search : contact us : about us : site guide : home

  University of British Columbia Press
 Search Our Catalogue
  search by subject

 UBC Press
About UBC Press
Conferences & Events
Contact Us
Media Centre
Publishing With UBC Press
Publishers Represented
Staff Directory

Forthcoming Titles
How To Order
Recent Reviews
Review Copies

 Join Our Mailing List
Sign Up
Privacy Statement
Frequent Questions
Privacy Statement
Site Guide
Website Feedback

 Featured Title
Merry Laughter and Angry Curses
The Shanghai Tabloid Press, 1897-1911
Juan Wang  

$95.00 Hardcover
Release Date: 10/23/2012
ISBN: 9780774823388    

248 Pages

Contemporary Chinese Studies series


About the Book

The end of the Qing dynasty in China saw an unprecedented explosion of print journalism. Chinese-owned newspapers, first encouraged by Emperor Guangxu to inform and educate an increasingly literate public, had by the turn of the century become more powerful than the state had ever anticipated or desired. Yet it was not the dabao, or "important" papers, that proved most influential. Rather it was the xiaobao, the "little" or "minor" papers -- with their reputation for frivolity -- that captivated and empowered the public.

Merry Laughter and Angry Curses reveals how the late-Qing-era tabloid press became the voice of the people. As periodical publishing reached a fever pitch, tabloids had free rein to criticize officials, mock the elite, and scandalize readers, giving the public knowledge about previously unspeakable and unprintable ideas. In the name of the people, tabloid writers produced a massive amount of anti-establishment literature, whose distinctive humour and satirical style were both potent and popular. This book shows the tabloid community to be both a producer of meanings and a participant in the social and cultural dialogue that would shake the foundations of imperial China and lead to the 1911 Republican Revolution.

About the Author(s)

Juan Wang is an independent scholar of Chinese history.

Table of Contents

List of Illustrations



1 Community of Fun
2 Officialdom Unmasked
3 Imagining the Nation
4 Confronting the "New"
5 Questioning the Appropriators
6 The Market, Populism, and Aesthetics

Glossary of Chinese Terms and Names


"Juan Wang surprises us by taking us back to Shanghai at the end of the Qing dynasty and showing that not everyone was swept up in the romance of reform. While a few were striking heroic poses and claiming to change the world, others were laughing at the absurdity of life, the folly of ambition, and the vanity and deceit of politicians. The 1911 Revolution has never looked less revolutionary, or more real."

Timothy Brook, author of The Troubled Empire: China in the Yuan and Ming Dynasties

"Illuminating and endlessly entertaining. Juan Wang does a marvelous job of showing how the tabloids that burst on the scene in Shanghai at the turn of the last century influenced the main political and historical developments of the late Qing. With a stylistic repertoire that included irony, mockery, gossip, sarcasm, and biting humor, these trendy publications, she argues convincingly, did much to prepare the way, intellectually and psychologically, for the demise of the dynasty."

Paul A. Cohen, author of Speaking to History: The Story of King Goujian in Twentieth-Century China

Sample Chapter

Sample Chapter [PDF]

Related Topics

Asian Studies
Communications Studies

Other Ways To Order

In Canada, order your copy of Merry Laughter and Angry Curses from UTP Distribution at:

UTP Distribution
5201 Dufferin Street
Toronto, Ontario
M3H 5T8

Phone orders: 1(800)565-9523 or (416)667-7791
Fax orders: 1(800)221-9985 or (416)667-7832

Ordering information for customers outside Canada

2001 UBC Press
2029 West Mall, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada, V6T 1Z2
t. 604.822.5959 | f. 604.822.6083 | e.