The May Fourth era (1915-1927) is considered a pivotal point in the history of modern China and the period is usually portrayed as a 'Chinese Enlightenment'. This title challenges the revolution-centered narrative by showing how the propositions of New Culture were questioned and revised after the initial radical phase.
The May Fourth era (1915-1927) is considered a pivotal point in the history of modern China. This period is usually portrayed as a Chinese Enlightenment , a period during which total change from the past was sought through the appropriation of Western science and democracy. Conventional narratives concentrate on the dominant intellectual current of the period, the New Culture Movement, as the inspiration for social reform and political revolution. This book challenges that revolution-centered narrative of May Fourth history by showing how the propositions of New Culture were questioned and revised after the initial radical phase. Through a focus on the post-1919 debates on culture, identity, and history, this book argues that Chinese intellectuals reformulated their visions of modernity through critiques of both Occidentalism and totalistic iconoclasm. Importantly, it also argues that the global post-WWI ambivalence towards the idea of Progress in Western civilization impacted significantly on the development of the May Fourth era in its latter stage. This book will appeal to scholars and students working in the cultural, intellectual, and political histories of modern China and East Asia.
Table of contents:
Introduction: Chinese Modernity and it Discontents 1. The Critical Review in Its Time: Cultural Politics in Post-1919 China 2. Cultural Cosmopolitanism - Confucianism Recast 3. Competing Discourses of Culture - Identity, Aspiration, and Production 4. Narrating Culture into History - Liu Yizheng and the History of Chinese Culture 5. Conceiving Culture against History - Revolution, Power, and Nostalgia. Conclusion: Legacy of the Culture Discourse
Ya-Pei Kuo is Assistant Professor in the department of history at Tufts University and currently a visiting research fellow at Leiden University.