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Yang, Yuyu (2018) Archaism as Cultural Distinction: Woodblock book publishing during the Mao Era 1949-1976. PhD thesis. SOAS University of London. DOI:

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This PhD thesis examines woodblock book publishing during the radical years of Mao’s life time, when thread-bound books were criticised as representing the symbol of the old literati culture by the CCP government. This very political authority paradoxically subsidised and encouraged the publication of thirteen fine woodblock books, including the unique woodblock edition of The Communist Manifesto. Using vast amount of both unpublished and published archival materials and personal interviews, this project analyses the production, dissemination and the circulating culture of woodblock publications during the Mao Era 1949–1976. It argues that archaism, as an essential feature of elite book culture, continued into the PRC through woodblock publishing practices and began to function as a type of distinction for the CCP elite group. Classic theories of both the history of woodblock publishing and archaism see 1949 as the watershed, after which both cultural practices were discouraged by the CCP political authority. This thesis provides a new perspective in studying the continuity of Chinese book culture, amends details in woodblock production in a modern era, and discloses the complex relations between archaism and the CCP ideology as a cultural system. All these will fill the gap in research on the history of woodblock books and technology, contributing new approaches and new materials of Maoist book culture to Chinese studies as a whole.

Item Type: Theses (PhD)
SOAS Departments & Centres: SOAS Research Theses
Supervisors Name: Xiaoning Lu
DOI (Digital Object Identifier):
Date Deposited: 07 Feb 2020 11:49

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