Turning Ghosts into People: The White-Haired Girl and the Politics of Aesthetics in Revolutionary China


Luce/ACLS Early Career Fellowships in China Studies – Long-Term


This book project develops a new perspective on the roles of cultural nationalism and aesthetic modernism in the development of Chinese Communist literature and art through a study of one of the most iconic revolutionary creations of the wartime 1940s, the musical drama 'The White-Haired Girl.' Theories about this work's expression of the national authenticity of revolutionary culture have obscured the diversity of thought and practice that went into defining Communist aesthetics before the founding of the People's Republic of China. Revealing how 'The White-Haired Girl' was created through the adaptation of particular Western, Soviet, and Chinese aesthetic sources to express Communist revolution in China, this study reconsiders revolutionary cultural production as a synthesis of tradition with modernity and the local with the global.