Cities Surround the Countryside: Urban Aesthetics in Postsocialist China analyzes urban aesthetics in the Peoples Republic of China at the turn of the 21st century (1990-2010). Applying empirical field research, historical frameworks, and critical theory to analysis of urban fiction, cinema, art, architecture, and urban planning, the book explores how new forms of urban identity manifest in private lifestyles, local cultures, civic activism, narrative ethics, and urban governance. Cities is unique in its sustained analysis of cultural aesthetics in relation to the built environment and in its contextualization of urban aesthetics within broader economic and intellectual trends.
Robin Visser is Associate Professor of Asian Studies at University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. She specializes in Chinese urban cultural studies, literary studies, and environmental humanities. Her book, Questioning Borders: Eco-Literatures in China and Taiwan (Columbia University Press, 2023), compares Han Chinese and non-Han Indigenous literatures of the environment.