China and Inner Asia
Session Abstract: This panel inquires how classical-style poetry was produced, circulated, received, and contested after the 1917 New Cultural Movement in China, at a time when classicism was henceforward criticized as obsolete and reactionary towards the mainstream of literary development. We propose the concept of “contested classicism” to interrogate how classicism has been strategically questioned, disputed, and denounced in the history of modern Chinese poetry. The poems we study encompass classical-style poetry written from the 1920s to the 1960s, a timespan not fully recognized but demonstrating the unwavering vitality of classicism. By classicism, we mean the aesthetic preferences of classical literary conventions, ideological obsession with the past, and the deliberate deployment of traditional literary resources. Discussing poets as renowned and diverse as Chen Yinke, Lu Xun, and Mao Zedong, our papers explore the possible reasons behind the tenacity of traditional poetry written in the modern Chinese context. Specifically, we ask: how did the artistry of classical-style poetry survive through national upheavals in 20th-century China; how did the three authors respond to drastic modern transformations on both the national and individual levels; what kind of traditional literary resources were deployed by those authors in their writing; and what were the audiences’ responses in both domestic and international domains? We argue that the complexity of the “contested classicism” challenges our understanding of modern Chinese poetry and calls for innovative ways of rewriting and reinterpreting modern Chinese literary history from both the cultural production and reader’s affective reception of literary classicism.
Virtual Paper Presenter: Huanyu Yue – Washington University in St Louis
Virtual Paper Presenter: Chloe Estep – Columbia University
Virtual Paper Presenter: Yueling Ji – University of Chicago
Virtual Paper Presenter: Ying Xiong – Shanghai Normal University