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Title:Remaking China Dolls: Imitation and Visual Rhetoric in Contemporary Chinese Cultural Production
Author(s):Jia, Jia
Doctoral Committee Chair(s):David Desser
Department / Program:Communications
Degree Granting Institution:University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Subject(s):Art History
Abstract:Informed by a performative understanding of cultural production, this dissertation investigates contemporary Chinese doll imageries as an emblem of a rhetoric of imitation playing out a variety of possibilities of identities in an increasingly globalized yet unequally developed world. Grounded in a postmodern interpretation of Barthes' flowing signification chain and with Baudrillard's analysis as an interpretive guide, this dissertation looks at case studies from fine art, film, design, and the cityscape as both cultural products and visual texts, in which imitation, both as the end product and the process of imitating, operates as a logic---a deployment of signification---to create new meanings. On the social and historical level, these doll-imageries, despite being cultural products of fantasy and imaginary, are rooted, convey, and negotiate fundamental social issues of historical significance, which ironically denies these postmodern empty signifiers a destiny of nihilism and relativism. Imitation is not only a creative device, but also a symbolic rhetoric that expresses and addresses some important cultural and social symptoms of contemporary China. Dolls become the emblem of such a postmodern rhetoric of imitation for their nature of empty signification, the existence of which relies in its function of referencing others. An overarching theme throughout this project is the contemporary reinvention of traditional Chinese culture. Asian femininity is rediscovered in the visual works under examination as a non-aggressive, non-conflictual approach to power embodied by doll creations, be it a gendered, calm, persistent defiance against power, or the innocent celebration of life, love, and beauty.
Issue Date:2006
Description:231 p.
Thesis (Ph.D.)--University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, 2006.
Other Identifier(s):(MiAaPQ)AAI3242882
Date Available in IDEALS:2015-09-28
Date Deposited:2006

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