New Culture Movement

The New Culture Movement of the mid-1910s to 1920s sprang from the disillusionment with traditional Chinese culture following the failure of the Chinese Republic – founded in 1912 – to address China's problems. Scholars such as Chen Duxiu, Cai Yuanpei, Li Dazhao, Lu Xun, Zhou Zuoren, He Dong, and Hu Shih, had classical educations but began to lead a revolt against Confucianism. They called for the creation of a new Chinese culture based on global and western standards, especially democracy and science. Younger followers took up their call for:

  • Vernacular literature
  • An end to the patriarchal family in favor of individual freedom and women's liberation
  • The view that China is a nation among nations, not a uniquely Confucian culture
  • The re-examination of Confucian texts and ancient classics using modern textual and critical methods, known as the Doubting Antiquity School
  • Democratic and egalitarian values
  • An orientation to the future rather than the past

On 4 May 1919, students in Beijing protested the Paris Peace Conference giving German rights over Shandong to Imperial Japan, turning this cultural movement into a political one in what became known as the May Fourth Movement.[1]

New Culture Movement
Traditional Chinese新文化運動
Simplified Chinese新文化运动


Two major centers of literature and intellectual activity were Beijing, home to Peking University and Tsinghua University, and Shanghai, with its flourishing publishing sector.[2] The founders of the New Culture Movement clustered in Peking University, where they were recruited by Cai Yuanpei when he became chancellor. Chen Duxiu as dean, and Li Dazhao as librarian in turn recruited leading figures such as the philosopher Hu Shih, the scholar of Buddhism Liang Shuming, the historian Gu Jiegang, and many more. Chen founded the journal New Youth in 1915, which became the most prominent of hundreds of new publications for the new middle-class public.[3]

Yuan Shikai, who inherited part of the Qing dynasty military after it collapsed in 1911, attempted to establish order and unity, but he failed to protect China against Japan, and also failed in an attempt to have himself declared emperor. When he died in 1916, the collapse of the traditional order seemed complete, and there was an intensified search for a replacement to go deeper than the changes of the previous generations, which brought new institutions and new political forms. Daring leaders called for a new culture.[4]

A substantial literary establishment, publishing houses, journals, literary societies, and universities, provided a foundation for an active literary, and intellectual scene over the course of the following decades. The New Youth journal, which was a leading forum for debating the causes of China's weakness, laid the blame on Confucian culture. Chen Duxiu called for "Mr. Confucius" to be replaced by "Mr. Science" (賽先生; 赛先生; sài xiānsheng) and "Mr. Democracy" (德先生; dé xiānsheng). Another outcome was the promotion of written vernacular Chinese (白话文) over literary or classical Chinese. Hu Shih proclaimed that "a dead language cannot produce a living literature." In theory, the new format allowed people with little education to read texts, articles and books.

He charged that literary, or Classical Chinese, which had been the written language prior to the movement, was understood by only scholars and officials (ironically, the new vernacular included many foreign words and Japanese neologisms (Wasei-kango), which made it difficult for many to read).[5] Scholars, such as Y.R. Chao (Zhao Yuanren), began the study of the Chinese language and dialects using tools of western linguistics. Hu Shih was among the scholars who used the textual study of Dream of the Red Chamber and other vernacular fiction as the basis for the national language. Literary societies such as the Crescent Moon Society flourished.

The literary output of this time was huge, with many writers who later became famous (such as Mao Dun, Lao She, Lu Xun and Bing Xin) publishing their first works. For example, Lu Xun's essays and short fiction created a sensation with their condemnation of Confucian culture. Diary of a Madman directly implied that China's traditional culture was cannibalistic, and The True Story of Ah Q showed the typical Chinese as weak and self-deceiving.[6] Along with this musicians such as Yin Zizhong joined the movement through music.

New Culture leaders and their followers now saw China as a nation among nations, not as culturally unique.[7] A large number of Western doctrines became fashionable, particularly those that reinforced the cultural criticism and nation-building impulses of the movement. Social Darwinism, which had been influential since the late nineteenth century, was especially shaping for Lu Xun, among many others.[8] and was supplemented by almost every "ism" of the world. Cai Yuanpei, Li Shizeng, and Wu Zhihui developed a Chinese variety of anarchism. They argued that Chinese society had to undergo radical social change before political change would be meaningful. [9] The pragmatism of John Dewey became popular, often through the work of Hu Shih, Chiang Monlin, and Tao Xingzhi.

Dewey arrived in China in 1919, and spent the following year lecturing. Bertrand Russell also lectured widely to warm crowds. Lu Xun was associated with the ideas of Nietzsche, which were also propagated by Li Shicen, Mao Dun, and many other intellectuals of the time.

New Culture leaders, often under the influence of the anarchist program, promoted feminism, even free love, as an attack on the traditional family, changing the terms in which the following generations conceived society. More specifically, the movement replaced sexuality over the traditional Chinese idea of kinship positionality. The substitution is a staple of the emerging individualistic theories that occurred during the era.[10] Among the feminist writers was Ding Ling.

Development and end of movement

The May Fourth Demonstrations of 1919 initially united the leaders but soon, there was a debate and falling out over the role of politics. Hu Shih, Cai Yuanpei, and other liberals urged the demonstrating students to return to the classroom, but Chen Duxiu and Li Dazhao, frustrated with the inadequacy of cultural change, urged more radical political action. They used their roles as Peking University faculty to organize Marxist study groups and the first meeting of the Chinese Communist Party.

Li called for "fundamental solutions," but Hu criticized it as abstract, calling for "more study of questions, less study of isms." [11] The younger followers who followed Li and Chen into organized politics included Mao Zedong.

Other students heeded Hu Shih's call to return to their studies. The new approaches shaped scholarship for the next generation. The historian Gu Jiegang, for instance, pioneered the application of the New History he studied at Columbia University to classical Chinese texts in the Doubting Antiquity Movement.[12] Gu also inspired his students in the study of Chinese folk traditions which had been ignored or dismissed by Confucian scholars.[13] Education was high on the New Culture agenda. Cai Yuanpei headed a New Education Society, and university students joined the Mass Education Movement of James Yen and Tao Xingzhi which promoted literacy as a foundation for wider political participation.

Journalism and public opinion

Chinese newspaper journalism was modernized in the 1920s according to international standards, thanks to the influence of the New Culture Movement. The roles of journalist and editor were professionalized and became prestigious careers. The business side gained importance and with a greater emphasis on advertising and commercial news, the main papers, especially in Shanghai, moved away from the advocacy journalism that characterized the 1911 revolutionary period.[14] Outside the main centers the nationalism promoted in metropolitan dailies was not as distinctive as localism and culturalism.[15]

In 1924, Indian Nobel Laureate Rabindranath Tagore held numerous lectures in China. He argued that China could encounter trouble by integrating too much western civilization into Chinese society. In spite of Tagore's efforts, western ideals were major components of the New Culture Movement. Democracy became a vital tool for those frustrated with the unstable condition of China whereas science became a crucial instrument to discard the "darkness of ignorance and superstition."[16]

In short, New Culture intellectuals advocated and debated a wide range of cosmopolitan solutions that included science, technology, individualism, music and democracy, leaving to the future the question of what organization or political power could carry them out. The anti-imperialist and populist violence of the mid-1920s soon overwhelmed New Culture intellectual inquiry and culture.[17]

Evaluations and changing views

Orthodox historians viewed the New Culture Movement as a revolutionary break with feudal thought and social practice and the seedbed of revolutionary leaders who created the Communist Party of China and went on to found the People's Republic of China in 1949. Mao Zedong wrote that the May 4th Movement "marked a new stage in China's bourgeois-democratic revolution against imperialism and feudalism" and argued that "a powerful camp made its appearance in the bourgeois-democratic revolution, a camp consisting of the working class, the student masses and the new national bourgeoisie."[18]

Historians in the west also saw the movement as marking a break between tradition and modernity, but in recent decades, Chinese and western historians now commonly argue that the changes promoted by New Culture leaders had roots going back several generations and thus were not a sharp break with tradition, which, in any case, was quite varied, as much as an acceleration of earlier trends.[19] Research over the last fifty years also suggests that while radical Marxists were important in the New Culture Movement, there were many other influential leaders, including anarchists, conservatives, Christians, and liberals.

The re-evaluation, while it does not challenge the high evaluation of the thinkers and writers of the period, does not accept their self-image as cultural revolutionaries.[20]

Other historians further argue that Mao's communist revolution did not, as it claimed, fulfill the promise of New Culture and enlightenment but rather betrayed its spirit of independent expression and cosmopolitanism.[21] Yu Yingshi, a student of the New Confucian Qian Mu, recently defended Confucian thought against the New Culture condemnation. He reasoned that late imperial China had not been stagnant, irrational and isolated, conditions that would justify radical revolution, but that late Qing thinkers were already taking advantage of the creative potential of Confucius.[22]

Xu Jilin, a Shanghai intellectual who reflects liberal voices, agreed in effect with the orthodox view that the New Culture Movement was the root of the Chinese Revolution but valued the outcome differently. New Culture intellectuals, said Xu, saw a conflict between nationalism and cosmopolitanism in their struggle to find a "rational patriotism," but the cosmopolitan movement of the 1920s was replaced by a "new age of nationalism." Like a "wild horse," Xu continued, "jingoism, once unbridled, could no longer be restrained, thus laying the foundations for the eventual outcomes of the history of China during the first half of the twentieth century."[23]


  1. ^ Nishi, Masayuki. "March 1 and May 4, 1919 in Korea, China and Japan: Toward an international History of East Asian Independence Movements". The Asia Pacific Journal: Japan Focus. Retrieved 2010-07-14.
  2. ^ Joseph T. Chen, The May Fourth Movement in Shanghai; the Making of a Social Movement in Modern China (Leiden,: Brill, 1971)
  3. ^ Furth, Charlotte (1983). "Intellectual change: from the Reform movement to the May Fourth movement, 1895-1920". In John K. Fairbank (ed.). Republican China 1912-1949, Part 1. The Cambridge History of China. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. pp. 322–405. ISBN 978-0-521-23541-9.
  4. ^ Schwartz, Benjamin I (1983). "Themes in Intellectual History: May Fourth and After". In John K. Fairbank (ed.). Republican China 1912-1949, Part 1. The Cambridge History of China. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. pp. 406–451. ISBN 978-0-521-23541-9.
  5. ^ Chow, May Fourth Movement, pp. 277, 46, 59}
  6. ^ Leo Ou-fan Lee, Voices from the Iron House: A Study of Lu Xun (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1987), pp 53-77; 76-78.
  7. ^ Erez Manela, The Wilsonian Moment: Self-Determination and the International Origins of Anticolonial Nationalism (Oxford; New York: Oxford University Press, 2007), Ch 5 "China's Place Among Nations"
  8. ^ James Reeve Pusey, China and Charles Darwin (Cambridge, Massachusetts: Council on East Asian Studies Distributed by Harvard University Press, 1983).
  9. ^ Dirlik (1991).
  10. ^ Lee, Haiyan. 75cde3d961c531b3262e2 "Tears that Crumbled the Great Wall: The Archaeology of Feeling in the May Fourth Movement Folklore Movement" Check |url= value (help). Journal of Asian Studies. Retrieved 2008-11-15.
  11. ^ Jerome B. Grieder, Hu Shih and the Chinese Renaissance: Liberalism in the Chinese Revolution, 1917-1937 (Cambridge, Harvard University Press, 1970), p. 254.
  12. ^ Laurence A. Schneider, Ku Chieh-Kang and China's New History; Nationalism and the Quest for Alternative Traditions (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1971).
  13. ^ Chang-tai Hung, Going to the People: Chinese Intellectuals and Folk Literature, 1918-1937 (Cambridge, Massachusetts: Council on East Asian Studies Harvard University : Distributed by Harvard University Press, 1985).
  14. ^ Timothy B. Weston, "Minding the Newspaper Business: The Theory and Practice of Journalism in 1920s China," Twentieth-Century China (2006) 31#2 pp 4-31.
  15. ^ Henrietta Harrison, "Newspapers and Nationalism in Rural China 1890-1929," Past & Present (2000) 166#1 pp 181-205
  16. ^ Schoppa, R.Keith. Revolution and Its Past: Identities and Change in Modern Chinese History. Upper Saddle River, New Jersey: Pearson Prentice Hall. p. 170.
  17. ^ Schoppa, R.Keith. Revolution and Its Past: Identities and Change in Modern Chinese History. Upper Saddle River, New Jersey: Pearson Prentice Hall. p. 179.
  18. ^ "The May Fourth Movement" (1939), Selected Works of Mao Zedong
  19. ^ Paul A. Cohen, Discovering History in China: American Historical Writing on the Recent Chinese Past (New York: Columbia University Press, 1984), pp. 85–86.
  20. ^ Introduction, Kai-wing Chow, Beyond the May Fourth Paradigm : In Search of Chinese Modernity (Lanham: Lexington Books/Rowman & Littlefied, 2008) and Rana Mitter, A Bitter Revolution : China's Struggle with the Modern World (Oxford; New York: Oxford University Press, 2004).
  21. ^ Schwarcz, Vera. The Chinese Enlightenment: Intellectuals and the Legacy of the May Fourth Movement of 1919 Berkeley: University of California Press, 1986.
  22. ^ "Neither Renaissance nor Enlightenment: a historian's reflections on the May Fourth movement," Ying-shi Yü, in Milena Doleželová-Velingerová, Oldřich Král, Graham Martin Sanders, eds., The Appropriation of Cultural Capital: China's May Fourth Project (Cambridge, Massachusetts: Harvard University Press, 2001).
  23. ^ “Historical Memories of May Fourth: Patriotism, but of what kind?” Xu Jilin (translated by Duncan M. Campbell), China Heritage Quarterly, 17 (March 2009) [1]


  • Guy Alitto, The Last Confucian: Liang Shu-Ming and the Chinese Dilemma of Modernity (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1979). Biography of a conservative New Culture figure.
  • Kai-wing Chow, Beyond the May Fourth Paradigm: In Search of Chinese Modernity (Lanham: Lexington Books/Rowman & Littlefied, 2008). Essays on new aspects of the movement,including an Introduction which reviews recent re-thinking.
  • Chow Tse-tsung, The May Fourth Movement. Cambridge MA: Harvard University Press, 1960. Standard comprehensive survey and analysis.
  • Dirlik, Arif (1991). Anarchism in the Chinese Revolution. Berkeley: University of California Press. ISBN 0520072979. Revisionist study showing the influence of anarchist programs.
  • Doleželová-Velingerová, Milena, Oldřich Král, and Graham Martin Sanders, eds. The Appropriation of Cultural Capital: China’s May Fourth Project. Cambridge, Massachusetts: Harvard University Asia Center, 2001. Revisionist study.
  • Jerome B. Grieder, Hu Shih and the Chinese Renaissance; Liberalism in the Chinese Revolution, 1917-1937 (Cambridge,: Harvard University Press, 1970). Careful study of central figure.
  • Hayford, Charles W., To the People: James Yen and Village China. New York: Columbia University Press, 1990. Early chapters describe the role of popular education in the New Culture.
  • Lanza, Fabio, Behind the Gate: Inventing Students in Beijing. New York: Columbia University Press, 2010. ISBN 978-0-231-15238-9. Study of student culture and institutions during the New Culture period.
  • Leo Ou-fan Lee, Voices from the Iron House : A Study of Lu Xun (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1987). Biography and literary analysis.
  • Yusheng Lin, The Crisis of Chinese Consciousness: Radical Antitraditionalism in the May Fourth Era (Madison: University of Wisconsin Press, 1979). Early critique of the New Culture Movement as "iconoclastic."
  • Manela, Erez. The Wilsonian Moment: Self-Determination and the International Origins of Anticolonial Nationalism. Oxford and New York: Oxford University Press, 2007. Describes the global influences on Chinese youth.
  • Maurice J. Meisner, Li Ta-Chao and the Origins of Chinese Marxism (Cambridge,: Harvard University Press, 1967). Intellectual biography of key leader and co-founder of Chinese Communist Party.
  • Rana Mitter, A Bitter Revolution: China's Struggle with the Modern World (Oxford; New York: Oxford University Press, 2004). Traces the fate of New Culture ideals through the rest of the century.
  • Schwarcz, Vera. The Chinese Enlightenment: Intellectuals and the Legacy of the May Fourth Movement of 1919. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1986. Argues that May Fourth ideals were betrayed.
  • Schwartz, Benjamin. "Themes in Intellectual History: May Fourth and After." In Cambridge History of China, Vol. 12, pt. 1: Republican China, 1912–1949, 406–504. Cambridge, U.K.: Cambridge University Press, 1983. Overview of intellectual and cultural history.
  • Spence, Jonathan D. The Gate of Heavenly Peace: The Chinese and Their Revolution, 1895-1980. Includes many New Culture leaders and their experience of revolution.
  • Zarrow, Peter. Anarchism and Chinese Political Culture (New York: Columbia University Press, 1990).

See also

External links

  • "The May Fourth Spirit, Now and Then" China Heritage Quarterly, 17 (March 2009) [2] A selection of opinions and views on the May Fourth and New Culture Movements from the 1920s to the present.
A Madman's Diary

"A Madman's Diary" (Chinese: 狂人日記; pinyin: Kuángrén rìjì) is a short story published in 1918 by Lu Xun, a Chinese writer. It was the first and most influential modern work written in vernacular Chinese in the republican era, and would become a cornerstone piece of the New Culture Movement. It is placed first in Call to Arms, a collection of short stories by Lu Xun. The story was often referred to as "China's first modern short story". This book was selected as one of the 100 best books in history by the Bokklubben World Library.

The diary form was inspired by Nikolai Gogol's short story "Diary of a Madman", as was the idea of the madman who sees reality more clearly than those around him. The "madman" sees "cannibalism" both in his family and the village around him, and he then finds cannibalism in the Confucian classics which had long been credited with a humanistic concern for the mutual obligations of society, and thus for the superiority of Confucian civilization. The story was read as an ironic attack on traditional Chinese culture and a call for a New Culture.

Borders of China

China shares international borders with 14 sovereign states. In addition, there is a 30-kilometre (19 mi) border with the special administrative region of Hong Kong, which was a British dependency before 1997, and a 3-kilometre (1.9 mi) border with Macau, a Portuguese territory until 1999. With a land border of 22,117 kilometres (13,743 mi) in total it also has the longest land border of any country.


Confucianism, also known as Ruism, is a system of thought and behavior originating in ancient China. Variously described as tradition, a philosophy, a religion, a humanistic or rationalistic religion, a way of governing, or simply a way of life, Confucianism developed from what was later called the Hundred Schools of Thought from the teachings of the Chinese philosopher Confucius (551–479 BCE).

Confucius considered himself a recodifier and retransmitter of the theology and values inherited from the Shang (c. 1600–1046 BCE) and Zhou dynasties (c. 1046–256 BCE) for the Warring States period. Confucianism was suppressed during the Legalist and autocratic Qin dynasty (221-206 BCE), but survived. During the Han dynasty (206 BCE–220 CE), Confucian approaches edged out the "proto-Taoist" Huang–Lao as the official ideology, while the emperors mixed both with the realist techniques of Legalism.A Confucian revival began during the Tang dynasty (618–907). In the late Tang, Confucianism developed in response to Buddhism and Taoism and was reformulated as Neo-Confucianism. This reinvigorated form was adopted as the basis of the imperial exams and the core philosophy of the scholar official class in the Song dynasty (960–1297). The abolition of the examination system in 1905 marked the end of official Confucianism. The intellectuals of the New Culture Movement of the early twentieth century blamed Confucianism for China's weaknesses. They searched for new doctrines to replace Confucian teachings; some of these new ideologies include the "Three Principles of the People" with the establishment of the Republic of China, and then Maoism under the People's Republic of China. In the late twentieth century Confucian work ethic has been credited with the rise of the East Asian economy.With particular emphasis on the importance of the family and social harmony, rather than on an otherworldly source of spiritual values, the core of Confucianism is humanistic. According to Herbert Fingarette's conceptualisation of Confucianism as a religion which regards "the secular as sacred", Confucianism transcends the dichotomy between religion and humanism, considering the ordinary activities of human life—and especially human relationships—as a manifestation of the sacred, because they are the expression of humanity's moral nature (xìng 性), which has a transcendent anchorage in Heaven (Tiān 天) and unfolds through an appropriate respect for the spirits or gods (shén) of the world. While Tiān has some characteristics that overlap the category of godhead, it is primarily an impersonal absolute principle, like the Dào (道) or the Brahman. Confucianism focuses on the practical order that is given by a this-worldly awareness of the Tiān. Confucian liturgy (called 儒 rú, or sometimes 正統/正统 zhèngtǒng, meaning 'orthoprax') led by Confucian priests or "sages of rites" (禮生/礼生 lǐshēng) to worship the gods in public and ancestral Chinese temples is preferred on certain occasions, by Confucian religious groups and for civil religious rites, over Taoist or popular ritual.The worldly concern of Confucianism rests upon the belief that human beings are fundamentally good, and teachable, improvable, and perfectible through personal and communal endeavor, especially self-cultivation and self-creation. Confucian thought focuses on the cultivation of virtue in a morally organised world. Some of the basic Confucian ethical concepts and practices include rén, yì, and lǐ, and zhì. Rén (仁, 'benevolence' or 'humaneness') is the essence of the human being which manifests as compassion. It is the virtue-form of Heaven. Yì (義/义) is the upholding of righteousness and the moral disposition to do good. Lǐ (禮/礼) is a system of ritual norms and propriety that determines how a person should properly act in everyday life in harmony with the law of Heaven. Zhì (智) is the ability to see what is right and fair, or the converse, in the behaviors exhibited by others. Confucianism holds one in contempt, either passively or actively, for failure to uphold the cardinal moral values of rén and yì.

Traditionally, cultures and countries in the Chinese cultural sphere are strongly influenced by Confucianism, including mainland China, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Macau, Korea, Japan, and Vietnam, as well as various territories settled predominantly by Chinese people, such as Singapore. Today, it has been credited for shaping East Asian societies and Chinese communities, and to some extent, other parts of Asia. In the last decades there have been talks of a "Confucian Revival" in the academic and the scholarly community, and there has been a grassroots proliferation of various types of Confucian churches. In late 2015 many Confucian personalities formally established a national Holy Confucian Church (孔聖會/孔圣会 Kǒngshènghuì) in China to unify the many Confucian congregations and civil society organisations.

Crescent Moon Society

The Crescent Moon Society was a Chinese literary society founded by the poet Xu Zhimo in 1923, which operated until 1931. It was named after The Crescent Moon, a poem by Rabindranath Tagore. In addition to Xu Zhimo, its other members included leading author and educator Hu Shih, poets Wen Yiduo and Chen Mengjia, writers Liang Shih-chiu and Shen Congwen, Rao Mengkan, and sociologist Pan Guangdan.

The Crescent Moon Society—along with other aspects of China's literary establishment at that time—was part of the larger New Culture Movement.

It engaged in running debates with the "art for politics' sake" (and Chinese Communist Party-driven) League of the Left-Wing Writers.The organisation dissolved shortly after the death of Xu Zhimo in November 1931.

Doubting Antiquity School

The Doubting Antiquity School or Yigupai (Chinese: 疑古派; pinyin: Yígǔpài; Wade–Giles: I-ku-p'ai) refers to a group of scholars and writers who show doubts and uncertainty of antiquity in the Chinese academia starting during the New Culture Movement (mid-1910s to 1920s).

Most of their criticism concerns the authenticity of pre-Qin texts and deals with questions put forward by the past dynastic writers, as well as other subjects. Hu Shih initiated the critical movement, with his pupil Gu Jiegang and his friend Qian Xuantong continuing this school of thought. Their writings also had influence on many western sinologists, including Bernhard Karlgren and Samuel Griffith.

In a more specific way, the Doubting Antiquity School was represented by Gushibian 古史辨 (Debates on Ancient History), the scholarly movement led by Gu Jiegang, centered on the magazine of the same name. Seven issues of the magazine, 1926-1941, contain about 350 essays.

Major critics of the Doubting Antiquity School were historians associated with the Critical Review (Xueheng 學衡), a journal founded in 1922. The historians included Liu Yizheng, Liang Qichao (梁启超), Wang Guowei, Chen Yinque, and Miao Fenglin (繆鳳林).

Early Modern literature

The history of literature of the Early modern period (16th, 17th and partly 18th century literature), or Early Modern literature, succeeds Medieval literature, and in Europe in particular Renaissance literature.

In Europe, the Early Modern period lasts roughly from 1550 to 1750, spanning the Baroque period and ending with the Age of Enlightenment and the wars of the French Revolution. The Early Modern period in Persia corresponds to the rule of the Safavid dynasty. In Japan, the "Early Modern period" (Edo period) is taken to last down to 1868 (the beginning of Industrialization during the Meiji period). In India, the Mughal era lasts until the establishment of the British Raj in 1857. The Ottoman Empire underwent various attempts of modernization from 1828 (Tanzimat).

Chinese literature of the Qing dynasty remains mostly unaffected by European influence, and effects of modernization that would lead up to the New Culture Movement became apparent only from the Late Qing period in the 1890s.

East China

East China or Eastern China (simplified Chinese: 华东; traditional Chinese: 華東; pinyin: Huádōng) is a geographical and a loosely defined cultural region that covers the eastern coastal area of China.

An abolished concept, for economical purposes the region was defined from 1961 to 1978 by the Chinese Central Government to include the provinces of (in alphabetical order) Anhui, Fujian, Jiangsu, Jiangxi, Shandong and Zhejiang, as well as the municipality of Shanghai. Since the Chinese government claims Taiwan and the few outlying islands of Fujian (Kinmen and Matsu) governed by the Republic of China (Taiwanese government) as its territory, the claimed "Taiwan Province, People's Republic of China" was once classified in this region.

Feminism in China

Feminism in China began in the 20th century in tandem with the Chinese Revolution. Feminism in modern China is closely linked with socialism and class issues. Some commentators believe that this close association is damaging to Chinese feminism and argue that the interests of the party are placed before those of women.

History of modern literature

The history of literature in the Modern period in Europe begins with the Age of Enlightenment and the conclusion of the Baroque period in the 18th century, succeeding the Renaissance and Early Modern periods.

In the classical literary cultures outside of Europe, the Modern period begins later,

in Ottoman Turkey with the Tanzimat reforms (1820s),

in Qajar Persia under Nasser al-Din Shah (1830s), in India with the end of the Mughal era and the establishment of the British Raj (1850s), in Japan with the Meiji restoration (1860s), and in China with the New Culture Movement (1910s).

Hu Shih

Hu Shih (Chinese: 胡適; pinyin: Hú Shì; Wade–Giles: Hu2 Shih4; 17 December 1891 – 24 February 1962), also known as Hu Suh in early references, was a Chinese philosopher, essayist and diplomat. Hu is widely recognized today as a key contributor to Chinese liberalism and language reform in his advocacy for the use of written vernacular Chinese. He was influential in the May Fourth Movement, one of the leaders of China's New Culture Movement, was a president of Peking University, and in 1939 was nominated for a Nobel Prize in literature. He had a wide range of interests such as literature, philosophy, history, textual criticism, and pedagogy. He was also an influential redology scholar and held the famous Jiaxu manuscript (甲戌本; Jiǎxū běn) for many years until his death.

May Fourth Movement

The 'May Colour revolution was an anti-imperialist, cultural, and political movement which grew out of student protests in Beijing on 4 May 1919.

Students protested against the Chinese government's weak response to the Treaty of Versailles, especially allowing Japan to retain territories in Shandong that had been surrendered by Germany after the Siege of Tsingtao in 1914. The demonstrations sparked nation-wide protests and spurred an upsurge of Chinese nationalism, a shift towards political mobilization and away from cultural activities, and a move towards a mass base and away from traditional intellectual and political elites.

Many radical, political, and social leaders of the next five decades emerged at this time. The term "May Fourth Movement" in a broader sense often refers to the period during 1915–1921 more often called the New Culture Movement.

Modern Chinese poetry

Modern Chinese poetry, including New poetry (traditional Chinese: 新詩; simplified Chinese: 新诗; pinyin: xīnshī), refers to post Qing Dynasty (1644 to 1912) Chinese poetry, including the modern vernacular (baihua) style of poetry increasingly common with the New Culture and 4 May 1919 movements, with the development of experimental styles such as "free verse" (as opposed to the traditional Chinese poetry written in Classical Chinese language); but, also including twentieth and twenty-first century continuations or revivals of Classical Chinese poetry forms. Some modern Chinese poetry represents major new and modern developments in the poetry of one of the world's larger areas, as well as other important areas sharing this linguistic affinity. One of the first writers of poetry in the modern Chinese poetry mode was Hu Shih (1891–1962).

New Youth

La Jeunesse (or New Youth, Chinese: 新靑年) was a Chinese magazine in the 1910s and 1920s that played an important role in initiating the New Culture Movement and spreading the influence of the May Fourth Movement.

Peking University

Peking University (abbreviated PKU, colloquially known as Beida) is a major research university in Beijing, China, and a member of the elite C9 League of Chinese universities. The first modern national university established in China, it was founded during the late Qing Dynasty in 1898 as the Imperial University of Peking and was the successor of the Guozijian, or Imperial College. The university's English name retains the older transliteration of "Beijing" that has been superseded in most other contexts.Throughout its history, Peking University has played an important role "at the center of major intellectual movements" in China. Starting from the early 1920s, the university became a center for China's emerging progressive movements. Faculty and students held important roles in originating the New Culture Movement, the May Fourth Movement protests, and other significant cultural and sociopolitical events, to the extent that the university's history has been closely tied to that of modern China. Peking University has educated and hosted many prominent modern Chinese figures, including Mao Zedong, Lu Xun, Gu Hongming, Hu Shih, Mao Dun, Li Dazhao, Chen Duxiu, and the current Premier Li Keqiang.As of 2018, Peking University is consistently ranked as one of the two top academic institutions in China, along with nearby Tsinghua University. It is among the most selective universities for undergraduate admissions in China and hosts one of the only undergraduate liberal arts colleges in Asia. It is a Class A institution under the national Double First Class University program.Peking University's faculty includes 76 members of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, 19 members of the Chinese Academy of Engineering, and 25 members of the World Academy of Sciences. Peking University Library is one of the largest libraries in the world with over 8 million volumes. The university also operates the PKU Hall, a professional performing arts centers, and the Arthur M. Sackler Museum of Arts and Archaeology. Peking University's affiliated Founder Corporation is the largest university-affiliated company in China, with total assets valued at 239.3 billion renminbi as of 2016. Peking University is especially renowned for its campus grounds and the beauty of its traditional Chinese architecture.


Quyi (Simplified: 曲艺; Traditional: 曲藝; pinyin: qǔyì) refers to such traditional art forms such as ballad singing (唱曲), Pingshu (评书), comic dialogues (小品), clapper talks (快板) and xiangsheng (相声) . This group of art forms has gained in popularity since the New Culture Movement. With the exception of the Cultural Revolution period, a great number of stories written for these arts have been preserved. Quyi is a Chinese performance art consisted of narrative storytelling using staged monologues and dialogues. It is mostly a spoken performance, and is generally not a full-fledged theatrical play. It should not be confused with Chinese opera.

South China

South China (simplified Chinese: 华南; traditional Chinese: 華南; pinyin: Huánán) is a geographical and cultural region that covers the southernmost part of China. Its precise meaning varies with context.

Southwest China

Southwest China (Chinese: 西南; pinyin: Xīnán) is a region of the People's Republic of China defined by governmental bureaus that includes the municipality of Chongqing, the provinces of Sichuan, Yunnan and Guizhou, and the Tibet Autonomous Region.

Tian Han

Tian Han (12 March 1898 – 10 December 1968), formerly romanized as T'ien Han, was a Chinese drama activist, playwright, a leader of revolutionary music and films, as well as a translator and poet. He emerged at the time of the New Culture Movement of the early 20th century and continued to be active until the Cultural Revolution, when he was attacked and died in jail before being posthumously rehabilitated by the Chinese authorities in 1979. He is considered by drama historians as one of the three founders of Chinese spoken drama, together with Ouyang Yuqian and Hong Shen. His most famous legacy may be the lyrics he wrote for "March of the Volunteers" in 1934, which were later adopted as the national anthem of the People's Republic of China.

Zhang Shizhao

Zhang Shizhao (simplified Chinese: 章士钊; traditional Chinese: 章士釗; pinyin: Zhāng Shìzhāo; Wade–Giles: Chang Shih-chao; March 20, 1881 – July 1, 1973), courtesy name Xingyan, pen name Huangzhonghuang, Qingtong or Qiutong, was a Chinese journalist, educator, politician of the early 20th century known for his advocacy first of revolutionary cultural values in the period leading up to the 1911 Revolution and then of traditional Confucian culture in following years.

From the early years of the 20th century, Zhang edited a series of widely read journals and in the 1910s and 20s conducted respectful debates with New Culture Movement advocates of deep change and promoted Classical Chinese writing and protested written vernacular Chinese. He was the Minister of Justice and Minister of Education of the Beiyang Government, led by Duan Qirui during the Republic of China period. He was a senator in the Republic of China government and a standing committee member of the National People's Congress of the People's Republic of China and a standing committee member of the CPPCC in PRC. He was the president of the Central Research Institute of Culture and History. In 1949, Zhang was among a group of non-Communist intellectuals who reached out to Mao Zedong.

Standard Mandarin
Hanyu PinyinXīn Wénhuà Yùndòng
Bopomofoㄒㄧㄣ ㄨㄣˊㄏㄨㄚˋ ㄩㄣˋㄉㄨㄙˋ
Gwoyeu RomatzyhShin Wenhuah Yunndonq
New Culture Movement (1910s–1920s)
Involved parties
Notable people


This page is based on a Wikipedia article written by authors (here).
Text is available under the CC BY-SA 3.0 license; additional terms may apply.
Images, videos and audio are available under their respective licenses.