This book explores the rise of Shanghai-based popular magazines produced by the “Mandarin Ducks and Butterflies School” in early twentieth-century China. It examines the national, gender, family, and social imaginaries constructed and negotiated through a complex network of relationships between popular writers, magazine editors, and their intended readers, which were represented in various forms of popular narratives, including patriotic stories, war/military stories, family narratives, domestic fiction, utopian writings, and industrial-business stories. The author argues that the national imagination, social ideals, and the notions of ideal womanhood and the new family, were intrinsically linked and integral to the search for cultural identity of the emerging Chinese “middle society” and an expression of their collective sensibilities, experiences, and aspirations. This book suggests that the cultural imaginaries configurated in these magazine stories articulated a shared quest for modernity, one that emphasized sentiment, quotidian experience, the pursuit of the modern family and individual success, strengthening of the nation, and the reinvention of cultural tradition. Popular magazines and fiction, therefore, became uniquely instrumental in catalyzing the process of Chinese modernity, which emerged and developed along the symbiotic interrelations between the private and the public, the traditional and the modern, and the real and the imaginary.
Peijie Mao is associate professor of Chinese at ShanghaiTech University.
List of Illustrations
List of Abbreviations
Chapter 1 Imagining the Nation: Patriotism in Popular Narratives
Chapter 2 Constructing the Ideal Womanhood: The Imaginary of the “Wise Mother and Good Wife”
Chapter 3 Constructing the Domestic Sphere: The Imaginary of Ideal Families and Homes
Chapter 4 Constructing the “Middle Society:” Urban Utopias and Industrial Fiction
Frequently Cited Chinese Periodicals
About the Author
In this refreshing and insightful book, Peijie Mao paints vibrant scenes of urban culture around the influential magazine Saturday in early twentieth century Shanghai. Departing from highbrow, canonical discourses, the book delves into mass-consumed writings and sheds light on how editors, writers, and publishers met eager readers and consumers. In creating a thriving market, consumer fantasies, lifestyles, and aesthetics, Shanghai’s popular culture fostered new imaginaries of women, domestic life as well as visions of modernity.
An indispensable work on the popular literature and urban culture in early Republican Shanghai. It sophisticatedly shows the Butterfly writers’ patriotic ethos and their agenda of promoting the “ideal family,” a project mixed tradition and modernity; their love stories tell us more how common city dwellers dream of and struggle for a “middle society” and how literary imaginaries play a crucial role in popular cultural production and consumption.
Peijie Mao offers a fresh perspective on popular fiction magazines—Saturday in particular—in a critical Republican decade from 1914 to 1925. Her attentiveness to the interplay between social imaginaries and social formations is extremely productive, particularly in her examination of the role of fictional “middle class heroes” in forging an ethos for the new middle society, and in her probing of the depth and range of sentiments invested in new practices of reading by both the producers and the consumers of the journals.