Disenchanted Democracy

Chinese Cultural Criticism after 1989
Ben Xu
A critical appraisal of Chinese intellectual development in the 1990s


Disenchanted Democracy offers a critical mapping of the unknown waters of Chinese cultural criticism in the politically disenchanted 1990s. It focuses on the theoretical debates of post-Tiananmen Chinese intellectuals, relates those debates to the international context of theory and power, and prepares the ground for further discussions on many important theoretical and political issues.

This book breaks new ground in the study of contemporary Chinese intellectual development by allying cultural criticism with a quest for democracy. It approaches democracy, in the context of cultural criticism, less as a series of abstract propositions than as a site or space in which practices of change and good society, pluralism and consensus, knowledge and power, and citizenship and humanity come into sharper focus. Through careful analyses of the 1990s humanist-spirit discussion, new Chinese national studies, and postmodern-postcolonial theory in China, this book reveals how notions of modernity, enlightenment, orientalism, and national and cultural identities are contested in Chinese cultural discussion after 1989.

Disenchanted Democracy will be of interest to students and scholars working on modern and contemporary Chinese cultural and theoretical discourses. An engaging and challenging observation of contemporary Chinese cultural politics, this book will also be welcomed by those who have more general concerns with Chinese society, politics, and intellectuals in the 1990s.

Ben Xu is Associate Professor of English, Saint Mary's College of California. He is also the author of Whither Cultural Criticism, Journey to the Postmodern and the Postcolonial, and Situational Tensions of Critic-Intellectuals: Thinking through Literary Politics with Edward W. Said and Frank Lentricchia.

Praise / Awards

  • "This book will put itself forward as a challenge to the various post-theories that situate themselves on the cutting edge of scholarship today."
    —Wendy A. Larson, University of Oregon
  • ". . . one of the best and most lucid of recent analyses in English of mainland Chinese cultural and literary debates of the 1990s."
    —Jeffrey C. Kinkley, St. John's University, World Literature Today, Autumn 2000

Product Details

  • 6 x 9.
  • 288pp.
Available for sale worldwide

  • Hardcover
  • 1999
  • Available
  • 978-0-472-11062-9

Add to Cart
  • $83.00 U.S.