Shanghaiing the Press Gang: The Maoist
Regimentation of the Shanghai Popular Publishing
Industry in the Early PRC (1949–1956)

By Ying Du

Modern Chinese Literature and Culture, vol. 26, no.2 (Fall 2014), pp. 89-141

Relying on first hand sources ranging from archives to periodicals, literature and interviews, this article analyzes how cultural reforms made by the Shanghai Press and Publication Bureau shifted from making use of private tabloids in the early 1950s to nationalizing and regimenting the entire press, publishing and distribution industry by 1956. This article argues that the early PRC (1949-1956) was an era lacking a clear and fixed blueprint for the so-called “new culture” or “socialist culture” that government cultural agencies, publishers and writers in Shanghai could follow. The process of cultural transition in the early PRC was thus full of mutual appropriation and manipulation among political, commercial and cultural forces, between new content and old forms, and between new topics and old frameworks in popular publications.