Serialized television drama (dianshiju), perhaps the most popular and influential cultural form in China over the past three decades, offers a wide and penetrating look at the tensions and contradictions of the post-revolutionary and pro-market period. Zhong Xueping’s Mainstream Culture Refocused: Television Drama, Society, and the Production of Meaning in Reform-Era China draws attention to the multiple cultural and historical legacies that coexist and challenge each other within this dominant form of story telling. Although scholars tend to focus their attention on elite cultural trends and avant garde movements in literature and film, Zhong argues for recognizing the complexity of dianshiju’s melodramatic mode and its various subgenres, in effect “refocusing” mainstream Chinese culture.
“This is a very timely and original work that fills a significant gap in studies on contemporary Chinese culture. It does a compelling job in showing how and why these dramas on the small screen both dramatize and mediate the social and political transformations taking place in China today. The book will contribute significantly to Chinese media studies and cultural studies and, because many TV dramas are adapted from literary works, to debates on the changing status of Chinese literature and literary studies in an era infused with commercialism and visuality. This will be a path-breaking study.” —Zhen Zhang, New York University
July 2010 / ISBN 978-0-8248-3469-2 / $27.00 (PAPER)