Exile or Pursuit

MCLC Resource Center is pleased to announce publication of Wai-chew Sim’s translation of an excerpt from Exile or Pursuit, by the Singapore writer Chia Joo Ming. The translation is too long to include here in full. The whole translation can be found at http://u.osu.edu/mclc/online-series/sim/

Born in 1959 in Singapore, Chia Joo Ming (谢裕民) won the Singapore Young Artist award in 1993 and participated in the Iowa international writing program in 1995. He was also writer-in-residence in the Chinese program, Nanyang Technological University, in 2014. Chia is a three-time recipient of the Singapore Literature Prize, in 2006, 2010, and 2016. His works include: The Most Boring Nationality (最闷族, 1989),  New Words of Worldly Tales (世说新语, 1994), The Insignificance of Being (一般是非, 1999), Reconstructing Nanyang Images (重构南洋图像, 2005),  M40 (2009), 1644: The Year A Dynasty Was Hanged (甲申说明书, 2012), and Exile or Pursuit (放逐与追逐, 2015). He is currently a senior executive sub-editor in Lianhe Zaobao (联合早报), Singapore main’s Chinese-language newspaper.

Exile or Pursuit (2015) tells the story of Hok Leong (福良), whose family runs a won ton noodle stall in a food centre. It follows his experiences through school, national service (compulsory military service), and early adulthood, detailing in the process a distinct period in the Singapore socio-historical formation and experience.

Kirk A. Denton, editor

Exile or Pursuit (an extract)

By Chia Joo Ming [1]
Translated by Wai-chew Sim [2]


MCLC Resource Center Publication (Copyright October 2017)


1

The year it all started, Hok Leong had just entered secondary two. A new student came into their classroom. Her name is Lin Chiu-yun, the form teacher said. She’s from Indonesia. From now on—everybody—please help her out as much as you can.

Hok Leong’s tentative memories of school life began more or less from that period.

To welcome the new student, the teacher clapped his hands, willing everyone to join in. Hok Leong felt that this was a tad unsophisticated but was prepared to go through the motions. He raised his hands and was about to bring them together when suddenly he heard his name.

“Hok Leong. Your Chinese is pretty good. You should help Chiu-yun.”

The boys in the class started to hoot. Hok Leong felt embarrassed and put his arms down. 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

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

The Yangtze and My Father

MCLC Resource Center is pleased to announce publication of Paul E. Festa’s translation “The Yangtze and My Father: A Love Story,” by Yuan Jinmei. The essay appears below and can be read at its permanent home here:

http://u.osu.edu/mclc/online-series/festa2/

Enjoy,

Kirk Denton, editor

The Yangtze and My Father: 
A Love Story

By Yuan Jinmei [1]

Translated by Paul E. Festa


MCLC Resource Center Publication (Copyright September 2017)


Yuan Jinmei

When I was young, I never knew fish got sick, birds became poisoned, kids died. My father, however, was well aware. He was a biologist. After he died, I learned from his students that fish from the Yangtze River are inedible. Birds fly in the cogon grass of the Yangtze’s riparian zone; they flutter and fly, and plunge and die—it’s lead poisoning. Children raised near the river, young children, contract liver cancer.

Before people knew why, the great Yangtze—the legendary river that for so long flowed from the horizon into eternal poems and paintings—suddenly lost its halcyon aura as the carefree setting for the solitary swan under sunset clouds, suddenly found its expansive bosom heretofore unfailingly open to all and sundry sailing ships now closed. The Yangtze, suddenly, became our enemy. Continue reading

The Ancient Art of Falling Down

MCLC Resource Center is pleased to announce publication of “The Ancient Art of Falling Down: Vaudeville Cinema between Hollywood and China–A Conversation between Christopher Rea and Henry Jenkins.” The piece has too many images and video clips to post here in full. Find below the opening description. To read it its entirety, go to: http://u.osu.edu/mclc/online-series/rea-jenkins/. I thank the authors for sharing their work with the MCLC community.

Kirk Denton, editor

The Ancient Art of Falling Down
Vaudeville Cinema between Hollywood and China

A Conversation between Christopher Rea and Henry Jenkins


MCLC Resource Center Publication (Copyright August 2017)


Description

Slapstick performance and trick cinematography dominated early global cinema. People climb into boxes and are tossed around; they jerry-rig all manner of dwellings and conveyances; they leap out of windows, crash through doors, dangle from clock towers, and slide down staircases; they appear and disappear like ghosts. But what did such visual gags look like in films made in Shanghai, as opposed to Los Angeles? How did filmmakers from different cultural traditions share or adapt comic tropes—and which ones? And how did their comedy change with technology, such as the advent of sound cinema, or with politics, war, and revolution?

The following conversation between Henry Jenkins, a media scholar who works primarily on American popular culture, and Christopher Rea, a cultural historian of China, explores comic convergences on the silver screen, focusing on filmmakers who embraced a vaudevillian aesthetic of visceral comedy and variety entertainment. It offers a guided tour of cinematic comedy in comparative perspective, drawing out resonances between Hollywood and Chinese films from the 1910s to the 1950s. Illustrating the discussion are clips from a variety of films, from early works by Charlie Chaplin to the short-lived era of cinematic satire in Mao’s China. 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

Old Fool: Elegy for a Monkey

MCLC Resource Center is pleased to announce publication of Paul E. Festa’s translation “Old Fool: Elegy for a Monkey” (老傻), by Hu Fayun 胡发云. The essay, which mourns the death of a smuggled rare monkey, was widely circulated online. The essay appears below, but is best read at its online home: http://u.osu.edu/mclc/online-series/festa/. Enjoy.

Kirk Denton, editor

Old Fool
Elegy for a Monkey

By Hu Fayun [1]

Translated by Paul E. Festa


MCLC Resource Center Publication (Copyright August 2017)


Hu Fayun

Old Fool is a tiny monkey.  He’s not a kind of monkey we commonly see, but one that’s on the verge of extinction.

Early last winter, my wife returned from the wet market and reported seeing a peddler selling two tiny monkeys; they were caged in a wire rattrap, curled up pitifully into little balls and huddled together to escape the cold.  Each time my wife returned from the wet market she brought back a few of these heartrending stories: about a wounded muntjac deer with melancholy eyes; about a few small hedgehogs fighting fruitlessly to break free from a nylon net bag; about a row of brilliantly plumaged golden pheasant corpses; about a small squirrel struggling in the scorching sun for its final dying breath; about a clowder of cats crushed together and yowling piteously in chorus. There were also small squawking quail bouncing frenziedly in a basket, bare and bloody from being plucked featherless while alive. There were frogs, tortoises, soft-shelled turtles, and snakes—all of which, as recipes prescribe, had been skinned alive. There were also those docile and adorable pigeons, rabbits, and lambs. For these small creatures, every wet market is their Auschwitz concentration camp. Continue reading

Reportage special issue for MCLC–cfp reminder

Dear colleagues,

This is a friendly reminder that the abstract for the MCLC special issue “Reportage and Its Contemporary Variations” is due by August 31. Please send abstracts of 500 words by August 31, 2017 to both guest editors, Charles Laughlin (cal5m@virginia.edu) and Li Guo (li.guo@usu.edu), and the general editor, Kirk A. Denton (denton.2@osu.edu). Selected abstracts will be invited to submit full manuscripts (30-50 pages, double-spaced) by May 15, 2018 for consideration of inclusion in the special issue for Modern Chinese Literature and Culture in Fall 2019.

https://u.osu.edu/mclc/2017/06/17/contemporary-reportage-at-work-special-mclc-issue-cfp/

Li Guo <li.guo@usu.edu>

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

On Listening to Enemy Radio

MCLC and MCLC Resource Center are pleased to announce publication of Yurou Zhong’s translation of “On Listening to Enemy Radio,” by Ah Cheng. The translation appears below, but is best read at its online home: http://u.osu.edu/mclc/online-series/zhongyurou/.

Enjoy,

Kirk Denton, editor

On Listening to Enemy Radio

By Ah Cheng[1]

Translated by Yurou Zhong


MCLC Resource Center Publication (Copyright July 2017)


Ah Cheng as an educated youth in Yunnan, circa 1970.

June 4, 1989 marked the end of the 1980s, concluding the decade one year early. The year 1976 had ended the 1970s, bringing that decade to a close four years early. However, adding the last four years of the 1970s to the next nine-year decade, it could be said the 1980s lasted for thirteen years. As for the decade of the 1970s, it really started from the beginning of the Cultural Revolution. From 1966 to 1976, that was ten whole years. To use “decade”[2] to measure time is neither accurate nor appropriate. Life is not like pork and cannot be measured one slice at a time. For me, the 1970s was long. Every day stretched out like a year.

One day, when I was laboring away in the mountains, I realized that all the history books I had read since I was little concerned big events and the people involved in them. But there were only a handful of big events in those people’s lives. How did they live out the rest of their eventless and mundane lives? Did they also experience the same feeling I did of their days stretching on and on without end? The 1970s was the best time for me, with my endless energy and quick reactions, so quick that I could hardly keep up with myself. I had to constantly tell myself: Slow down and slow down a bit more; you have nothing but time. 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

Vol. 29, no. 1 of MCLC

We are pleased to announce publication of vol. 29, no. 1 (Spring 2017) of Modern Chinese Literature and Culture. Find the table of contents below, with links to abstracts. For those of you who are subscribers, you should be receiving your copy within the next few weeks. If you have any questions about your subscription, please contact SHI Jia, my assistant, at mclc@osu.edu. We rely on subscriptions for our survival, so please keep your subscription up to date! Shi Jia will also handle new subscriptions and sales of individual copies. A reminder that essays from back issues of MCLC, with a two-year lag, are available in pdf through JSTOR:

http://www.jstor.org/journal/modechinlitecult

Kirk Denton, editor

Volume 29, Number 1 (Spring 2017)

Articles

Reportage and Its Contemporary Variations–special MCLC issue cfp

Reportage and Its Contemporary Variations: A Special Issue of Modern Chinese Literature and Culture
Guest edited by Charles Laughlin and Li Guo

This special issue welcomes essays on reportage narratives in contemporary China, Taiwan and Hong Kong, as well as explorations of nonfiction, documentary, and the art of the real in film, media, theater or visual arts. From late imperial Chinese exploration narratives about Southwest borderlands to modern author Ai Wu’s travel accounts of Yunnan and Burma, from the Leftwing League’s promotion of reportage as a pathway to proletarian realism in the 1930s to the use of cinéma vérité and direct cinema in contemporary documentary filmmaking, Chinese reportage has found expressions in a nexus of genres, reflecting evolving and polyphonic aesthetic modes and cultural discourses. Xiaomei Chen (1985) observes that the assimilation of Chinese reportage as a genre into the canonical literary system attests to the demands of political and literary history and also highlights the reportage reader’s ethical obligations or what Chen called “lectorial competence.” Yingjin Zhang (1993) argues that reportage illustrates “the ideological workings of narrative” and “consciously interpellates individuals (writers, characters and readers) as subjects in their own rights.” Charles Laughlin (2002) proposes that the “association of the crowd and its collective subjectivity with a theatrical narrative space is the basis of the ‘chronotope’ underlying the modern Chinese reportage narratives.” Yin-Hwa Chou (1985), Zuyan Chen (1993), Thomas Moran (1994), Rudolf Wagner (1992), Shenshen Cai (2016) and others contributed rich studies on the hybrid modes and canons of modern and contemporary Chinese reportage, ranging from early twentieth century travel memoirs to chronicles in the new millennium. 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