Staging Chinese Revolution: Theater, Film, and the Afterlives of Propaganda

Hardcover | November 8, 2016

byXiaomei Chen

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Staging Chinese Revolution surveys fifty years of theatrical propaganda performances in China, revealing a dynamic, commercial capacity in works often dismissed as artifacts of censorship. Spanning the 1960s through the 2010s, Xiaomei Chen reads films, plays, operas, and television shows from an interdisciplinary and comparative perspective, demonstrating how, in a socialist state with "capitalist characteristics," propaganda performance turns biographies, memoirs, and war stories into mainstream ideological commodities, legitimizing the state and its right to rule. Analyzing propaganda performance also brings contradictions and inconsistencies to light that throw common understandings about propaganda's purpose into question.

Chen focuses on revisionist histories that stage the lives of the "founding fathers" of the Communist Party, such as Chen Duxiu, Mao Zedong, and Deng Xiaoping, and the engaging mix of elite and ordinary characters that animate official propaganda in the private and public sphere. Taking the form of "personal" memories and representing star and youth culture and cyberspace, contemporary Chinese propaganda appeals through multiple perspectives, complicating relations among self, subject, agent, state building, and national identity. Chen treats Chinese performance as an extended form of political theater confronting critical issues of commemoration, nostalgia, state rituals, and contested history. It is through these reenactments that three generations of revolutionary leaders loom in extraordinary ways over Chinese politics and culture.

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Staging Chinese Revolution surveys fifty years of theatrical propaganda performances in China, revealing a dynamic, commercial capacity in works often dismissed as artifacts of censorship. Spanning the 1960s through the 2010s, Xiaomei Chen reads films, plays, operas, and television shows from an interdisciplinary and comparative persp...

Xiaomei Chen is professor of Chinese literature in the Department of East Asian Languages and Cultures at the University of California, Davis, where she also teaches performance studies and comparative literature. She is the author of Occidentalism: A Theory of Counter-Discourse in Post-Mao China (1995; second and expanded edition, 20...

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Kobo ebook|Jul 20 2012

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Format:HardcoverDimensions:384 pages, 9 × 6 × 0.98 inPublished:November 8, 2016Publisher:Columbia University PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0231166389

ISBN - 13:9780231166386

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Table of Contents

AcknowledgmentsIntroduction: Propaganda Performance1. The Place of Chen Duxiu: Political Theater, Dramatic History, and the Question of Representation2. The Return of Mao Zedong: A People's Hero and a "New" Legacy in Postsocialist Performance3. The Stage of Deng Xiaoping: The "Incorrigible Capitalist Roader"4. The Myth of the "Red Classics": Three Revolutionary Music-and-Dance Epics and Their Peaceful RestorationsEpilogue: Where Are the "Founding Mothers"?NotesWorks CitedIndex

Editorial Reviews

This inspiring book looks at what goes on under propaganda in contemporary China. Chen lays out contradictions, critiques, personal stories, and political figures in theater, film, and performance. Mixing official agenda with pop culture and romance with history, Staging Chinese Revolution unravels the top-down image of propaganda.