Welcome to Theoretical Studies in Literature and Art,

Table of Content

    25 September 2023, Volume 43 Issue 5 Previous Issue   
    For Selected: Toggle Thumbnails
    A Study of Socialist Discourse System with Chinese Characteristics: Visual Studies of Image and Text
    A Study of the Relationship between Image and Text of Eighteen Stanzas on the Reed Pipe by Liu Shang and the Picture of Wenji's Return from Captivity by Li Tang
    2023, 43 (5):  1-10. 
    Abstract ( 73 )   PDF (1604KB) ( 17 )  
    In the fields of literature and painting, the story of Cai Wenji's return from captivity has provided creative materials and artistic inspiration for later literary and artistic creations, and numerous works on the same theme have been created. Eighteen Stanzas on the Reed Pipe by Liu Shang in the Tang dynasty and Picture of Wenji's Return from Captivity by Li Tang in the Song dynasty are the representations of this story. The formation of the themes in these two works is deeply influenced by historical factors, societal influences, and personal elements. They represent the distinct life experiences of the poet and the painter regarding the same subject and theme. Comparing the phenomenon of expressing the same theme through literature and visual representation, this article argues that poetry extends the boundaries of the picturesque scene, and the picturesque scene is also capable of recreating poetic sentiments.
    References | Related Articles | Metrics
    How Illustrations of Dramatic Texts Come to Be Possible?
    2023, 43 (5):  11-21. 
    Abstract ( 102 )   PDF (1613KB) ( 13 )  
    Illustrations within classical Chinese dramatic texts are visual representations constructed through the interaction of textuality and imagery. “Textuality” refers to the potential of the text form to convey its subject. Under the influence of textuality, the poetic tradition of Chinese drama leads textual illustrations towards a poetic ambiance. On the other hand, “imagery” represents the potential for visual portrayal, including the historical grammar of painting traditions. The most prominent manifestation of visual traditions within textual illustrations is found in the illustrations of Selected Yuan Plays. These illustrations specify that a total of ninety-nine artists, ranging from the Wei, Jin, Northern and Southern dynasties to the Yuan dynasty, were imitated. This imitation underscores the inheritance of syntactic elements from the painting tradition.
    References | Related Articles | Metrics
    The Overseas Journeys and Image Metaphor of Chuang-tzu's Singing with Beating Basin
    2023, 43 (5):  22-30. 
    Abstract ( 31 )   PDF (2318KB) ( 16 )  
    Chuang-tzu's Singing with Beating Basin is not only the earliest Chinese fiction to have been translated into western languages but also enjoyed various translational versions. Furthermore, its subject of “the Fickle Widow” triggered a comparative study among western scholars, and its unique dual-narrative model has also influenced western writers. Additionally, Western painters have created illustrations for the fiction, giving rise to different visual images of Chuang-tzu. These aspects have made Chuang-tzu's Singing with Beating Basin a typical example of multi-cultural integration. On the one hand, it reflected the overseas dissemination of the text through translation. On the other hand, this dissemination has turned Chuang-tzu's Singing with Beating Basin into a fluid text. Throughout this process of overseas dissemination, the contents of the text have been rewritten and meanings have been superimposed, ultimately resulting in multicultural integration.
    References | Related Articles | Metrics
    Ancient Literary Theory and Theoretical Study of Ancient Literature
    The Historical Conceptualization of the Three Changing Trends in Tang-Dynasty Prose and the Evolution of Literature in Different Dynasties
    2023, 43 (5):  31-42. 
    Abstract ( 48 )   PDF (1739KB) ( 11 )  
    Three transformative trends in Tang-Dynasty prose were observed in The New Book of Tang, and this viewpoint played a significant role in shaping the concept of literary history in the Song Dynasty. Its historical foundation lies in the cultural and qualitative understanding of the three ancient dynasties during the Han Dynasty. The admiration for the ancient-style prose by Han Yu and Liu Zongyuan in the Song Dynasty can be traced back to the reverence for the Six Classics during the Han Dynasty. The crux of this perspective lies in the shift of the “one-king” political system, transitioning from a focus on Confucianism to one on literary creation. At the heart of the transformation of Tang-Dynasty prose was the progression from orthodoxy to literary tradition, aligning with the dialectical understanding of Confucianism and literature in the Han and Song dynasties. As an pivotal direction in literary development, the notion of “three transformative trends” underscores the historical significance and practical value of the evolution of ancient Chinese literary criticism across different dynasties.
    References | Related Articles | Metrics
    The “Author-Text” Dual Structure and the Theoretical System of The Literary Mind and the Carving of Dragons
    2023, 43 (5):  43-51. 
    Abstract ( 70 )   PDF (1216KB) ( 17 )  
    The discussion in The Literary Mind and the Carving of Dragons typically revolves around a fundamental dichotomy between the author and the text. Lie Xie categorized authors into two groups: the saint and the non-saint. Simultaneously, he classified their works as either classics or non-classics. This differentiation serves as a pivotal theme for comprehending Liu Xie's theorical framework, providing insight into his organization of the “Emendation of Apocrypha” in Chapter Four. Furthermore, it sheds light on Liu Xie's discourse concerning concepts such as “vacancy and tranquility” and “style,” which are contingent upon these distinctions.
    References | Related Articles | Metrics
    The Knowledge Context and Epistemological Value of Editing in Verdict Genre Court-case Fiction
    2023, 43 (5):  52-61. 
    Abstract ( 46 )   PDF (1591KB) ( 6 )  
    The Ming dynasty court-case fiction, Lianming Court-case, exhibits the characteristic features of the court-case fiction of the verdict genre. The literary value of court-case fiction has been generally underestimated in academia, mainly due to the aesthetic standards established in the later periods. The verdict genre court-case fiction emerged during the Ming dynasty, a time when Confucianism was popularized among the common people and legal knowledge became widespread. It conformed to the social ideological trends and catered to specific ideological training, thus gaining recognition both officially and among the general public. The verdict genre court-case fiction inherited the literary tradition of personal affairs in private cases from the Song dynasty but, in terms of aesthetic interest, it incorporated judicial knowledge and emphasized its judicial attributes, creating a distinct thematic appeal different from other types of fiction. Therefore, the combination of informative and narrative elements in the verdict genre court-case fiction contributes to its cognitive and educational value, marking a unique historical imprint and possessing its own aesthetic value.
    References | Related Articles | Metrics
    On the Common Traits of Poetry and Prose in the Qing Dynasty's Imperial Examination
    2023, 43 (5):  62-71. 
    Abstract ( 15 )   PDF (1608KB) ( 15 )  
    The Imperial Examinations in the Qing Dynasty encompassed two primary components: the Eight-part Essay and examination poems.. While they exhibited distinct styles and forms, they shared significant commonalities including the interplay between constancy and variation within deductive themes, an emphasis on formal symmetry, and a structural approach involving “opening, development, change and conclusion”. These shared characteristics, initially rooted in broader literary and poetic practice, became solidified, reinforced and at times mechanized. Regrettably, these commonalities were erroneously disregarded as being exclusive to either the Eight-Part Essay method or examination poems. In reality, they posses universal value and significance necessitating a fresh examination and reevaluation within the context of ancient literature and literary criticism.
    References | Related Articles | Metrics
    Mutual Learning among Theoretical Studies
    The Division and Dialogue between Cultural Studies and Aesthetics
    2023, 43 (5):  72-82. 
    Abstract ( 17 )   PDF (1175KB) ( 10 )  
    Cultural studies have been distancing itself away from aesthetics since the latter half of the twentieth century. As the twenty-first century began, cultural studies nearly became synonymous with anti-aesthetics. In the surge of “the return to aesthetics” in the twenty-first century, scholars from the UK, the US and Australia have engaged in discussions regarding whether cultural studies and aesthetics are drifting apart and how they might be integrated. The relationship between cultural studies and aesthetics should not be one of opposition or subordination, but one of dialogue in which they draw on and blend with each other. This article argues that cultural studies and aesthetics are moving toward aesthetic cultural studies, in four aspects including redefining aesthetics, paying attention to the formal features of cultural products, valuing the engagement of aesthetic experience, and analyzing the mechanism of aesthetic evaluation.
    References | Related Articles | Metrics
    Speaking the Unspeakable: Literary Verdict on the Primal Paradox of Speech (On the Linguistic Poetics of the “Yale School”, Part III)
    2023, 43 (5):  83-92. 
    Abstract ( 25 )   PDF (1592KB) ( 14 )  
    The Yale School finds that, following the transforming and generating mechanism of the three dimensions of language (the signified dimension, the intersubjective dimension, and the self-reflective and self-concern dimension), literary speech creates numerous signification methods or rhetorical strategies to defuse the primal paradox of speech. These methods or strategies include singularity or distortion, paradoxical expression, and spatialization; repetition, concealment or silence, symbol-giving; the metaphor of metaphor, and thematizing the unspeakable; suspension, generativity, testimony, and self-endowments. They not only reveal the mystery of the unspeakable between the tension of the speakable and the unspeakable, but also lead speech to the primal origin of thought and the world, offering a literary verdict to the primal origin or the ultimate aporia of metaphysics.
    References | Related Articles | Metrics
    Time and Space in the Eighteenth-Century European Sentimental Novels
    2023, 43 (5):  93-103. 
    Abstract ( 16 )   PDF (1296KB) ( 19 )  
    Mikhail Bakhtin sensitively pointed out the demand for an exact place and time in eighteenth-century European sentimental novels. This article argues that the emphasis on specific time and place is only one aspect of the artistic pursuit of sentimental novels. In terms of time, sentimental novels abandon objective time that is linear, uniform and measurable and instead extend some moments in accordance with the inner feelings of characters. In terms of space, authors of such novels prefer pastoral and lake areas with picturesque scenes and sentimental feelings. The time and space in sentimental novels do not, as Bakhtin said, intend to deliberately create a sense of reality as demanded by early naive realism, but are often a precursor to romanticism that integrates emotions and imaginations. The fragmented and ruined spatial form of sentimental novels deeply reflects the rise of emotional culture in the mid- and late-eighteenth century. The idea of time and space in sentimental novels not only reveals the critique of modernity in the romantic movement but also implies the exploration of the inner space and time of modernist fictions. Their fragmented narrative is also a valuable attempt to explore the relationship between readers and works.
    References | Related Articles | Metrics
    The Art of “Mood”: The Philosophy of Art in Georg Simmel's “Böcklin's Landscape”
    2023, 43 (5):  104-113. 
    Abstract ( 21 )   PDF (1598KB) ( 12 )  
    Georg Simmel's review of “Böcklin's Landscape” played a vital role in the development of his theory. Although this review contains the nationalistic background of the German-French dispute, it is more a vital philosophical stand against realism in art, on which impressionism is based. Simmel uses the concept of “mood” to clarify the intrinsic unity of Böcklin's landscapes, thus moving away from a scientistic “abstract” methodology toward a spiritual-scientific methodology with a “plumb line” allegory. The commentary's understanding of “mood” draws not only on classical German aesthetics, but also largely on Simmel's adaptation of Alois Riegl's philosophy of art. Unlike Riegl, who sees “art of mood” as a complement to a natural-scientific worldview, Simmel understands the profound coherence between Böcklin's artistic creation and historical reflection, and gives art of mood the historical mission of creating a new unity in the historical world and re-founding the world of modern human experience. Simmel thus elevates the philosophy of art to a central position in modern philosophy, highlighting the redemptive function of art in bridging the modern subject-object dichotomy.
    References | Related Articles | Metrics
    The Trace Art of “Revealing the Protofigural”: A Heideggerian Interpretation of Paul Klee's Art Theory
    2023, 43 (5):  114-123. 
    Abstract ( 19 )   PDF (1224KB) ( 12 )  
    Paul Klee believes that painting reveals the protofigural which makes possible the visible rather than being the prefigural which is the representation of visible objects. The protofigura, as the invisible, is natural, which continuously forms, flows, and prosper. The prefigual underlies and tions as the basis of the prefigural. Revealing is not the force of objectification such as representation and abstraction, but a non-objectifying action that follows the natural force of formal indication. Revealing the protofigural to let it unveil itself spontaneously. As a result, Klee's paintings are neither objective art nor abstract art, but an intermediate “trace art” between them. Heidegger, from the perspective of “the turn of Ereignis,” refers to Klee's paintings as the non-objective painting that overcomes artistic metaphysics.
    References | Related Articles | Metrics
    Georges Didi-Huberman's “Politics of Images” and His Debate with Jacques Rancière on the Pathos of Images
    2023, 43 (5):  124-132. 
    Abstract ( 48 )   PDF (1059KB) ( 17 )  
    Georges Didi-Huberman's image theory maintains strong sensitivity to current social politics. Since his exhibition “Uprising”, Didi-Huberman has been making visual anthropological analysis of people's gestures of rebellion and considering images as an endowment of human desire. Pathos and imagination are two key perspectives through which Didi-Huberman's image theory enters politics, but Jacques Rancière questions his interpretation of the pathos dimension of images. In turn, Didi-Huberman clarifies Rancière's misunderstanding by tracing the philosophical origins of the concept while emphasizing its traumatic nature of passivity. In addition, he rethinks Rancière's key concept of the politics of aesthetics, “the distribution of sensible,” from the perspective of the fusion of imagination and politics, pointing out that the fusion of imagination and politics is key to the evocation of pathos. Through the viewing and political reflection of images, he obtains the “eye of history” to confirm the readability of history.
    References | Related Articles | Metrics
    Issue in Focus: Film Theory Studies
    Reflections on the Construction of the Discourse of a Chinese Film School in Recent Years
    2023, 43 (5):  133-143. 
    Abstract ( 53 )   PDF (1220KB) ( 27 )  
    This essay raises some reflections on the construction of the discourse “Chinese Film School” popular in China in the past few years. By doing so, we intend to provide some ideas for the further development of the Chinese film industry and studies of Chinese cinema. We first trace the construction of “Chinese Film School” to the debates on “Chinese-language cinema.” Then, we scrutinize the term “school” in the context of academic communications between China and the West. Finally, by investigations of some central ideas, including universality vs. particularity, the prescriptive vs. the descriptive, temporality vs. spatiality, and objects and methods, we offer further insights into “Chinese Film School”.
    References | Related Articles | Metrics
    How to Do Things with Image: From the Paradigm of Representation to the Paradigm of Performance
    2023, 43 (5):  144-152. 
    Abstract ( 17 )   PDF (1233KB) ( 12 )  
    Starting from the controversy about the indexicality and realism of image in current film theory in the digital age, this article aims to clarify the necessities, contexts, and methods of the theoretical turn from the paradigm of representation to the paradigm of performance. From the perspective of performance theory, image is primarily viewed as an action, an event, or a generative force that creates rather than represents the world. Therefore, visual economy invites us to pay attention to image's complicated circulation in the actor-network and how it actualizes its potential in the diverse and heterogeneous encounters with the audience. The affect theory requires us to note image's ability to trigger affects and feelings. and its qualities of synaesthesia, free connection and fluctuation. Image as an affective performance not only reminds us of keeping a hyperconsciousness of the affective minimum and the microscopic fragment of emotion, but also promises a more positive and open interaction with image, namely, the reparative reading.
    References | Related Articles | Metrics
    “Anti-naturalism”: The Architectural Dimension in Siegfred Kracauer's Early Film Theory
    2023, 43 (5):  153-162. 
    Abstract ( 14 )   PDF (1908KB) ( 7 )  
    The relationship between Siegfred Kracauer's film theory and architecture is an under-researched area, and is also key to the quintessence of his film theory. The architectural background not only influenced Kracauer's early film theory, which focused on “pan-text” rather than “inner-text”, but has also gave rise to the “modern” research approach that focused on the superficial things of the city. This preference also determined the “anti-naturalist” aesthetic tendency and the reverence for “spirituality” throughout his life. By discussing two typical cinematic buildings such as the “luxury picture palace” and the “film studio”, Kracauer established the important position of “ornament” in his film aesthetics and constructed a kind of “liberating realism” with “anti-naturalism” at its core.
    References | Related Articles | Metrics
    Issue in Focus: Science Fiction Studies
    Africa, the Third World, and the Global South: Rethinking the Possibility of Science Fiction Realism
    2023, 43 (5):  163-171. 
    Abstract ( 15 )   PDF (1208KB) ( 24 )  
    As a controversial view in literary creation, “science fiction realism” does not necessarily entail a restriction of imagination. On the contrary, if realism, as a profound tradition of human literature, can nourish science fiction with its abundant connotations and diverse forms, this genre could enable people to explore the laws governing the real world and satisfy their need for self-expression in an era conducive to the development of science fiction. In this regard, African science fiction, which emerged with the rise of “Afrofuturism,” has inherited the realistic tradition of African literature's critical pursuit of totality in its unique trajectory. Hence, it holds value as a study subject for contemporary Chinese science fiction. For the latter, African science fiction draws nourishment from local knowledge, imagination, and practice; more importantly, it serves as a harginger of the future. Considering the historical memory of the Third World, the shared reality of the Global South, and the “unprecedented changes in a century,” China and Africa provide each other with crucial sources of experience and imagination. This presents a significant opportunity for Chinese science fiction to unshackle its imagination, embrace creativity, engage with the world's totality, and envision a new world.
    References | Related Articles | Metrics
    Counterfactual Historical Narratives in the Horizon of Possible Worlds Theory: A Case Study of Philip K. Dick's The Man in the High Castle
    2023, 43 (5):  172-183. 
    Abstract ( 22 )   PDF (1204KB) ( 6 )  
    Counterfactual historical narrative is a genre in which multiple counterfactual histories are set in parallel to the dominant public history, with the aim of exploring “what the world would be like if it were not as it is now”. Currently, there are two theoretical approaches to the study of counterfactual historical narratives, namely, the branching model and the integration model. After evaluating these two models, the article proposes a third model for the study of counterfactual historical narrative — the possible worlds model, based on David Lewis’ modal realism. The possible worlds model posits that counterfactual historical narratives produce one or more possible worlds with the same ontological status as the actual world. It suggests that what is perceived as reality involves a process of mutual flowing among these multiple worlds. The article summarizes six characteristic features of counterfactual historical narratives: ontological hybridity, synchronicity in narrative structure, dispersing boundaries, multiplicity of parallel worlds, reality in practice, and the immanence between the counterfactual and the actual. Finally, the article conducts a textual analysis of Philip K. Dick's The Man in the High Castle to exemplify these six features in the context of a specific work of science fiction.
    References | Related Articles | Metrics
    Deconstructing “Cognitive Estrangement”: Contingency and the Line of Flight in New Weird Fiction
    2023, 43 (5):  184-193. 
    Abstract ( 125 )   PDF (1030KB) ( 42 )  
    Since the 1970s, Darko Suvin's “cognitive estrangement” has been widely considered the starting point of science fiction (sf) studies. It argues that the “estranged” narratives of sf need to be validated by empirical, positivist “cognition”, thereby justifying the novum and the sense of newness in sf stories. This article, however, denies the “neutral” status of cognition, as it can only produce the politicised knowledge endorsed by a certain authority. Through a close interrogation of an emerging literary genre termed “the New Weird” — one that combines both science fictional and fantastic characteristics and thus questions the ideological bias of cognition — I will draw upon Quentin Meillassoux's speculative materialism and Gilles Deleuze's conceptualisation of becoming and nomad, proposing a post-humanist epistemology that opens itself to contingency and may transcend any territory constrained by binary logics.
    References | Related Articles | Metrics
    Issue in Focus: Studies of the MediaTech Poetics
    Magnetic Telegraph and Symbolism: A Study of the Media-Tech Poetics of 19th-Century American Symbolist Fiction
    2023, 43 (5):  194-204. 
    Abstract ( 33 )   PDF (1297KB) ( 34 )  
    Magnetic telegraph, a novel “new media” technology in the early 19th century, created a unique historical chronotope that profoundly influenced American symbolic literary culture. However, there has been a persistent oversight regarding the poetic connection between symbolism and the magnetic telegraph. Symbolist poetry and detective stories, as observed by Marshall McLuhan, exemplified the emergence of new genres inspired by the spirit of the age of the magnetic telegraph. Yet, it is essential to recognize that the techno-cultural conditions that gave birth to the invention of the magnetic telegraph stemmed from the ancient epistemology of symbolism itself. This connection involved the providential convergence of symbolist epistemology, the discovery of electromagnetism in the early 19th century, archaeological revelations of Egyptian hieroglyphics, and the spiritual mindset of American puritanism. This study focuses on three symbolist figures — Edgar Allan Poe, Nathaniel Hawthorne, and Herman Melville-who bear witness to the age of the magnetic telegraph through their narrative strategies. Notably, these authors were not only inspired by the encryption techniques of the magnetic telegraph, but they also harnessed its symbolist principles in a metalinguistic sense, fostering a media-tech poetics that evolved from modelization to anamorphization and self-reflexivization.
    References | Related Articles | Metrics
    Bernard Stiegler, Joseph Beuys and Social Sculpture
    2023, 43 (5):  205-215. 
    Abstract ( 21 )   PDF (1216KB) ( 10 )  
    Bernard Stiegler believes that participation is a condition for the acting out of noetic soul, but participation's dependence on technology simultaneously leads to the “loss of participation” and “symbolic misery”. In the hyper-industrial society, in particular, marketing technology controls people's time of consciousness and leads to the prevailing “proletarianization” among consumers. Stiegler sees in Beuys' social sculpture use to resist the “loss of participation”, attempting to continue this idea by reviving the concept of amateurs. In the form of free invention, amateurs realize potential and form singularity in the process. This is a new art form, which also reinvents politics, namely the politics of singularity. Through obtaining their own time, amateurs shape the time of community and complete the task of social sculpture.
    References | Related Articles | Metrics
    Narrative Cognition in the Virtual World: Contemporary Western Poetics of Immersion and Their Problems
    2023, 43 (5):  216-226. 
    Abstract ( 23 )   PDF (1223KB) ( 17 )  
    Recently, “immersion”, a technical term in virtual reality, has gained attention in narratological studies and has been applied to the construction of multimedia theories. While the emphases and interpretations of different immersion theories are diverse, they share the focus on readers' and/or users' narrative experience and cognitive process, in order to break away from classical narratology and herald the digital turn. Among all these theories, Janet H. Murray, Marie-Laure Ryan and Michael Heim exemplify three approaches to exploring immersive experience in the digital world. Among them, Murray investigates immersion in “low-tech” narrative, Ryan constructs a general poetics of immersion beyond media, and Heim explores “ultimate display” from the unique sensory experience of “high-tech” narrative. Immersion is pivotal to the understanding of narrative cognition in the digital age. Clarifying different approaches is the premise of understanding the technological intervention and aesthetical change in contemporary narratological theories.
    References | Related Articles | Metrics