Sinicizing China’s great oral epics

Source: Altaic Storytelling (4/12/18)
Manas” Onstage: Ongoing Moves to Sinicize China’s Three Great Oral Epics
By Bruce Humes

A large-scale, colourful rendition of the Kyrgyz epic Manas (玛纳斯史诗) was staged March 22-23 in Beijing’s ultra-modern Poly Theater. This performance came just two days after the newly anointed President Xi Jinping, speaking at the People’s Congress, cited two of the three great oral epics of non-Han peoples, Manas and the Tibetan-language King Gesar. While he mangled the title of the latter (Xi Jinpingian Sager), their mere mention shows their importance in the Party’s current multiethnic-is-good narrative.

This centuries-old trilogy in verse recounts the exploits of the legendary hero Manas and his son and grandson in their struggle to resist external enemies — primarily the Oirat Mongols and the Khitan —and unite the Kyrgyz people. Along with heroic tales such as Dede Korkut and the Epic of KöroğluManas  is considered one of the great Turkic epic poems. Continue reading

Chinese Heritage in the Making

Chinese Heritage in the Making
Experiences, Negotiations and Contestations
Edited by Christina Maags and Marina Svensson
ToC and Introduction

The Chinese state uses cultural heritage as a source of power by linking it to political and economic goals, but heritage discourse has at the same time encouraged new actors to appropriate the discourse to protect their own traditions. This book focuses on that contested nature of heritage, especially through the lens of individuals, local communities, religious groups, and heritage experts. It examines the effect of the internet on heritage-isation, as well as how that process affects different groups of people. Continue reading

Duke position

The Department of Asian & Middle Eastern Studies at Duke University in Durham, North Carolina invites applications for a one year, non-renewable position of a visiting instructor/visiting assistant professor in Chinese literature/culture/film for AY 2018-2019. The appointee is expected to (a) teach two undergraduate courses in the fall and three courses (including one graduate one) in the spring, and (b) to participate in scholarly events and activities in the department.

Applicants should (i) have a PhD degree in Chinese literature/film/cultural studies or a related field; (ii) be capable of teaching courses at the undergraduate and graduate levels in modern and contemporary Chinese literature/culture/film; and (iii) be proficient in English and Chinese.

Submit a letter of application, curriculum vitae, sample course syllabi, and the names and contact information for two references to the department chair, Hae-Young Kim ( The review will begin on April 15 until the position is filled.

Food courier wins poetry competition (1)

This is an oddly superficial treatment from the SCMP of a potentially interesting story.

I would like to know who Mr. Lei’s favorite poets are; whether this delivery-man is familiar with Iron Moon, and what he thinks of it; whether his manner of expressing himself has been influenced by all the poetry he has absorbed; and whether his love of poetry owes anything to the influence of a particular teacher who crossed his path during his (presumably brief) schooling.

When he recites poetry, is it with feeling and apparent understanding (as I surmise), or has he merely found a picturesque way to work out an obsessive-compulsive disorder?

I’d also like to know why the fellow with all the academic literary credentials could not match Mr. Lei’s mastery. Is it because over the last couple of decades, the study of literature in China has emphasized theoretical discussion of texts to the neglect of actual familiarity with them?

A. E. Clark <>

20-year-old rape case a rallying cry

Source: NYT (4/9/18)
China’s #MeToo: How a 20-Year-Old Rape Case Became a Rallying Cry
查看简体中文版  |查看繁體中文版

Gao Yan, a young woman whose suicide two decades ago has ignited a debate about sexual harassment in China.

BEIJING — She was a promising young student of Chinese literature with sterling grades and an industrious work ethic. But in 1998, during her sophomore year at one of China’s most prestigious universities, Gao Yan was raped by a professor, her friends and relatives say, and soon after she killed herself.

Now, on the 20th anniversary of her death, Ms. Gao’s story has become a rallying cry for China’s fledgling #MeToo movement, inspiring calls for the government to do more to prevent sexual assault and harassment. Continue reading

Food courier wins poetry competition

Source: SCMP (4/918)
Chinese food courier shows he’s a whizz, by winning first prize in a poetry quiz
Delivery driver, 36, with a lifelong passion for verse beats off challenge from literary magazine editor to win popular game show
By Yujing Liu

Lei Haiwei, a 37-year-old food delivery man from eastern China, beat off all-comers to win a poetry-themed television quiz show. Photo: Sina

A food courier in eastern China wowed viewers and judges alike with his unrivalled knowledge of poets and poetry last week to take first prize in a popular verse-themed television quiz show.

Lei Haiwei, who works in Hangzhou, Zhejiang province, said he was as surprised as anyone when he emerged victorious in the latest series of Chinese Poetry Competition, aired by state broadcaster CCTV, The Beijing News reported. Continue reading

Fu Lei’s works published in 26 vols

Source: Shanghai Daily (4/10/18)
Famous translator’s works published
By Li Qian

Fu Lei’s second son Fu Min signs one of the volumes in the collection of his father’s work.

A COLLECTION of work by Shanghai translator Fu Lei has been published to mark the 110th anniversary of his birth.

Fu is renowned for translations of French writers, including Romain Rolland, Balzac and Voltaire, in a unique style which captures the literary spirit of their work rather than being a direct translation.

“Compilation of Fu Lei’s Writings and Translations” is in 26 volumes, containing a whopping 7.5 million words.

It covers 36 translated books and 26 translated articles, such as Balzac’s masterpiece “The Human Comedy” and Rolland’s “The Life of Michael Angelo.” Fu’s translation of Rolland’s “Jean Christophe” series is still popular today. Continue reading

Bulletin of the Institute of Modern History no. 98

Bulletin of the Institute of Modern History, Academia Sinica, no. 98

The latest issue of Bulletin of the Institute of Modern History, Academia Sinica, Vol. 98 is now available online at:



The Pride of Public Spittoons? Anti-Spitting Movements in Hong Kong, New York, and Shanghai
By Sean Hsiang-lin Lei

The Transition of North China’s Rural Leadership in the Twentieth Century: An Oral History Investigation
By Chen Yao-huang

A Puppet Organization in Occupied East China during the Early Period of the Anti-Japanese War: A Study of the Zhenjiang Branch of the Daminhui
By Liu Jie Continue reading

Hangzhou museum memorializes Xu Zhimo

Source: China Daily (4/9/18)
Hangzhou museum memorializes poet Xu Zhimo

The main gate of the new Xu Zhimo Memorial Museum, in a photo taken on April 8, 2018. [Photo/VCG]

The Xu Zhimo Memorial Museum in the eastern Chinese city of Hangzhou has reopened to the public after being relocated to Lane 600 in the city’s Xicheng district.

With this upgrade to the old museum site, a new area has been set up to narrate the late Chinese poet’s bond to Hangzhou, capital of Zhejiang province.

Born in Zhejiang, Xu Zhimo (1987-1931) is one of China’s best-loved poets. In the 1920s, Xu studied at King’s College in Cambridge University. His poem, Farewell to Cambridge, written in 1928 when he made a later visit, is one of his most widely known pieces, learned by millions of schoolchildren across China. Continue reading

Life Inside China’s Social Credit Laboratory

Welcome to Orwell 2.0 — already in place. –posted by Magnus Fiskesjö <>

Source: Foreign Policy (4/3/18))
Life Inside China’s Social Credit Laboratory
The party’s massive experiment in ranking and monitoring Chinese citizens has already started.

Top and above: Roncheng’s “civilized families” are displayed on public noticeboards like these. (Simina Mistreanu)

RONGCHENG, CHINA — Rongcheng was built for the future. Its broad streets and suburban communities were constructed with an eye to future expansion, as the city sprawls on the eastern tip of China’s Shandong province overlooking the Yellow Sea. Colorful billboards depicting swans bank on the birds — one of the city’s tourist attractions — returning there every winter to escape the Siberian cold.

In an attempt to ease bureaucracy, the city hall, a glass building that resembles a flying saucer, has been fashioned as a one-stop shop for most permits. Instead of driving from one office to another to get their paperwork in order, residents simply cross the gleaming corridors to talk to officials seated at desks in the open-space area. Continue reading

Sunset for ‘Sunshine Boy’

Source: China Media Project (4/5/18)
By David Bandurski

Sunset for China’s “Sunshine Boy”

Sunset for China’s “Sunshine Boy”

Zhou Xiaoping’s praise for Xi Jinping was never faint, but his enthusiasm may have damned him nonetheless. The young internet writer, once praised by state-run Chinese media as a great disseminator of “positive energy,” or zhengnengliang (正能量), through his professions of love for China and a profound sense of grievance directed toward the West, seems now to be fading into the wings.

A report on March 22 noted in an otherwise unremarkable account of the minutes of a conference of the Sichuan Online Writers Association held the previous day that “[the] conference accepted Comrade Zhou Xiaoping’s resignation as chairman of the Sichuan Online Writers Association.” Continue reading

Graduate student suicide

Source: Sup China (4/5/18)
Graduate Student’s Suicide Raises Questions About The Professor-Student Power Dynamic On Chinese Campuses

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The suicide of a graduate student at the Wuhan University of Technology’s School of Automation two weeks ago has sparked a discussion online about the relationship between mentors and mentees at Chinese universities.

Tao Chongyuan 陶崇园, a graduate student at Wuhan University of Technology’s School of Automation, jumped off the sixth floor of his dormitory building on March 26, reportedly after being mentally abused by his supervisor, Professor Wang Pan 王攀.

Tao’s sister, a doctor at the Huazhong University of Science and Technology (HUST), wrote on her Weibo account that her brother was coerced into assisting Wang with his personal affairs; under the request of Wang, Tao went to Wang’s apartment at night to prepare meals for him and do his laundry. Continue reading

Goddess of gags

Source: Sixth Tone (4/2/18)
Everything’s a Joke for China’s Goddess of Gags
Using sexism and discrimination as fodder, the country’s top female stand-up comic is getting the last laugh.
By Yin Yijun

SHANGHAI — At a white-walled photo studio, China’s queen of stand-up comedy is struggling to keep a straight face. With eyelids coated in glitter and hair styled into waves, Wang Siwen looks every bit like she belongs on the glossy pages of fashion magazine Harper’s Bazaar China.

If only she could stop giggling.

Perhaps it’s no surprise that 31-year-old Wang is still uncomfortable posing for magazines — after all, she’s only been China’s most famous female stand-up comic for a year. Continue reading