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Worlds of Reading in China’s long 1970s: Reading and Writing during the Cultural Revolution

“Worlds of Reading in China’s long 1970s: Reading and Writing during the Cultural Revolution” analyzes intellectual processes and practices during China’s long 1970s. It analyses popular fictional and non-fictional texts between late 1968 and the early 1980s. Some of these texts were published as part of the official publication system, whereas others circulated unofficially or even illegally. The project focuses on both the texts and the practices of their production, circulation and consumption as well as on their respective impact on contemporary readers and on later intellectual and literary developments. The texts – especially those that circulated illegally among the sent-down youth (as hand copied manuscripts, 文革手抄本, or as copies meant for internal circulation) – are understood and analyzed both as intellectual and material resource.

This project pursues four aims. First, it aims at understanding concrete practices of reading and their meaning(s). Second, it examines in how far these practices as well as the respective texts continue earlier practices and texts and anticipate later ones. Third, it analyses in how far fictional and non-fictional texts allowed for new intellectual, social and personal developments that are commonly associated with the reform period that officially started after the Cultural Revolution. Fourth, this project is situated within the larger discussion about China’s long 1970s. After all, a closer scrutiny of the intellectual debates and the contents of influential texts will reveal that breaks and ruptures in the transition from revolution to reform are in fact less apparent than they appear to be on first glance.


Reading Intellectual and Literary Change during China’s long 1970s

International Conference to be held in Freiburg: May 5-6, 2017          


Speakers at this conference will be Timothy Cheek (keynote), Peidong Sun, Lorenz Bichler, Puck Engman, Emily Graf, Lena Henningsen, Rui Kunze, Damian Mandzunowski, Tabea Mühlbach, Elisabeth Schleep, and Oliver Schulz. Discussants will be Daniel Leese, Barbara Mittler, Duncan Paterson et al.

You can find the Conference Program here.

Please register with the conference organisers: oliver.schulz@sinologie.uni-freiburg.de or Lena.Henningsen@sinologie.uni-freiburg.de by Friday April 28. Registration is not required for the keynote-talk.

The project has received generous funding from the Ministry of Science and the Arts (Baden-Württemberg), from Freiburg University and from the Young Academy .



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