The Chinese Postmodern

Trauma and Irony in Chinese Avant-Garde Fiction
Xiaobin Yang
An insightful look into contemporary Chinese avant-garde fiction and the problem of Chinese postmodernity


The Chinese Postmodern is a pioneering study of contemporary Chinese avant-garde fiction from the perspective of cultural and literary postmodernity, historical trauma, and rhetorical irony. Showcasing the talents of such major writers as Can Xue, Ge Fei, Ma Yuan, Mo Yan, Xu Xiaohe, and Yu Hua, this volume focuses on the interplay between historical psychology and representational mode and between political discourse and literary rhetoric.

Xiaobin Yang draws on a number of theories, psychoanalysis and deconstruction in particular, and incorporates them into the sociohistorical approach to illuminate the nuances of literary and cultural phenomena. Revealing the hidden connection between the deconstructive mode of writing and the post-traumatic historical experience, The Chinese Postmodern shows how avant-garde literature brings about a heterogeneous literary paradigm that defies the dominant, subject-centered one in twentieth-century China.

Skillfully examining the problem of Chinese postmodernity against the background of culturo-political modernity in twentieth-century China, The Chinese Postmodern redefines Chinese modernity and postmodernity through textual analyses of canonical and avant-garde works.

In addition to being a pioneering study of contemporary Chinese avant-garde fiction, this challenging work is also an attempt to delineate the changes of literary paradigms in modern Chinese literature. By way of characterizing avant-garde fiction, it provides a macroscopic picture of twentieth-century Chinese literature that registers the sociohistorical trends of intellectual and cultural (post-)modernity. In this regard, it is also a theorization of the intellectual history of modern China.

Xiaobin Yang is Croft Assistant Professor of Chinese Language and Literature in the Department of Modern Languages at the University of Mississippi, where he teaches contemporary Chinese literature, film, cultural theory, and comparative cultural studies. His academic publications include Lishi yu xiuci (History and rhetoric: Essays on contemporary Chinese literature) and Fouding de meixue (Negative aesthetics: Literary theory and cultural criticism of the Frankfurt school). An active researcher, Yang was a 2001 recipient of the prestigious Fulbright-Hays Faculty Research Abroad Grant awarded by the United States Department of Education.

Praise / Awards

  • ". . . makes a significant contribution to our understanding of the modern Chinese literary and historical narrative and its rebel: the avant-garde."
    Journal of Asian Studies
  • ". . . a welcome subversion of attempts by some critics to draw a rigid line between the products of the Cultural Revolution and the following period. . . . researchers in contemporary literature will be grateful to its author for his careful and detailed readings of these complex and demanding fictions."
    —Bonnie S. McDougall, The University of Edinburgh, The China Review, Volume 3: No. 1, (Spring 2003)

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Copyright © 2002, University of Michigan. All rights reserved.

Product Details

  • 6 x 9.
  • 296pp.
  • 6 photographs.
Available for sale worldwide

  • Hardcover
  • 2002
  • Available
  • 978-0-472-11241-8

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  • $94.95 U.S.