Between English and Guoyu: The English Student,
English Weekly, and the Commercial Press’s
Correspondence Schools

By Michael Gibbs Hill

Modern Chinese Literature and Culture, vol. 23, no. 2 (Fall 2011), pp. 100-145

The author examines two of the most important English-language magazines of the early Republic, The English Student (Yingwen zazhi) and English Weekly (Yingyu zhoukan) and their affiliated English correspondence schools, all of which were organized by China’s largest publisher in the Republican period, the Commercial Press. Although many studies have read late-Qing and Republican journals with great care, these widely-circulated publications have managed to escape scholars’ notice almost entirely. Hill argues that these pulpy artifacts of the Shanghai print business form an important archive of attempts by cultural producers and consumers commonly excluded from our narratives of twentieth-century literary and cultural history to theorize and negotiate the boundaries between the disputed versions of the “Chinese” language that inhabited the period’s print culture and global English as a de facto auxiliary language. Ultimately, the use and dissemination of English as an auxiliary language offered patterns for language reformers of the 1920s to promote Guoyu, the new “National Language” or “National Speech,” among popular readerships.