Tim Trausch is a research associate in the Department of East Asian Studies at the University of Cologne. His research focuses on Chinese media culture and aesthetics. He has published essays on Chinese-language film and television, and a book on the aesthetics of martial arts cinema. His current work focuses on photography and modernity in late imperial and Republican-era China.
Whether examining the ‘traces’ of Bruce Lee, the ‘effortless’ action of Hong Kong martial arts cinema or online wuxia worldbuilding, this book is an essential read for anyone interested in the re-shaping of Chinese martial arts in the mediascapes of the 20th and 21st centuries. Covering film, TV, theatre, literature and gaming, it’s a veritable 36th Chamber of interdisciplinary perspectives.
Beginning with the first movies produced in Shanghai during the 1920s, this book mainly addresses the amazing success and manifold metamorphoses martial arts narratives have undergone since global capitalism entered and transmogrified Asian modernities. The virtual universe of today’s digital martial arts games is furthermore traced all the way back into antiquity, when the fictional wuxia communities’ enchanted heterotopia of the “Rivers and Lakes” (jianghu) first emerged. Besides exploring a range of methodologies for the cultural analysis of the most widely known contemporary representations, readers are also introduced to less popular topics and forms that critically interrogate the contemporary globalized hype. For instance, it is demonstrated how the Orientalist fashioning of the martial arts hero serves ambiguous trajectories in global cultural contexts, as it can be employed to either overcome or redraw ethnic and cultural boundaries. In sum, the book offers timely, sound, multi-scalar scholarship that sheds new light on the major generic, aesthetic, and ideological configurations of martial arts since the early 20th century. Its intellectual rigor and rich material corpus moreover facilitate significant conceptual advances in this and related fields of inquiry.