Skip to main content

Distributed for University of British Columbia Press

Saving the Nation through Culture

The Folklore Movement in Republican China

The Modern Chinese Folklore Movement coalesced at National Peking University between 1918 and 1926. A group of academics, inspired by Western thought, turned to the study of folklore—popular songs, beliefs, and customs—as a way to rally people around the flag. Saving the Nation through Culture opens a new chapter in the history of the international Folklore Movement by exploring the evolution of the discipline’s Chinese branch. Jie Gao shows how intellectuals in the New Culture Movement influenced the founding folklorists with their aim to repudiate Confucianism following the Chinese Republic’s failure to modernize the nation. The folklorists, however, faced a unique challenge: advocating for modern academic methods while upholding folklore as the key to the nation’s salvation. Largely unknown in the West and underappreciated in China, the Modern Folklore Movement failed to achieve its goal of reinvigorating the Chinese nation. But it helped establish a modern discipline, promoting a spirit of academic independence that still influences Chinese intellectuals today.

Table of Contents


1 Seeking a Solution for the Nation: The Folklore Movement’s Origins at National Peking University

2 Carrying on amidst Chaos: Establishment of Folklore Studies in South China

3 Developing an Excellent Situation: The Spread of the Folklore Movement in China

4 Breaking with the Past: The Folklore Movement in Wartime


Appendices; Notes; Glossary; Bibliography; Index

Be the first to know

Get the latest updates on new releases, special offers, and media highlights when you subscribe to our email lists!

Sign up here for updates about the Press