Censorship in Chinese Studies

This is an addendum to yesterday’s posting of the table of contents of volume 40 of CLEAR.–Kirk Denton

Three new essays on the Chinese script and a new twist to the old problem of censorship in Chinese studies
By Jacob Edmond

I’m delighted to announce that volume 40 of Chinese Literature: Essays, Articles, Reviews (CLEAR) has just been released and that it includes a cluster of essays that Lorraine Wong and I have co-edited. In our brief preface to the cluster, we not only introduce three ground-breaking  essays by exciting young scholars; we also explain how they came to be published in CLEAR. We hope both the essays and our cautionary tale about censorship will generate new conversations in Chinese studies and, more broadly, about the increasing pervasiveness of government censorship around the world. To this end, I reproduce our preface and the abstracts of the three essays below.

Flipping the script: An introduction to three essays and to the problem of censorship in Chinese studies

The essays by Guangchen ChenNicholas Wong, and Jin Liu gathered together in this issue of CLEAR are linked by a shared set of scholarly concerns and, less happily, by a history of thwarted publication and censorship. These three essays illustrate the powerful and contested role played by the Chinese script in imagining and questioning notions of Chineseness and of the Chinese state from the early twentieth century to the present day: from Lu Xun’s transcriptions of ancient steles through Ng Kim Chew’s repurposing of oracle bone script to Li Xiaoguai’s online publication of his playful and satirical invented characters. As the three essays demonstrate, these writers deploy the qualities of the Chinese script to question the norms of language, simplistic notions of Chineseness, and monolithic conceptions of China. Their publication in this issue of CLEAR brings up important areas of concern for those writing about Chinese literature and culture today. Continue reading

Zhu Guangqian and Benedetto Croce on Aesthetic Thought

Zhu Guangqian and Benedetto Croce on Aesthetic Thought, with a translation of Wenyi xinlixue 文藝心理學 (The Psychology of Art and Literature). Leiden. Brill, 2019.
Author: Mario Sabattini
Editor: Elisa Levi Sabattini

In Zhu Guangqian and Benedetto Croce on Aesthetic Thought, Mario Sabattini analyses Croce’s influence on the aesthetic thought of Zhu Guangqian. Zhu Guangqian is one of the most representative figures of contemporary Chinese aesthetics. Since the ’30s, he had an active role in China both on the literary and philosophical scenes, and, through his writings, he exerted an important influence in the moulding of numerous generations of intellectuals. Some of his works have been widely read, and they still provoke considerable interest in China, on the mainland as well as in Taiwan and Hong Kong. The volume also presents a revised translation of Zhu Guangqian’s Wenyi xinlixue (Psychology of Art and Literature).

Publication Date: 29 May 2019
ISBN: 978-90-04-39226-7
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1163/9789004392267

CLEAR vol. 40

Chinese Literature: Essays, Articles, Reviews, vol. 40


Eugene EOYANG, “CLEAR: A 40-Year Perspective” 1


Thomas MAZANEC, “Righting, Riting, and Rewriting the Book of Odes (Shijing): On ‘Filling out the Missing Odes’ by Shu Xi” 5

YUAN Ye, “Faithful Women in Jin Ping Mei: Literary Borrowing, Adaptation, and Reinterpretation” 33

Maria Franca SIBAU, “Filiality, Cannibalism, Sanctity: Fleshing Out Gegu in a Late Ming Tale of a Filial Girl” 51

CHEN Lei, “Authorship and Transmission in Kong Shangren’s Self-Commentary of the Peach Blossom Fan” 73

Lorenzo ANDOLFATTO, “Futures Enmired in History: Chun Fan’s Weilai shijie (1907), Biheguan Zhuren’s Xin jiyuan (1908) and the Limits of Looking Backward” 107

Nicholas Morrow WILLIAMS, “Chinese Poetry and Its Contexts” 125 Continue reading

Naked Body comic collection

Source: SCMP (4/16/19)
Naked Body: the Chinese comic collection dedicated to nudity and defying censorship

  • When Chinese artist Yan Cong was told he could not print any nudity in his books, he produced an anthology filled with nude characters
  • Body hair, fetishes, Madonna, and a man’s head being eaten by shaving cream are all themes in the collection

By The Guardian

Naked Body is a Chinese comic collection of short stories all featuring nudity.

Naked Body is a Chinese comic collection of short stories all featuring nudity.

Back in the early 2010s, Beijing comic artist Yan Cong (a pseudonym that translates to “chimney”) was told by printers that they wouldn’t publish any of his books with nudity in them. Both irritated and inspired, he decided to respond to the censorship with an anthology in which all the main characters were nude.

Naked Body, published in Chinese in 2014, highlighted the humour, loopiness, horniness and astonishing breadth of the Chinese alternative comics scene. It is finally due to be published in English this year. Continue reading

Golden age of Chinese science fiction

Source: SCMP (3/31/19)
Inside China: Is this the golden age of Chinese science fiction?

  • A new generation of Chinese science fiction authors talk about their inspirations and insights.
  • Hear from Xia Jia, Chen Quifan, Baoshu, and Regina Kanyu Wang.

By Jarrod Watt and Rachel Cheung

A visual provided by Melon HK a Hong Kong-based science fiction conference. Photo: Handout.

A visual provided by Melon HK a Hong Kong-based science fiction conference. Photo: Handout.

[To listen to the podcast: https://www.scmp.com/podcasts/article/3004036/inside-china-golden-age-chinese-science-fiction]

Cinema audiences in the 1980s watched a futuristic vision of the year 2019 that included killer robots, flying cars — and an almost entirely American cast. Fast forward to today, and one of the biggest global blockbusters is The Wandering Earth, which has an almost entirely Chinese cast and is based on a novella by China’s most famous science fiction writer, Liu Cixin. Continue reading

Romance of a Literatus and His Concubine

The Romance of a Literatus and his Concubine in Seventeenth-century China
Translator(s) Jun Fang and Lifang He
ISBN 978-988-8491-62-9
Price US$40 (Paperback)
Publication Date: April 2019
Publisher: Proverse Hong Kong
Email: cup-bus@cuhk.edu.hk
Website: www.chineseupress.com

The Romance of a Literatus and his Concubine in Seventeenth-century China is an annotated translation of Reminiscences of the Plum-shaded Convent (Yingmeian Yiyu 影梅庵憶語), written by China’s prominent essayist and poet Mao Xiang冒襄 (1611-1693) in memory of his concubine Dong Xiaowan 董小宛 (1624-1651). Critically acclaimed by generations of Chinese commentators, this memoir presents a vivid image of a young woman who determinedly pursued the goal of escaping from her former life as a courtesan and calmly dealt with all the difficulties she encountered in the last decade of her short life. It also reveals the political and social vicissitudes of Chinese society and the life of its élite during the tumultuous Ming-Qing dynastic transition. (The “Plum-shaded Convent” refers to the place where Dong was buried.) Continue reading

Asia Pacific Perspectives 16.1

ANNOUNCING the “Fashioning Asian Identities” Issue of Asia Pacific Perspectives, Vol.16, No. 1 (2019)

The USF Center for Asia Pacific Studies announces the publication of the latest issue of its journal, Asia Pacific Perspectives. The 2019 “Fashioning Asian Identities” issue highlights dynamics and tensions around the intersections of personal expression, identity, and culture in the Asia Pacific region and beyond. John M. Skutlin explores the history of tattooing in Japan, its stigma, and how tattooees today manage their stigma. Johanna von Pezold addresses China’s rising influence in Africa through the lens of fashion exchange in Mozambique. Anne Peirson-Smith explores the increasingly popular phenomena of cosplay (costume-play), and Barbara Molony introduces us to Kyunghee Pyun and Aida Yuen Wong’s edited volume, Fashion, Identity, and Power in Modern Asia (Palgrave Macmillan, 2018). The articles are viewable now free of charge via open access at the journal’s website or by clicking on the following link: https://www.usfca.edu/center-asia-pacific/perspectives/v16n1. Continue reading

Sent-down youths revisited

Source: Daily Mail (4/12/19)
China plans to send millions of students from cities to the countryside to ‘develop’ rural areas amid fears that Mao’s Cultural Revolution is making a comeback

  • 10 million Communist Youth League students will be sent to ‘rural zones’ by 2022
  • They will help villagers ‘increase skills, spread civilisation and promote science’
  • Plan raises fears of a return to methods of Chairman Mao’s Cultural Revolution


Students of the China Young Pioneers, an organisation run by the Communist Youth League, salute during a ceremony held for International Children’s Day at Qiyi Primary School on May 31, 2009 in Beijing. The CYL has promised to despatch more than 10 million students to ‘rural zones’ by 2022 to ‘increase their skills, spread civilisation and promote science’

China is planning to send millions of youth ‘volunteers’ back to the villages, raising fears of a return to the methods of Chairman Mao’s brutal Cultural Revolution of 50 years ago.

The Communist Youth League (CYL) has promised to despatch more than 10 million students to ‘rural zones’ by 2022 in order to ‘increase their skills, spread civilisation and promote science and technology,’ according to a Communist Party document. Continue reading

Penalty for maligning a building’s fengshui

Source: NYT (4/11/19)
In China, a $30,000 Penalty for Maligning a Building’s Feng Shui
阅读简体中文版 | 閱讀繁體中文版
By Javier C. Hernández and Albee Zhang

The Wangjing SOHO developed by SOHO China in Beijing. CreditImaginechina, via Associated Press

BEIJING — A Chinese court has ordered a media company to pay nearly $30,000 to a real estate developer after it published an article that suggested a flashy building in Beijing violated the ancient laws of feng shui and would bring misfortune to its occupants.

The Chaoyang District People’s Court in Beijing ruled on Wednesday that the media company, Zhuhai Shengun Internet Technology, had damaged the reputation of the building’s developers, SOHO China, one of the largest real estate companies in China. Continue reading

May Fourth @100

May Fourth @ 100: China and the World, 1919-2019
April 12-13, 2019
Sponsored by: The Chiang Ching-Kuo Foundation, Department of East Asian Languages and Civilizations at Harvard University, Fairbank Center for Chinese Studies at Harvard University, Harvard University Asia Center, and Harvard-Yenching Institute



April 12, 2019

9:30 Welcoming + Opening Remarks
David Wang, Michael Szonyi

9:40-10:40 Keynote Speech
Rudolf Wagner: Reconstructing May Fourth: The Role of Communication, Propaganda, and International Actors
Introduced by Ge Zhaoguang Continue reading

Mainstreaming Stories: A Day of Solidarity with Uyghurs

Dear colleagues,

I am writing to notify signatories to the Xinjiang Initiative of a global event being held April 26, 2019.

[To sign the Xinjiang Pledge: https://xinjianginitiative.wixsite.com/xjinitiative]

The event is being called Mainstreaming Stories: A Day of Solidarity with Uyghurs. Participation is simple: each volunteer delivers a talk about the crisis in western China at her/his home institution (no money, travel, jet-lag, expensive meals, etc.). We’ve already established rapport with our colleagues and students, so this type of intimate talk may be more effective in encouraging action than organizing large symposiums and publishing more op-eds.

The event borrows from some of the organizational and advertising strategies used by the annual China Town Hall meetings. In other words, we give a “local” talk, but promote the event as an international, coordinated program. We already have several volunteer speakers representing three countries.

Officially, the event will begin at 12PM EST on April 26, but timing is of secondary importance. It might even be powerful to have a day in which there are several hours devoted around the world to the crisis.

Also, if you know of anyone else who may be interested in speaking this day, please, by all means, feel welcome to share this idea with them.


Tim Grose
Via Xinjiang Initiative

2nd Annual Flushing Poetry Festival


The 2nd Annual Flushing Poetry Festival (2019法拉盛詩歌節) will be held on Saturday, April 20, 2019 at the Queens Public Library in Flushing, NY, from 11 am – 4 pm.  The event celebrates contemporary Chinese poets living overseas, writing in Chinese, and it encourages cross-cultural conversation and translation of poetry from diaspora poets. Winning poetry from the juried competition will be published in a subsequent online publication in Chinese Poetry New York (纽约诗刊).  The event is free and open to the public, and will be in Chinese and English.

The day’s agenda includes an award’s ceremony, a poetry reading, a small poetry book stall and an afternoon panel discussion.

The poetry reading will include a selection of poems in Chinese and English read by invited guests.

The panel discussion includes the following poets and translators: WANG Yu [王渝], YAN Li [嚴力], ZHANG Er [張耳], XIE Jiong [謝炯, Joan Xie], and Denis Mair [梅丹理], and will be moderated by Connie Rosemont.  Panelists will explore challenges translators face – both philosophical and practical, and they will talk about how they navigate the profound difference between the Chinese and English languages, including issues of syntax, sound, meaning, and the written word itself, and the role of translation in promoting cross-literary culture. Continue reading

China’s hi-tech war on its Muslim minority

Source: The Guardian (4/11/19)
China’s hi-tech war on its Muslim minority
Smartphones and the internet gave the Uighurs a sense of their own identity – but now the Chinese state is using technology to strip them of it.
By Darren Byler

In mid-2017, Alim, a Uighur man in his 20s, returned to China from studying abroad. As soon as he landed back in the country, he was pulled off the plane by police officers. He was told his trip abroad meant that he was now under suspicion of being “unsafe”. The police administered what they call a “health check”, which involved collecting several types of biometric data, including DNA, blood type, fingerprints, voice recordings and face scans – a process that all adults in the Uighur autonomous region of Xinjiang, in north-west China, are expected to undergo.

After his “health check”, Alim was transported to one of the hundreds of detention centres that dot north-west China. These centres have become an important part of what Xi Jinping’s government calls the “people’s war on terror”, a campaign launched in 2014, which focuses on Xinjiang, a region with a population of roughly 25 million people, just under half of whom are Uighur Muslims. As part of this campaign, the Chinese government has come to treat almost all expressions of Uighur Islamic faith as signs of potential religious extremism and ethnic separatism. Since 2017 alone, more than 1 million Turkic Muslims, including Uighurs, Kazakhs, Kyrgyz and others, have moved through detention centres. Continue reading

Georgia Tech posdoc fellowship

Postdoctoral Fellow in Chinese at the Georgia Institute of Technology

The School of Modern Languages at The Georgia Institute of Technology (https://modlangs.gatech.edu/) invites applications for a Teaching Fellow in Chinese as part of its signature Global Languages, Cultures, and Technologies (GLACT) Postdoctoral Program, with a start date of August 1, 2019. This visiting faculty position is a full-time nine-month appointment with a 3/3 teaching load, and is renewable for up to three academic years. Fellows may teach one to two courses in the candidate’s area of research specialization and can apply for an annual course release in support of academic program development.

The successful candidate will have (1) a PhD conferred no later than the anticipated appointment start date of August 1, 2019 and not before August 1, 2014; (2) native or near native-level competence in Chinese; (3) an active scholarly agenda; and (4) documented evidence of successful teaching of the Chinese language, at both lower and upper levels, including content-based language courses. Candidates with expertise in online and virtual instruction, innovative teaching methodologies, and interest in shaping cross-disciplinary language program development for the 21stst Century are especially encouraged to apply. Expertise in the following specializations are preferred: applied linguistics; language for STEM, sustainability, and business fields; online education; and interest in contributing to undergraduate study abroad programs. Continue reading

Chinese Landscape Rethought

Source: China Daily (4/2/19)
US exhibition showcases Chinese landscape art
By Luo Wangshu

[Photo provided to chinadaily.com.cn]

An exhibition in the United States showcasing Chinese landscape art, or shanshui, is giving American viewers a taste of of traditional Chinese ink painting blended with contemporary experimental art.

The three-month exhibition, opened on Thursday and will be on view through June 9 at the Lyman Allyn Art Museum in Connecticut. At the event, 11 contemporary Chinese artists, some based in New York and some in China, including Wu Yi, Gu Wenda, Xu Bing, Zhang Hongtu, Wang Mansheng, Zheng Lianjie, Cui Fei, Guo Zhen, Mao Xiaojian, Wang Ai, and Cai Dongdong, are showcaing their approaches to Chinese landscape art. Continue reading