Maoist miniatures : the proletarian everyday, visual remediation, and the politics of revolutionary form

Benjamin KINDLER*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Journal PublicationsJournal Article (refereed)peer-review


Across an extended historical arc, Chinese writers and theorists were invested in new, short literary forms that would be able to intervene in the reorganization of social relations. These forms occurred under a range of names during the twentieth century—the wall story 墙头小说, the short short story 小小说, and the microstory 微型小说—but consistently marked a series of avant-garde experiments concerned with locating an alternative to the long-form novel. This article examines this history from its emergence amid the international proletarian movement of the 1930s, through the Great Leap Forward, and on to the early reform period, and does so through the theoretical lens of the everyday 日常生活 and the relation between literary texts and visual media. It demonstrates how the deployment of these forms shifted from an attempt to remake everyday life to their assimilation to a discourse of modernization in the reform period.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)911-947
Number of pages37
JournalModern China
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 1 Sept 2022
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
I would like to thank Kathryn Bernhardt and the rest of the editorial team at Modern China for assisting this article to publication, as well as to my two reviewers for their insightful and generous comments. I would further like to express my gratitude to Robert Culp for his comments on an earlier version of this article at the READCHINA conference, and to Lena Henningsen and others for making that conference possible. Harlan Chambers also provided incisive reflections that enabled me to reconsider certain problems examined in this article. The author received no financial support for the research, authorship, and/or publication of this article.

Publisher Copyright:
© The Author(s) 2022.


  • everyday
  • microstory
  • revolutionary culture
  • short short story
  • wall story


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