qu-poetry. The non-dramatic qu-poetry of the Republic Era was also rooted in the rich and diverse life of the people, and expressed the multiple connotations recognized by the national tradition and national reality in the historical process.

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Ancient Literary Theory and Theoretical Study of Ancient Literature

On Li Linfu and the Poetic Circle in the Golden Age of the Tang Dynasty

Ding Fang
2022, 42 (5):  161-170. 
Abstract ( 20 )   PDF (2922KB) ( 7 )  

Li Linfu, prime minister of the Xuanzong period of the Tang dynasty, was in charge of state affairs for two decades and was a notorious culprit in the decline of the state. As a cunning and crude official, Li was particularly hostile to the literati. One important reason was his failed attempt to crown Prince Li Mao, as Prince Li Heng became heir to the throne with the support of the literati. Li Linfu’s scheme to overthrow the crowned Prince Li Heng continuously encountered resistance from the literati represented by Zhang Jiuling. Viewing the literati as his political opponents, Li thus crudely attacked those with high political positions and disregarded those from middle and low ranks. He also controlled the entire system of official election. Despite Li’s so-called administrative ability, his play of power endangered the political ecology of the state. His conduct not only caused serious damage to the poetic circle during the prosperous period of the Tang dynasty, but also changed the life and career of numerous poets.

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A Probe into the Social Ecology of Scholars’ Making a Living in Strange Stories from a Chinese Studio

Xu Yongbin
2022, 42 (5):  171-180. 
Abstract ( 20 )   PDF (1843KB) ( 6 )  

Pu Songling recounted how ancient scholars made a living in his Strange Stories from a Chinese Studio, and the means fell into the following categories: home school tutoring, copying books, making paintings and calligraphic works, and doing business. These practices reflected the social reality of the scholars’ life in the Qing Dynasty. The idea behind these practices in the Qing Dynasty was influenced by Xu Heng’s claim that “the primary task of a scholar is to make a living” in the Yuan Dynasty, and the idea underlay the scholars’ practice of making a living in the Ming-Qing dynasties while the need to make a living also reflected the difficult living conditions of the lower class scholars. Pu Songling and his father’s practice of making a living prompted him to pay attention to the social phenomenon and recounted how scholars’ made a living and what social ecology the low-class scholars were confronted, while Pu’s own practice of making a living allowed him to imbue the stories with some unique nuances.

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Rewriting the Classical: Contemporary Writers’ Reception of the Story “Goose Cage Scholar”

Gu Wenbin
2022, 42 (5):  181-190. 
Abstract ( 32 )   PDF (2421KB) ( 8 )  

This paper examines how contemporary writers develop the literary features of Wu Jun’s (649-520) story Goose Cage Scholar”, and analyzes how they borrow and transform such aspects as the story’s narrative theme, perspective and implications so as to elaborate on the meaning behind contemporary writersacceptance of the story of Goose Cage Scholar.” The article maintains that this cultural phenomenon not only proves the potential of classical fiction but also demonstrates how such workcan be rewritten. The articles concludes that this practice of creative rewriting may be viewed as a social and academic problematization by which we can explore the creative transformation and innovative development of traditional Chinese culture.

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