Maoist Laughter, co-edited by Associate Professor of East Asian Languages Zhuoyi Wang, was recently published by Hong Kong University Press.

The collection of essays in the book demonstrate that the connection between laughter and political culture in China during the Mao years was far more complex than conventional conceptions of communist indoctrination can explain.

Wang and his co-authors, Ping Zhu of the University of Oklahoma and Jason McGrath of the University of Minnesota, say that “in Mao’s China, laughter helped to regulate both political and popular culture and often served as an indicator of shifting values, alliances, and political campaigns. In exploring this phenomenon, Maoist Laughter is a significant correction to conventional depictions of socialist China.”

In a review, Xiaomei Chen of the University of California, Davis, called the book “an illuminating study of the culture of laughter in the Maoist period,” adding that “the chapters show that traditional culture could almost blend perfectly with revolutionary mission.”

Krista Van Fleit of the University of South Carolina said Maoist Laughter is a “timely and original contribution to the burgeoning field of Maoist literature and culture. The focus on humor in the Maoist period gives an exciting new perspective from which to understand cultural production in 20th-century China.”

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