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Distributed for University of British Columbia Press

The Cult of Happiness

Nianhua, Art, and History in Rural North China

History and art come together in this definitive discussion of the Chinese woodblock print form of nianhua, literally “New Year pictures.” James Flath analyzes the role of nianhua in the home and later in the theatre and 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 as historical text, this extraordinary account offers original insight into popular conceptions of domesticity, morality, gender, society, modernity, and the transformation of the genre as a propaganda tool under communism.

Table of Contents


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




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