Reading Hong Shen Intermedially

By Liang Luo

Modern Chinese Literature and Culture, vol. 27, no.2  (Fall 2015), pp. 208-248

This essay discusses six of Hong Shen’s books published between 1933 and 1943: two anthologies on theater, and four overlooked pedagogical works ranging from film terminology, performance technique, Chinese character pedagogy, and poetic recitation. The author argues that by facilitating dialogue between traditional practices and new technologies, intermediality serves as a vital conduit of artistic freedom and emancipation, as consistently expressed in Hong’s theories and practices at the intersection of myriad forms of artistic and educational endeavors.

Hong Shen’s activism in the Republican mediasphere embraces such an intermedial aspiration. His experiments with new art forms and cultural practices embody new possibilities for social change. Reading Hong Shen beyond printed texts and in an intermedial fashion, then, challenges the long tradition in the study of Chinese performance of over-reliance on written texts, and creates further possibilities for innovative studies of stage and film performance, audience reception, and the social and political engagement of the Chinese artist.