This article provides a systematic study of Canon-Mocking Literature, an important cultural phenomenon in contemporary China. From the combined perspective of stylistics and cultural studies, the article suggests that Canon-Mocking Literature is a subversion of the discursive order of traditional canons, including their underlying aesthetics, morality, and cultural codes. The productive pleasure of Canon-Mocking Literature – that is of parody, collage, and pastiche – thus derives from the undermining of authority within certain limits. The second half of the article analyzes the relationship between the rise of Canon-Mocking Literature and the spread of cynicism in the sociohistorical context of contemporary China. It concludes that Canon-Mocking Literature is a means of cultural resistance and escape in a post-totalitarian society and possesses the dual character of both critique and compromise.
Making Fun of the Canon in Contemporary China: Literature and Cynicism in a Post-Totalitarian Society
TAO DONGFENG IS PROFESSOR OF CHINESE AT CAPITAL NORMAL UNIVERSITY AT BEIJING, P. R. CHINA. HE IS EDITOR-IN-CHIEF OF THE CHINESE-LANGUAGE JOURNAL CULTURAL STUDIES. HIS RECENT BOOKS INCLUDE CULTURAL CRITICISM IN CONTEMPORARY CHINA: LITERATURE AND CULTURE FROM THE PERSPECTIVE OF SOCIAL THEORY AND CULTURAL STUDIES: THE WEST AND CHINA.