The Revindication of Environmental Subjectivity: Chinese Landscape Aesthetics between Crisis and Creativity


This paper studies cultural representations which critically address the high level of environmental degradation ushered in by successive regimes of China's modernization. On the one hand, it will review a group of blog cartoons reacting to a recent environmental hazard, the Huangpu River floating pigs incident, which were published beginning from mid-March 2013. On the other hand, it looks at intellectual responses to a political economy of short-term profit extraction whose negative impact far exceeds the destruction of the nation's landscapes. Selective readings of lower rungs fiction, landscape poetry and multi-media art, and theoretical essays on questions of landscape aesthetics will discuss how these authors express their worries about the consequences of a narrowly functional approach towards natural resources. According to them, the foreclosing of traditional aesthetic principles that used to support sustainability in modern modes of governance has yielded an unprecedented moral decline of the community as well as an alarming depletion of the nation's non-human recreational powers. In conclusion, five kinds of environmental subjects will tentatively be identified together with their different patterns of agency.



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