So Long, My Son review

MCLC Resource Center is pleased to announce publication of “The Two Versions of So Long, My Son,” by Thomas Chen. The review–of a Wang Xiaoshuai film–appears below and at its online home:


Kirk Denton, MCLC

The Two Versions of So Long, My Son

By Thomas Chen

MCLC Resource Center Publication (Copyright February 2024)

Advertising poster for So Long, My Son.

Wang Xiaoshuai’s 王小帅 So Long, My Son (地久天长; 2019), now available to stream for the first time in the U.S. on Mubi, is a tour de force of epic proportions. Ostensibly about the human costs of China’s one-child policy, which was implemented around 1980 to curb population growth, the story of the 185-minute film spans over thirty years from the early 1980s to the 2010s and is centered around two families. Liyun and Yaojun—played by Yong Mei 咏梅 and Wang Jingchun 王景春, respectively, in Silver Bear-winning roles—are factory workers in a fictionalized city in the northern province of Inner Mongolia. They are close friends with Haiyan and Yingming, the former the supervisor of family planning at the same factory. Liyun and Yaojun lose their son, Xingxing, in a drowning accident involving Haiyan and Yingming’s son, Haohao. In the aftermath of the tragedy, Liyun and Yaojun flee and eventually settle along the coast of Fujian province in the south. The film’s nonlinear narrative crisscrosses the three decades and two locales.

So Long, My Son is Wang Xiaoshuai’s twelfth fictional feature. Born in 1966, the year the Cultural Revolution began, Wang is frequently dubbed a member of Chinese cinema’s “Sixth Generation” that started making films in the 1990s outside the state studio system. Like others of his “generation,” most notably Jia Zhangke 贾樟柯, he eventually reentered the system, his films screened by censors in order to be then screened in theaters. Not coincidentally, Wang first conceived So Long, My Son in 2015, when the one-child policy—replaced by a two-child policy—effectively ended. Although popular films such as Dearest (親愛的; 2014, d. Peter Chan 陳可辛) and Wrath of Silence (暴裂无声; 2017, d. Xin Yukun 忻钰坤) have dealt with the loss of the only child, Wang’s is the first film widely released in China to broach the policy explicitly. Continue reading

Vol. 35, no. 2 of MCLC

ImageThe editors are pleased to announce publication of Modern Chinese Literature and Culture vol. 35, no. 2 (Winter 2023). The table of contents for this issue is listed below. Click the links to view the abstract for each article. The issue is available online at:

Natascha Gentz and Christopher Rosenmeier, editors

Table of Contents

Note from the Editors
Natascha Gentz and Christopher Rosenmeier

Passion and Passio: The Chahua nü and Late Qing Courtesan Narratives
Tony D. Qian

Modernizing Classical Poetics and Cultural Traditions: Wu Mi’s Enterprise of Rewriting George Gordon Byron
Hanjin YAN

“A Wider and Stranger Space”: World Literature and World-building in Xue Yiwei’s Fiction
Pamel Hunt

Knowing the World and Educating the Self: Reportage in Chinese Left-Wing Culture in 1936

Toward a Regime of Emotional Authenticity: Eileen Chang’s Literary Transmediation of Theater and Cinema in Two 1940s Love Stories
Renren YANG

Patior Ergo Sum: Data Surveillance and Necropolitics in Han Song’s Hospital Trilogy
LYU Guangzhao

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: 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

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: 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]

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:

Best wishes,

Carla Hepburn
Senior Marketing Manager
Edinburgh University Press

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: 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

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: 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

Hospital review

MCLC Resource Center is pleased to announce publication of Mingwei Song’s review of Hospital, by Han Song, translated by Michael Berry. The review appears below and at its online home: My thanks to Michael Hill, our translations/translation studies book review editor, for ushering the review to publication.

Kirk Denton, MCLC


By Han Song

Translated by Michael Berry

Reviewed by Mingwei Song

MCLC Resource Center Publication (Copyright September, 2023)

Han Song, Hospital Tr. Michael Berry. Seattle, WA: Amazon Crossing, 2023. 413 pp. ISBN: 978-1542039468 (paper).

Han Song 韩松 (b. 1965) is one of the most prolific Chinese science fiction (SF) writers. Only a portion of his writings has seen publication, but this already includes about one hundred short stories and eight major novels: Mars over America 火星照耀美国 (2000), Red Ocean 红色海洋 (2004), Subway 地铁 (2010), High-Speed Rail 高铁 (2012), Tracks 轨道 (2013), Hospital 医院 (2016), Exorcism 驱魔 (2017), and Dead Souls 亡灵 (2018). Han Song is also a poet, a journalist, a chronicler of everyday events, and a writer of all sorts of social commentaries, ranging from editorials to blogs and micro-blogs. It is almost impossible to read all that Han Song has published, and he has many manuscripts that remain unpublished.

A disciple of Lu Xun 魯迅 (1881-1936), whose short story “A Madman’s Diary” 狂人日記 (1918) opened readers’ eyes to the invisible evils of society and led them to seek deeper truths that lurk beneath the surface, Han Song, a senior journalist for China’s Xinhua News Agency, knows too well that what is invisible matters even more than the visible in the broad daylight of present-day China. Like Lu Xun, he is drawn to the power of darkness, and Lu Xun-esque phantoms and paradoxical metaphors permeate Han Song’s chthonic literary visions. Han Song has suggested that “China’s reality has now become more science fictional than science fiction.”[1] If China’s formidable and forbidden, amorphous and alienated, uncertain and unpredictable reality is difficult or impossible to describe with traditional literary discourse based on the principle of mimesis, it comes into light in speculative fictional storytelling. Because of writers like Han Song, SF—this marginalized, insignificant genre—has achieved a meaningful status as a unique literary form to represent those unsettling, abstruse, clandestine images coming from the terra incognita bordering China’s proper “reality” and outside its ordinary literary landscape. Continue reading

States of Disconnect review

MCLC Resource Center is pleased to announce publication of Wenjin Cui’s review of States of Disconnect: The China-India Literary Relation in the Twentieth Century, by Adhira Mangalagiri. The review appears below and at its online home: My thanks to Nicholas Kaldis, our literary studies book review editor, for ushering the review to publication.

Kirk Denton, MCLC

States of Disconnect: The China-India
Literary Relation in the Twentieth Century

By Adhira Mangalagiri

Reviewed by Wenjin Cui

MCLC Resource Center Publication (Copyright September, 2023)

Adhira Mangalagiri, States of Disconnect: The China-India Literary Relation in the Twentieth Century New York: Columbia University Press, 2023. vii + 286 pp. Index. ISBN: 9780231205696​ (Paperback); 9780231205689 (Hardcover);  9780231556118​  (E-book).

This book sets an ambitious task to “rethink the transnational” through the conceptualization of what it calls “states of disconnect.” While its specific focus is on “the China-India literary relation in the twentieth century,” States of Disconnect aims at no less than reshaping the paradigm of comparison and supplying a critical vocabulary for a new ethics of transnational relation.

According to Mangalagiri, “states of disconnect”­—the key term of the book, the usage of which is directly informed by Judith Butler’s “contemplation on the meanings of ‘states’” (218)—not only refers in a literal sense to nation-states in disconnect, but also “describes the conditions of transnationalism in crisis a particular text inhabits and indexes” (21) and, most critically, designates “hermeneutic strategies for contending with disconnect and finding in the seeming ends of transnationalism—amid declining globalized hyperconnectivity and rising national parochialism—an ethics of literary relation” (30). Specifically, the book conceptualizes three such states: friction, ellipsis, and contingency. In addition to a brief explication given in the introduction, it provides detailed discussions in five chapters of case studies as well as a theoretical elaboration in the conclusion. Continue reading

Paris in the Springtime

MCLC Resource Center is pleased to announce publication of Paul Bevan’s introduction to and translation of “Paris in the Springtime,” by Shao Xunmei. This translation appears in conjunction with the recent publication of One Man Talking: Selected Essays of Shao Xunmei, 1929-1939, translated by Paul Bevan and Susan Daruvala. A teaser appears below. For the full introduction and translation, see:

Kirk Denton, MCLC

Paris in the Springtime

By Shao Xunmei 邵洵美

Translated by Paul Bevan

MCLC Resource Center Publication (Copyright September 2023)

Introduction: Shao Xunmei, a Chinese Poet in 1920s Paris
By Paul Bevan

Portrait of Shao by the artist Xu Beihong 徐悲鴻.

Shao Xunmei (1906-68) was a poet, essayist, and publisher. Today, he is best known for his poetry, which mostly belongs to the period when he was a young man in his twenties inspired by the Decadent poets of nineteenth-century Europe. His lesser-known essays, written during the 1920s, 1930s, and 1940s, cover all sorts of different topics, from the poetry of Sappho to the art of the woodblock print, from Shanghai in wartime to Chinese philately. Arguably his greatest contribution to the culture of the Chinese Republican Era (1912-49) was in publishing. During the 1920s and 1930s, Shao Xunmei published an array of pictorial magazines, so important that they did nothing less than define the era, in their celebration of the unique culture that developed in China’s most cosmopolitan city, Shanghai, at a time of great change. In addition to his own magazines, Shao was also responsible for the publication of many other periodicals, in his capacity as printer and editor. The essays translated in the book One Man Talking were all published in Shao’s own magazines between the years 1929 and 1939, and give a good idea of the breadth of his interests.

This short prose piece, “Paris in the Springtime” 巴黎的春天 (which does not appear in the book and was translated specially for MCLC), was published in 1929, three years after Shao Xunmei returned from Europe to China. It describes his movements whilst in Paris on a brief visit from Cambridge, where he was studying towards the university entrance exams. The cover of the book One Man Talking shows a portrait of Shao taken in a Parisian photographic studio in 1926, which was almost certainly posed for at the time of this visit. It has a handwritten greeting in Chinese to his friends and landlords in Cambridge, Rev. A.C. Moule and his wife, and was sent to them from Paris.[1]

Cover of One Man Talking.

In Shao’s poetic introduction the sun drips like honey; the warm breeze has audible footsteps; the tree is female, and she expresses herself in a variety of different ways, depending on who passes beneath her vast green canopy of leaves and branches.

Shao was a young man of his time, and in his writing we sometimes find references to women that do not read well today. This short essay is no exception. The tree giggles when young women pass beneath it, but is dismissive of middle-aged women because they are no longer young. Shao’s description of the artists’ model, though brief, typically objectifies the sitter, and the naïve, even childish ending to the essay brings in the rather self-conscious and unimaginative reference to the “amorous feelings of spring.” Despite these shortcomings, the essay as a whole displays much charm, and is written in a style that is typical of his writings of the time, with a nod towards the use of a descriptive language that shows his poetic aspirations. Above all, the essay provides an excellent indication as to what Shao Xunmei’s pastimes were during the time he spent in Paris as a man of leisure. It also gives an impression of his interests more broadly, interests with which he was able to fully indulge himself while he lived in Cambridge. [READ THE FULL PIECE HERE]

A Certain Justice review

MCLC Resource Center is pleased to announce publication of Paul Katz’s review of A Certain Justice: Toward an Ecology of the Chinese Legal Imagination, by Haiyan Lee. The review appears below and at its online home: My thanks to Nicholas Kaldis, our literary studies book review editor, for ushering the review to publication.

Kirk Denton, MCLC

A Certain Justice:
Toward An Ecology of the Chinese Legal Imagination

By Haiyan Lee

Reviewed by Paul Katz

MCLC Resource Center Publication (Copyright September, 2023)

Haiyan Lee. A Certain Justice: Toward An Ecology of the Chinese Legal Imagination Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2023, xii + 352 pp. ISBN-13: 978-0-226-82524-3 (cloth) / ISBN-13: 978-0-226-82525-0 (paper) / ISBN-13: 978-0-226-82526-7 (e-book).

A Certain JusticeToward An Ecology of the Chinese Legal Imagination represents a pioneering achievement in our understanding of Chinese legal culture as well as its significance in the context of judicial systems worldwide. Haiyan Lee has amassed and boldly explored an astonishing array of literature, ranging from the writings of Lu Xun 魯迅 (1881-1936) and Hannah Arendt (1906-1975) to the Cultural Revolution “model opera” (樣板戲) The White-Haired Girl (白毛女) and Hans Christian Andersen’s The Little Mermaid.

The main goal of the study is to present an overview of how Chinese forms of justice have been conceptualized and practiced from the dynastic era to the present day. Lee endeavors to achieve this goal by exploring texts that have largely been overlooked yet possess the potential to address significant philosophical questions concerning truth, freedom, humanity, etc., particularly literary works that shed light on justice’s place in the complex realities of human life. The author’s views have been profoundly molded by a comparative perspective resulting from her experiences as an immigrant academic as well as from he “enduring fascination” with American legal culture (ix).

The theoretical framework applied in A Certain Justice features a “tension-filled triune” formed by justice, law, and morality (2). A second triune involves the Chinese ideas of qing 情 (human feelings), fa 法 (the law of the land), and li 理 (cosmic order), which Lee posits as being roughly equivalent with customary, bureaucratic, and divine forms of law (4-5). However, the heart of her analysis lies in the concepts of “high” and “low” justice as organizing principles “to make sense of the political-legal culture of a nonliberal society” (in this case China; 7-8), with the former highlighting the “legitimacy and moral supremacy of the ruler” (achieved via penal law) and the latter “fair treatment” of individuals (during civil law procedures; social justice). One of the author’s main arguments stresses the “subsumption of low justice under high justice,” with high justice consisting of actions rulers deem to be justified. Moreover, in order to ensure the attainment of high justice, low justice may on occasion be curtailed, made partial, or otherwise modified (5, 21, 27). Continue reading

Siting Postcoloniality review

MCLC Resource Center is pleased to announce publication of Kyle Shernuk’s review of Siting Postcoloniality: Critical Perspectives from the East Asian Sinosphere, edited by Pheng Cheah and Caroline S. Hau. The review appears below and at its online home: My thanks to Nicholas Kaldis, our literary studies book review editor, for ushering the review to publication.

Kirk A. Denton, MCLC

Siting Postcoloniality:
Critical Perspectives from the East Asian Sinosphere

Edited by Pheng Cheah and Caroline S. Hau

Reviewed by Kyle Shernuk

MCLC Resource Center Publication (Copyright August, 2023)

Pheng Cheah and Caroline S. Hao, eds., Siting Postcoloniality: Critical Perspectives from the East Asian Sinosphere Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2022, xii + 331 pp. ISBN: 978-1-4780-1668-7 (cloth) / ISBN: 978-1-4780-1931-2 (paper) / eISBN: 978-1-4780-2395-1 (e-book).

Siting Postcoloniality: Critical Perspectives from the East Asian Sinosphere is an engaging volume that successfully expands our understanding of Postcolonial and East Asian studies, as well as these two fields’ many points of intersection. In his “Introduction,” Pheng Cheah traces the history of postcolonialism as a field and demonstrates how the histories of dynastic China, Republican China, and the People’s Republic of China are largely incompatible with existing models. In the East Asian context, Cheah identifies how individuals often changed subject positions over time, with the colonized becoming the colonizer or perhaps occupying both roles at once. He rightly argues that this reality challenges “two fundament axioms of postcolonial studies: the correlation of West and non-West with the opposition of colonizer and colonized and the power of colonial discourse as an ideology and technology of subjectification” (8). After rehearsing twentieth-century Chinese history and identifying the “semantic flexibility and referential elasticity” of the terms “Chinese” and “colonialism” (13), he articulates the volume’s two additional theoretical contributions. First, the volume exposes how the “mechanical application of Orientalist discourse analysis exaggerates the continuing hold of Western colonialism over the present”; second, it demonstrates that the “PRC’s position as a global hegemon is arguably secured at the infrastructural and ideological levels by networks and cultural resources that predate Western colonialism” (19). Importantly, this volume situates East Asia within prevailing debates of postcoloniality that simultaneously links it to postcolonial studies in other regions of the world. Continue reading

Heaven Official’s Blessing

MCLC Resource Center is pleased to announce publication of “Navigating Transmedia Storytelling and Franchising in Chinese BL: Heaven Official’s Blessing,” by Linshan Jiang. The essay appears below and at its online home: My thanks to Linshan Jiang for sharing her work with the MCLC community.

Kirk Denton, MCLC

Navigating Transmedia Storytelling and Franchising in
Chinese BL: Heaven Official’s Blessing

By Linshan Jiang

MCLC Resource Center Publication (Copyright August 2023)

Promotional poster for the first season of Heaven Official’s Blessing.

Danmei (耽美), or BL (Boy’s Love), refers to male-male romance. Although it originates from Japanese popular culture, it is now also immensely popular in China. In the Chinese market, successful and profitable cultural productions are referred to as IPs (intellectual properties), a concept aligned with Henry Jenkins’ notions of “transmedia story” and “transmedia franchise” (Jenkins 2006: 95, 96). These transmedia stories unfold “across multiple media platforms,” with each contributing uniquely to the overall narrative (Jenkins 2006: 95–96). At the same time, IP or “transmedia franchise” cater to market demands, and the latter can “[pitch] the content somewhat differently in the different media” (Jenkins 2006: 96). Notable IPs such as Grandmaster of Demonic Cultivation (魔道祖师), or the TV adaptations The Untamed (陈情令) and Guardian (镇魂) have garnered widespread attention in both popular media and scholarly discussions (Baecker/Hao 2021: 18; Wong 2020: 503).

What is special about the BL industry in China, as discussed in previous BL scholarship, is the double influence of censorship (both state and self-imposed) and market profitability (Hao 2023: 66; Hu/Wang 2021: 672; Wang 2019: 47; Xu/Yang 2013: 30). Due to its homosexual content, the BL genre faces continuous censorship from the National Radio and Television Administration. However, despite the strict censorship, the BL industry remains lucrative, leading to the continual emergence of adaptations of BL novels and other cultural productions. Producers and creators of BL transmedia franchises navigate the complexities of censorship while capitalizing on market opportunities. Continue reading

Made in Censorship review

MCLC Resource Center is pleased to announce publication of Jeremy Brown’s review of Made in Censorship: The Tiananmen Movement in Chinese Literature and Film, by Thomas Chen. The review appears below and at its online home: My thanks to Nicholas Kaldis, our literary studies book review editor, for ushering the review to publication.

Kirk Denton, MCLC

Made in Censorship: The Tiananmen
Movement in Chinese Literature and Film

By Thomas Chen

Reviewed by Jeremy Brown

MCLC Resource Center Publication (Copyright July, 2023)

Thomas Chen, Made in Censorship: The Tiananmen Movement in Chinese Literature and Film New York: Columbia University Press, 2022, xii + 248 pp. ISBN: 9780231204019 (Paperback). ISBN: 9780231204002 (Hardcover).

Censorship and restricted research access can spark creativity and open up new paths, as Thomas Chen’s Made in Censorship shows. I first experienced this myself during the 2000s, when I went to the flea market in search of documents after archive staff denied me access to what I wanted to read. That denial of access shaped my project in fruitful and beneficial ways. And when I encountered state-enforced amnesia about June Fourth, I was so bothered by the lies and erasures that I chose to write a book about the topic. So did Thomas Chen. Like so many other artistic and scholarly projects related to China, our works were sparked by censorship and, as Chen argues, made in censorship.

Chinese censorship literally shaped Made in Censorship. Chen received Chinese government funding that contributed to the publication of his thought-provoking book. Think about that.  The Chinese party-state funded a project that resulted in a book with the words “Tiananmen Movement” in the title, although Chen wisely framed his project in safe and innocuous terms while researching in China. Chen also participated in what he calls a “collaborative” and “collegial” (133) process of censoring a Chinese translation of one of his articles, a revised version of which appears in this book, revealing what censors excised. These backstories, which Chen recounts with thoughtful reflexivity, enliven and enrich the book. They support Chen’s point that cinematic, literary, and scholarly output about June Fourth is not only possible, but has been occurring continuously in China since 1989. Continue reading

vol. 35, no. 1 of MCLC

We are pleased to announce that the next issue of Modern Chinese Literature and Culture, vol. 35, no. 1 (Summer 2023), has now been published, with printed issues going out shortly. Please find the table of contents and links to abstracts below. The journal’s online repository provides access to full articles for subscribers.

Natascha Gentz and Christopher Rosenmeier, Editors

Volume 35, Number 1 (Summer 2023)