In the first decade after 2000, the idea of “the end of literature” proposed by J. Hillis Miller aroused widespread controversy in Chinese academe. This article seeks to reiterate the original meaning of Miller’s statement while tracing the original Chinese context from which this debate arose. The article points out that the real reason for this debate is not that there are different understandings of Miller’s term the end of literature but that Chinese academics have become dissatisfied with and anxious about the increasingly marginal status of literature. This debate has coincided historically with scholarly concerns over visual culture, the aestheticization of everyday life, cultural studies, and globalization. Each of these discussions contains related insights into the future development and transformation of literary theory and its disciplinary boundaries.

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