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UBC Theses and Dissertations

A study of directed change in Chinese literature and art Judd, Ellen Ruth


This thesis explores some issues related to directed change in Chinese literature and art from 1930 to 1955. The focus is on the performing arts. The main issues of concern are changes in the social organisation of literary and artistic activity, and changes in the conscious model of literature and art held by those leading these social changes. Fieldwork was done in China during the period 1974 to 1977. Since the main concern of the thesis is with an earlier period, extensive library research was done in China, the United States, and Canada. The formative period of the modern transformation of Chinese literature and art was examined by research into the changes of the Kiangsi Soviet, Yenan, and National Consolidation periods. Theoretical concepts derived from the works of Clifford Geertz on ideology, Eric Wolf on peasant political movements, Antonio Gramsci on intellectuals and hegemony, and Raymond Williams on the arts in society were synthesised to form an approach which could illuminate these problems. In this work literature and art were consistently analysed as modes of social activity rather than as purely aesthetic phenomena. The development within leading circles in China of an approach to literature and art based upon recognition of its social and political aspects and a concern with effecting change in these areas is examined, beginning with the rudimentary formulation of ideas:-on this subject in the early 1930's. The effort to transform literature and art by way of carrying out planned and organised alterations in the social practice of literary and artistic activities on the part of both professionals and amateurs is examined in detail. These efforts were found to be theoretically provocative and to have shown some signs of success, particularly in the middle and late 1940's. A partial revision of these policies is noted in the early 1950's, and some possible reasons for that are suggested.

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