Eugenia Lean

in Public Passions

Published by University of California Press

Published in print April 2007 | ISBN: 9780520247185
Published online March 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780520932678 | DOI:

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This book has taken Shi Jianqiao's case as a particularly effective vantage point from which to ask how the most intimate structures of the modern self, including morality and feelings, were linked to larger ways of structuring collective identity in the Republican period. Featuring an extraordinarily media-savvy female assassin, the case of Shi Jianqiao was among the most sensational. The media audience, bound by sympathy to the assassin, came to constitute a critical, communicative entity of “public sympathy,” an alternative public of citizens as affective consumers. The study reveals how political participation could occur and expand in the arena of media sensation. As a media event, the Shi Jianqiao case became a forum for public debate on the role of women, on ways to imagine the nation, define the parameters of modern justice, determine the place of violence in society, legitimate political rule, and gender modernity.

Keywords: Republican period; China; morality; female assassin; Shi Jianqiao; public sympathy; media sensation; gender modernity; modern justice

Chapter.  2749 words. 

Subjects: Asian History

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