Starr Library acquires rare Chinese film studies collection

Source: Berkeley News (4/21/17)
C.V. Starr East Asian Library acquires massive and rare Chinese film studies collection
By Joel Bahr

UC Berkeley photo by Brittany Hosea-Small

Paul Fonoroff has two rules when it comes to collecting. “You have to be passionate about it,” he deadpans. “And it has to be something that no one else is interested in.”

That maxim helped the Cleveland native amass over 70,000 movie posters, periodicals, photos, lobby cards, theater flyers and other movie ephemera while he lived in Beijing and Hong Kong. Fonoroff’s massive collection — which is the largest of its kind in North America and rivals what can be found at film archives in Asia — was recently acquired by UC Berkeley’s C.V. Starr East Asian Library, opening an enormous cache to researchers and the public. Continue reading

Unregistered churches are driving religious revolution

Source: The Atlantic (4/23/17)
In China, Unregistered Churches Are Driving a Religious Revolution
The government won’t approve it, but the question is if they’ll shut it down.

A Chinese Christian woman sings during a prayer service at an underground Protestant church in Beijing.

A Chinese Christian woman sings during a prayer service at an underground Protestant church in Beijing.Kevin Frayer / Getty

China, the world’s rising superpower, is experiencing an explosion of faith. The decades of anti-religious campaigns that followed the 1949 communist takeover are giving way to a spiritual transformation—and among the fastest-growing drivers of that transformation are unregistered churches.

Once called “house” or “underground” churches because they were small clandestine affairs, these groups have become surprisingly well-organized, meeting very openly and often counting hundreds of congregants. They’ve helped the number of Protestants soar from about 1 million when the communists took power to at least 60 million today. Of these believers, about two-thirds are not affiliated with government churches. In other words, Protestants in non-government churches outnumber worshippers in government churches two to one. Continue reading

China plans world’s biggest national park on Tibetan plateau

Source: SCMP (4/22/17)
China plans world’s biggest national park on Tibetan plateau
Survey to help draw boundary of 2.5 million sq km park scheduled for this summer
By Stephen Chen

Tibetan nomads ride a motorcycle on the Tibetan plateau in Qinghai province. Photo: AFP

China is considering turning the entire Tibetan plateau and surrounding mountains into a huge national park to protect “the last piece of pure land”, according to scientists briefed on the project.

Dubbed the Third Pole National Park because the plateau and mountains, including the Himalayas, have a natural environment that in many ways resembles polar regions, it would be the world’s biggest national park. The plateau covers an area of more than 2.5 million sq km, mainly in Tibet and Qinghai, dwarfing the biggest national park at present, Greenland’s 972,000 sq km Northeast Greenland National Park. Continue reading

Bailu yuan tv drama shelved

Source: China Media Project (4/20/17)
Chinese Drama Shelved
By David Bandurski

CHINESE MEDIA REPORTED on April 17 that White Deer Plain (白鹿原), the television drama adapted from the novel of the same name by Chen Zhongshi, had been shelved after the airing of a single episode. It is not yet clear what the reasons are for the pulling of the drama — whether, for example, it is a suspension ordered by the authorities, or a decision taken by the show’s distributors — and there is so far no indication of whether or when the series might air again. Continue reading

Literary Translation in Practice 2017

Literary Translation in Practice 26th – 30th June 2017, City University London

Are you a practising professional or a newcomer to the art of translation? Develop your translation skills under the guidance of top professionals at a central London campus. An immersion course in literary translation into English across genres – including selections from fiction. poetry, history, essays, journalism, travel and academic writing – taught by leading literary translators and senior academics, with plenty of opportunities for networking.

• Arabic – Ruth Ahmedzai Kemp
• Chinese – Nicky Harman
• French – Trista Selous and Frank Wynne
• German – Shaun Whiteside
• Italian – Howard Curtis
• Japanese-Angus Turvill
• Polish – Antonia Lloyd-Jones
• Portuguese – Daniel Hahn
• Russian – Robert Chandler
• Spanish – Peter Bush
• Swedish – Kevin Halliwell Continue reading

Burton Watson, 1925-2017 (2)

Thanks for the links, Magnus. I’m glad to see an official obituary, finally.

I’ve been collecting remembrances from Watson’s friends, students, and fans—scholars, translators, and poets—on my blog, and so far have put up pieces by Victor Mair, Jesse Glass, Jeffrey Yang, John Bradley, Jonathan Chaves, Sam Hamill, J. P. Seaton, Chloe Garcia Roberts, Deb Wallwork and Mike Hazard, and  John Timothy Wixted. You can see them all here:

Lucas Klein <>

Small Talk

Source: Taipei Times (4/20/17)
Movie review: Small Talk
After a lifetime of silence, making this documentary was Huang Hui-chen’s only means of connecting with her lesbian mother — and she takes the audience along on her arduous and deeply personal journey
By Han Cheung  /  Staff Reporter

Movie poster for Small Talk. Photo courtesy of Mirror Stage Films

As its title suggests, Small Talk (日常對話) is driven by conversation, specifically director Huang Hui-chen’s (黃惠偵) efforts to get her lesbian mother, A-nu (阿女), to open up about her past. She also speaks with other relatives and A-nu’s former lovers, asking very direct questions that clearly make some of them uncomfortable.

But what makes the film compelling is the lack of small talk. Huang reveals that even though they live under the same roof, she and her mother barely interact. A-nu cooks lunch and leaves for the day to hang out with her friends, and in one scene doesn’t even acknowledge Huang when she returns home.

With a painful past involving an arranged marriage with an abusive man, A-nu prefers to keep everything to herself. Huang admits in the film that she wouldn’t know how to approach the subject if she hadn’t picked up the camera, and through her lens she attempts to understand A-nu and release them both from the shackles of the past. Continue reading

Burton Watson, 1925-2017 (1)

More notes on Burton Watson, the great translator and scholar, who just passed away.

I myself only spoke to him once. But I have enjoyed his work tremendously over the years, and also used it in teaching. It shines with the same generosity that came across in his voice that one time.

— Magnus Fiskesjö <>

Dialog, Understanding, and Tolerance

Dialog, Understanding, & Tolerance: Lessons from Asia, Past & Present 
Saturday, April 29, 2017, 9:00 am-2:15 pm
Lone Mountain 100
University of San Francisco
2130 Fulton Street, San Francisco, CA

Made Possible Through the Generous Support of
The Jesuit Foundation of San Francisco
The China Business Studies Initiative (CBSI)
& The Program in Asian Studies

Preamble: In the venerable Jesuit tradition of facilitating dialog among different faiths and peoples, this symposium brings together speakers from various disciplines and regional specializations to discuss how cultures from Beijing to Samarkand and from Lahore to Hyderabad have found ways of fostering vibrantly multicultural, pluralistic, tolerant, and resilient societies. In that vast region where nearly half of all humanity resides, the universal human desire for mutual understanding has produced wisdom, harmony, and—last but definitely not least—mesmerizingly beautiful music. In this era when multiculturalism is under assault, including by the ultranationalists now ensconced in the White House, we hope this symposium will contribute to the ongoing dialog over how to make our world more equitable and harmonious for everyone. Continue reading

China’s stone age skiers

Source: NYT (4/19/17)
China’s Stone Age Skiers and History’s Harsh Lessons
Cave paintings in the Altai Mountains may show the cradle of skiing is in China. But the ethnic minorities who live there worry the old ways are in danger.

Young skiers outside the village of Khom, in northern Xinjiang, China, last year. Fewer children are learning to ski in a region thought to be the birthplace of skiing. Credit Garrett Grove

Tucked beneath a shallow outcropping in the rolling lowlands of the Altai Mountains, four men glide along the shadow-pocked rock face, their faint silhouettes stalking a herd of unsuspecting ibex. To their left, a fifth swoops downhill, corralling the beasts with a spear in his hand.

His pigmented frame arcs from left, to right, and back again — a ski turn that may be the oldest ever recorded.

The hunters are part of a cave painting in the northern tip of China’s Xinjiang Province, a wedge of territory that pokes up between Mongolia to the east and Kazakhstan to the west. According to Chinese archaeologists, the painting dates back more than 10,000 years — 2,000 more than the next earliest ski artifact on record.

Now, as the popularity of winter sports explodes in China, driven by President Xi Jinping’s decree that his country would have 300 million winter sports enthusiasts by the time it hosts the 2022 Winter Olympics, ski tour companies have begun opening their doors in this remote region. The first heli-skiing and snowmobile-access tours started operating this winter in the nearby village of Khom, offering trips deep into the heart of the Altai. Continue reading

Cartoonist Rebel Pepper

Source: Index on Censorship (3/21/17)
#IndexAwards 2017: Chinese cartoonist Rebel Pepper refuses to put down his pen
Despite the persecution he faces for his work, Rebel Pepper continues to satirise the Chinese state from a life in exile in Japan

Wang Liming, better known under the pseudonym Rebel Pepper, is one of China’s most famous political cartoonists. He is best-known for his work satirising China’s president Xi Jinping, for which he has faced repeated persecution.

“Most of my political cartoon works expose the CCP’s crimes against the law, and the social problems and environmental crises that they have created,” Wang says. ”Comics are a simple and direct visual language, often more than the performance of an article, so the Communist authorities naturally hate my works very much.” Continue reading

Animators’ Roundtable

Animators’ Roundtable Forum: Chinese Animation and (Post)Socialism
Hong Kong University of Science and Technology
April 27-28, 2017

Films produced in socialist China (1949-1976) have often been regarded as political propaganda without much artistic creativity. Contrary to this stereotype, however, it was during these decades of “suppression of literature and arts” that Chinese animation reached a zenith of artistic splendor. The state-owned Shanghai Animation Film Studio was the only animation studio that existed during the socialist era. Dynamic and creative, it produced hundreds of high quality animated films and marked a brilliant page in the history of animation not only in China but worldwide. Although the majority of these masterpieces were made by the Shanghai Animation Film Studio during the socialist years, the studio continued its productions in the post-socialist 1980s and witnessed another artistic peak, which we can argue was actually an extension of the socialist era. The Shanghai Animation Film Studio continued to keep its socialist collective mode of production, and its accomplished animators were mainly those who matured and thrived during the socialist era.

This roundtable forum will discuss animated filmmaking in (post)socialist China from the insider perspectives of these animators. Their narratives revisit their gorgeous animation classics, reveal hidden histories and names behind the scenes, and bring us back to that unique era in a collective and nostalgic search for a glorious and irreproducible time that was once lost to history, but will now be recovered through their animated stories. Continue reading

KFLC 2017

Dear List Members,

The 70th KFLC conference at the University of Kentucky is around the corner! It’s one of the longest running foreign language, literature, and culture conferences in the nation!

We are very excited to have Prof. Xiaomei Chen with us from UC Davis as the EAS Keynote Speaker. Her keynote lecture is entitled “Staging Chinese Revolution: The Color Scheme of Socialist Epic Theater (1964-2006),” it will take place on Friday April 21 at 12:15 pm in Patterson Hall 306 on the University of Kentucky campus. A catered lunch with accompany the keynote. 

I include the EAS program below, FYI. The full conference program is available online:

Luo Liang Continue reading

Interview with Mark Bender

Dear Colleagues,

The following is an interview with Professor Mark Bender (The Ohio State University) about his new book, The Borderlands of Asia: Culture, Place, Poetry, which was released last month at the 2017 AAS conference in Toronto. This unprecedented volume presents important cultural works from the borders, margins, buffer zones, transitional areas, and frontiers from within and around the megastates of China and India, subsumed within the larger geopolitical constructs of East Asia, Southeast Asia, and South Asia. Many are from communities of poets or individuals writing within the watersheds of the Eastern Himalayas, an area encompassing Northeast India, Myanmar, and Southwest China. A number are from farther north in Western China and the steppes of Inner Mongolia and the nation of Mongolia. This book is a rare collection that brings together the works of poets of diverse cultural backgrounds located in places that are only beginning to be recognized globally as sites of intense poetic work. Major themes that penetrate these works are rapid environmental change and subsequent effects on traditional culture and challenges to ethnic and personal identity. These concerns are often framed within imagery of the local folk culture and local geographic environment, which are under increasing pressures of development by local and international governments and business enterprises. You can also watch Professor Mark Bender’s speech about his book at the AAS Cambria Press reception (or read the transcript of his speech). The Borderlands of Asia is part of the Cambria Sinophone World Series, headed by Professor Victor H. Mair (University of Pennsylvania). Continue reading

How Western fake news took over Chinese social media

Source: Sixth Tone (4/17/17)
How Western Fake News Took Over China’s Social Media
So-called marketing accounts are swamping the country’s screens with Daily Mail clickbait and right-wing conspiracy theories.
By Fang Kecheng

[Fang Kecheng is a Ph.D. student in the Annenberg School for Communication at the University of Pennsylvania and was formerly a journalist at the Southern Weekly newspaper.]

People read newspapers pinned to noticeboards in Xi’an, Shaanxi province, Sept. 12, 2013. Yuan Chen/VCG)

In February, Wikipedia editors voted to ban the British tabloid the Daily Mail and its website as sources of reference in its entries. The decision was based on the news group’s “poor fact checking, sensationalism, and flat-out fabrication,” which rendered its content “generally unreliable.”

While internet users in the Western world now stand a reduced chance of encountering the Daily Mail’s content, Chinese social media outlets — including microblogging site Weibo and social messaging app WeChat — are frequently abuzz with the tabloid’s stories. In fact, the social media feeds of millions of Chinese netizens are filled not only with translations of the Daily Mail’s stories, but also with a torrent of misinformation from the West’s now-ubiquitous fake news and conspiracy theory websites. Continue reading