On the poet Nan Ren

Dear poetry fans,

Two weeks ago, the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung published my article on the poet Nan Ren 南人 (scroll to p. 5; there are a few minor mistakes in the German article, I couldn’t see the final print version before it came out: the first poem has one line added; and Shaanxi became Shanxi). I have decided to write a version in English to post here. This is a newspaper article, so there are no footnotes. The reference to Maghiel van Crevel was not included in the print version. I have thought about many names of other poets I should have mentioned, and other things I should have said. Anyway, such a publication in a major daily in Germany is a big success, a big deal in international exposure for current Chinese poetry. I hope you like it. Please send feedback via email, thank you!

Huang Li illustration for the poem “In a Pawnshop of Pain.”

Martin Winter <dujuan99@gmail.com>

Sources: Here is a link to the poems in the article including the original Chinese versions. And here are the paintings by Huang Li 黄丽 that accompany the poems in the book. The pictures look much better in the book. Nan Ren has sent them to me in high resolution. He and Xiron have authorized me to look for publishers in Europe and beyond. I hope to find publishers for the German speaking and for the English speaking Pawnshop. Here is a link to about 50 poems in Chinese with some translations in English or German. Here is a link to the announcement from last May, when the book was published in China. The publisher is Xiron Poetry Club, 磨铁读诗会. Xiron is a big publisher, led by the poet Shen Haobo 沈浩波. But Xiron is private and has to purchase an ISBN for each book from a state publisher. The state publisher is on the cover, Xiron Poetry Club is on the first page. Both have to avoid publishing anything that could get the book pulled or forbidden.

By Martin Winter

Nan Ren is a legend. He doesn’t like to say when he was born. 1970, found that somewhere. Not important. Nan Ren is a pen name. The nán of ‘south‘ and the rén of ‘person‘. What does that mean? His family comes from the south, somewhere south of the Long River, the Yangtse. Nanren, southern people, was the lowest stratum in the Mongol empire. The Mongols captured the south last, all the better jobs had been assigned to other people already. Almost every poet writing in Chinese has a pen name. People have more than one name in Chinese, even non-artists. It was that way in Confucius‘ times. And in the occident, in the antique, people also had several names, at least prominent people, all the way from Homer. Continue reading

Beijing Westerns and Indigenous Opacity talk

Online Talk: Dr. Robin Visser – Beijing Westerns and Indigenous Opacity in Ecoliterature of Southwest China
Mar 7, 2024, 6-7:30pm CST (7-8:30pm EST)
Virtual event held on Zoom.

Please register to attend.


Indigenous knowledge of local ecosystems often challenges settler-colonial cosmologies that naturalize resource extraction and the relocation of nomadic, hunting, foraging, or fishing peoples. In this talk, I present findings from my book, Questioning Borders: Ecoliteratures of China and Taiwan (Columbia UP, 2023), which analyzes relations among humans, animals, ecosystems, and the cosmos in literary works by Han and non-Han Indigenous writers of China and Taiwan. I compare “root-seeking” novels by Beijing writers, set in China’s “exotic” southwest, with literature by Wa and Nuosu Yi Indigenes from Yunnan and Sichuan provinces. I argue that Beijing westerns appropriate “peripheral” Indigenous ecological perspectives to critique Maoist destruction of the environment and the undermining of Han neo-Confucian values to strengthen the “center” of the nation-state. Indigenous accounts, on the other hand, manifest what Edouard Glissant has called “opacity,” refusing colonial epistemes by centering the border as a place of home, heritage, and everyday humanity, though under great duress from climate change.

Speaker Bio

Robin Visser is Professor and Associate Chair of the Department of Asian and Middle Eastern Studies at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Her book, Questioning Borders: Ecoliteratures of China and Taiwan (Columbia University Press, 2023), compares contemporary literature on the environment by Han Chinese and non-Han ethnic minority writers. Her book Cities Surround the Countryside: Urban Aesthetics in Postsocialist China (Duke University Press, 2010), translated into Russian (Academic Studies Press, 2022), analyzes Chinese urban planning, fiction, cinema, art, architecture, and intellectual debates at the turn of the 21st century.

Posted by: Faye Xiao hxiao@ku.edu

Disoriented Disciplines

New book: Disoriented Disciplines: China, Latin America, and the Shape of World Literature (2023, Northwestern University Press, FlashPoints Series)

An urgent call to think on the edges, surfaces, and turns of the literary artifact when it crosses cultural boundaries

In the absence of specialized programs of study, abstract discussions of China in Latin America took shape in contingent critical infrastructures built at the crossroads of the literary market, cultural diplomacy, and commerce. As Rosario Hubert reveals, modernism flourishes comparatively in contexts where cultural criticism is a creative and cosmopolitan practice.

Disoriented Disciplines: China, Latin America, and the Shape of World Literature understands translation as a material act of transfer, decentering the authority of the text and connecting seemingly untranslatable cultural traditions. In this book, chinoiserie, “coolie” testimonies, Maoist prints, visual poetry, and Cold War memoirs compose a massive archive of primary sources that cannot be read or deciphered with the conventional tools of literary criticism. As Hubert demonstrates, even canonical Latin American authors, including Jorge Luis Borges, Octavio Paz, and Haroldo de Campos, write about China from the edges of philology, mediating the concrete as well as the sensorial.

Advocating for indiscipline as a core method of comparative literary studies, Disoriented Disciplines challenges us to interrogate the traditional contours of the archives and approaches that define the geopolitics of knowledge.

Full PDF of the book at the FlashPoints open access platform

Rosario Hubert is Associate Professor of Spanish and Portuguese at Trinity College. Her book Disoriented Disciplines. China, Latin America, and the Shape of World Literature (2023) was recipient of the ACLA Helen Tartar First Book subvention award and received fellowships from the National Endowment for the Humanities and the American Council of Learned Societies.

Posted by: Rosario Hubert <rosario.hubert@trincoll.edu>

RMMLA Work and Poetry–cfp

CFP: Chinese Poetry: Work and Poetry
Rocky Mountain Modern Language Association 77th Annual Convention
Conference Date: October 10–12, 2024
Location: Las Vegas, Nevada

In the twentieth and twenty-first centuries, China’s status as the world’s factory has given prominence to work and/or labor in Chinese language cultural production broadly, and to Chinese poetry and poetics specifically. This has given the Chinese working class a means both of distancing themselves from labor and of making social intervention. Written and read in moments of leisure, poetry distances from labor, but when intervening in society poetry can underline, for instance, possible directions for transformation in healthcare or developments in legal actions for workers’ rights. This panel invites papers that will discuss modern and contemporary Chinese language poetry along the line of this double-paradigm of work and poetry. Paper topics can include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • Poetry and work/labor
  • Poetry and interaction with society
  • Poetry and the words of labor
  • Poetry and “lying flat” (tangping) or “letting it rot” (bailan)
  • Poetry and humor/wordplay
  • Conceptualization around poetry and work
  • International resonances

Prospective participants should submit an abstract of approximately 250 words along with a short (2-3 sentence) biography through this google form by March 30, 2024. The language of the session is English.

Please direct any inquiries to:

Giusi Tamburello (giuseppa.tamburello@unipa.it) (co-chair)
Wei Zeng (wzeng4@ualberta.ca) (co-chair)
Lucas Klein (Lucas.Klein@asu.edu)
Sofiia Zaichenko (szaichen@ualberta.ca)
Fay Zhen (fzhen2@asu.edu)

Posted by: Giusi Tamburello giuseppa.tamburello@unipa.it

RMMLA Chinese Poetry: Center and Peripheries–cfp

CFP: Chinese Poetry: Center and Peripheries
Rocky Mountain Modern Language Association 77th Annual Convention
Conference Date: October 10-12, 2024
Location: Las Vegas, Nevada

For millennia poetry occupied a prized position at the center of literary and cultural production in Chinese. More recently, however, poetry risks being marginalized within the field of Sinitic/Chinese-language literary studies. At the same time, Sinophone studies and modern and contemporary Chinese poetry scholarship have marginalized each other. This panel seeks to draw renewed attention to the range and breadth of poetic styles, themes, social groupings, and discourses at work in Chinese-language poetry over the past long century, and to the issue of centrality and how poetry has responded to this issue. This includes but is not limited to papers addressing the following:

  • Canonization and modern/contemporary poetry
  • Classical-style poetry
  • Poetry and decolonial aesthetics
  • Poetry and dialects/topolects
  • Poetry and femininity/masculinity
  • Poetry and fiction or film
  • Poetry and translingualism
  • Sinitic poetry from outside China
  • Sociologies of poetry

Prospective participants should submit an abstract of approximately 250 words along with a short (2-3 sentence) biography through this google form by March 30, 2024. The language of the session is English.

Please direct any inquiries to:

Lucas Klein (Lucas.Klein@asu.edu) (co-chair
Sofiia Zaichenko (szaichen@ualberta.ca) (co-chair)
Fay Zhen (fzhen2@asu.edu)
Giusi Tamburello (terenziat@hotmail.com)
Wei Zeng (wzeng4@ualberta.ca)

Posted by: Lucas Klein lucas.klein@asu.edu

Changpian 26

长篇 // Changpian // Longform

Welcome to the 26th edition of Changpian, a selection of feature and opinion writing in Chinese. Changpian includes any nonfiction writing, from stories and investigations to interviews and blog posts, that I found worth my time – and that you might like as well. It aims to be relevant to an understanding of Chinese society today, covering topics in and outside the news cycle. The selection is put together by me, Tabitha Speelman, a Dutch journalist and researcher of Chinese politics. Feedback is very welcome (tabitha.speelman@gmail.com or @tabithaspeelman). Back issues can be found here.

Welcome to what I think will be the final issue of Changpian. It is coming to you from Dongzhimen, Beijing – about twenty minutes from the office in which I used to write these when I started in early 2017. Last year, I finished my PhD and last month I returned to China as a correspondent. It feels exciting and uncertain. The conditions for doing this job have changed a lot while I was away, and so have I.

Also, the newsletter service I have been using, TinyLetter, will be discontinued at the end of February. This seems a fitting moment to give Changpian a proper send-off, after keeping it on a lifeline for several years (taking my cue from Chaoyang Trap and Christina Xu here). Thank you so much for reading – I really enjoyed doing this and was inspired by your interest and our interactions.

At the same time, as I am returning to media, I would like to share resources and thoughts that do not fit traditional media formats. So I plan to start a new newsletter (just what the world needs!) and would love to stay connected there too. I’ll try to transfer Changpian subscribers to this still unnamed newsletter, unless you would prefer me not to, in which case you can unsubscribe or send me a quick reply on this email. It would still share Chinese reads but also other China-related content I like, and observations on being back here – I’m thinking some sort of reporter’s notes.

See below for some more reflection on Changpian. For now, I hope you like this final issue and a happy Year of the Dragon to all of you (especially to those for who this is your 本命年, as it is for me)! Continue reading

Fear of Seeing book talk

Book Talk: Fear of Seeing: A Politics of Chinese Science Fiction
Speaker: Mingwei Song (Wellesley College)

Special Guests: Mu Ming (Science Fiction Writer); Yan Feng (Fudan University)

Cohosts: David Der-wei Wang (Harvard University) ; Jie Li (Harvard Univeristy)

Time: February 7, 8-9:30PM (EST)

Zoom Registration:

East Asian Languages and Civilizations, Harvard University
Fairbank Center for Chinese Studies
Chiang Ching-kuo Foundation

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]

Chinese Theater Collaborative digital resource center

January 16, 2024, 8 pm EST

We invite you to the launch of the “Chinese Theater Collaborative/華語戲聚“ (CTC) digital resource center.  CTC is a companion site to two recent publications devoted to making traditional Chinese drama accessible to a broader audience, How To Read Chinese Drama: A Guided Anthology (Columbia University Press, 2022) and How To Read Chinese Drama in Chinese: A Language Companion (Columbia University Press, 2023).

The “Chinese Theater Collaborative” (https://chinesetheatercollaborative.org, going live on 01/16/24)  features over twenty original modules that examine modern renditions of iconic Chinese plays (Orphan of ZhaoStory of the Western WingMulan and Peony Pavilion and more) in multiple formats (theater, film, TV, and comics among others).

These narrated and illustrated modules showcase the vibrant and diverse afterlives of traditional Chinese plays, while facilitating the integration of drama into the literature, culture, media, and language classroom.

Join us on Tuesday, January 16, 2024, 8 pm Eastern Standard Time (EST) by registering here: https://easc.osu.edu/events/ics-event-launching-chinese-theater-collaborative/huayuxiju

For questions, please contact chinesetheatercollaborative@osu.edu.

Patricia Sieber (Professor, DEALL) and Julia Keblinska (Postdoctoral Fellow, EASC)
Editors, CTC
The Ohio State University
Launch supported by The Institute for Chinese Studies (The Ohio State University) and co-sponsored by the Advanced Institute for Global Chinese Studies (Lingnan University)

Scaglione Prize for East Asian Studies


Last year, the generosity of Aldo and Jeanne Scaglione enabled the Modern Language Association to create the Scaglione Prize for East Asian Studies, to be awarded annually to an outstanding scholarly work in East Asian literary studies. Works of literary history, literary criticism, philology, and literary theory are eligible, as are works dealing with literature and other arts and disciplines, including cinema.

The inaugural award was conferred at the recent MLA conference in Philadelphia to Edward Mack (U of Washington) for Acquired Alterity: Migration, Identity, and Literary Nationalism (U of California P, 2022). At the same time, Brian Hurley (U of Texas Austin) was awarded Honorable Mention for his Confluence and Conflict: Reading Transwar Japanese Literature and Thought (Harvard U Asia Center, 2022).

The MLA is now inviting authors of books published in 2023 in East Asian literary studies to submit their works for consideration. Membership in the MLA is not required to be considered, but submission of required materials must be made before May 1, 2024. For further information, see the MLA announcement. Continue reading

Free access January for MCLC

I am writing to let you know that Edinburgh University Press has included Modern Chinese Literature and Culture in our literary studies free access campaign running this January. We’ve opened up all content, for free, for everyone. The free access campaign includes 25 literary studies journals – browse them all here: https://www.euppublishing.com/literarystudies.

Best wishes,

Carla Hepburn
Senior Marketing Manager
Edinburgh University Press

Xinjiang’s Ominous ‘Looking Back Project’

Source: Bruce-humes.com (12/30/23)
回头看工程 — Xinjiang’s Ominous “Looking Back Project”
By Bruce Humes

Uyghur poet’s memoir recalls the Xinjiang administration’s retrospective hunt for unPC content in textbooks once commissioned, edited and published by the state:

Following the Urumchi incident in 2009, the regional government had initiated the Looking Back Project. The Propaganda Department organized special groups to go over Uyghur-language books, newspapers, journals, films, television shows, and recordings from the 1980s to the present. These groups were tasked with identifying any materials that contained ethnic separatist themes or religious extremist content.

. . .  Several years later, as one result of these investigations, half a dozen Uyghur intellectuals and officials were arrested for editing Uyghur literature textbooks for grades one through eleven. The textbooks had been used in schools for over a decade before the “problem” with them was discovered in 2016.  

Word spread that similar “problems” had been found in nearly all Uyghur historical novels, and that they would soon be banned. The government had even banned a popular historical novel by Seypidin Ezizi, the highest-ranking Uyghur official in the history of the Chinese Communist Party. If the work of such a trusted party veteran could be banned, there was little question what the future held for other Uyghur writers.

(Excerpted from Waiting to be Arrested at Night by Tahir Hamut Izgil, translated by Joshua  Freeman)

2023 Roll call of Chinese literature published in English translation

Here is the Paper Republic 2023 Roll Call of Chinese literature published in English translation: https://paper-republic.org/pers/eric-abrahamsen/2023-roll-call-of-chinese-literature-in-english-translation/

… this is an interesting and varied collection of titles, including classics, left-fielders, big names, and small(er) names. The non-fiction in particular is a wonderful spread of current events, political topics, and essays….

Click the link above for more details and our lists.

Nicky Harman <n.harmanic@gmail.com>

Online writers village

Source: Shine.cn (12/15/23)
Online writers village unveils five-year plan to boost genre
By Wu Huixin

Online writers village unveils five-year plan to boost genre

A forum on the social and market value of adapting online literature into film and television and its international success was held to mark six years from the establishment of the China Internet Writers Village in Hangzhou’s Binjiang District.

The China Internet Writers Village in Binjiang District is the nation’s only community aimed at boosting the development of online literature. Around 275 noted writers have signed contracts to set up studios in the village thus far.

The village recently unveiled its five-year plan (2023-27) to commercialize more Internet literature and expand the overseas market.

“The village will help writers cater to different market segments, since the customer positioning and target segments for different works can vary substantially,” said Guan Pingchao, vice chief of the village. “Official organizations are going to support writers building a bridge between domestic and foreign markets.”

The plan forecasts writer numbers to reach 600 with royalty income of 500 million yuan (US$70.3 million) by 2027. Some 500 Internet novels would be published in other countries with hopes of reaching revenue of 5 billion yuan overseas. Continue reading

Lit Mag closes

Source: China Digital Times (12/8/23)
Lit Mag Announces Sudden Closure after Cover Seemingly Satirizes Xi Jinping

A popular periodical featuring essays and nonfiction writing announced that it is suspending operations after 35 years. The announcement followed online chatter that the December cover was an oblique criticism of Xi Jinping. Xi is sometimes sarcastically referred to as the “Compass in Chief,” for his frequent pronouncements “pointing the way forward” on issues as niche as the marine economy and as grandiose as the progress of human society. The latest (and last) cover of “Selected Essays” (《杂文选刊》, Záwén Xuǎnkān) seems to reference that oft-censored appellation. The cover features a suit-wearing arm pointing the way forward. Miniature faceless masses sprint along the arm only to plunge over the end of the index finger into darkness. At China Heritage, Geremie Barmé published the cover art with a short note:

The cover of the December 2023 issue of “Selected Essays” features a pen-and-ink illustration of colorful, faceless human figures sprinting along a giant suit-clad arm, and leaping off the index figure into the abyss below.

Note: One of Xi Jinping’s many sobriquets is ‘Emperor Indicator’ 指明帝 [zhǐmíng dì]. State media frequently uses the expression ‘[he] shows us the way’ 指明方向 [zhǐmíng fāngxiàng] when referring to Xi Jinping’s latest policy directives. [Source]

The magazine, which was published by Jilin People’s Press (吉林人民出版社, Jílín Rénmín Chūbǎnshè), gave no explanation for its suspension of operations. In a message to readers, editors wrote: “The mountains are high, and the rivers are long. Take care.” The choice of words implies that the suspension was not the editors’ choice. Journalists for Anhui’s Dawan News reported that the magazine headquarters’ phone line had already been disconnected. Continue reading