Liu Waitong’s Wandering Hong Kong with Spirits

Source: Jacket 2 (11/15/17)
Liu Waitong’s ‘Wandering Hong Kong with Spirits’
By COLLIER NOGUES

Photo of Hong Kong (right) via Wikimedia Commons.

Wandering Hong Kong with Spirits 和幽靈一起的香港漫遊
Liu Waitong 廖偉棠, trans. Enoch Yee-lok Tam, Desmond Sham, Audrey Heijns, Chan Lai-kuen, and Cao Shuying
Zephyr Press and MCCM Creations 2016, 184 pages, $15.00. ISBN 978-9881311535

What is it to be a Hong Kong poet writing now? Specifically, a Hong Kong poet who grew up over the border in Guangdong, who has lived also in Beijing; whose poems register the pull of other cities from Lhasa to Paris, and the pull of China not only as a literary inheritance all the way back to Zhuangzi, but also as a geopolitical giant changing daily even as Hong Kong itself changes? For Liu Waitong, it means to be accompanied always by ghosts. But it means also to seek them out and keep them company in turn — to haunt with them. Working through questions of displacement, citizenship, and competing visions of Hong Kong’s and China’s future, Liu’s poems insist that a careful attention and receptivity can be revolutionary. For Liu, that attention is what we owe our pasts and each other. Continue reading

Socialist Cosmopolitanism

I thought the MCLC list might be interested in Matt Turner’s review of Nicolai Volland’s Socialist Cosmopolitanism. 

Lucas Klein <lklein@hku.hk>

Source: Hyperallergic (11/11/17)
The Past and Future of China’s Socialist Literature
The story Nicolai Volland tells will surprise those who believe communist China was closed to the world, and anyone who thinks communist literature is dull or irrelevant.
By Matt Turner

Socialist Cosmopolitanism: The Chinese Literary Universe, 1945-1965, by Penn State professor Nicolai Volland, will not find its way onto many bedside tables — which is too bad. Although peppered with academic tics and Heideggerian terms, it’s nevertheless an engaging study of Chinese communist literature. The story he tells will surprise those who believe communist China was closed to the world, and anyone who thinks communist literature is dull or irrelevant. Volland’s thesis — that voices in Chinese literature from 1945 to 1965 were aware of, participated in, and helped shape international literary conversations — bucks notions that communist China was an intellectual police state and literary backwater.

Volland’s narrative goes something like this: During the nominally democratic period immediately preceding the establishment of the People’s Republic of China in 1949, foreign literature was frequently translated. Two major writers of the period, Lu Xun and Mao Dun, helped found Yiwen (Translations), a magazine devoted to translation and poetics. During that time, Chinese literature drew widely from Western, as well as other models of modern literature for inspiration, as did Yiwen, promoting internationalism in letters and leftism in politics. The magazine was published for a year. Continue reading

Literate Modernism (1)

Thanks for posting my article. It’s come to my attention that I very unfortunately wrote two inaccuracies in my review: that Shu Zhendong’s typewriter was a commercial failure, and that Mullaney’s article in Foreign Policy was a direct attack on Moser and his book.

The article has now been corrected, including an editor’s note regarding the corrections. See:

http://asianreviewofbooks.com/content/literate-modernism-how-and-why-china-has-shaped-chinese/

Sincerely,

Matt Turner <mateo.tornero@gmail.com>

Literate Modernism

Source: Asian Review of Books (10/12/17)
Literate Modernism: How and Why China Has Shaped Chinese
By Matt Turner

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In mid-19th century China, after suffering multiple humbling defeats by imperial powers, a movement to modernize China’s military developed. The idea was that the national essence or culture of China could be better defended with superior Western methods and technology than outdated Chinese methods—seen as the extension of a static political culture. That the methods and technology were Western did not matter—they were not tied to the imperial aims which produced them; they could be adapted by anyone, and were essentially culture-less.

Modernity in this instance was technical, an application used to preserve something unchanging—Chinese culture. It wasn’t until the end of the 19th century and again in the early 20th century that questions of modernity were recast as residing in the cultural sphere, yoking the military to political representation to women’s emancipation to literature. Part of this new modernization of China was the question of language: was it explicitly or implicitly political, but also whether or not it would aptly serve as an instrument of modernization, a technique by which modernity is formed. Continue reading

New Literary History of Modern China review

Source: LARB China Channel (10/9/17)
Republic of Letters
Eleanor Goodman reviews A New Literary History of Modern China, edited by David Der-Wei Wang
By Eleanor Goodman

One evening this summer as I was waiting for a table at a restaurant, I overheard a well-dressed woman describing a bike trip she was planning to take to Japan. “I’m so excited about it,” she told her companion, “that I just picked up Memoirs of a Geisha.”

That literature is a window onto a culture – a point of access that can be utilized even from afar, a safe mental space in which one’s own attitudes, prejudices, preconceptions, and expectations can be challenged and even altered – is an idea that is not only true but important. In an era in which globalism is a simple fact and travel to previously remote places is easy and ordinary, while simultaneously xenophobia and racial fear-mongering are on the rise, there is an increasing need for exposure to other cultures in many forms. Then again, reading a book written by a white man about sex workers in the 1930s and 40s does not necessarily offer the most accurate picture of Japan as it exists today. Continue reading

The Chinese world order

Source: NY Review of Books (9/12/17)
The Chinese World Order
By Andrew J. Nathan

Xi Jinping

Xi Jinping; drawing by Siegfried Woldhek

The End of the Asian Century: War, Stagnation, and the Risks to the World’s Most Dynamic Region
by Michael R. Auslin
Yale University Press, 279 pp., $30.00
Post-Western World: How Emerging Powers Are Remaking Global Order
by Oliver Stuenkel
Polity, 251 pp., $64.95; $22.95 (paper)

Destined for War: Can America and China Escape Thucydides’s Trap?
By Graham Allison
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 364 pp., $28.00

Ten years ago the journalist James Mann published a book called The China Fantasy, in which he criticized American policymakers for using something he called “the Soothing Scenario” to justify the policy of diplomatic and economic engagement with China. According to this view, China’s exposure to the benefits of globalization would lead the country to embrace democratic institutions and support the American-led world order. Instead, Mann predicted, China would remain an authoritarian country, and its success would encourage other authoritarian regimes to resist pressures to change.1 Continue reading

Reconfiguring Class, Gender, Ethnicity and Ethics in Chinese Internet Culture

MCLC Resource Center is pleased to announce publication of Jamie J. Zhao’s review of Reconfiguring Class, Gender, Ethnicity and Ethics in Chinese Internet Culture (Routledge, 2017), by Haomin Gong and Xin Yang. The review appears below, but is best read at: http://u.osu.edu/mclc/book-reviews/jamie-zhao/. My thanks to MCLC book review editor Nicholas Kaldis for ushering the review to publication.

Kirk A. Denton, editor

Reconfiguring Class, Gender, Ethnicity and 
Ethics in Chinese Internet Culture

By Haoming Gong and Xin Yang 


Reviewed by Jamie J. Zhao
MCLC Resource Center Publication (Copyright September, 2017)


Haomin Gong and Xin Yang. Reconfiguring Class, Gender, Ethnicity and Ethics in Chinese Internet Culture. London and New York: Routledge, 2017. viii, 175 pp. ISBN: 978-1-138-95153-2 (Hardback: $145).

China’s online population has gone through exponential growth in the past several decades since the country gained Internet access in the early 1990s. In 2016, the number of its Internet users reached 713 million, nearly one half of its total population.[1] Thanks to increasingly easy, cheap access to the Internet, as well as to the “decentralized” online censorship system enforced by the government since the 2000s,[2] numerous intriguing digital phenomena, such as e-governance, e-commerce, microblogging/Weibo (微博), online literature (网络文学), online celebrity culture (网红文化), and online live streaming (线上直播), have emerged and transformed Chinese cyberspace into a pluralistic, embattled social-political landscape.[3] The challenges and transformations generated by the diversification of Chinese Internet user groups and activities have attracted a significant amount of scholarly attention.[4] Nevertheless, this body of scholarship mostly centers on “the technologicality and mediality of the Internet” (original emphasis, 5) and overstresses its “social and political” potential (original emphasis, 2), as the authors of Reconfiguring Class, Gender, Ethnicity and Ethics in Chinese Internet Culture put it. Continue reading

LARB China Channel launches

The Los Angeles Review of Books China Channel has launched, and and the theme of its first week is Lu Xun. Kicking things off is a review of Jottings under Lamplight.–Kirk Denton <denton.2@osu.edu>

Source: LARB China Channel (9/25/17)
Lighting Up the Past
Liz Carter reviews Jottings under Lamplight, Lu Xun’s essays
By Liz Carter

Lu Xun, Jottings under Lamplight, edited by Eileen J. Cheng and Kirk A. Denton (Harvard University Press, September 2017)

Lu Xun is considered the father of modern Chinese literature, but until recently his essays, the format in which he was most prolific, were not widely available in English translation, with most other translations focusing on his short stories. Jottings Under Lamplight, a new collection from Harvard University Press, brings 62 of his essays, grouped thematically, to English readers, aiming to “provide lucid and accurate translations for specialists and allow a more general readership access to Lu Xun’s works.”

The only other widely available collection of Lu Xun’s essays in English is Simon & Schuster’s Selected Essays of Master Lu Xunpublished in 2014In contrast to Jottings under LamplightSelected Essays is a slimmer volume of 38 works, apparently grouped in chronological order, though no explanation is given, at least in the ebook version. Essentially, it is an international distribution of the translations by the husband-and-wife team of Gladys Yang and Yang Xianyi, completed between about 1950 and 1980 for China’s Foreign Languages Press, without noticeable editing. Continue reading

An Excess Male

Source: The Verge (9/12/17)
Maggie Shen King’s novel paints a picture of future China that’s not far away
Men must share wives as a result of the one-child policy
By Shannon Liao

Photo by Andrew Liptak / The Verge

For three decades, China has been running what amounts to a huge social experiment: a one-child policy that limits each family to have only one offspring. The policy has led to a greater gender imbalance than the global average. In 2015, Beijing relaxed this policy to allow two children per family. But in Maggie Shen King’s debut novel, An Excess Male, China continues to face this real-world dystopian scenario.

In an alternate timeline set in the near future, the one-child policy has continued for several decades, radically changing the social structure. In this world, a woman can take up to three husbands, depending on how “patriotic” a family decides to be and how desperately in need of cash they are. Continue reading

Idle Talk under the Bean Arbor

MCLC and MCLC Resource Center are pleased to announce S. E. Kile’s review of Idle Talk under the Bean Arbor: A Seventeenth-Century Chinese Story Collection (University of Washington Press, 2017), by Aina the Layman, edited by Robert E. Hegel. The review appears below and at its online home: http://u.osu.edu/mclc/book-reviews/kile/. My thanks to Michael Berry, MCLC book review editor for translations, for ushering the review to publication.

Enjoy,

Kirk A. Denton, editor

Idle Talk under the Bean Arbor:
A Seventeenth-Century Chinese Story Collection

By Aina the Layman
Edited by Robert E. Hegel


Reviewed by S. E. Kile
MCLC Resource Center Publication (Copyright September, 2017)


Even though some new shoots with tender leaves are growing up the bean arbor that I set up some days ago, the bean vines have not yet entirely covered the arbor, and beams of sunlight still shine through empty places among the leaves. These spaces are like storytellers who break off at some crucial spot in the middle, leaving gaps that make the audience unhappy. But let’s be done with that troublesome talk. (23)

Aina the Layman, Idle Talk under the Bean Arbor: A Seventeenth-Century Chinese Story Collection Ed. Robert E. Hegel. Seattle: Washington University Press, 2017. 288 pp. ISBN: 978-0-295-99997-5.

The most elaborate frame-story narrative in traditional Chinese literature is now available in English for the very first time, thanks to the impressive collaborative achievement of editor Robert E. Hegel and nine of his current and former students who did most of the translation work.[1] Idle Talk under the Bean Arbor (豆棚閒話) by Aina jushi 艾衲居士 (Aina the Layman) is a thoroughly enchanting early Qing departure from the conventions of the Ming vernacular short story (huaben 話本). It is such a departure, in fact, that to call the volume a “collection” of “stories” is to disregard many of its most vibrant elements. Continue reading

Chinese Subjectivities and the Beijing Olympics review

MCLC is pleased to announce publication of Wendy Larson’s review of Chinese Subjectivities and the Beijing Olympics (Rowman and Littlefield, 2017), by Gladys Pak Lei Chong. The review appears below and at its online home: http://u.osu.edu/mclc/book-reviews/larson4/. My thanks to Nicholas Kaldis, MCLC book review editor for literary studies, for ushering the review to publication.

Kirk Denton, editor

Chinese Subjectivities and the Beijing Olympics

By Gladys Pak Lei Chong


Reviewed by Wendy Larson
MCLC Resource Center Publication (Copyright August, 2017)


Gladys Pak Lei Chong. Chinese Subjectivities and the Beijing Olympics. London/New York: Rowman and Littlefield, 2017). vii, 283 pp. ISBN 978-1-78660-009-7 (PB), £29.95/$44.95.

Chinese Subjectivities and the Beijing Olympics is a sociological study of the way in which various actors, including the Chinese state, the population at large, and geopolitical forces combined to produce a shared understanding of the Beijing Olympics in 2008, and to drive engagement, accommodation, and resistance among Chinese citizens. Closely following the work of Michel Foucault, Gladys Pak Lei Chong examines the usefulness of famous concepts such as disciplinary power, biopower, and governmentality in deciphering how the Chinese population participated in the Olympics, and the meaning of their engagement. Chong’s data comes from interviews with taxi drivers, volunteers, and others who worked on the Olympics in different capacities. She also studied TV productions and the Internet presence of anything concerning the Olympics, as well as texts, advertisements, posters, photos, and other promotional materials, all collected or examined in four fieldwork trips to China and Hong Kong. At the core of her study is the ethnographic observation of participants, observers, and interlocutors of the Beijing Olympics. Continue reading

The Cultural Revolution on Trial review

MCLC and MCLC Resource Center are pleased to announce publication of Man He’s review of The Cultural Revolution on Trial: Mao and the Gang of Four (Cambridge UP, 2016), by Alexander C. Cook. The review appears below, but is best read at its online home: http://u.osu.edu/mclc/book-reviews/manhe/

My thanks to Nicholas Kaldis, MCLC literary studies book review editor, for ushering the review to publication.

Kirk A. Denton, editor

The Cultural Revolution on Trial:
Mao and the Gang of Four

By Alexander C. Cook


Reviewed by Man He
MCLC Resource Center Publication (Copyright July, 2017)


Alexander C. Cook, The Cultural Revolution on Trial: Mao and the Gang of Four. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2016. xv, 277 pp. ISBN: 9780521135290 (hardback).

“What did it mean for the Chinese to use a legal trial to address the injustices of the Cultural Revolution?” (10). Alexander C. Cook raises and answers this key question in The Cultural Revolution on Trail: Mao and the Gang of Four. Conducted over the winter of 1980-81, the Gang of Four trial was the defining event of China’s post-Mao transition in legal, political, and cultural senses. Not only did it signal a return to law and order after the chaos of the Cultural Revolution, it affirmed the continuing rule of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) and its authority to render a verdict on China’s recent past. Despite the trial’s importance, there has been little English scholarship on the subject, due to the inaccessibility of archival materials and, paradoxically, the widespread availability of “partially redacted courtroom transcripts” (4). The former is an expected bureaucratic hurdle, but the latter is also problematic because the “linguistic engineering” (9) of such documents is apt to make outsiders complain about the empty jargon, leaving only insiders alert to “the heavy freight of meanings that words . . . could convey” (10). Not content to allow these factors to let the trial languish in an “analytical black hole” (7), Cook has devised a compelling means to tackle the issue. Alternating between chapters that focus on legal documents and court proceedings (dealing with the indictment, testimony, and verdict, respectively) and chapters on relevant literary works (in the genres of reportage, psychological realism, and personal memoir), Cook succinctly unveils the legal, political, and cultural meanings hidden in socialist legal and literary narratives, as well as the broader political and social implications of the trial. In other words, by reading legal documents in a literary way and literary narratives politically; Cook demonstrates to outsiders and insiders alike that there is something intriguing and far-reaching about this apparent “show trial.” Continue reading

When True Love Came to China review

MCLC and MCLC Resource Center are pleased to announce publication of Haiyan Lee’s review of When True Love Came to China (Hong Kong UP, 2015), by Lynn Pan. The review appears below, but is best read at its online home: http://u.osu.edu/mclc/book-reviews/haiyanlee/. My thanks to Nicholas Kaldis, MCLC book review editor for literary studies, for ushering the review to publication.

Enjoy,

Kirk Denton, editor

How the Chinese Fell in Love with Love, Caveats and All:
Review of When True Love Came to China

By Lynn Pan


Reviewed by Haiyan Lee
MCLC Resource Center Publication (Copyright June, 2017)


Lynn Pan, When True Love Came to China. Hong Kong: Hong Kong University Press, 2015. vii, 325 pp. ISBN-9789888208807. Hardcover. $65.00/£54.95.

In her novel Dept. of Speculation (2014), Jenny Offill relates the experiments of the nineteenth-century French doctor Hippolyte Baraduc who claimed to have photographed the emotions. Allegedly, he found that different emotions produced different images on the photographic plate: “Anger looked like fireworks. Love was an indistinct blur.”

After Baraduc, no photographer has attempted to replicate this feat. But the wordsmiths of the world—the novelist, poet, playwright, and the occasional philosopher—never cease trying to limn that indistinct blur. And it is, familiarly, the European men and women of letters who have done most of the heavy lifting, with their invention of a sublime, exclusive, all-engulfing, and bound-for-matrimony love that goes by the name of “romantic love” or “true love.” Continue reading

Queer Marxism in Two Chinas review

MCLC and MCLC Resource Center are pleased to announce publication of Jia Tan’s review of Queer Marxism in Two Chinas (Duke UP, 2015), by Petrus Liu. The review appears below, but is best read at its online home here: http://u.osu.edu/mclc/book-reviews/jia-tan/. My thanks to Jason McGrath, MCLC book review editor for media studies, for ushering the review to publication.

Enjoy,

Kirk A. Denton, editor

Queer Marxism in Two Chinas

By Petrus Liu


Reviewed by Jia Tan
MCLC Resource Center Publication (Copyright June, 2017)


Petrus Liu, Queer Marxism in Two Chinas. Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2015. 256pp. ISBN: 978-0-8223-5972-2 (Cloth: $84.95) ISBN: 978-0-8223-6004-9 (Paperback: $23.95)

In the past two decades, the term “queer” has gained increasing academic momentum in China studies across disciplines such as history, sociology, anthropology, film and media studies, communication, and literary studies. What does it mean to queer China studies, and where is this emergent field of queer China studies moving? And conversely, what is the significance of this sub-field for the broader field of queer studies? Petrus Liu’s Queer Marxism in Two Chinas is a timely and highly original book that provides theoretical interventions to the above questions. Taking into account the geopolitical implication of the “two Chinas,” the People’s Republic of China and Taiwan, Liu proposes the framework of queer Marxism as an antidote to major debates and concerns in both queer studies and area studies. Continue reading

Revolution and Its Narratives review

MCLC and MCLC Resource Center are pleased to announce publication of Nicolai Volland’s review of Revolution and Its Narratives: China’s Socialist Literary and Cultural Imaginaries, 1949-1966 (Duke University Press, 2016), by Cai Xiang. The review appears below but is best read online at: http://u.osu.edu/mclc/book-reviews/volland/. My thanks to Nicholas Kaldis, MCLC literary studies book review editor, for ushering the review to publication.

Enjoy,
Kirk Denton, editor

Revolution and Its Narratives: China’s Socialist
Literary and Cultural Imaginaries, 1949-1966

By Cai Xiang
Edited and translated by Rebecca E. Karl and Xueping Zhong


Reviewed by Nicolai Volland
MCLC Resource Center Publication (Copyright March, 2017)


Cai Xiang, Revolution and Its Narratives: China’s Socialist Literary and Cultural Imaginaries, 1949-1966. Ed. and trans. by Rebecca E. Karl and Xueping Zhong. Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2016. xxix, 450 pp. ISBN-13: 978-0-8223-6069-8.

The past decade has witnessed a renaissance of studies on Chinese socialist cultural production—including literature of the 1950s and early 1960s as well as that of the Cultural Revolution. This trend is observable in both English- and Chinese-language scholarship. Dialogue between these academic communities, however, remains limited, at least as far as published output is concerned. While translators have made available to Chinese readers many English-language studies of, say, Republican era history, the amount of literary criticism translated into Chinese remains limited (with the exception of theory); this is especially so for critical studies of post-1949 literature. Flows in the opposite direction, from Chinese to English, are an even rarer species. Nonetheless, several translation initiatives over the past decade have set out to bring more of contemporary Chinese literary criticism to the attention of English readers. These include Hong Zicheng’s (洪子誠) A History of Contemporary Chinese Literature, translated by Michael Day; and Debating the Socialist Legacy and Capitalist Globalization, a volume of essays edited by Xueping Zhong and Ban Wang.[1] With Cai Xiang’s (蔡翔) Revolution and Its Narratives, translated by Rebecca Karl and Xueping Zhong, we are given a monograph-length study that contains a wealth of fresh and original observations on literature from the 1950s and 1960s, all the while offering insights into current (21st century) academic debates in China. Continue reading