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The Great Wall - A Cultural History


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About the Author

Carlos Rojas is Associate Professor of Chinese Cultural Studies, Women's Studies, and Arts of the Moving Image at Duke University.


[Rojas] covers much ground, from the Qin Dynasty (c. 200 BC) to postmodern art, and demonstrates just how powerful the idea of the Wall has become in modern China. -- Kate Merkel-Hess * Times Literary Supplement *
Carlos Rojas's deceptively compact cultural study suggests convincingly that the search for meaning in the Wall lies neither with the iconic imagery nor the literal structure itself, but somewhere in the gaps between, where imagination can run rampant-and frequently has. As it turns out, investigating the many and varied symbolic uses of a wall-the tensions between the need to protect and imprison, to guard against and to tear down, to blazon forth and to shut out-provides a very simple and natural key to opening up the Chinese culture as a whole. -- Kerrie Mills * PopMatters *
Rojas is among a vanguard of scholars applying perspectives of the emerging field of cultural studies to China. The book is a history of what people have thought about the Great Wall. Rojas argues that inherited beliefs helped shape the wall's subsequent history. He traces the rise and fall of Chinese perceptions of long defensive walls from a symbol of Qin dynasty (221-206 BCE) oppression to Ming dynasty (1368-1644) insularity and defensive failure. Rojas contends that in the 20th century, Westerners influenced Chinese nationalists to adopt the Ming Great Wall as a symbol of national unity and power...Rojas's clear, lively prose makes his work an excellent choice for undergraduate cultural studies. -- J. K. Skaff * Choice *

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