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Family Revolution

Marital Strife in Contemporary Chinese Literature and Visual Culture

by Hui Faye Xiao

Publication Year: 2014

Published by: University of Washington Press


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Title Page, Copyright Page

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pp. i-vi


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pp. vii-viii

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pp. ix-2

It has been ten years since I first conceived of this project. In 2004, I went back to China on a research trip and came across the mega-hit TV serial Chinese Style Divorce. Everyone I knew in China was watching it and talking about it. Like many melodramas about marital...

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Introduction: Family Revolution, Divorce Representations

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pp. 3-26

In China in 2003, a further liberalization of the regulations for marriage registration eliminated the need for individuals to seek permission to marry or divorce from their work units (danwei). Partly as a result of the state’s loosening control on people’s private lives...

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1. Divorcing the Rural: Miss Science and Marital Crisis in the Reform Era

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pp. 27-51

Members of the May Fourth generation often found themselves caught between the old “feudal consciousness” and the new “modern consciousness” when they struggled to modernize family life by practicing free love and free marriage/divorce. Decades later, during...

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2. Midlife Crisis and Misogynist Rhetoric: Male Intellectuals’ Divorce Narratives

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pp. 52-84

Wu Ruozeng’s novel Divorce (Liyi; 1986) and Su Tong’s novella “A Divorce Handbook” (Lihun zhinan; 1991) concern the midlife crises of urban-based male intellectuals. Urban modernity and historic progress do not solve their personal problems. Rather, new life circumstances...

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3. Utopia or Dystopia?: The Sisterhood of Divorced Women

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pp. 85-115

Gender biopolitics has been reimagined in multiple ways through literary representations of divorced women’s intersubjective sisterhood. On this topic, no literary critic can dismiss Zhang Jie’s “The Ark.”1 Hailed as “touchstone fiction for feminists in the 1980s,” this work...

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4. What Quality Do Chinese Wives Lack? Performing Middle-Classness in Chinese-Style Divorce

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pp. 116-139

Wang Hailing’s megahit television serial Chinese-Style Divorce (Zhongguo shi lihun), of 2004, focuses on urging women to cultivate feminine qualities demanded for middle-class domestic bliss.1 In contrast to Chi Li’s works in which money is an “absent presence,” in...

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5. Seeking Second Chances in a Risk Society: The Cinema of Divorce in the New Millennium

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pp. 140-176

Partly as a result of the simplified divorce procedures stipulated in the 2001 amendment to the Second Marriage Law and its 2003 modification, China’s divorce rate has spiked in the new millennium,1and in response to this social phenomenon, cultural representations of...

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6. A New Divorce Culture: Rupture and Reconstruction

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pp. 177-184

Cultural stereotypes often assume that Chinese people have enjoyed a stable family culture with low divorce rate, given the long Confucian tradition of prioritizing the maintenance of proper domestic order, familial relationships, and ethics. This theory has been proved...

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Appendix 1: Television Dramas about Divorce, 1990–2010

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pp. 185-188

Not until the 1990s did mainstream Chinese visual culture, particularly TV dramas, become less concerned with social change and public events and begin to focus more on private matters and domestic affairs.1 This recent trend is the result of a global emphasis on visuality...

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Appendix 2: Feature Films about Divorce, 2000–2010

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pp. 189-190

This list cannot claim to be exhaustive, since almost every recent film about urban China touches on the issues of divorce, infidelity, and marital strife. Similar to television representations, the majority of these divorce films are set in an urban milieu...


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pp. 191-210


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pp. 211-240


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pp. 241-247

E-ISBN-13: 9780295804989
E-ISBN-10: 029580498X
Print-ISBN-13: 9780295993508
Print-ISBN-10: 0295993502

Page Count: 259
Publication Year: 2014

OCLC Number: 872277029
MUSE Marc Record: Download for Family Revolution

Research Areas


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Subject Headings

  • Chinese literature -- History and criticism.
  • Marriage in literature.
  • Family life -- China.
  • Marital conflict -- China.
  • Families in literature.
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