Experimental Chinese Literature review

MCLC Resource Center is pleased to announce publication of Jacob Edmond’s review of Experimental Chinese Literature: Translation, Technology, Poetics (Brill 2018), by Tong King Lee. The review appears below and at its online home: http://u.osu.edu/mclc/book-reviews/edmond/. My thanks to Nicholas Kaldis, MCLC literary studies book review editor, for ushering the review to publication.

Kirk Denton, editor

Experimental Chinese Literature:
Translation, Technology, Poetics

By Tong King Lee


Reviewed by Jacob Edmond
MCLC Resource Center Publication (Copyright July, 2019)


Tong King Lee, Experimental Chinese Literature: Translation, Technology, Poetics. Leiden and Boston: Brill, 2018. viii + 182 pp. ISBN: 978-90-04-29337-3.

“In translating a work, I mistake it for my own,” writes Taiwanese poet Chen Li 陳黎. More and more writers today are making their texts from other texts through translation, cultural borrowing, and, increasingly, through the affordances of new media technologies. Around the world, their readers are likewise searching for new ways of understanding and reading this literature of repetition, translation, and remediation.

Tong King Lee 李忠慶 takes up this challenge in his book Experimental Chinese LiteratureTranslation, Technology, Poetics. Lee cites Chen Li’s statement in making the case for the inextricable relationship between poetic creation and translation in contemporary Chinese experimental literature (80). Lee defines experimental literature as “works that tap into various technologies in foregrounding their materiality.” For Lee, “experimental literature is . . . characterized by the interplay between the corporeality of the sign . . . and the travel of the text across languages and media” (166). Lee’s concern is thus primarily with works of poetry and contemporary art that highlight their own material qualities—the texture of the page, the shape that writing makes on a flickering screen, or in the space of a park in an open-air exhibition—and that explore textual translations not just between languages but also, importantly, between media. Continue reading

Imperfect Understanding review

MCLC Resource Center is pleased to announce publication of Li Guo’s review of Imperfect Understanding: Intimate Portraits of Modern Chinese Celebrities (Cambria 2018), by Wen Yuan-ning, edited by Christopher Rea. The review appears below and at its online home: http://u.osu.edu/mclc/book-reviews/li-guo2/. My thanks to Nicholas Kaldis, MCLC literary studies book review editor, for ushering the review to publication.

Kirk Denton, editor

Imperfect Understanding:
Intimate Portraits of Modern Chinese Celebrities

By Wen Yuan-ning and others
Edited by Christopher Rea


Reviewed by Li Guo
MCLC Resource Center Publication (Copyright July, 2019)


Imperfect Understanding: Intimate Portraits of Modern Chinese Celebrities by Wen Yuan-ning and others Edited by Christopher Rea. Amherst: Cambria Press, 2018. 315 pp. ISBN: 978-1-60497-943-5.

Part of the Cambria Sinophone World Series, edited by Victor H. Mair, Christopher Rea’s edited collection Imperfect Understanding: Intimate Portraits of Modern Chinese Celebrities by Wen Yuan-ning and others presents in their entirety the essays in the column “Unedited Biographies,” which ran from 1934 to 1935 in the prominent Republican English-language journal The China Critic 中國評論週報. As Rea points out, “The China Critic, for which Wen [Yuan-ning] served as a contributing editor, is emblematic of the robustness of foreign-language publishing in 1930s China” (4). Having appeared weekly for a dozen years before the war, the journal was one of the many general or specialist foreign-language periodicals that published in English, French, Japanese, German, Russian, and other languages in Republican China. From January through December of 1934, the journal published a series of fifty-one succinct “Unedited Biographies” of contemporary celebrities in China. Midway through the year, the column was retitled “Intimate Portraits.” In 1935, seventeen of these popular essays, all authored by Wen Yuan-ning 溫源寧 (1900-1984), were republished as the book Imperfect Understanding. As Rea insightfully states, the essays “testify to the vitality of Anglophone literary cosmopolitan culture in 1930s China, with flashes of wit, erudition, and panache” (2). For today’s readers, these biographical essays on key cultural figures draw scholarly attention to the scene of Republican multilingual print media and their representation of socio-political topics and discussions of culture and entertainment. Continue reading

Waste Tide review

MCLC Resource Center is pleased to announce publication of Cara Healey’s review of Waste Tide, by Chen Qiufan and translated by Ken Liu. The review appears below and at its online home: http://u.osu.edu/mclc/book-reviews/healey/. My thanks to Michael Berry, our translations book review editor, for ushering the review to publication.

Kirk Denton, editor

Waste Tide

By Chen Qiufan
Translated by Ken Liu


Reviewed by Cara Healey
MCLC Resource Center Publication (Copyright July, 2019)


Chen Qiufan, The Waste Tide Tr. by Ken Liu. New York: Tor Books, 2019. 352 pp. ISBN-10: 0765389312; ISBN-13: 978-0765389312

Chen Qiufan’s 陈楸帆 novel Waste Tide (荒潮), expertly translated by Ken Liu, is a significant contribution to the growing genre of Chinese science fiction. The genre has earned acclaim both for its imaginative nature and as a lens into contemporary China; Waste Tide succeeds on both fronts. Many of Chinese science fiction’s recent milestones have centered around Liu Cixin 刘慈欣. Liu’s The Three-Body Problem (三体) (also translated by Ken Liu) won the Hugo Award for Best Novel in 2015. Frant Gwo’s 郭帆 2019 film adaptation of Liu Cixin’s The Wandering Earth (流浪地球) earned $700 million at the box office, becoming the second-highest grossing Chinese film of all time, and was recently released on Netflix. Waste Tide follows in the footsteps of these achievements while also demonstrating that that there is more to Chinese science fiction than Liu Cixin. Continue reading

Fact in Fiction review

MCLC Resource Center is pleased to announce publication of Johanna Ransmeier’s review of Fact in Fiction: 1920s China and Ba Jin’s Family, by Kristin Stapleton. The review appears below and at its online home: http://u.osu.edu/mclc/book-reviews/ransmeier/. My thanks to Nicholas Kaldis, MCLC literary studies book review editor, for ushering the book to publication.

Kirk Denton, editor

Fact in Fiction: 1920s China and Ba Jin’s Family

By Kristin Stapleton


Reviewed by Johanna S. Ransmeier
MCLC Resource Center Publication (Copyright June, 2019)


Kristin Stapleton, Fact in Fiction: 1920s China and Ba Jin’s Family. Stanford: Stanford University Press, 2016. Iv-ix + 280. ISBN: 978-1-5036-0106-2.

For Kristin Stapleton, Ba Jin’s 巴金 most famous novel, Family (家), offers more than a lens on the collision between traditional Confucian values and Republican China’s revolutionary May Fourth era. From its publication as a serial between 1931 and 1932 to the present, early twentieth century activists and later scholars have employed the novel as convenient shorthand for the weaknesses of traditional China. The Gao household came to epitomize the unreasonable and backward demands of traditional family life in a modernizing world. In Fact in Fiction, Stapleton deftly expands on the novel, using its characters, Ba Jin’s life, and his own family, to launch her own finely wrought exploration of the author’s rapidly changing world.

In her introduction, Stapleton observes that critics at the time observed how Ba Jin’s novels failed to sufficiently capture the city in which their events are set. Instead, they contributed to the creation of “a stereotypical ‘traditional’ China that could be attacked by political and social activists of the 1930s and 1940s” (5). Yet, even given its universal critique of Chinese patriarchy, Stapleton demonstrates how Family, along with subsequent books in the Turbulent Stream (激流三部曲) trilogy, are deeply rooted in the particular culture of Chengdu in the 1920s. Continue reading

Vol. 31, no. 1 of MCLC

MCLC is pleased to announce the imminent publication of vol. 31, number 1 (Spring 2019). Find the table of contents, with links to abstracts, below. If you subscribe to MCLC, you should be receiving your copy in the next few weeks. For those of you who don’t subscribe, isn’t it time? Keep in mind that back issues of the journal are available through JStor, but with a two-year lag. If you would like to subscribe or order a single copy of this issue, please contact Mario De Grandis (mclc@osu.edu).

Kirk Denton, editor

Articles

Liu Na’ou’s “Scenery”

MCLC Resource Center is pleased to announce publication of Liu Na’ou’s “Scenery,” translated by Travis Telzrow. The translation appears below and at its online home: http://u.osu.edu/mclc/online-series/scenery/.

Enjoy,

Kirk Denton, editor

Scenery

By Liu Na’ou 劉吶鷗[1]

Translated by Travis Telzrow


MCLC Resource Center Publication (Copyright June 2019)


Cover of the original edition of Scenes from the Metropolis.

People were sitting on speed. Fields flew by. Streams flew by. Thatched cottages, stone bridges, willow trees; every piece of scenery existed in the eyes for just a split-second before vanishing. But here in Ranqing’s hands was a newspaper smelling of fresh oil, its pages covered with typed letters aligned like soldiers in the Roman legion that bounced along with the train’s easy back-and-forth rocking as the morning sun shone on them through the car’s window. Ranqing was hoping to obtain some information about a very important conference being held in Xindu on Monday, so he was being whisked away from that dimly-lit editorial office, which reeked of oil and paper, on this early morning express train. Continue reading

I Love XXX and Other Plays review

MCLC and MCLC Resource Center are pleased to announce publication of John B. Weinstein’s review of I Love XXX and Other Plays, by Meng Jinghui, edited by Claire Conceison. The review appears below and at its online home http://u.osu.edu/mclc/book-reviews/john-weinstein/. My thanks to Michael Berry, MCLC book review editor for translations, for ushering the review to publication.

Kirk Denton, editor

I Love XXX and Other Plays

By Meng Jinghui
Edited by Claire Conceison


Reviewed by John B. Weinstein
MCLC Resource Center Publication (Copyright February, 2019)


Meng Jinghui, I Love XXX and Other Plays Ed. Claire Conceison. New York: Seagull Books, 2017. Viii+355 pp.+DVD. $45.00 ISBN 9780857423849

I nearly encountered Meng Jinghui’s 孟京辉 play Longing for Worldly Pleasures (思凡) in 1998, when I arrived in Beijing for a few weeks of research for my dissertation on the development of modern comic drama in China. When I met with a theater official in Beijing, I asked what I should see while there; although I cannot recall what he did ultimately suggest I see, I do recall him showing me a program or poster or some such artifact for a production called Longing for Worldly Pleasures.  That, he noted, was what I should have seen, but its run was already over. Had I only planned the trip better.

What I did not yet know, and maybe no one truly knew, though perhaps this official surmised it, was that Meng Jinghui would become THE big thing in Chinese drama in the coming years, and his work, though by no means strictly comedy—and by no means strictly any one thing—might have formed the ending of my research project. To this date, while I have been fortunate enough to see the English-language adaptation of Head without Tailreferenced in the volume’s introduction, and even more fortunate to spend an evening hanging out with Meng himself in his hotel room in Boston, I have never seen a production of Meng’s work within China itself. Can a volume of English translations of Meng Jinghui’s work compensate? Continue reading

Boy’s Love, Cosplay, and Androgynous Idols review

MCLC and MCLC Resource Center are pleased to announce publication of Shana Ye’s review of Boy’s Love, Cosplay, and Androgynous Idols: Fan Cultures in Mainland China, Hong Kong and Taiwan (HK University Press, 2017), edited by Maud Lavin, Ling Yang, and Jing Jamie Zhao. The review appears below and can be read online at:  http://u.osu.edu/mclc/book-reviews/shana-ye/. My thanks to Jason McGrath, MCLC media studies book review editor, for ushering the review to publication.

Kirk Denton, editor

Boy’s Love, Cosplay, and Androgynous Idols: Queer
Fan Cultures in Mainland China, Hong Kong and Taiwan

Edited by Maud Lavin, Ling Yang, and Jing Jamie Zhao


Reviewed by Shana Ye
MCLC Resource Center Publication (Copyright April, 2019)


Maud Lavin, Ling Yang, and Jing Jamie Zhao, eds. Boys’ Love, Cosplay, and Androgynous Idols: Queer Fan Cultures in Mainland China, Hong Kong, and Taiwan. Hong Kong: Hong Kong University Press, 2017. 292 pp. ISBN 978-9888390809 (hardback $60).

Many students in my Gender and East Asian Culture class are amazed by the almost omnipresent representation of androgynous pop idols, sexually ambiguous celebrities, and gender-bending TV shows in both Chinese mainstream media and fan communities. These cultural proliferations seem to contradict what they have in mind of what China is like from the perspective of their everyday North American lives. Some of the students, especially those with a feminist background who are concerned with the relationships between new forms of queer desire and transnational digital capitalism ironically reinscribe queer transgression into stereotypes of “Asian gender/sexual transitions.” For those who themselves are practitioners of boy’s love, cosplay, and queer cultural production, different media industries and grassroots fandom culture provide new windows through which to reflect on questions of nationality, belonging, cosmopolitan identity, and heteropatriarchy. Yet, a large number of the students still have trouble distinguishing China, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Japan, and Korea from one another. Continue reading

Li Liuyi’s Sichuan-dialect Adaptation of Teahouse

MCLC and MCLC Resource Center are pleased to announce publication of “Spoken Drama in the Twenty-First Century: Li Liuyi’s Sichuan-dialect Adaptation of Teahouse,” by Megan Ammirati. The essay appears below, but to read it with its accompanying videos, you should go to: http://u.osu.edu/mclc/online-series/ammirati/.

Kirk A. Denton
Editor, MCLC

Spoken Drama in the Twenty-First Century: 
Li Liuyi’s Sichuan-dialect Adaptation of Teahouse

By Megan Ammirati


MCLC Resource Center Publication (Copyright March 2019)


Figure 1: The set of Li Liuyi’s production of Lao She’s Teahouse in Nanjing, 2018

Lao She’s 老舍 Teahouse (茶馆) is one of the most representative works of modern Chinese drama. An epic history spanning the first half of the twentieth century, the play narrates the compromises that Wang Lifa 王利法, the proprietor of a teahouse, makes in order to survive the late Qing reform movement, the death of the would-be-emperor Yuan Shikai, and the War of Resistance. The play’s canonization has been reinforced in academic and artistic circles, anthologies in Chinese and English, as well as domestic and international productions. While the script certainly merits such a reputation, the play’s lengthy history on stage has been much more contentious.

The production history of Teahouse reflects the fluctuations in China’s political climate. The script was published to general acclaim in 1957, when the relatively liberal atmosphere of the Hundred Flowers Movement allowed for some of Lao She’s more critical perspectives on Chinese history. However, when Jiao Juyin 焦菊隐 and the Beijing People’s Art Theatre (北京人民艺术剧院) produced Teahouse in 1958, they were subject to the harsh criticisms typical of the new Anti-Rightist and Great Leap Forward movements. The Beijing People’s Art Theatre produced the play a second time in 1963, but the dominant literary policy was promoting a focus on the first thirteen years of the PRC rather than pre-Liberation history (Yu 2013: 107-108). The theatre did not produce the play again until 1979, after the end of the Cultural Revolution and the deaths of both its playwright and original director. This production preserved Jiao Juyin’s original designs and cast a large number of leading actors in their original roles (Chen 2010: 16-17). More than a nostalgic tribute, these staging decisions redoubled the commitment to the original production and its practitioners. Since then, most professional productions of Teahouse have stayed true to the Beijing People’s Art Theatre’s original staging, making similar choices about costumes, set designs, and acting style. When the famously innovative director Lin Zhaohua 林兆华 revived the play in 1990, he confessed that his respect for the script and its history had made him reluctant to make drastic changes (Yu 2013: 112). Continue reading

Mobility as Method

MCLC and MCLC Resource Center are pleased to announce publication of an essay by Tong King Lee entitled “Mobility as Method: Distributed Literatures and Semiotic Repertoires” as part of our online series. Too long to post here in its entirety, find below a snippet from the beginning of the essay. The whole essay can be found at: http://u.osu.edu/mclc/online-series/tong-king-lee/.

Kirk A. Denton, editor

Mobility as Method:
Distributed Literatures and Semiotic Repertoires

By Tong King Lee


MCLC Resource Center Publication (Copyright March 2019)


Posters of Wong Kar-wai’s In the Mood for Love and 2046.

In this essay, I propose mobility as a method for thinking literature as distributed repertoires, using Hong Kong literature as an illustrative case. In speaking of literary mobility, we first need to come to terms with its nominal counterpoint: the situatedness and place-based nature of writing; in the context of Hong Kong, this is encapsulated by the notion of Sinophone Hong Kong literature (Shih 2008). My argument is that the mobile and the situated are not diametrically opposed; rather, they complement each other within a creative dynamic that enables the local and the global to reciprocally articulate each other in diverse semiotic constellations.

The mobility turn in the social sciences, exemplified by the work of John Urry (2007) and Zygmunt Bauman (2000), has led to lines of inquiry that challenge stable structures and linear patterns, privileging instead the themes of movement and fluidity. More recently, Engseng Ho (2017) proposed the idea of mobile societies, suggesting that premodern Asia be conceptualized as Inter-Asia, a transregional axis constituted by networks of connections and circulations among peoples, goods, and ideas. Here mobility as method represents a theoretical attempt to dislodge the isomorphism between state and society, where the former is a territorialized, bounded political entity and the latter a dispersed concept transcending the perimeters of the polity.

Now what if, instead of mobile societies, we conceive of mobile literatures, defined as spectra of creative semiotic resources moving dynamically between and beyond languages, cultures, and bounded territories? What connections and circulations might emerge from such a distributed view of literature? What are the implications of disaggregating literature from society and dispersing its resources to a global scale, and then reaggregating them back into society, in what Engseng Ho (2017) calls an “outside-in” analysis? [click here to read the whole essay]

Wolf Totem and the Post-Mao Utopian review

MCLC and MCLC Resource Center are pleased to announce publication of Yiyan Wang’s review of Wolf Totem and the the Post-Mao Utopian: A Chinese Perspective on Contemporary Western Scholarship (Brill 2018), by Li Xiaojiang and translated by Edward M. Gunn. The review appears below and at its online home: http://u.osu.edu/mclc/book-reviews/yiyan-wang/. My thanks to Nicholas Kaldis, MCLC book review editor for literary studies, for ushering the review to publication.

Kirk A. Denton, editor

Wolf Totem and the Post-Mao Utopian: 
A Chinese Perspective on Contemporary Western Scholarship

By Li Xiaojiang
Translated by Edward Mansfield Gunn


Reviewed by Yiyan Wang
MCLC Resource Center Publication (Copyright March, 2019)


Li Xiaojiang, Wolf Totem and the Post-Mao Utopian: A Chinese Perspective on Contemporary Western Scholarship Tr. Edward Mansfield Gunn. Leiden: Brill, 2018. Ix-xviii + 574. ISBN: 978-90-04-27672-7 (Hardcover).

Li Xiaojiang 李小江 is a scholar well-known for her ground-breaking research and extensive publications on gender and women’s issues in Chinese society. Her monograph, Post-Allegory: A Rigorous Explication of Wolf Totem  (后寓言:〈狼图腾〉深度诠释) (Wuhan: Changjiang wenyi, 2010), is a remarkable departure from her usual areas of research. The version here being reviewed is a translation of the 2013 revised edition (修正版), Wolf Totem and the Post-Mao Utopian: A Chinese Perspective on Contemporary Western Scholarship (后乌托邦批评:〈狼图腾〉深度诠释) (Shanghai: Shanghai renmin), rendered into English by Edward Gunn. It offers, exactly as the subtitle indicates, “A Chinese Perspective on Contemporary Western Scholarship.”[1] Li’s analysis and positioning of the novel, Wolf Totem 狼图腾 (Jiang Rong 2004; translation by Howard Goldblatt 2009), as a “post” allegory, is a preparation for the core task of the book—to critique contemporary Western scholarship and to propose a new critical paradigm: post-utopian criticism. While Gunn faithfully translates the title of this revised edition as “the Post-Mao Utopian,” I use Li’s original term, “post-allegory” (后寓言), because it is her point of entry for and may help us understand her argument about “post-utopianism.” Continue reading

Animation in China review

Sorry, there was a problem with the previous posting of this announcement. This one is correct. MCLC and MCLC Resource Center are pleased to announce publication of Li Guo’s review of Animation in China: History, Aesthetics, Media (Routledge 2016), by Sean Macdonald. The review appears below and at its online home: http://u.osu.edu/mclc/book-reviews/li-guo/. My thanks to Jason McGrath, MCLC media studies book review editor, for ushering the review to publication.

Kirk A. Denton, editor

Animation in China:
History, Aesthetics, Media

By Sean Macdonald


Reviewed by Li Guo
MCLC Resource Center Publication (Copyright February, 2019)


Sean Macdonald. Animation in China: History, Aesthetics, Media. London: Routledge, 2016. 252pp. ISBN: 9781138938809 (Hardback $155), ISBN: 9781138094789 (Paperback $49.95), ISBN: 9781315675435 (eBook $24.98)

In the introduction to his ground-breaking monograph Animation in China: History, Aesthetics, Media, Sean Macdonald describes his approach as an examination of “a quasi-official corpus produced during a key period of PRC film and cultural history, from the 1950s to the 1980s” and conducting “a reading of the historically mainstream animation produced at the Shanghai Animation Film Studio (or SAFS)” (2). Prior to Macdonald’s book, Rolf Giesen’s study Chinese Animation, A History and Filmography, 1922-2012 had provided a chronological overview of China’s animation industry and works.[1] Macdonald deepens our understanding of the national narrative of animation in the People’s Republic of China by shifting focus to the specific processes through which China’s state interventions in animation production can be problematized and historicized. To explicate the contexts for the “official, canonical, national history of China’s animation,” Macdonald begins with the story of SAFS, tracing its connections back to film production in the Sino-Japanese War period. The book re-contextualizes the national history of animation within transnational animation history while simultaneously reflecting on animation itself as “a nation-building industry” (2). Continue reading

Fascism in Republican China review essay

MCLC and MCLC Resource Center are pleased to announce publication of Jeremy Tai’s review of Revolutionary Fascism, by Maggie Clinton, and China’s Conservative Revolution, by Brian Tsui. The review appears below and online at: http://u.osu.edu/mclc/book-reviews/jeremy-tai/.

Enjoy, Kirk A. Denton, editor

Fascism in Republican China: A Review Essay

Revolutionary Nativism: Fascism and Culture in China, 1925-1937, by Maggie Clinton
China’s Conservative Revolution: The Quest for a New World Order, 1927-1949, by Brian Tsui


Reviewed by Jeremy Tai
MCLC Resource Center Publication (Copyright January, 2019)


Maggie Clinton, Revolutionary Nativism: Fascism and Culture in China, 1925-1937 (Durham: Duke University Press, 2017). 280 pp. ISBN: 9780822363620 (cloth), ISBN: 9780822363774 (paperback).

Brian Tsui, China’s Conservative Revolution: The Quest for a New Order, 1927-1949 (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2018). 304 pp. ISBN: 9781107196230 (cloth).

While many scholars have observed over the past few decades a resurgence of nationalism in the post-Cold War era, political commentaries warning of an imminent return to fascism have also proliferated in recent years as right-wing populism unsettles liberal democracies. Contemporary inquiries into fascism have certainly extended beyond liberal states to also scrutinize authoritarian ones, including China, which are no less entangled in the crises, restructuring, and social dislocation of the capitalist world system that incite desires to protect an imagined way of life. The Chinese Communist Party (CCP) is, of course, very much invested in memorializing its historic resistance to fascism, for instance, during anniversaries of the “Victory of the Chinese People’s Resistance against Japanese Aggression and World’s Anti-fascist War.” Present-day xenophobia and trade protectionism in the US and elsewhere also provide the conditions for Chinese leaders to take on the cosmopolitan appearance of “going out” and maintaining the global order of free trade. Yet, for all of the Chinese state’s ability to externalize the potentiality of fascism, whether by reference to the socialist past or capitalist present, certain developments in contemporary China suggest the presence of right-wing orientations to the nation and race, the state and territoriality, the role of technology, and political dissent. In particular, the reappearance of a discourse of national revival (民族復興) alongside flagrant examples of Han racism toward ethnic minorities and foreigners, the continuous narration of past humiliation that obscures contemporary power asymmetries, the ongoing Han settlement of non-Han regions and island-building in the South China Sea, the joining of censorship with biometric surveillance, the crackdown on labor and feminist activism, and the establishment of internment camps in Xinjiang all make the time ripe for reconsidering the history of right-wing thought and politics in modern China. Continue reading

Mystifying China’s Southwest Ethnic Borderlands review

MCLC and MCLC Resource Center are pleased to announce publication of Yanshuo Zhang’s review of Mystifying China’s Southwest Ethnic Borderlands: Harmonious Heterotopia (Lexington 2018), by Yuqing Yang. The review appears below and at its online home: http://u.osu.edu/mclc/book-reviews/yanshuo-zhang/. My thanks to Nicholas Kaldis, MCLC literary studies book review editor, for ushering the review to publication.

Kirk A. Denton, editor

Mystifying China’s Southwest 
Ethnic Borderlands: Harmonious Heterotopia

By Yuqing Yang


Reviewed by Yanshuo Zhang
MCLC Resource Center Publication (Copyright January, 2019)


Yuqing Zhang, Mystifying China’s Southwest Ethnic Borderlands: Harmonious Heterotopia. Lanham, MD: Lexington Books, 2018. vii-x + 251 pp. ISBN: 978-1-4985-0297-9 (Hardback $110.00); 978-1-4985-0298-6 (eBook $104.50)

In Chinese literary scholarship in the U.S., the literary and cultural achievements made by China’s ethnic minority groups (shaoshu minzu 少数民族) remain a largely uncharted territory in clear need of more serious investigation. Some recent scholarship on ethnic minority literatures in China includes Mark Bender’s edited ethnic poetry anthology The Borderlands of Asia: Culture, Place, Poetry (Cambria Press 2017) and the chapters on Tibetan literature and the ethnic concerns of the prominent modern writer Lao She (老舍) in Sinophone Studies: A Critical Reader (Columbia University Press 2013).

Despite the wonderful insights on minority literatures developed in these studies, single-authored monographs on non-Han literatures are severely lacking in our field, and Chinese literary studies in the U.S. as a whole seems to be dominated by a Han-focused perspective. Yuqing Yang’s 2018 monograph, Mystifying China’s Southwest Ethnic Borderlands: Harmonious Heterotopia contributes to enriching the research on Chinese shaoshu minzuliteratures. An ethnic Bai scholar trained at the University of Oregon and currently teaching at Minzu University of China, Yang charts the cultural myths and fantasies surrounding three minority regions in southwest China, revealing an entanglement between representation and reality—“textual and extratextual formats”—in the making of the Bai, Mosuo, and Tibetan identities in reform-era China (227). Continue reading