PhD | ‘Earthy-Taste Culture: Laughter, Comedy and Chinese Rural Imaginations’ – Lingli Ren
PhD-Candidate: Lingli Ren
Institution: Universiteit van Amsterdam
Supervisors: Prof./Dr. Esther Peeren, Prof./Dr. Jeroen de Kloet
Despite its relatively peripheral status compared to urban areas, the Chinese countryside has never been absent from popular culture and has featured especially prominently in comedic genres. Whether in films, television programmes, stage shows, or online videos, rural-themed comedy has attracted a wide range of domestic audiences. The production and reception of rural-themed comedy in the PRC is a historical cultural practice regarding how to view the nation’s past and future, how to define the Chinese national identity, where the Party-State’s ideological boundary is, and what public entertainment and happiness can be in socialist/post-socialist China. It also displays China’s strong cultural ambition and anxiety in relation to the rest of the world.
This study makes an innovative attempt to scrutinize the under-studied cultural form of Chinese rural-themed comedy in the context of modernization and globalization. By tracing the comic expression of China’s “earthy-taste culture”, this study develops an original perspective on the historical formation of the Chinese rural imaginaries and the changing cultural-political meaning of the Chinese countryside. Also, this study adds a valuable Chinese case study to broader investigations of the countryside’s media representation and cultural-political transformation under the influence of global modernization processes.