Beyond the cultural dominant : for a textual politics in modern China: 超越文化的主導 : 現代中國的文本政治初探

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Drawing references to the recent debates in the crisis of modernity in the West (including the debate on postmodernism), this paper attempts to analyze the project of cultural modernity in China sinew the May-Fourth Movement. By tracing the development in textual strategy, cultural formation and institutionalization through three significant stages in the history of modern China (marked respectively by the year 1919, 1949, and 1979), the author discusses the changing relationship between Culture and Revolution. With an emphasis on the cultural text's “representation ” of Revolution, the paper intends to outline the possible crisis and revolution in the formation of subjectivity and investigate the historical subject’s realization of the dominant hegemony through cultural/textual discourse. For this purpose the paper is divided into four parts. The first section deals with the relationship between tradition and modernity and argues for the significance in recognizing the form of historical consciousness in cultural/literary modernity, the emergence of which depended, distinctively, upon the active and sometimes radical rejection of its past. The significance of a radical break or rupture (versus the mitigatory effect of the reliance on continuity as emphasized by tradition) is analyzed, and the historical context under which modernity in China emerged as such a project of “ruthless forgetting” is also discussed. In the second section, the author raises the issue of textual politics in modern China by tracing the emergence of a counter-discourse during the May- Fourth era and assessing the implication of the subsequent legitimation and normalization of culture after Mao Zedong’s talk on art and culture at the Yenan Forum in 1942. Whereas the changing positions of culture vis-a-vis Revolution is here reconsidered, the more recent development towards a renewed attempt to intervene in politics with culture is also addressed. The third section confronts the configuration of culture in modern China with its institutional constraints. The case of “high modernism” in the West is brought in to reveal the effect of institutional framing on all cultural text, thus clearing the ground for a reappraisal of/the extent to which the radical anxiety of the radical intellectuals after the May-Fourth Movement also carries political (viz. anti-institutional) message. Finally, the paper ends with a note on the possibilities opened by the debate on postmodernism in the West for an alternative tactic in the Chinese project to strive for a modern subjectivity under current cultural-political situations. The author proposes that to move forward in our quest for modernity, it is perhaps useful that we begin to (i) rewrite the cultural text of modernity, (ii) re-situate the modern subject as a historical subject, and (iii) speak (up) for the position of such an active and conscious historical subject by participating in the production and reproduction of culture as discourse. 本文參照進二十年來西方對「現代」危機的論述,探討五四以來中國文化的「現代方案」,就三個主要歷史階段的發展〈1919,1949,1979〉,分析文化構成、體制運作、主體形態及文本策略等問題,並針對文化對「革命」的反應及干預,闡釋意識形態及霸權策略如何在語言論述中具體落實、進而鞏固成為文化主導。在中國的現代化歷程中,文本的發展及生產方式有何演變?文章分四個部分來提出這個問題:傳統與現代的關係;文本政治的衍生與演變;文化與體制的對立;主體的危機與突破。論述的重點在探討當前中國文化政治的出路,據此,作者對五四時期的反傳主義、文藝「現代性」的歷史意識,以至於「再現」的方法、文人傳統與體制之間的關係等,都提出看法。 最後,作者並對當前中國作家應如何面對文化藝術的政治功效的課題,分三點提問:一、作者當如何創作而不為體制所吸納?二、作者如何劃定文化實踐的界線,以確保文本以內的跟文本以外的既相包涵,又相排拒?現代文化當如何防止淪為「主導而僵化」的建制典範?三、主體如何於說話中發揮自我批判、反之配、反體制的文化實踐作用?說話既體現了文化主體的歷史〈無〉意識,現代作者當如何改變其文本策略,使文化與政治之間的界線與關係得到突破與重現?
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)125-163
Number of pages39
Journal淸華學報 = Tsing Hua Journal of Chinese Studies
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 1989
Externally publishedYes


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