Document Type


Date of Degree

Fall 2009

Degree Name

PhD (Doctor of Philosophy)

Degree In

Communication Studies

First Advisor

Peters, John Durham

Second Advisor

Havens, Timothy

First Committee Member

Dyer, Carolyn

Second Committee Member

Andrejevic, Mark

Third Committee Member

Polumbaum, Judy


This dissertation is about the intellectual reception of TV in 1980s China. While Chinese media have often been a topic within studies of globalization and global political economy, Chinese TV history still has not gained enough scholarly attention. Chinese scholars' extant studies of TV history have provided valuable knowledge, but a more extensive and critical view of the interaction between TV and culture is still lacking. This dissertation aims to explore Chinese TV history in the pivotal decade of the 1980s from the viewpoint of cultural studies. Using theories of media technology, globalization and gender studies, this dissertation reexamines how a western technology was introduced to and then embedded in Chinese culture. This study of the popularization of TV in 1980s China is historical-critical supplemented with oral history interviews. Well-known Chinese periodicals were studied whose goals were not just to educate people, as was the normal role of media under socialism, but also to entertain them. These magazines include Life Out of 8 Hours, Popular TV, Popular Cinema, Modern Family, and Chinese Advertising. The dissertation also analyzes TV dramas produced in China or imported from other nations in order to examine the interaction between various ideologies of Chinese society and those of international media. It explores how the hybridity between western TV culture and Chinese traditions was represented in popular Chinese visual media. The confusions and ambitions of modernization appeared in the representations of visual media. The intellectual reception of TV in China was a negotiation between tradition and modernity, nationalism and internationalism.

Chapter one examines how the Chinese media introduced and represented TV in the 1980s. Chapter two investigates how TV was presented by 1980s Chinese media as a symbol of modern life, wealth and higher social status. In chapter three, I examine how TV, a modern medium, was linked media to nature. Chapter four concentrates on the relationship between TV and other media technologies, such as film and print media. Chapter five focuses on gender representation in discourse and images promoting TV, its dramas, and related media such as TV and film magazines. The epilogue provides a brief review of the general situation of Chinese TV since the 1990s.


1980s, China, media history, modernization, TV, visual media


ix, 224 pages


Includes bibliographical references (pages 210-224).


Copyright 2009 Huike Wen

Included in

Communication Commons