Chinese culture in 1990s underwent a deep and momentous transformation together with the country's economic reform. It's so different from what it was in the 1980s that some critics called it the culture of the "Post-New-Period", as compared with that of the "New Period", Which lasted from the fall of the so-called "Gang of Four" in 1976 to the "June-Fourth Accident" of 1989....[ Read more ]
Chinese culture in 1990s underwent a deep and momentous transformation together with the country's economic reform. It's so different from what it was in the 1980s that some critics called it the culture of the "Post-New-Period", as compared with that of the "New Period", Which lasted from the fall of the so-called "Gang of Four" in 1976 to the "June-Fourth Accident" of 1989.
This thesis is a research on the plural and sophisticated culture in this period. Following a discussion on the three concurrent types of culture in this period and the new concept of "post-new-period", the thesis then proposes three key features of today's culture: the evolution of "enlightenment program and spirit", the intoxication of "desire", and the germination and cultivation of the so-called "taste" or "refinedness". All of these can be regarded as both concrete cultural practices and the spirit of the culture in this period. The first two chapters deal with cultural trends and intellectual debates in general, which see the first of these features. The thesis argues that, with the loss of appeal of the intellectuals' "New Enlightenment" proposed in 1980s as seen in the event of the intellectuals' split-up after the "Humanist Spirit Discussion" and the so-called "post-critique" controversy, a kind of "Post-Enlightenment" emerges and displays its strength in the advocate for liberalism and a step-by-step reform in the debates about radicalism and conservatism. Chapters three and four are about literary texts and literary phenomena of this period. The second feature, the pursuit of desires, is evident in the so-called "New Historical Novel" and the metropolitan literature. The thesis argues that discourse of desire showed in the "personal writing" has been the main characteristic of the novel produced in this period, which is supported by the fast developing secularization of the society; search for fun from daily-life become citizens' main activities. However, though the positive intention of it cannot be underestimated, the paper points out, most of the writers in this period are confronted by the question of how to adequately delineate a vivid social and culture map with historical depth out of the "discourse of desire", and how to show a true "personal style". Female writings in this decade also see perplexities; are they a hopeful beginning or a hopeless passe? Their emphasis on desire seems to be a trap for women themselves. Germination and cultivation of the so-called "taste" or "refinedness" as the last but not necessarily the least feature of the culture of the 90s finds expressions in mass culture, but also in the domain that originally belongs to elite culture. The thesis examines "Yu Qiuyu Phenomena" in the "Prose Fever", and also the "Kundera Fever", and "Chang Ai-ling Fever", both Kundera and Chang Ai-ling being "cultural heroes" during this period. The last chapter explores an interesting, paradoxical situation: the aggressive pursuit of fashion and sentimental remembrance of the past become a concurrent mixture. The conclusion attempts at a more theoretical delineation on Chinese cultural map in the 1990 and suggests that "Residual Imagination" is the aesthetic spirit, but also the crux point of the cultural crisis in the age.