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Satirical Journalism in the New Culture and May Fourth Movement

In Class 3, we saw how the growing discontent with the Qing rule and the fear of China’s disintegration at foreign powers led to the 1911 Revolution that overthrew the Qing Dynasty and to the establishment of China as a republic. However, the 1911 Revolution soon resulted in political fragmentation, and intellectuals began to debate on how to save and modernize China in the New Culture and May Fourth Movement. It was during this period of major social upheavals and political instability that satirical/humor cartoons began to emerge in China.  In Class 4, we will use “political opportunity structure”/”public sphere” and “framing” approaches to examine the themes and artistic styles of comic art during 1900s to 1920s with a particular focus on two key figures: Shen Bochen and Feng Zikai.

Reading assignments:

·         Wu, I-Wei (2013) “Participating in Global Affairs: The Chinese Cartoon Monthly Shanghai Puck”. Asian Punches: A Transcultural Affairs. Harder and Mittler (eds). Springer International Publishing, pp. 365-387.

·         Harbsmeier (2014) “Introduction” from The Cartoonist Feng Zikai. Pp. 9-11, pp. 19-21.

Key terms:

·         “Semi-colonized status”; caricature; satirical journalism; the Japanese manga and the Chinese loan word “manhua” ????(sketch or casual drawing)

Reading questions:

1.      How does Wu define the social roles of “satirical journals” such as Punch in dealing with fears and anxieties on global affairs during the early 20th century? 

2.      From Wu’s discussion of the aim for this current chapter, what do we learn about the emergence of satirical cartoons in early twentieth century China? How does the rise of political cartoons reflect China’s position in the global affairs and capture the anxieties and emotions of the great social upheavals of the time?

3.      Note why Shen Bochen considered one of the most influential cartoonist of the May Fourth Movement and where his political cartoons were published. What did this tell us about the “public sphere” and “political opportunity structure in China at that time?

4.      What are the “three goals” Shen set for running Shanghai Puck (p. 377)?  How were they in line with the New Culture/May Fourth Movement of his time?

5.      Shanghai Puck was published in both Chinese and English. Why does Wu see this bilingual publication not only a necessary strategy but also a form of empowerment? 

Satirical Journalism in the New Culture and May Fourth Movement

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