Little linked heroes : images of the child in cultural revolution lianhuanhua

Ramuglia, Madeline J.
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[Honolulu] : [University of Hawaii at Manoa], [May 2013]
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We begin to examine lianhuanhua by looking at one typical story, that of a young boy. Twelve-year-old Xiao Xin is "little Red Guard." He lives in the countryside near the upper reaches of the Tonghe River with his mother and older sister, although the latter is constantly travelling because ofher job as a "barefoot doctor," or a rural doctor trained in basic medical care. Xiao Xin' s father having died, he and his mother are supported by Secretary Li, the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) official in charge of the commune. The young hero passionately believes that he can help his community, declaring, "I am a little Red Guard, why cannot I, for the sake of the commune, collaborate and help? As such, he diligently fulfills his responsibility by collecting medicinal herbs and plants for his production brigade. Secretary Li perceives an innate sense of determination in Xiao Xin and encourages the boy to study to become a barefoot doctor like his sister. Additionally, Xiao Xin already wishes to become a barefoot doctor because of his own family history. Published in 1977, the story of The Little Barefoot Doctor brings up several questions concerning Cultural Revolution fiction. Why is a young child established as the protagonist and hero of this story? Why, despite his young age, is Xiao Xin depicted as extremely knowledgeable about medicines and complex treatments like acupuncture? Why is his village in an unspecified location? Should The Little Barefoot Doctor be considered a children's story because of Xiao Xin's youth, or an adult story because of its mature themes? Why does Xiao Xin have no father? Is this story merely propaganda and serve only to represent the state's agenda, or does it reflect other themes as well? This thesis will examine stories similar to The Little Barefoot Doctor as told through the medium of lianhuanhua, or "linked serial pictures." I will look at these comic or picture books to understand visual and written imagery associated with the "child" during the Cultural Revolution (1966-1976). By scrutinizing lianhuanhua as an artistic and literary medium read by countless people read during this era, I not only wish to emphasize the importance of lianhuanhua as a unique genre in Cultural Revolution studies, but also to stress the importance and significance of the image of the child that was articulated through these comics. As I will argue, both the visual and written discourse of narratives contained within lianhuanhua reveal alternative approaches to examine cultural products and attitudes during the Cultural Revolution, and can help us understand how a surprising diversity of political voices emerged during this period of otherwise strict ideological control.
M.A. University of Hawaii at Manoa 2013.
Includes bibliographical references.
cultural revolution
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Theses for the degree of Master of Arts (University of Hawaii at Manoa). History.
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