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Introduction: Gender And The Model Works

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Chapter Summary

The yangbanxi or 'model works' were a small group of visually exciting, artistically innovative and ideologically extreme modernised Beijing operas, ballets and symphonies, that dominated mainland Chinese public culture in the radical Maoist years of the Cultural Revolution (1966-1976). The yangbanxi have their origins in the drama performances used by the communists to spread information and garner support in rural communities in their base areas. Artistic quality and common appeal were recognised as being important to the successful functioning of the yangbanxi as ideological tools. Chinese language research focuses on three main areas: the yangbanxi texts and narratives as a product and manifestation of extreme politics, innovation in yangbanxi music, and the erasure of female gender in the works. The continued highly symbolic nature of the reformed Maoist theatre, suggests that analysis of gender ideology coded into the yangbanxi could usefully borrow methodological tools from the field of semiotics.

Keywords: yangbanxi ; Beijing operas; Chinese language research; Cultural Revolution; gender ideology; ideological tools; semiotics



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