ISSN: 20509790
First published in 2014
3 issues per volume
Volume 3 Issue 2
Cover Date: June 2016
Wu Jianren’s New Story of the Stone and interrogating turn-of-the-century urbanist ideology in China
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Authors:  Tom Marling 
DOI: 10.1386/jucs.3.2.151_1

urbanism,Shanghai,Beijing,late Qing,neo-colonialism,modernity

Chinese cities experienced both significant material and conceptual changes in the late nineteenth century, but this was not well represented in popular fiction. The influence of an emerging discourse of urbanism does however make its presence felt, and novels like New Story of the Stone turned a satirical eye towards such a discourse. This article considers how New Story comically inhabits the contrast between the ‘barbarian’ and ‘civilized’ cities that was shaping proto-urbanism in China, but in doing so engages with more complex issues of ‘inhabiting’ and ‘habitat’. By considering the polyphony inherent to the concept of urban barbarity, and contrasting this with the anodyne homogeneity of civility in the city, Wu Jianren leverages his own personal engagement with ‘writing’ cities to undermine a burgeoning functionalism and positivism surrounding the city in modernizing China.
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