Taking China to the World: The Cultural Production of Modernity (Hardcover)
This book is the Cambria Sinophone World Series, headed by Professor Victor H. Mair (University of Pennsylvania).
Modernity, modernization, modernism, and the modern have all been key, interrelated terms in post-traditional China. For all their ubiquity, however, in previous studies of Chinese culture and society there has been insufficient clarity as to what the precise meanings each term has encompassed from the period beginning in 1895, the year of China's catastrophic defeat by Japan. The importance of these terms is underlined by their implication in China's positioning in the world over the course of the past century and a half, as well as the path China will follow in the future.
Looking into a set of concepts and practices that have been instrumental in China's road to modernity, namely, the definition of the modern itself, a new notion of literature, linguistic reform, translation, popular culture, and the transformation of the publishing world, Taking China to the World explores the various ways in which activity in the cultural sphere shaped Chinese perceptions of both how its historical course might evolve and how all-compassing change needed to be managed.
Most studies of China's modern transformation have implicitly based themselves on the inevitability of a process of cultural, social, and institutional rationalization, more often than not based on Western models, without grappling with the full extent of the struggles to reconcile needed changes with a grand tradition, which, for all the condemnation aimed at it after 1895, still held a powerful appeal for most of those who seriously considered the full extent of the interactions between new and old. That an idea of a monolithic new seemed to take hold of many members of the Chinese elite after the period circa 1920 does not rule out the subtle hold that key portions of the grand tradition have had over modern China. No other book offers this kind of analysis of both the historical origins and contemporary consequences of the agonizing choices made by actors in the cultural sphere who occupied core positions in the life of the Chinese nation.
Taking China to the World: The Cultural Production of Modernity is a valuable resource for academic researchers, students, and general readers interested in all subfields of Chinese studies, particularly for those engaged in charting the transformation of Chinese culture and society over the last 150 years and considering what those transformations might hold in store for the future.