Advertisement

American Journal of Cultural Sociology

, Volume 7, Issue 1, pp 79–100 | Cite as

Staging communism: state control and the Chinese Model Opera

  • Hexuan ZhangEmail author
  • Sarah M. Corse
Original Article

Abstract

In this paper, we draw on the case of Chinese Model Opera during the Cultural Revolution to demonstrate not only an extreme case of political control over cultural production but to consider the role of the state’s involvement in the consumption side of cultural politics. In addition to a textual analysis of the videos and librettos of 11 Model Operas, we analyze 274 reports and reviews related to Model Operas in the People’s Daily (Renmin Ribao) from the period 1964 to 1976, as well as supplement government documents. Our analysis of Chinese Model Opera extends our theoretical understanding of the potential relationships between political power and culture. Totalitarian regimes that take culture seriously, understanding art as a crucial resource in the reconstruction of society, may expand their involvement to direct not just what type of art is produced, but the conditions of its viewing, interpretation, and evaluation.

Keywords

Model Opera State control Production Consumption Cultural revolution 

Notes

Acknowledgements

We would like to thank the editors and two anonymous reviewers for their valuable comments and suggestions. We would also like to thank Allison Pugh and the participants of her 2015 writing workshop for their help in developing this paper.

References

  1. Ahlquist, K. 1997. Democracy at the opera: Music, theater, and culture in New York City, 1815-60. Urbana: University of Illinois Press.Google Scholar
  2. Baxandall, M. 1988. Painting and experience in fifteenth century Italy: A primer in the social history of pictorial style (2nd ed.). Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  3. Benzecry, C.E. 2014. An opera house for the “Paris of south America”: Pathways to the institutionalization of high culture. Theory and Society 43 (2): 169–196.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Berezin, M. 1991. The organization of political ideology: Culture, state, and theater in fascist Italy. American Sociological Review 56 (5): 639–651.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Berezin, M. 1994. Cultural form and political meaning: State-subsidized theater, ideology, and the language of style in fascist Italy. American Journal of Sociology 99 (5): 1237–1286.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Berezin, M. 1997. Making the fascist self: The political culture of interwar Italy. Ithaca: Cornell University Press.Google Scholar
  7. Bourdieu, P., and R. Johnson. 1993. The field of cultural production: Essays on art and literature. New York: Columbia University Press.Google Scholar
  8. Bullock, P.R. 2006. Staging stalinism: The search for soviet opera in the 1930s. Cambridge Opera Journal 18 (1): 83–108.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Burke, P. 1992. The fabrication of Louis XIV. New Haven: Yale University Press.Google Scholar
  10. Chen, J. 2006. On the resurgence of Yang Ban Xi (Lun Yang Ban Xi hui chao xian xiang). Journal of National Academy of Chinese Theatre Arts (Xi Qu Yi Shu) 27 (3): 85–89.Google Scholar
  11. Chen, X. 2002. Acting the right part: Political theater and popular drama in contemporary China. Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press.Google Scholar
  12. Chiang, Ching. 1968. On the Revolution of Peking opera [Tan jing ju ge ming. English]. Peking: Foreign Languages Press.Google Scholar
  13. Clark, P. 2008. The Chinese cultural revolution: A history. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  14. Conquest, R. 2008. The great terror: A reassessment. Oxford, New York: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  15. Corse, S.M. 1997. Nationalism and literature: The politics of culture in Canada and the United States. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  16. Corse, S.M., and S. Westervelt. 2004. Gender and literary valorization: The awakening of a canonical novel. Sociological Perspectives 45 (2): 139–161.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Dai, J. 1995. The turbulent history of the Yangbanxi (Yangbanxi de fengfeng yuyu). Beijing: Zhishi Pulish (Zhi Shi Chu Ban She).Google Scholar
  18. Dai, J. 2009. Yu Huiyong: Talented musician-minister- prisoner (Yu Huiyong: Caizi- buzhang- qiutu). Tong Zhou Gong Jin 8: 53–57.Google Scholar
  19. Deng, W. 2017. Brief history of disputes on “Yang Ban Xi” (“Yang Ban Xi” lun zheng jian shi). Theatres and Literature (Xi Ju Wen Xue) 2: 83–90.Google Scholar
  20. DiMaggio, P. 1982. Cultural entrepreneurship in nineteenth-century Boston: The creation of an organizational base for high culture in America. Media, Culture and Society 4 (1): 33–50.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. DiMaggio, P. 1992. Cultural boundaries and structural change: The extension of the high culture model to theater, opera, and the dance, 1900-1940. In Cultivating differences: Symbolic boundaries and the making of inequality, ed. M. Lamont, and M. Fournier, 21–57. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.Google Scholar
  22. Eyerman, R., and A. Jamison. 1998. Music and social movements: Mobilizing traditions in the twentieth century. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Fitzpatrick, S. 1978. Cultural revolution in Russia, 1928-1931. Bloomington: Indiana University Press.Google Scholar
  24. Gao, B. 2008. “Model Operas”: Ideologization of Chinese revolutionary history and its formation into art (“Yangbanxi”: Zhongguo gemingshi de yishi xingtaihua he yishuhua). (PhD dissertation, Xiamen University).Google Scholar
  25. Giger, A. 1999. Social control and the censorship of Giuseppe Verdi’s operas in Rome (1844-1859). Cambridge Opera Journal 11 (3): 233–265.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Goldstein, J. 1999. Mei Lanfang and the nationalization of Peking opera, 1912–1930. Positions 7 (2): 377–420.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Goldstein, J. 2007. Drama kings: Players and publics in the re-creation of Peking opera, 1870-1937. Berkeley: University of California Press.Google Scholar
  28. Goldstein, R.J. 1989. Political censorship of the opera. Political censorship of the arts and the press in nineteenth-century Europe, 155–174. New York: St. Martin’s Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Golomshtok, I., and M. Vale. 1985. The history and organization of artistic life in the Soviet Union. International Journal of Sociology 15 (1–2): 16–59.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Jamosky, E., and J. Robinson. 1981. The Doctrine of “Socialist Realism”. The Journal of Social, Political, and Economic Studies 6 (1): 57.Google Scholar
  31. Johnson, V. 2007. What is organizational imprinting? Cultural entrepreneurship in the founding of the Paris opera. American Journal of Sociology 113 (1): 97–127.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Johnson, V., J.F. Fulcher, and T. Ertman. 2007. Opera and society in Italy and France from Monteverdi to Bourdieu. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. King, R. 2010. Art in turmoil: The Chinese cultural revolution, 1966-76. Vancouver: UBC Press.Google Scholar
  34. Kraus, R. 1991. Arts policies of the cultural revolution: The rise and fall of culture minister Yu Huiyong. In New perspectives on the cultural revolution, ed. W.A. Joseph, C. Wong, and D. Zweig, 219–242. Cambridge, MA: Council on East Asian Studies/Harvard University.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Lena, J.C. 2012. Banding together: How communities create genres in popular music. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Li, S. 2012. A chronicle of Model Opera of Chinese cultural revolution (“Yang Ban Xi” bian nian yu shi shi) volumn II). Beijing: Zhong yang bian yi chu ban she.Google Scholar
  37. Ma, S. (ed.). 1999. The history of Chinese Peking opera. Beijing: Chinese Theatre Publish House.Google Scholar
  38. MacFarquhar, R., and M. Schoenhals. 2009. Mao’s Last Revolution. Cambridge, MA: Belknap Press of Harvard University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Mackerras, C. 1972. The rise of the Peking opera, 1770-1870: Social aspects of the theatre in Manchu China. Oxford: Clarendon Press.Google Scholar
  40. Mackerras, C. 1997. Peking opera. Hong Kong, New York: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  41. Mao, Z. 1942. Talks at the Yan’an forum on literature and art. Selected Works of Mao Zedong, https://www.marxists.org/reference/archive/mao/selected-works/volume-3/mswv3_08.htm. Accessed 13 Nov 2017.
  42. McGrath, J. 2010. Cultural revolution Model Opera films and the realist tradition in Chinese cinema. The Opera Quarterly 26 (2–3): 343–376.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. Mittler, B. 2010. “Eight stage works for 800 million people”: The Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution in Music—A view from Revolutionary opera. The Opera Quarterly 26 (2–3): 377–401.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. Mo, W. and He, Q. 2007 “Yang Ban Xi” publications during the “Cultural Revolution” (“Wen hua da ge ming” shi qi de “Yang Ban Xi” tu shu chu ban wu). Literature on Party History: Documentary Version (Dang Shi Wen Yuan: Ji Shi Ban) (3), 4–8.Google Scholar
  45. Panse, B. 1996. The influence of the Reich’s Ministry of Propaganda on German theatre and drama, 1933-1945. In Fascism and theatre: Comparative studies on the aesthetics and politics of performance in Europe, 1925-1945, ed. G. Berghaus, 140–156. Providence, RI: Berghahn Books.Google Scholar
  46. Piperno, F. 2007. State and Market, Production and Style: An interdisciplinary approach to eighteenth-century Italian opera history. In Opera and society in Italy and France from Monteverdi to Bourdieu, ed. V. Johnson, J.F. Fulcher, and T. Ertman, 138–159. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  47. Reid, S.E. 2001. Socialist Realism in the Stalinist Terror: The industry of socialism art exhibition, 1935–41. The Russian Review 60 (2): 153–184.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  48. Roberts, R.A. 2010. Maoist model theatre: The semiotics of gender and sexuality in the Chinese Cultural Revolution (1966-1976) Leiden. Boston: Brill.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  49. Roscigno, V.J., and W.F. Danaher. 2001. Media and Mobilization: The case of radio and southern textile worker insurgency, 1929 to 1934. American Sociological Review 66 (1): 21–48.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  50. Rousso, H. 1994. The vichy syndrome: History and memory in France since 1944 (A. Goldhammer Trans.). Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.Google Scholar
  51. Santoro, M. 2010. Constructing an artistic field as a political project: Lessons from La Scala. Poetics 38 (6): 534–554.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  52. Schültke, B. 1996. The municipal theatre in Frankfurt-on-the-main: A provincial theatre under national socialism. In Fascism and theatre: Comparative studies on the aesthetics and politics of performance in Europe, 1925-1945, ed. G. Berghaus, 157–171. Providence, RI: Berghahn Books.Google Scholar
  53. Service Center for Chinese Publications. 1995. A collection of historical documents of the Central Committee of the Chinese Communist Party: special volume for the Cultural Revolution and its evaluation (zhong gong zhong yang li shi wen xian zi liao hui bian: “Wenge” li shi zi liao ji ping jia zhuan ji), volume 138. Los Angles [Calif.]: Service Center for Chinese Publications (Zhong wen chu ban wu fu wu zhong xin).Google Scholar
  54. Shi, Y.G., and F. Zhang. 2009. The history of Yang Ban Xi (Yang Ban Xi shi ji). Beijing: Authors’ Publication (Zuo Jia Chu Ban She).Google Scholar
  55. Stamatov, P. 2002. Interpretive activism and the political uses of Verdi’s operas in the 1840s. American Sociological Review 67 (3): 345–366.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  56. Steinberg, M.P., and S. Stewart-Steinberg. 2007. Fascism and the operatic unconscious. In Opera and society in Italy and France from Monteverdi to Bourdieu, ed. V. Johnson, J.F. Fulcher, and T. Ertman, 267–288. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  57. Thompson, D. 1996. The organisation, fascistisation and management of theatre in Italy, 1925–1943. In Fascism and theatre: Comparative studies on the aesthetics and politics of performance in Europe, 1925-1945, ed. G. Berghaus, 94–112. Providence, RI: Berghahn Books.Google Scholar
  58. Tsutsui, K. 2009. The trajectory of perpetrators’ trauma: Mnemonic politics around the Asia-pacific war in Japan. Social Forces 87 (3): 1389–1422.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  59. Wang, Z. 2006. Wang Zengqi on Opera (Wang Zengqi Shuo Xi). Jinan: Shandong Pictorial Publishing House.Google Scholar
  60. Weber, W. 2006. Redefining the status of opera: London and Leipzig, 1800–1848. Journal of Interdisciplinary History 36 (3): 507–532.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  61. Wu, M. 2010. The so-called events of ‘destroying Model Operas’ 40 years ago (40 nian qian de suo wei “po huai ge ming Yang Ban Xi” shi jian). Century (Shiji) 1: 14–17.Google Scholar
  62. Xu, C. 2012. Peking opera. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  63. Yang, D.S. 1971. Censorship: 8 model works. The Drama Review: TDR 15 (2): 258–261.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  64. Ye, T. 2008. Historical dictionary of Chinese Theater. Lanham: Scarecrow Press.Google Scholar
  65. Ye, Y. 1993. Biography of Jiang Qing (Jiang Qing Zhuan). Beijing: Authors’ Publishing (Zuo Jia Chu Ban She).Google Scholar
  66. Zhao, X. 2005. Reorganization of the Ministry of Culture in 1965 (1965 nian de wen hua bu da gai zu). General Review of the Communist Party of China (Dang Shi Bo Lan) 3: 005.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Macmillan Publishers Ltd., part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of SociologyUniversity of VirginiaCharlottesvilleUSA

Personalised recommendations