History and art come together in this definitive discussion of the Chinese woodblock print form of nianhua, literally "New Year pictures." By analyzing the role of nianhua first in the home and later in commercial and political theatres, James Flath relates these artworks to the social, cultural, and political milieu of North China as it was between the late Qing dynasty and the early 1950s. Among the first studies in any field to treat folk art and folk print as historical text, The Cult of Happiness offers original insight into popular conceptions of domesticity, morality, gender, society, modernity, and the transformation of the genre as a propaganda tool under communism. An extraordinary account of the cultural life of rural North China over the period.
James A. Flath teaches in the Department of History at the University of Western Ontario.
Introduction 1 The Production of Print Culture in North China 2 Home and Domesticity 3 State and Society 4 Retelling History through the Narrative Print 5 Print and the Cosmopolitan Mystique 6 The Politics of the Popular 7 Exorcising Modernity Notes Bibliography Index