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Full referenceWaara, Carol Lynne, "Arts and life: Public and private culture in Chinese art periodicals, 1912-1937" (1994)
TypeDissertation
Author(s)Waara, Carol Lynne
Title"Arts and life: Public and private culture in Chinese art periodicals, 1912-1937"
Year1994
UniversityUniversity of Michigan
M.A./Ph.D.M.A.
LanguageEnglish
SubjectHistory
Keywordsculture; press
AbstractThis dissertation is an effort to bring the Chinese experience of modernity into the contemporary discourse on modern culture. My analysis centers on the issues of cultural construction, representation, and transmission in the context of modernization and national crisis. Informed by Marxist aesthetic and cultural theory, I focus on the commodification of culture and its mass transmission in China through a critical examination of art pictorial publishing in Shanghai during the period 1912-1937, when the success of China's first republican form of government was popularly perceived as predicated on the 'regeneration of culture and society' to strengthen China domestically and in terms of its lost international status. Artists and entrepreneurs were among an urban middle-class vanguard advocating a Chinese-style modernism as the key to China's material and political advance. They promoted periodical publishing in order to create new, democratic spheres of public and private culture separate from state control, subversive of traditional authority, and capable of erasing the boundaries between high and low art, elite and popular culture. Their modernization project especially favored the applied and decorative arts, linking an ideology of consumerism with a new Chinese middle-class domestic culture. Their imagery and arguments also structured a contradictory discourse reaffirming political, economic, and social hierarchies, both Chinese and global, that ultimately intensified rather than ameliorated China's crises. I conclude that Chinese identification with Western models of art and advanced technology both subverted and upheld the hegemony of Western modern culture. My primary sources are the art periodicals themselves, documents on the history of periodical publishing and printing in China, memoirs, and biographies. I focus on two specific magazines edited by the major artists and critics of the day and exemplary of the two decades framing this study: Zhenxiang huabao (the True Record) (1912-1913), a prototype Chinese pictorial, and Meishu shenghuo (Arts and Life) (1934-37), a rich spectacle of art, news, and features. A third magazine, Liang you (Young Companion) (1926-1941), one of the most popular Republican era pictorials, is analyzed comparatively with the two arts magazines.
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