Ruinscape in Modern Chinese Literature and Visual Culture

Call for Papers: Ruinscape in Modern Chinese Literature and Visual Culture

Numéro spécial de Frontiers of Literary Studies in China (FLSC), édité par Tze-lan Sang. Publication prévue à l’été 2016.

Date limite d’envoi des propositions

  • 1er juin 2015


The ruin is one of the most evocative and complex representational themes in modern Chinese literature and visual culture. From remnants of historic cities, monuments that have suffered the ravages of war, city blocks under demolition due to urban regeneration, half-finished and abandoned high rises and thematic parks, to deserted factories in declining rustbelt cities, ruins are fascinating representational objects because they both recall past (or would-be) glory and are a sobering reminder of the impermanence of human endeavors and things. As embodiments of transience and decay, ruins provoke strong affective responses while inviting musings on the underlying historical, economic and sociopolitical forces that have led to disuse, depopulation, or peripheralization. Ruins are also a rich reservoir of symbolic and allegorical possibilities, often mined to signify moral decay, the crumbling of belief systems, and spiritual desolation. Indeed, ruins, whether physical or metaphysical, are ubiquitous in modern Chinese representation—they are manifest in the writings of Lu Xun, Eileen Chang, Su Tong, Yu Hua and Lin Yaode; conspicuous in the dilapidated walls in Fei Mu’s Spring in a Small Town; epitomized by the derelict (post)industrial landscape documented in Wang Bing’s West of the Tracks; and visible in the submerged city in Jia Zhangke’s Still Life; to name just a few examples.

This special issue of Frontiers of Literary Studies in China will explore ruinscape in Chinese literature, film, and related cultural production from roughly the late nineteenth century to the present. Essays are invited that examine the aesthetic, sociological, political, economic or other dimensions of the depictions of physical ruins and other forms of dereliction. As ruins have generated intense academic interest in a wide range of disciplines including literary studies, film studies, art history, urban studies, landscape architecture, archaeology, geography, environmental studies, and so forth, submissions that engage cross-interdisciplinary perspectives are welcome, as are essays that foreground the methods and theoretical concerns of a particular discipline. Approaches that explore the interconnections between modern Chinese writers, filmmakers and artists, or their connections to premodern Chinese aesthetics and artistic/literary precursors, or the artistic and intellectual influences from beyond the Chinese-speaking regions are welcome.

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Monique Abud

Centre d'études sur la Chine moderne et contemporaine, EHESS, Paris, France

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