“Contemporary Chinese Thought and the Question of Modernity” (Chinese: 当代中国的思想状况与现代性问题) is an influential article of around 35,000 characters in length by Chinese intellectual historian and literary scholar Wang Hui, written in 1994 and published in left-wing literature journal Tianya (天涯) in 1997. An English translation by Rebecca E. Karl appeared in a volume of Social Text titled “Intellectual Politics in Post-Tiananmen China” (1998).
The article became the subject of intense debate and attention both for its methodology—an unusually socio-historical approach to intellectual history—and its expressed politics, which are critical of capitalist modernity. According to academic Yue Gang, it is “a cornerstone in the transformation of contemporary Chinese thought” and “has become a benchmark for the New Left.”
- Zhang Yongle. “No Forbidden Zone in Reading? Dushu and the Chinese Intelligentsia.” New Left Review 49 (January/February 2008), 5-26.
- Yue Gang. “Wang Hui.” Encyclopedia of Contemporary Chinese Culture. Ed. Edward L. Davis. London: Routledge, 2005.
- Wang Hui. “Dangdai Zhongguo de Sixiang Zhuangkuang yu Xiandaixing Wenti” [“Contemporary Chinese Thought and the Question of Modernity“]. Tianya 5 (1997).
- Wang Hui, tr. Rebecca E. Karl. “Contemporary Chinese Thought and the Question of Modernity.” Social Text 55: Intellectual Politics in Post-Tiananmen China (1998): pp. 9–44.
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