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How the Caged Bird Sings: Educational Background and Poetic Identity of China’s Obscure Poets

Jinhua Wu defended his thesis on 5 January 2021

J. Wu
05 January 2021
Leiden Repository

This research aims to study the dynamic interaction between education and poetic identity, with a reference to the Obscure poets that came to the fore in the late 1970s and the early 1980s in Mainland China. It has been a prevailing idea that “successful” schooling in China has killed creativity and produced many unimaginative minds.Michelle Yeh’s and Maghiel van Crevel’s localized redefinition of poetic identity and Ivan Illich’s idea of deschooling, enable us to take a different perspective. I adopt mixed methods and use various resources such as oeuvre and textbooks. It shows that school education, family education, peer education, and mentor education have impacted on the forming of Obscure Poetry, and there is a fascinating “complicity” in the relationship between Obscure Poetry and Political Lyricism. There is definitely a relation between educational background and poetic identity, and it is not just, or even primarily, a negative relation. Literary traditions pass from one generation to another through various kinds of education. The complexity of the relationship between education and creative writing has often been reduced, overlooked and misconstrued, but the role of education remains a core perspective for our understanding of literature and of cultural traditions at large.

Supervisors: Prof. dr. M. van Crevel and prof. dr. G.R. van den Berg

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