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Stateless Subjects

Chinese Martial Arts Literature and Postcolonial History

By Petrus Liu

Publication Year: 2011

Known in the West primarily through poorly subtitled films, Chinese martial arts fiction is one of the most iconic and yet the most understudied form of modern sinophone creativity. Current scholarship on the subject is characterized by three central assumptions that I will argue against in this book: first, that martial arts fiction is the representation of a bodily spectacle that historically originated in Hong Kong cinema; second, that the genre came into being as an escapist fantasy that provided psychological comfort to people during the height of imperialism; and third, that martial arts fiction reflects a patriotic attitude that celebrates the greatness of Chinese culture, which in turn is variously described as the China-complex, colonial modernity, essentialized identity, diasporic consciousness, anxieties about globalization, or other psychological and ideological difficulties experienced by the Chinese people.

Published by: East Asia Program, Cornell University

Stateless Subjects Front Matter

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pp. ix-x

Much of the pleasure I have derived from writing this book came from the conversations I have had with the extraordinary scholars I have met. I am deeply grateful to my dissertation advisors, Judith Butler, Lydia Liu, Andrew Jones, and Colleen Lye. I would like to thank Anindita Banerjee, Dan Boucher, Calum Carmichael, Debra Castillo, ...

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Introduction: Stateless Subjects

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pp. 1-20

The past decades have seen a broad transformation of China studies into the new Sovietology.1 In the international sphere, this change has involved, in equal measure, frenzied media denunciations of China’s human rights violations, pollution, and military buildup—and at the same time, popular, sensationalist images of mummies, angels, and kung fu–fighting pandas. ...

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Chapter 1 The Vicissitudes of Anticolonial Nationalism

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pp. 21-64

Hearing the term “martial arts fiction” today, one often assumes that it refers to a cinematic rather than literary genre. If such a thing as a “martial arts novel” exists in Chinese, one assumes it must be an effort to capture in written words the spectacles and actions one sees on the screen. Film is understood to be the natural and original ...

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Chapter 2 Women and Martial Arts: Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon's Marital, Martial, and Marxian Problems

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pp. 65-106

Feminist criticism of martial arts fiction as the expression of patriarchy is not new. Recently, however, the representation of women in martial arts fiction also became an object of postcolonial and globalization studies, a development that owes much to the phenomenal international box-office success of Ang Lee’s Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon (2000). ...

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Chapter 3 The Permanent Arms Economy: Jin Yong's Historical Fiction and the Cold War in Asia

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pp. 107-151

The best way to characterize Jin Yong, the only living Chinese author still using the idiom of traditional Chinese narrative fiction, is as the last organic intellectual of China. In the popular imaginary, Jin Yong’s name is synonymous with wuxia fiction. No other author in twentieth-century Chinese letters has been nearly as successful ...

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Chapter 4 Jin Yong's Islam in the Chinese Cultural Revolution

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pp. 153-200

Jin Yong’s interest in Islam began with his first novel, Book and Sword (1955). The novel depicts the adventures of an underground society of Han Chinese “resistance fighters” called the Red Flower Society seeking to rid China of the foreign rule of the Manchu and restore the nation’s sovereignty to the Han ethnic majority (fanqing fuming). ...

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Chapter 5 A Tale of Two Chinas: Gu Long and Anomalous Colonies

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pp. 201-237

Today, two nations in the world, the People’s Republic of China (PRC) and the Republic of China on Taiwan (ROC), both refer to themselves as China. The creation of two Chinas was a consequence of Taiwan’s historical role as America’s island fortress for the crusade against Communism in the Pacific. However, since Taiwan’s ...


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pp. 239-259


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pp. 261-264

Cornell East Asia Series Titles List

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E-ISBN-13: 9781933947754
Print-ISBN-13: 9781933947822

Page Count: 274
Publication Year: 2011

Edition: First hc