Contemporary Chinese Historical TV Drama as a Cultural Genre: Production, Consumption and the State Power

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From the mid-1990's a wave of dramatic serials featuring the legendary figures of China’s bygone dynasties has emerged in dramatic programming on China's prime time television. Set during the dynasty era, these television historical dramas have been at the forefront in articulating political and legal principles based on the Confucian-influenced traditional Chinese culture. This chapter intends to critically examine this genre of China’s historical television drama from both the production and the consumption perspectives. The production of China’s historical TV drama has experienced three stages of evolution: 1984–1992, 1992–2004, and 2004–present. At each stage, the meaning of ‘the historical’ has been conditioned by certain literary, production, scheduling and regulatory circumstances. Nevertheless, a battle of historical interpretation between audiences living under different social and political conditions has emerged as a result of a widespread suspicion and mistrust of the Party-state in China mobilizing the Chinese public through the medium of historical drama. This chapter concludes that the historical drama genre provides China's viewing public with a televised forum to reflect on their Confucian cultural traditions and spiritual heritage as well as reconsider their orientation in a changing order of political culture in contemporary Chinese society.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationRoutledge Handbook of Chinese Media
EditorsGary Rawnsley, Ming-Yeh T. Rawnsley
Place of PublicationLondon
Number of pages17
ISBN (Print)978-0-415-52077-5
Publication statusPublished - 1 May 2015

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