Re/Collecting the Sources: Shanghai Dianshizhai Pictorial and Its Place in Historical Memories, 1884-1949

By Christopher A. Reed

Modern Chinese Literature and Culture, vol. 12, no. 2, pp.44-72

Using a wide variety of historical, literary, and journalistic sources, this article examines questions concerned with the impact of industrially produced visual culture on Chinese of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Acknowledging that discussion of the impact of such images on Chinese audiences is made difficult by a shortage of written evaluations of specific visual or textual works, the author has selected two memoirs and their recollections of particular historical images from the influential Shanghai magazine, Dianshizhai huabao (Dianshizhai pictorial)(1884-1898), for a close reading. By measuring words against images, the author seeks to reveal the non-mechanistic, creative nature of historical memory in an age of machinery and mechanical duplication. The article also seeks to broaden our discussion of industrially produced modern visual imagery to include an earlier era than previously attempted.