Calculated Passions

John A. Crespi

in Voices in Revolution

Published by University of Hawaii Press

Published in print July 2009 | ISBN: 9780824833657
Published online November 2016 | e-ISBN: 9780824868871
Calculated Passions

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This chapter explores a flourishing culture of official Mao-era poetry recitation that peaked in popularity during the early 1960s. These were years when modern Chinese poetry advanced onto the public stage through a widespread, primarily urban enthusiasm for revolutionary poetry recitation. The chapter begins with a narrative of poetry recitation's nationwide expansion in popularity among China's educated urban masses. From there it moves on to a close analysis of the problems that poets and professional actors found themselves grappling with when they tried to locate the elusive wellsprings of revolutionary passion in their poetic performances. The final section presents an example of late Cultural Revolution-era poetic pedagogy—taken from a 1975 primer of poetry recitation—which shows in graphic format how the era's imperative to produce a voice of abstract ideological purity became weighed down by its own mechanisms of pedagogical support.

Keywords: poetry recitation; modern poetry; Chinese poetry; Mao era; revolutionary poetry; Cultural Revolution; pedagogy

Chapter.  10356 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Society and Culture

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