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Abstract

This essay is a study of the cultural manifestation of youth in the early years of the People's Republic of China (PRC). It does not aim to examine the focus on youth merely as a social phenomenon, but instead considers youth as a symbolic figure that had a profound influence on the conceptions of nationhood and modernity. Focusing on Mao's discourse on youth and its effects on literature and politics, I argue that youth is a discursive constellation that is constructed through endless choices, creations, and readjusting of symbols, images, and representational modes. Its manifestation in literary imagination encodes and enlarges, but also complicates, political engagement as a means of disciplining young people and appropriadng their position in society.

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