This essay proposes a reconceptualization of the Cold War as a critical methodology for the study of contemporary Chinese-language cultures and literatures. Arguing that the Cold War is not over but simply transformed, the author redefines it as an enduring “problematic of the present,” an emotional structure that continues to shape the contours of literature, academic discourse, and identity formations in ways of which we are not always fully conscious. Hence the Cold War is best understood as a “cultural palimpsest” where the old dilemma of communism versus anticommunism is rewritten into a contemporary idiom of colonialism versus self-determination. After developing the concept of Cold War as method, the second part of the essay offers a concrete example through a critical reading of Swordsman II, a 1992 martial arts film adapted from Jin Yong's 1967 novel. While the film has generally been analyzed for its representation of (queer) sexuality, the essay shows that it is the Cultural Revolution and its Cold War legacies that explain the emergence of its main character.

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