Aesthetics and Marxism

Chinese Aesthetic Marxists and Their Western Contemporaries

Aesthetics and Marxism

Post-Contemporary Interventions

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Book Pages: 248 Illustrations: Published: March 2000

Author: Kang Liu

Subjects
Asian Studies, Literature and Literary Studies > Literary Theory, Theory and Philosophy > Marxism

Although Chinese Marxism—primarily represented by Maoism—is generally seen by Western intellectuals as monolithic, Liu Kang argues that its practices and projects are as diverse as those in Western Marxism, particularly in the area of aesthetics. In this comparative study of European and Chinese Marxist traditions, Liu reveals the extent to which Chinese Marxists incorporate ideas about aesthetics and culture in their theories and practices. In doing so, he constructs a wholly new understanding of Chinese Marxism.
Far from being secondary considerations in Chinese Marxism, aesthetics and culture are in fact principal concerns. In this respect, such Marxists are similar to their Western counterparts, although Europeans have had little understanding of the Chinese experience. Liu traces the genealogy of aesthetic discourse in both modern China and the West since the era of classical German thought, showing where conceptual modifications and divergences have occurred in the two traditions. He examines the work of Mao Zedong, Lu Xun, Li Zehou, Qu Qiubai, and others in China, and from the West he discusses Kant, Schiller, Schopenhauer, and Marxist theorists including Horkheimer, Adorno, Benjamin, and Marcuse. While stressing the diversity of Marxist positions within China as well as in the West, Liu explains how ideas of culture and aesthetics have offered a constructive vision for a postrevolutionary society and have affected a wide field of issues involving the problems of modernity.
Forcefully argued and theoretically sophisticated, this book will appeal to students and scholars of contemporary Marxism, cultural studies, aesthetics, and modern Chinese culture, politics, and ideology.

Praise

“Liu . . . skillfully summarizes some key ideas of thinkers like Li Zehou. . . . Followers of postmodernism or academic Marxist literary theory will find much in this book . . . .” — P. F. Williams , Choice

"[An] excellent study. . . . The end result is an extremely erudite and provocative analysis of the centrality of culture and aesthetics to modern Marxism. . . . By introducing such important questions into considerations of culture and politics at the contemporary moment, and rigorously historicizing them, Liu Kang's Aesthetics and Marxism marks a significant intervention into contemporary theory and scholarship on Marxism and aesthetics." — Tina Mai Chen, China Review International

“A work of depth and brilliance. The principles Liu articulates here will enrich our understanding of other texts in the Chinese cultural tradition.” — Wang Fengzhen, Chinese Academy of Social Sciences

“This book remaps the topography of Marxist aesthetics by highlighting the contributions of Chinese Marxists and Marxist critics, which have been overlooked by Western scholarship.” — David D. W. Wang, Columbia University

“Well-informed, replete with scholarly detail, yet presented in an attractive and engaging manner. It will stand as a pioneering work in the rethinking of the story of Chinese Marxism.” — Gregory B. Lee, Université Jean Moulin

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Liu Kang is Associate Professor of Comparative Literature and Chinese at Pennsylvania State University. His books include Demonizing China and Bakhtin’s Dialogism and Cultural Theory.

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Paper ISBN: 978-0-8223-2448-5 / Cloth ISBN: 978-0-8223-2425-6
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