Thoughts from the Ice-Drinker’s Studio review

MCLC Resource Center is pleased to announce publication of Leigh Jenco’s review of Thoughts from the Ice-Drinker’s Studio: Essays on China and the World, by Liang Qichao, edited and translated by Peter Zarrow. The review appears below and at its online home: https://u.osu.edu/mclc/book-reviews/jenco/. My thanks to Michael Gibbs Hill, our translations/translation studies book review editor, for ushering the review to publication.

Kirk Denton, MCLC

Thoughts from the Ice-Drinker’s Studio:
Essays on China and the World

By Liang Qichao
Edited and Translated by Peter Zarrow


Reviewed by Leigh Jenco
MCLC Resource Center Publication (Copyright July, 2024)


Liang Qichao. Thoughts From the Ice-Drinker’s Studio: Essays on China and the World Edited and translated by Peter Zarrow. Penguin Classics, 2023. 272 pp. ISBN: 9780241568781 (paperback); 9781802060140 (ebook).

As a political theorist who works on Chinese thought within the notoriously Eurocentric fields of political science and philosophy, I have been waiting a very long time for a volume like this one. Peter Zarrow has finally undertaken the considerable scholarly effort to translate, masterfully and lucidly, key essays from Liang Qichao 梁啟超, arguably the most influential figure of twentieth-century Chinese thought barring only Mao Zedong. We can now easily include in our introductory courses several weeks of key readings from the greatest mover-and-shaker to come out of the late Qing period—the figure who “invented political journalism, promoted democratic reforms, and introduced Western political theory to Chinese readers,” and “led China’s break from tradition” (ix). This volume is a real milestone.

Zarrow begins the volume with a brisk and accessible introduction that sketches the historical context without becoming bogged down in irrelevant detail. His translator’s note explains how he chose the essays to translate: he focuses on those that mainly deal with questions we would consider closer to political theory than to historiography or journalism (the other contributions for which Liang is known), and that are representative of Liang’s thinking at distinct junctures in his life. These junctures also organize the volume’s four parts: Early Reformist Thought (1896-1898), Radicalism (1899-1903), Cultural Reform (1904-1911), and Syncretism and Progress (1912-1929).  Long known as a bit of a plagiarist, Liang’s Chinese translations of Japanese-language material published under his own name are also not included in this volume, nor are his writings on literature or history, which have been published elsewhere (and Zarrow helpfully provides a bibliographic list). Continue reading Thoughts from the Ice-Drinker’s Studio review

When the Yellow River Floods review

MCLC Resource Center is pleased to announce publication of Robin L. Visser’s review of When the Yellow River Floods: Water, Technology, and Nation-Building in Early Twentieth-Century Chinese Literature, by Hui-Lin Hsu. The review appears below and at its online home: https://u.osu.edu/mclc/book-reviews/visser/. My thanks to MCLC literary studies book review editor, Nicholas Kaldis, for ushering the review to publication.

Kirk Denton, MCLC

When the Yellow River Floods: Water, Technology, and
Nation-Building in Early Twentieth-Century Chinese Literature

By Hui-Lin Hsu


Reviewed by Robin L. Visser

MCLC Resource Center Publication (Copyright July, 2024)


Hui-Lin Hsu, When the Yellow River Floods: Water, Technology, and Nation-Building in Early Twentieth-Century Chinese Literature Hong Kong: Hong Kong University Press, 2024, X + 163 pp. ISBN: 978-988-8842-77-3 (Hardback).

When the Yellow River Floods comprehensively analyzes polymath author Liu E’s (刘鹗, 1857-1909) popular late Qing novel, The Travels of Lao Can (老残游记, 1907), by engaging hydraulics, medicine, occult knowledge, and literary, social, and political history. Published in 2024 by Hong Kong University Press, the hardcover edition of 163 pages is comprised of an introduction, five chapters, and a brief conclusion. In his analysis, Hui-Lin Hsu challenges conventional understandings of late Qing literary history by connecting water management principles to literary nation-building, demonstrating how river engineering techniques inform the novel’s landscape descriptions and its medical, political, and national sentiment discourses. Though Liu E died in infamy after being exiled to Xinjiang on trumped-up charges, Travels was first serialized in 1903 to popular acclaim and retains scholarly relevance into the twenty-first century.[1]

The introduction pairs the frequent flooding of the Yellow River during Liu E’s lifetime to his work as a river engineer from 1888 to 1893 after a catastrophic dike breach in Zhengzhou killed over 930,000 people. Based on his surveys and mapping of the Yellow River in Henan, Zhili, and Shandong, Liu wrote Chart of the Course of the Yellow River (豫,直,鲁三省黄河图) and Five Essays on River Management (治河五说), key sources for Hsu’s analysis of The Travels of Lao Can. In them, Liu proposes a new embankment system of oblique dikes (斜提) that “defend water with water” (以水敌水), inspired by flood control methods attributed to the mythical Da Yu (大禹). Hsu argues that this pliant water management technique directly informs Liu E’s understanding of late Qing politics. Continue reading When the Yellow River Floods review

HK Media and Asia’s Cold War review

MCLC Resource Center is pleased to announce publication of Man-Fung Yip’s review of Hong Kong Media and Asia’s Cold War, by Po-Shek Fu. The review appears below and at its online home: https://u.osu.edu/mclc/book-reviews/man-fung-yip/. My thanks to our new media studies book review editor, Shaoling Ma, for ushering the review to publication.

Kirk Denton, MCLC

Hong Kong Media and Asia’s Cold War

By Po-Shek Fu


Reviewed by Man-Fung Yip

MCLC Resource Center Publication (Copyright July, 2024)


Po-Shek Fu, Hong Kong Media and Asia’s Cold War Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2023. 256pp. ISBN: 9780190073770 (paperback); 9780190073763 (hardcover)

Over the decades, Po-Shek Fu has established himself as one of the most respected scholars in the field of Chinese-language cinema. His latest book on the cultural Cold War in Hong Kong of the 1950s and 1960s, with a focus on film and print media, offers the first systematic English-language study of this important but little-examined subject.

Divided into four main chapters, plus a preface and an epilogue, the book covers the period—from the late 1940s to the late 1960s—to which the cultural Cold War in Hong Kong was most germane. The first chapter offers a comprehensive mapping of the cinematic Cold War in Hong Kong and makes a convincing case for what Fu calls the “cinematic containment” of leftist or pro-communist “patriotic” cinema on the part of pro-Taiwan forces and the United States. Each of the following three chapters focuses on a case study to further explore the complex dynamics and meanings of the cultural Cold War in Hong Kong: the US-sponsored Chinese Student Weekly and its ties with the liberal “third force” movement in Republican China in chapter 2; Asia Pictures, a film studio founded by Chang Kuo-sin 張國興 with support from the Asia Foundation (a CIA-funded nongovernmental organization), in chapter 3; and the Shaw Brothers studio in chapter 4. The epilogue concludes the book by focusing on the period of the late 1960s and 1970s, when the rise of a new, local-born generation challenged and reshaped the Cold War networks of émigré cultural production, which in turn led to a gradual winding down of Hong Kong’s status as a battlefield of Asia’s cultural Cold War. Continue reading HK Media and Asia’s Cold War review

‘To Govern the Globe’ review

The famous Southeast Asia historian Alfred McCoy has published an important new book, To Govern the Globe: World Orders and Catastrophic Change on world history, and where it is heading with China as an aspiring new world empire. I’ve written a review of it:

Cycles of History: Review Essay on Alfred McCoy’s To Govern the Globe: World Orders and Catastrophic Change.” By Magnus Fiskesjö. International Institute for Asian Studies newsletter (June 2024).

Sincerely,

Magnus Fiskesjö, magnus.fiskesjo@cornell.edu

Theater and Politics in Socialist China: A Review Essay

MCLC Resource Center is pleased to announce publication of Letizia Fusini’s review essay, “Theater and Politics in Socialist China,” which treats recently published books on modern Chinese drama by Maggie Greene, Siyuan Liu, and Xiaomei Chen. The review appears below and at its online home: https://u.osu.edu/mclc/book-reviews/fusini/. My thanks to Jason McGrath, our soon-to-be-former book review editor for media, film, and drama studies, for ushering the review to publication.

Kirk Denton, MCLC

Theater and Politics in Socialist China:
A Review Essay

Resisting Spirits, by Maggie Greene
Transforming Tradition, by Siyuan Liu
Performing the Socialist State, by Xiaomei Chen


Reviewed by Letizia Fusini
MCLC Resource Center Publication (Copyright May, 2024)


Maggie Greene, Resisting Spirits: Drama Reform and Cultural Transformation in the PRC Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 2019. 260pp ISBN: 9780472074303 (hardcover)

Siyuan Liu, Transforming Tradition: The Reform of Chinese Theater in the 1950s and Early 1960s Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 2021. 472pp. ISBN: 9780472132478 (hardcover); 9780472128723 (ebook)

Xiaomei Chen, Performing the Socialist State: Modern Chinese Theater and Film Culture New York: Columbia University Press, 2023. 384pp. ISBN: 9780231197762 (hardcover); 9780231552332 (ebook)

Nearly a decade ago, in Autumn 2016, I had the opportunity and the privilege to teach an undergraduate survey course on the history of Chinese theater, the only one of its kind in the UK back then. I was a freshly minted PhD graduate and that was my first teaching post. Aside from developing my lecturing skills, the main challenge was to find creative strategies to make the subject more accessible to students who were majoring in theater studies and knew almost nothing about Chinese culture and history. The task became even more daunting when, due to time constraints, I had to condense the history of the rise of modern drama (huaju 话剧) and the transformations of classical theater (xiqu 戏曲) throughout the late-Qing, Republican and early socialist epochs within the space of a couple of hours. Since I wanted to avoid information overload, I began to look for a unifying thread that could hthelp me connect these three periods and, in my research, I came across an excerpt from a text written by Chen Duxiu 陈独秀 in 1904, where the future founder of the CCP eulogizes theater as the best “vehicle for social reform” (120), tracing the paternity of this idea to Confucius, who once said that “nothing is better than yue [乐, the performing arts lato sensu] at transforming social conventions” (118). These thoughts, written just before the dawn of the Republican period and yet rooted in the Confucian tradition, prefigured the Zeitgeist of the New Culture and May Fourth Movements, which, in turn, would be lauded by Mao Zedong in his essay “On New Democracy” as “having pioneered an unprecedentedly great and thoroughgoing cultural revolution” (361) whose only fault was that it failed to serve the interests of the masses of workers, peasants, and soldiers. Through these connections, I was able to visualize the (r)evolution of Chinese theater in the first half of the twentieth century as a tree growing out of Confucian roots and projecting its branches and foliage in a Marxist direction culminating with the Cultural Revolution of 1966-1976. My goal was to convey to my students the impression I had gotten vis-à-vis that short statement by Chen Duxiu about the power of theater to effect social change. The fact that in China, the attribution of a pedagogic and political function to theater is a traditional concept rather than a twentieth-century novelty, hence not an exclusive prerogative of the Communist period or of the Cultural Revolution, was the unifying thread I was looking for. What was initially a mere perception on my part, found confirmation in Richard Schechner’s foreword to the collection in which I originally found Chen Duxiu’s text, where he notes that “the roots of Mao’s attitude—that theater is an excellent educator and that rulers ought to use it as such—go deep in Chinese history. From an early date, theater was seen as a way of reaching ordinary people who could not read” (x). Continue reading Theater and Politics in Socialist China: A Review Essay

Angloscene review

MCLC Resource Center is pleasesd to announce publication of Ruodi Duan’s review of Angloscene: Compromised Personhood in Afro-Chinese Translations, by Jay Ke-Schutte. The review appears below and at its online home: https://u.osu.edu/mclc/book-reviews/ruodi-duan/. My thanks to Michael Gibbs Hill, our translations/translation studies book review editor, for ushering the review to publication.

Kirk Denton, MCLC

Angloscene: Compromised Personhood
in Afro-Chinese Translations

By Jay Ke-Schutte


Reviewed by Ruodi Duan

MCLC Resource Center Publication (Copyright May, 2024)


Jay Ke-Schutte, Angloscene: Compromised Personhood in Afro-Chinese Translations Berkeley: University of California Press, 2023. 219 pp. ISBN: 9780520389816 (paperback); 9780520389823 (ebook).

New approaches to China-Africa studies that center the mediating role of race remain greatly needed. Jay Ke-Schutte’s Angloscene: Compromised Personhood in Afro-Chinese Translations, which is available for free in electronic format from Luminosa, takes on this call. Through an ethnography conducted in the 2010s of the relationships and micro-interactions between Chinese and African students in Beijing, Ke-Schutte argues that these encounters are continually articulated through the vectors of whiteness, cosmopolitanism, and use of the English language. This landscape, Ke-Schutte argues, comprises the “Angloscene,” which is constituted through acts of interpersonal and intercultural translation.

I appreciate many aspects of the book. The ethnographic descriptions are rich and well-composed. Ke-Schutte accords much-deserved attention to how the dynamic afterlives of Third World unity still manifest in current-day grassroots exchanges, such as when an African student implores a Chinese street vendor to “help out a Third World brother!” (5). Relatedly, I find very provocative the connections that Ke-Schutte highlights between labor migrancy in apartheid-era South Africa and the aspirations of female rural-to-urban migrant workers in contemporary Beijing (72-75). Ke-Schutte’s willingness to tackle some of the most impossible questions in the articulation and reception of Black identities in modern Chinese society (i.e., who can be a racist?) leads to unanticipated and deeply insightful observations. For one, I am intrigued by the global reach of “white political correctness” as a register of the civilizational expectations that govern subaltern subjects (89). The exchanges between Adam, a Zimbabwean student, and his Chinese ex-girlfriend Lili at a costume party capture this dynamic. Adam and Lili found themselves trapped in an impossible bind given their use of English language as the vehicle for communication, unable to escape the racialized positions and aspirations that elevate Tim, Lili’s new white boyfriend, to relative unassailability and authority. Continue reading Angloscene review

Utopian Fiction in China review

MCLC Resource Center is pleased to announce publication of Hang Tu’s review of Utopian Fiction in China: Genre, Print Culture and Knowledge Formation, 1902-1912, by Shuk Man Leung. The review appears below and at its online home: https://u.osu.edu/mclc/book-reviews/hang-tu/. My thanks to Nicholas Kaldis, our literary studies book review editor, for ushering the review to publication.

Kirk Denton, MCLC

Utopian Fiction in China:
Genre, Print Culture and Knowledge Formation, 1902-1912

By Shuk Man Leung


Reviewed by Hang Tu

MCLC Resource Center Publication (Copyright May, 2024)


Shuk Man Leung, Utopian Fiction in China: Genre, Print Culture and Knowledge Formation, 1902-1912 Leiden: Brill, 2023, Xiii + 306 pp. ISBN: 978-90-04-68038-8 (Hardcover).

May 1, 2024 was a strange day to reflect on the theme of utopianism. On university campuses across America, anger and frustration was rife among participants of protests and counter-protests. The violence of the Middle East crisis spilled over into the American public, sharpening partisan divisions in an already polarized country. In such an atmosphere of mutual recriminations and accusations of political crimes, many would dismiss any utopian vision as naïvely, if not recklessly, pedantic, a pale intellectual legacy discussed in seminar rooms. Indeed, throughout the post-pandemic world, regional wars, power rivalries, and the law of the jungle have been taking over. East and West, dystopian sentiment was ascendant—the shared affect of those confronting various failed utopian projects with bitter resignation and cynicism. A second decade into the twenty-first century, to borrow from Enzo Traverso’s apt phrase, we find ourselves in an era that suffers the “eclipse of utopia,” one without visible, thinkable, or imaginable alternatives. Hence, isn’t it simply anachronistic to still be speaking about utopia today? Continue reading Utopian Fiction in China review

Stories from an Ancient Land review

MCLC Resource Center is pleased to announce publication of Mark Bender’s review of Stories from an Ancient Land: Perspectives on Wa History and Culture, by Magnus Fiskesjö. The review appears below and at its online home: https://u.osu.edu/mclc/book-reviews/bender/. My thanks to Nicholas Kaldis, MCLC literary studies book review editor, for ushering the review to publication.

Kirk Denton, MCLC

Stories from an Ancient Land:
Perspectives on Wa History and Culture

By Magnus Fiskesjö


Reviewed by Mark Bender

MCLC Resource Center Publication (Copyright May, 2024)


Magnus Fiskesjö, Stories from an Ancient Land: Perspectives on Wa History and Culture New York: Berghahn Books, 2022. Xiv + 414. ISBN: 9781789208870 (Hardcover).

Stories from an Ancient Land: Perspectives on Wa History and Culture is a much-needed examination of the history and culture of the Wa (Va) people of the borderlands of Yunnan province in southwest China and the Wa State located in eastern Myanmar (Burma). Stories from an Ancient Land was published in 2021 by Berghahn Books, New York, in a hard cover edition of 414 pages, along with black and white photos and maps. Within studies of ethnicity in Southwest China and Southeast Asia, the Wa (Va) are a well-known but relatively understudied ethnic group in comparison to the Yi, Dai, Lahu, Bai, Miao/Hmong, Yao, and other ethnicities that have received ample treatment in Anglophone scholarship in recent decades, from researchers in various fields (especially anthropology), including Stevan Harrell, Shao-hua Liu, Erik Mueggler, Sara Davis, Shanshan Du, Beth Notar, Louisa Schein, Nicholas Tapp, Ralph Litzinger, Anthony Walker, Helen Rees, Katherine Swancutt, Yanshuo Zhang, Duncan Poupard, and others. Based on his extensive fieldwork in Ximeng county, Yunnan, and supported by archival data from various sources, some dating into antiquity, Fiskesjö tells the stories of a misunderstood ethnic group that has figured in the upland economies, regional and international politics, and popular imaginings of the border regions they have for millennia called home. Continue reading Stories from an Ancient Land review

Malaysian Crossings review

MCLC Resource Center is pleased to announce publication of Carlos Rojas’s review of Malaysian Crossings: Place and Language in the Worlding of Modern Chinese Literature, by Cheow Thia Chan. The review appears below and at its online home: https://u.osu.edu/mclc/book-reviews/rojas2/. My thanks to Nicholas Kaldis, our literary studies book review editor, for ushering the review to publication.

Kirk Denton, MCLC

Malaysian Crossings: Place and Language
in the Worlding of Modern Chinese Literature

By Cheow Thia Chan


Reviewed by Carlos Rojas

MCLC Resource Center Publication (Copyright April, 2024)


Cheow Thia Chan, Malaysian Crossings: Place and Language in the Worlding of Modern Chinese Literature New York: Columbia University Press, 2023. xviii + 298. ISBN: 9780231203395 (Paperback); ISBN: 9780231203388 (Hardcover); ISBN: 9780231555029 (E-book).

In 1831, Charles Darwin left England for a trip to South America that included a five-week stay in the Galápagos Islands off the coast of Ecuador. Darwin was struck by how these islands were home to numerous endemic species, many of which appeared to have adapted in response to the specific environmental pressures found in the Galápagos. It was these observations that provided the basis for Darwin’s theory of evolution, which seeks to explain processes of species differentiation not only in the Galápagos but throughout the world.

Meanwhile, in 1826, at nearly the same moment but half a world away, the British East India Company established a group of colonies in Penang, Malacca, and Singapore known as the Straits Settlements. These settlements were redesignated as the Crown Colonies in 1858, and they subsequently became British Malaya, the Federation of Malaysia, and ultimately the Republic of Malaysia. Just as the evolution of the flora and fauna of the Galápagos was shaped by the unique evolutionary pressures that characterized their isolated archipelago, the distinctive sociopolitical environment of former British Malaya—including British, Japanese, and Chinese imperial legacies, multiple waves of migration, a large indigenous population, and so forth—has similarly helped shape the distinctive configurations of what has come to be known as modern Malaysian Chinese (“Mahua” 馬華) literature. Continue reading Malaysian Crossings review

Wang Jingwei and China in Dark Times review

MCLC Resource Center is pleased to announce publication of Haihong Yang’s review of Poetry, History, Memory: Wang Jingwei and China in Dark Times, by Zhiyi Yang. The review appears below and at its online home: https://u.osu.edu/mclc/book-reviews/haihong-yang/. My thanks to Nicholas Kaldis, our literary studies book review editor, for ushering the review to publication.

Kirk Denton, MCLC

Poetry, History, Memory:
Wang Jingwei and China in Dark Times

By Zhiyi Yang


Reviewed by Haihong Yang

MCLC Resource Center Publication (Copyright April, 2024)


Zhiyi Yang, Poetry, History, Memory: Wang Jingwei and China in Dark Times. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 2023. xxiv + 326 pages: ISBN: 9780472076505  (hardcover); ISBN: 9780472056507 (paperback); ISBN: 9780472903917 (Open Access).

In the Chinese literary tradition, lyric poetry is often hailed as a necessary supplement to official histories. The famous quote “words reflect the heart-mind” (言為心聲) suggests that poetic language is an almost transparent medium of the writer’s inner thoughts, beliefs, and emotions. Classical poems are often cherished for their biographical value because they are thought to delineate a writer’s political inclinations, personality, and literary competence. Collectively, they portray a society’s political and cultural landscape. In the past few decades, scholars of classical Chinese poetry have challenged the conflation of a historical subject with a poetic one and the presumed binaries between the inside of a person (heart-mind) and the outside (language), the individual and society, and history and poetry. Zhiyi Yang’s Poetry, History, Memory: Wang Jingwei and China in Dark Times is a significant addition to these non-binary scholarly examinations of a writer and his era. The book provides a nuanced analysis of a slice of modern Chinese history, bringing one of it most controversial figures, Wang Jingwei (汪精衞), under a critical lens. Through an innovative theoretical approach, thorough archival research and fieldwork, and astute close readings of poetic texts, Yang investigates the complex interrelationship between the textual subject, the human subject, and the collective cultural memory of the former two.

The book consists of two main parts (each of which is comprised of three chapters that are themselves made up of four to eleven separately titled subsections): “Part I: The End of Literati Politics,” which is a critical biography of Wang Jingwei, and “Part II: The Poetics of Memory,” comprising a study of the complex relations between Wang’s poetry, cultural memory, and historiographies. The author divides Wang Jingwei’s life into three stages: his status as a revolutionary pioneer, his reputation as a well-respected statesman, and his being labeled a national “traitor” [quotation marks in the original]. Whereas Yang’s narration of Wang’s life follows a chronological order, the three chapters in Part I of the book employ distinct ways of organizing important personal and historical events. Continue reading Wang Jingwei and China in Dark Times review

Zodiac, a Graphic Memoir review

MCLC Resource Center is pleased to announce publication of Sean Macdonald’s review of Zodiac, a Graphic Memoir, by Ai Weiwei, with Elettra Stamboulis, illustrated by Gianluca Constantini. The review appears below and at is online home: https://u.osu.edu/mclc/book-reviews/zodiac/.

Enjoy, Kirk Denton, MCLC

Zodiac, a Graphic Memoir

By Ai Weiwei
With Elettra Stamboulis, illustrated by Gianluca Costantini


Reviewed by Sean Macdonald
MCLC Resource Center Publication (Copyright March, 2024)


It is too often forgotten that some if not all symbols had a material and concrete existence before coming to symbolize anything . . . Another example is the zodiac, which represents the horizon of the herder set down in an immensity of pasture: a figure, then, of demarcation and orientation. Initially- and fundamentally- absolute space has a relative aspect. Relative spaces, for their part, secrete the absolute.[1]—Henri Lefebvre, The Production of Space

If so far in this book the word “dissident” has been used sparingly, it is because the vast majority of intellectuals who desired change and a shift towards a more democratic and open system did not perceive themselves as “dissident.” [2]—Gregory B. Lee, The Lost Decade

Figure 1: The cover. Zodiac, a Graphic Memoir (Ten Speed Graphic, 2024). 176pp. ISBN: 978-1-9848-6299-0.

Ai Weiwei 艾未未 is a true postmodern artist. When Ai started producing art in New York City in the 1980s, Andy Warhol was still alive. But Ai did not just pick up techniques from contemporary Western art, he entered into it headfirst through a kind of performance of personality. In traditional Chinese visual culture, personality is as important as individualism is in the avant-garde.[3] Ai Weiwei’s personality is an important component of his art. In some ways, this gives the impression that his role is analogous to that of a film director, organizing performances and happenings to remind the public he has not gone away.

For many scholars of contemporary Chinese culture, Ai Weiwei is a presence, even a cultural icon of dissident culture. As Xiaobing Tang noted almost a decade ago, Ai was “the darling of Western mainstream media and art establishments.”[4] And his influence has only grown with social media, of which Ai is a very savvy and capable user. For anyone who has followed Ai Weiwei’s work, the overarching narrative of Zodiac—his recently published graphic novel memoir—is familiar. It tells of his father Ai Qing’s life as a poet arrested and imprisoned in 1932 by the KMT for his revolutionary activities. Under the CCP, Ai Qing was arrested as a “rightist” and class enemy of the state in 1957 and subsequently exiled to Xinjiang. Ai Weiwei accompanied his father on his exile (12-14). Following his work on the Sichuan earthquake in August 2009, Ai was beaten by police. In 2010, he would be placed under house arrest. In April 2011, he was arrested at the Beijing airport and prosecuted for tax evasion, among other charges, and lost the ability to travel outside the country until 2015 when he was given a passport. Ai’s politics is very public, and he has become a global citizen, perhaps one of the most identifiable contemporary Chinese artists, or contemporary artists period. He is a celebrity avant-garde artist, who has already made a historical impact and has a globally-known personality. Continue reading Zodiac, a Graphic Memoir review

Sinophone Adaptations of Shakespeare review

MCLC Resource Center is pleased to announce publication of Melody Yunzi Li’s review of Sinophone Adaptations of Shakespeare: An Anthology, 1987-2007, edited by Alexa Alice Joubin. The review appears below and its online home: https://u.osu.edu/mclc/book-reviews/melody-li/. My thanks to Michael Hill, our translations/translation studies book review editor, for ushering the review to publication.

Kirk Denton, MCLC

Sinophone Adaptations of Shakespeare:
An Anthology, 1987-2007

Edited by Alexa Alice Joubin


Reviewed by Melody Yunzi Li

MCLC Resource Center Publication (Copyright February, 2024)


Alexa Alice Joubin, ed., Sinophone Adaptations of Shakespeare: An Anthology, 1987-2007 New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2022. Xv + 288 pp. ISBN: 978-3-030-92992-3 (hardback).

Sinophone Adaptations of Shakespeare: An Anthology, 1987–2007 is a compelling collection of English translations of seven adaptations of Shakespeare’s tragedies in several stage genres from China, Hong Kong, and Taiwan. These works, which span two decades, not only transcend national and cultural boundaries but also remap Shakespearean and Sinophone literature. The anthology makes an important step toward remedying a problem in both Sinophone studies and Shakespeare scholarship: the scarce availability of primary research materials on East Asian adaptations of Western classics.

A comprehensive introduction by Alexa Alice Joubin gives readers an overview of adaptations of Shakespeare’s plays in the Sinophone world. It points out the significance of this anthology—that “Sinophone Shakespeare’s rich range of interpretative possibilities have much to teach us about non-Anglophone understanding of Shakespeare and Sinophone performance practices today” (2). Each adaptation offers a unique lens to understand new aspects of timeless Shakespearean classics, including HamletMacbeth, and King Lear. The plays selected for translation were staged in multiple traditional and modern performance genres, from Chinese opera to huaju spoken drama. Continue reading Sinophone Adaptations of Shakespeare review

A Cultural History of Modern Chinese Literature review

MCLC Resource Center is pleased to announce publication of Thomas Moran’s review of A Cultural History of Modern Chinese Literature, by Wu Fuhui, translated by Rui (Myra) Ma. Too long to post here in its entiretly, find a teaser below. The entire review can be read at its online home: https://u.osu.edu/mclc/book-reviews/moran/. My thanks to Nicholas Kaldis, our literary studies book review editor, for ushering the review to publication.

Kirk Denton, MCLC

A Cultural History of Modern Chinese Literature

By Wu Fuhui
Translated by Rui (Myra) Ma


Reviewed by Tom Moran
MCLC Resource Center Publication (Copyright January, 2024)


WU Fuhui, A Cultural History of Modern Chinese Literature. Translated by Rui [Myra] Ma) and with Introduction by David Der-wei Wang. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2020. xliv + 813 pp. ISBN: 9781107069497 (hardback).

An Illustrated History of the Development of Modern Chinese Literature (插图本中国现代文学发展史), published in 2010 by Peking University Press, is the culmination of the life’s work of Wu Fuhui 吴福辉, who died January 15, 2021. The Cambridge University Press 2020 English translation by Myra Ma, titled A Cultural History of Modern Chinese Literature (hereafter, History), is the subject of this review. The 813-page translation follows the 480-page original exactly; paragraphs break in the same places in both books, and all the footnotes in the original are in the translation, as are all the illustrations. The English version adds an index, which is unfortunately incomplete, and includes Chinese characters for names and titles on first mention, albeit inconsistently. The translation is an admirable achievement, but to make full use of the English version, one needs to also have read the Chinese original, as I discuss later in a detailed look at the translation itself, which will include attention to citation issues and other matters. I start with a brief biography of the author and then offer my take on his book, which is followed by a chapter-by-chapter summary of the book’s contents. I end by explaining why Wu Fuhui says writing his history was not like playing a record album and not like knitting a sweater, but was like creating a mosaic.

Wu’s conception of “modern Chinese literature” begins in a chapter on 1870s Shanghai, entitled “Wangping Street – Fuzhou Road: The Changing Scene of Chinese Literature” and concludes with the chapter “A Chronicle of Literary Events in the Year 1948 (An Era of Transition).” Even given this approximately seventy-five year parameter, History covers so much and in so much fascinating detail that it is an essential resource for experts and advanced students of modern Chinese literature. It is easily one of the best single-volume English-language references on modern Chinese literature that we have. I anticipate consulting it regularly. The book, it should be cautioned, is for readers who know the history of twentieth-century China and who know at least something about modern Chinese literature.  For example, to fully understand chapter 20, a reader has to already know what the Beiyang government was, who Duan Qirui was, what the Northern Expedition was, what the April 12th and March 18th Incidents were, and what the Shanghai concessions were and why they offered some measure of freedom of expression. The book also assumes readers already have some familiarity with the lives and careers of the more well-known May Fourth writers. This means that the book is not for beginning students or general readers, as does the $211.00 price.

Wu Fuhui was born in 1939 in Japanese-occupied Shanghai. In 1950, Wu’s family moved to Anshan, Liaoning province and, in 1959, Wu graduated from teacher’s college, after which he taught middle school Chinese language arts for almost twenty years. In 1978, at the age of thirty-nine, Wu enrolled at Peking University, where he studied modern Chinese literature with Wang Yao 王瑶 and Yan Jiayan 严家炎, graduating with a Master’s degree in 1981. Among Wu’s classmates in the same 1978 enrolling class—the first after the end of the Cultural Revolution—were Qian Liqun 钱理群and Wen Rumin 温儒敏. In 1987, Qian, Wen, Wu, and Wang Chaobing 王超冰, daughter of Wang Yao, published Thirty Years of Modern Chinese Literature (中国现代文学三十年). The revised edition by Qian, Wen, and Wu was published in 1998. Wu’s other books include a biography of Sha Ting 沙汀 (1990), a collection of critical essays titled Smiling in Shackles (带着枷锁的笑, 1991), Shanghai School Fiction in the Urban Vortex (都市漩流中的海派小说, 1995), and a book of essays on the literatures of Beijing and Shanghai, Travels in Two Cities (游走双城, 2006). In Chen Pingyuan’s 陈平原 view, Wu’s major contribution as a scholar before History was his work on the “Shanghai School” (海派) writers.[1]  [READ THE ENTIRE REVIEW HERE]

I Have No Enemies review

MCLC Resource Center is pleased to announce publication of Jeffrey Kinkley’s review of I Have No Enemies: The Life and Legacy of Liu Xiaobo, by Perry Link and Wu Dazhi. The review appears below and at its online home: https://u.osu.edu/mclc/book-reviews/kinkley/. My thanks to Nicholas Kaldis, our literary studies book review editor, for ushering the review to publication.

Kirk Denton, MCLC

I Have No Enemies:
The Life and Legacy of Liu Xiaobo

By Perry Link and Wu Dazhi


Reviewed by Jeffrey C. Kinkley

MCLC Resource Center Publication (Copyright November, 2023)


Perry Link and Wu Dazhi, I Have No Enemies: The Life and Legacy of Liu Xiaobo New York: Columbia University Press, 2023. xiv + 553 pp. ISBN: 9780231216760 (Paperback); ISBN: 9780231206341 (Hardcover); ISBN: 9780231556446 (E-book).

I Have No Enemies: The Life and Legacy of Liu Xiaobo, makes a magisterial contribution to Chinese intellectual and political history. It is a comprehensive biography of an intrepid human rights promoter, leader, and thinker who won the 2010 Nobel Peace Prize during his fourth imprisonment in the People’s Republic of China, prior to his being in effect—deliberately or not—consigned to death, which arrived in 2017, during his last, eleven-year sentence. Liu Xiaobo’s 刘晓波 major opinions and the changes in them are briefly summarized, explained, and compared in the context of his life and times, speech by speech, essay by essay. One major dividend is an inside history of a major part of domestic Chinese ideological debate and political dissent in the post-Mao age, in 500 well-documented pages, so often did Liu Xiaobo’s dialogues and exploits interact with those of other freethinkers. The book also reflects on the larger social history of contemporary nonofficial protest and agitation for reform, whose content and strategies were transmuted not just by the failure of June Fourth, 1989, but also by the spread of internet communication early in the twenty-first century. Wu Dazhi and Perry Link meanwhile proffer insights into the emotional life of their main biographical subject. He was blessed with a brilliant intellect, nearly photographic memory, and the ability to deliver memorable and charismatic speeches, despite a tendency to stutter in daily life. Liu Xiaobo was both an inveterate contrarian and an eternal optimist. And yet, in his later years, he was constantly worried about causing unhappy consequences for others (already at Tiananmen in 1989, and later, in the 2008 leadup to Charter 08). He appears to have been tormented in those years by survivor guilt and what he felt was his inadequacy and irresponsibility as a family man. The biography tends to agree with him on the latter. Yet Liu Xiaobo was undaunted about what might happen to his own person, even as he incessantly questioned the logic of his own intellect and agency, and the very moral underpinnings of his personal motivation. The reader sees also the trials and tribulations of Liu’s second wife, Liu Xia 刘霞. A unique love story unfolds in chapter 20, the last chapter before the Epilogue. Continue reading I Have No Enemies review

The Narrow Cage review

MCLC Resource Center is pleased to announce publication of Roy Chan’s review of The Narrow Cage and Other Modern Fairy Tales, by Vasily Eroshenko and translated by Adam Kuplowsky. The review appears below and at its online home: https://u.osu.edu/mclc/book-reviews/roy-chan-3/. My thanks to Michael Hill, our translation/translation studies book review editor, for ushering the review to publication.

Kirk Denton, MCLC

The Narrow Cage and Other Modern Fairy Tales

By Vasily Eroshenko
Translated by Adam Kuplowsky


Reviewed by Roy Chan
MCLC Resource Center Publication (Copyright October, 2023)


Vasily Eroshenko. The Narrow Cage and Other Modern Fairy Tales Tr. Adam Kuplowsky. Forward by Jack Zipes. New York: Columbia University Press, 2023. xlvii + 252 pp. Paperback ($24.99). ISBN-13 9780231557085

It might seem an odd proposition to suggest that solutions to the predicaments of colonial domination, racial injustice, capitalist exploitation, and in general all the myriad forms of human inequity may be found in a set of fairy tales. But this was exactly the ambitious project of Vasily Eroshenko (1890–1952), a writer who became, however briefly, a prominent figure in modern Japanese, Chinese, and world letters. He encapsulated a set of intriguing antinomies: blinded at the age of four, he went on to become an intrepid world traveler, leading a peripatetic life through England, India, Japan, and China. A subject of the Russian empire who was born within a Ukrainian cultural milieu near the border of present-day Ukraine, he primarily composed his stories in Japanese and Esperanto. While committed to the values of a universal humanism, he demonstrated time and again that humans were also the primary architects of unfreedom across race, class, gender, and species. His children’s fables are records of both innocence and cruelty, sketches of the possibility of universal love suffused with tearful melancholia.

That Eroshenko featured most prominently in Japanese and Chinese modern letters rather than that of his homeland (however it is defined between Russia, Ukraine, and the former Soviet Union) should serve as a reminder to how pivotal and productive these transnational engagements were in the intertwined development of both national literatures. As translator Adam Kuplowsky notes in his comprehensive and compelling introduction, it is difficult to ascertain the exact process by which Eroshenko composed his stories, and even to pinpoint in which language his stories were originally composed. Eroshenko existed for the Chinese reading public in translation (performed primarily by his champion Lu Xun), and yet the conventional model of translation in proposing a relation between source and target becomes blurry. Eroshenko’s patently exophonous approach to literary composition epitomizes the very project of universalist, international emancipation that he was deeply committed to; in our post-Cold War aversion to grand narratives of emancipation, universality, and humanism, Eroshenko’s wistful and even utterly utopian aspirations may sound odd to our cynical ears. Even childish. Continue reading The Narrow Cage review