Fruitful Land and National Cadres: Mainstreaming Resistance and Critical Realism in Contemporary Chinese TV Drama
Despite the fact that alternative discourses have been located in recent Chinese TV dramas, scholars have tended to overlook and rarely consider the questions of resistance and the operation of resistance. In contrast, this dissertation argues that complex forms of resistance are very much a part of Chinese TV drama. The thesis thus aims to lay the groundwork for an adequate theorisation of this resistance. In the context of the production and dissemination of TV drama in China, which is explored in some detail, the thesis links the tactics of resistance to the Chinese intellectual critical tradition. I employ the term mainstreaming resistance to designate the complexity of this relationship between the television and intellectual contexts. In China, television has become a popular vehicle for expressing dissent at various moments against the system. As such, the divisions that have marked Chinese intellectual culture—between high-brow and low brow culture, mainstream culture and counterculture, dissent and consent – have begun to break down. A new intellectual cultural tactic has emerged in the new socialist market context. As theorised in this thesis, resistance is no longer only a countercultural practice; it can now be found in the mainstream broadcast markets (in both the official productions of the state and in popular expressions), as well as in state sponsored censorship systems and alternative television markets (the video market and the Internet television market). By taking Fruitful Land and National Cadres as two case studies, methodologically, this dissertation consists of two components: (1) Textual analysis which explores how Fruitful Land and National Cadres inherit and redefine May Fourth critical realism as a means of mainstreaming resistance; (2) Contextual analysis which places the drama Land within the context of production, censorship and broadcasting to examine how mainstreaming resistance operates and survives in the mainstream industrial and policing environments. My argument about mainstreaming resistance allows us to imagine that Chinese TV drama may play an important role in cultural politics.
Advisor: Voci, Paola; Nicholls, Brett
Degree Name: Doctor of Philosophy
Degree Discipline: Langauges and Cultures
Publisher: University of Otago
Keywords: Chinese; TV; drama; critical; realism; cultural; resistance
Research Type: Thesis