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Title: The invention of the new culture movement in 1919
Author: Forster, Elisabeth
ISNI:       0000 0004 4809 3621
Awarding Body: University of Oxford
Current Institution: University of Oxford
Date of Award: 2014
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The expression ‘New Culture Movement’ was born in summer 1919, in the intersections of academic debate, political activism, media coverage and intellectual marketing strategies. I have traced the emergence of the phrase and the discourses around it, using sources like journals, newspapers, student essays, advertisements and conference protocols. The New Culture Movement was a buzzword, deployed by practically-minded but lesser-known intellectuals to promote agendas they had held long before its invention. Many notions we associate with the Movement until today already surrounded it in 1919: for example, that it was connected to the political protests of ‘May Fourth,’ and driven by star intellectuals such as Hu Shi and Chen Duxiu. But closer scrutiny reveals that the New Culture Movement and its network of associations were a construct, an amalgam of newspaper stories and intellectual marketing ploys: the connection to May Fourth was created by newspapers; the intellectuals at the periphery drew upon Hu Shi’s and Chen Duxiu’s prestige to add glamour to their own agendas. Nevertheless, the New Culture Movement shaped China’s 20th century. As only some agendas could credibly be sold as the Movement, it catalysed the plethora of competing agendas that had emerged since the 19th century to tackle the challenges of a changed world order. The New Culture Movement later became a founding myth of ‘Modern China’ and was regarded as the obvious result of global trends towards ‘modernisation,’ which visionary intellectuals recognised. But more recent literature has decentred the Movement, noted a longer history of its ideas and the careerism of its participants. I drive this point further by showing that, at the Movement’s very core, were practically-minded business and marketing strategies, deployed by numerous, lesser-known actors. It was in this way that the course for 20th-century China and one of its founding myths was set.
Supervisor: Ditmanson, Peter Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Asia ; History ; Chinese ; New Culture Movement ; May Fourth Movement ; baihua ; Chinese newspapers ; Republican Period ; Chinese history