May Fourth Realism and Qi Rushan’s Theory of National Drama

Joshua Goldstein

in Drama Kings

Published by University of California Press

Published in print February 2007 | ISBN: 9780520247529
Published online March 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780520932791 | DOI:
May Fourth Realism and Qi Rushan’s Theory of National Drama

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This chapter explains the various factors that contributed to Peking opera's transformation from a relatively loose and elastic dramatic form to a much more rigidly delimited genre used almost exclusively to represent “traditional Chinese” subject matter. While it starts with a discussion of May Fourth intellectual attacks on Peking opera as an inherently feudalistic and backward art form, it also suggests the need to revise the dominant narrative of the era. The chapter notes that the May Fourth moment was as much defined by the discursive engagement of intellectuals reductively characterized as conservatives as by self-proclaimed radicals. More importantly, the dichotomies so characteristic of this moment were not the enlightened products of a Chinese cultural avant-garde. Rather, they took hold so pervasively because they articulated experiences already embodied in urban daily life practices and public spaces.

Keywords: May Fourth intellectual attacks; Peking opera; urban daily life; traditional Chinese

Chapter.  15924 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Asian History

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