Family Revolution: Marital Strife in Contemporary Chinese Literature and Visual Culture

Paperback | February 12, 2014

byHui Faye Xiao

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As state control of private life in China has loosened since 1980, citizens have experienced an unprecedented family revolution—an overhaul of family structure, marital practices, and gender relationships. While the nuclear family has become a privileged realm of romance and individualism symbolizing the post-revolutionary "freedoms" of economic and affective autonomy, women’s roles in particular have been transformed, with the ideal "iron girl" of socialism replaced by the feminine, family-oriented "good wife and wise mother."

Problems and contradictions in this new domestic culture have been exposed by China's soaring divorce rate. Reading popular "divorce narratives" in fiction, film, and TV drama, Hui Faye Xiao shows that the representation of marital discord has become a cultural battleground for competing ideologies within post-revolutionary China. While these narratives present women’s cultivation of wifely and maternal qualities as the cure for family disintegration and social unrest, Xiao shows that they in fact reflect a problematic resurgence of traditional gender roles and a powerful mode of control over supposedly autonomous private life.

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From the Publisher

As state control of private life in China has loosened since 1980, citizens have experienced an unprecedented family revolution—an overhaul of family structure, marital practices, and gender relationships. While the nuclear family has become a privileged realm of romance and individualism symbolizing the post-revolutionary "freedoms" o...

Hui Faye Xiao is assistant professor of modern Chinese literature and culture at the University of Kansas.
Format:PaperbackDimensions:224 pages, 9 × 6.1 × 0.7 inPublished:February 12, 2014Publisher:University Of Washington PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0295993502

ISBN - 13:9780295993508

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Table of Contents

PrefaceIntroduction1. Divorcing the Rural2. Midlife Crisis and Misogynist Rhetoric3. Utopia or Dystopia?4. What Quality Do Chinese Wives Lack?5. Seeking Second Chances in a Risk Society6. A New Divorce CultureAppendix 1Appendix 2NotesBibliographyIndex

Editorial Reviews

As state control of private life in China has loosened since 1980, citizens have experienced an unprecedented family revolution—an overhaul of family structure, marital practices, and gender relationships. While the nuclear family has become a privileged realm of romance and individualism symbolizing the post-revolutionary "freedoms" of economic and affective autonomy, women’s roles in particular have been transformed, with the ideal "iron girl" of socialism replaced by the feminine, family-oriented "good wife and wise mother."Problems and contradictions in this new domestic culture have been exposed by China's soaring divorce rate. Reading popular "divorce narratives" in fiction, film, and TV drama, Hui Faye Xiao shows that the representation of marital discord has become a cultural battleground for competing ideologies within post-revolutionary China. While these narratives present women’s cultivation of wifely and maternal qualities as the cure for family disintegration and social unrest, Xiao shows that they in fact reflect a problematic resurgence of traditional gender roles and a powerful mode of control over supposedly autonomous private life.Insightfully manages to situate the chosen texts in relation to the larger contexts of ideological and socioeconomic changes. - Xueping Zhong, Tufts University