Wang Xiaoming

Wang Xiaoming
b. 1955, Shanghai
Literary critic
A leading scholar of twentieth-century Chinese literature, Wang Xiaoming embraces the independent spirit of the intellectual and leads by defying the trendy. At major crossroads of social change since the late 1980s, he is among the earliest to identify emerging issues, formulate new questions and define the terms for further inquiry. He writes in a style that is engaging yet candid, free of jargon but sophisticated in thought. At East China Normal University in Shanghai he has trained some of the best students in the field. Currently he directs the Centre for Contemporary Cultural Studies at Shanghai University.
A proponent of rewriting the literary history of modern China, Wang’s scholarship has deepened the public understanding of a dozen major authors, best represented by The Cold Face of Reality: A Biography of Lu Xun (Wufa zhimian de rensheng: Lu Xun zhuang).
His author-centred approach combines solid historiography with philosophical probing into the intellectual quandaries and ordeals of the author under question. By re-enacting the tensions between history and subjectivity, between social conditions and human desire, he allows historical truth to reveal its significance for the present. Consistent with this historical-intellectual approach are his analyses of contemporary authors and thought. In this domain, he is best known for his critiques of Zhang Xianliang, Ah Cheng, and the Root-seeking school (Xungen pai). He has also played a central role in some of the high-profile debates of the 1990s, including the ‘humanistic-spirit’ debate (see Humanistic Spirit, ‘Spirit of the Humanities’).
Wang, Xiaoming (2003). ‘A Manifesto for Cultural Studies’. Trans. Robin Visser. In Wang Chaohua (ed.), One China, Many Paths. London: Verso, 274–91.

Encyclopedia of contemporary Chinese culture. . 2011.

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