This chapter provides an introduction to Xu Xu and Wumingshi and covers the book’s structure and methodology. It critiques the various terms that are used in both English and Chinese studies to categorise popular Chinese literature in the Republican period and it discusses the basis of the established divide between elite “new literature” (xin wenxue) and the much-castigated popular literature in China. It is argued that the term “Shanghai School” (haipai), a concept covering Shanghai popular literature from the 1920s to the 1940s, is too broad to be useful in analysing literature from this period or distinguishing between literary trends. The chapter also contains an extensive literature review, covering both English and Chinese works as they pertain to this study.
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