Chinese Modernity and Global Biopolitics: Studies in Literature and Visual Culture
280pp. June 2007
Chinese Modernity and Global Biopolitics: Studies in Literature and Visual Culture
Author: Lu, Sheldon H.;
This ambitious work is a multimedia, interdisciplinary study of Chinese modernity in the context of globalization from the late nineteenth century to the present. Sheldon Lu draws on Chinese literature, film, art, photography, and video to broadly map the emergence of modern China in relation to the capitalist world-system in the economic, social, and political realms. Central to his study is the investigation of biopower and body politics, namely, the experience of globalization on a personal level.

Lu first outlines the trajectory of the body in modern Chinese literature by focusing on the adventures, pleasures, and sufferings of the male (and female) body in the writings of selected authors. He then turns to avant-garde and performance art, tackling the physical self more directly through a consideration of work that takes the body as its very theme, material, and medium. In an exploration of mass visual culture, Lu analyzes artistic reactions to the multiple, uneven effects of globalization and modernization on both the physical landscape of China and the interior psyche of its citizens. This is followed by an inquiry into contemporary Chinese urban space in popular cinema and experimental photography and art. Examples are offered that capture the daily lives of contemporary Chinese as they struggle to make the transition from the vanishing space of the socialist lifestyle to the new capitalist economy of commodities. Lu reexamines the history and implications of China’s belated integration into the capitalist world system before closing with a postscript that traces the genealogy of the term "postsocialism" and points to the real relevance of the idea for the investigation of everyday life in China in the twenty-first century.

43 illus.

"A work of solid research and original observations, this volume surely adds remarkable weight to the field of modern China studies." —Études chinoises (28, 2009)

"This book is luxuriant in detail and expansive in scope. It makes a significant contribution to the study of modern China." —China Quarterly (194, 2008)

Author: Lu, Sheldon H.;
Sheldon H. Lu is professor of comparative literature at the University of California, Davis.
Read the introduction (PDF).
List of Illustrations


Introduction: China and the Global Biopolitical Order

Part 1 Literature and Biopolitics

1. Waking to Global Modernity: The Classical Tale in the Late Qing

2. When Mimosa Blossoms: Blockage of Male Desire in Yu Dafu and Zhang Xianliang

3. Body Writing: Beauty Writers at the Turn of the Twenty-first Century

Part 2 Art: From the National to the Diasporic

4. The Naked Body Politic in Postsocialist China and the Chinese Diaspora

5. "Beautiful Violence": War, Peace, Globalization

Part 3 Sinophone Cinema and Postsocialist Television

6. Hollywood, China, Hong Kong: Representing the Chinese Nation-State in Filmic Discourse

7. History, Memory, Nostalgia: Rewriting Socialism in Film and Television Drama

8. Dialect and Modernity in Twenty-first-Century Sinophone Cinema

Part 4 Cityscape in Multimedia

9. Tear Down the City: Reconstructing Urban Space in Cinema, Photography, Video

Historical Conclusion: Chinese Modernity and the Capitalist World-System

Postscript: Answering the Question, What Is Chinese Postsocialism?


Chinese Glossary