In the 1990s, China’s economic reform campaign reached a new high. Amid the eager adoption of capitalism, however, the spectre of revolution re-emerged. Red Classics, a historic-revolutionary themed genre created in the high socialist era were widely taken up again in television drama adaptations. They have since remained a permanent feature of TV repertoire well into the 2010s. Remaking Red Classics in Post-Mao China looks at the how the revolutionary experience is represented and consumed in the reform era. It examines the adaptation of Red Classics as a result of the dynamic interplay between television stations, media censorship and social sentiment of the populace. How the story of revolution was reinvented to appeal and entertain a new generation provides important clues to the understanding of transformation of class, gender, locality and faith in contemporary China.
Qian Gong is a Senior Lecturer at Curtin University and convenor of the Chinese major program, as well as publishing regularly on Chinese media and popular culture. She was a journalist for China’s national newspaper China Daily before she joined academia.
Introduction: Revolution and TV Drama: The Uneasy Bedfellows in the Reform Era
Chapter 1: TV Dramas as Market Commodities, Cultural Artifacts and Social Practices
Chapter 2: Hybridising the Red Classics in Post-Mao China: The Production and Consumption Context
Chapter 3: From Chief to Chef: Remoulding Heroes
Chapter 4: Getting the Right Mix: Revolutionary Women and Contemporary Femininity
Chapter 5: Living Red: Production, Consumption and Local Memory of Revolutionary Culture in Linyi
Chapter 6 The Question of Faith in TV Drama Series
Stories of the Chinese revolution are deeply ingrained in the collective memories of the Chinese nation, and TV drama has turned out to be the most effective and affective cultural form in retelling these stories. This engaging and nuanced book offers a fascinating window on this highly dynamic and very intriguing facet of contemporary Chinese cultural politics.
Rigorously researched, highly informative, and convincingly argued, Qian Gong’s study of Red Classic adaptations is a compelling examination of the key role played by TV drama in the formation of social identities. Through attentive recourse to textual analyses and interviews, Remaking Red Classics in Post-Mao China situates its case studies within broad historical, economic, social and cultural contexts, offering an original and thought-provoking analysis of the permutations of socialist culture in contemporary China.
Gong’s book is a theoretically sophisticated and engaging study on a significant phenomenon - the revival of Red Classics through the highly commercialized genre of TV drama in today’s China. No other scholar has previously surveyed this phenomenon in such detail. With rich data and insight, the book shows how legacies of revolution become cultural capital, intertwined with nostalgia, commercial drive, and identity construction, in post-socialist China.