Hao Jingfang’s “Limbo”

MCLC Resource Center is pleased to announce publication of Ursula D. Friedman’s translation of Hao Jingfang’s 郝景芳 novella “Limbo” (生死域). A teaser is found below, but to read the entire story, go to: https://u.osu.edu/mclc/online-series/limbo/.

Kirk Denton, editor

Limbo

By Hao Jingfang 郝景芳[1]

Translated by Ursula D. Friedman[2]


MCLC Resource Center Publication (Copyright July 2020)


1

The Lonely Depths, by Hao Jingfang

He ventured cautiously through this strange twilight city. The sky was gray, the city gray. There was a peculiar feel to this city, the air swollen with an impending danger. The skyline was punctuated by a relentless succession of high-rises—the buildings’ rebar skeletons were gray, their glass flanks tinted gray. The gaps between the buildings were inked an impenetrable charcoal-gray. The sky was choked by a dense layer of low-hanging clouds, the skyscrapers’ invisible crowns swallowed by the ashen haze.

As he strode deeper into this city of shadows, he took stock of his surroundings, on constant guard against potential dangers lurking behind hidden street corners. His pace was slow and measured.

He did not know where he was. The last thing he remembered was blowing through a red light along Beijing’s Second Ring Road at two o’clock in the morning. A black Maserati had come flying out of nowhere, striking his vehicle full-on and flattening him into a corner of the driver’s seat. His car slammed into the guardrail, metal and glass debris piercing his flesh like a rain of bullets. . . . Later on, he vaguely recalled the bluish gleam of the lights in the operating room, and the IV bag in the hospital ward . . . and then . . . and then . . . [click here to read the rest]

On the 9th Reel China Biennial

MCLC Resource Center is pleased to announce publication of “Homecoming, Postsocialist Memory, and Subjects: On the 9th Reel China Biennial,” by Qi Wang. The essay, an overview of films screened at the 9th Reel China Biennial, held at NYU in November of 2019, can be read in its entirety at: https://u.osu.edu/mclc/online-series/qi-wang2/. Find a teaser below.

Kirk Denton, editor

Homecoming, Postsocialist Memory, and Subjects:
On the 9th Reel China Biennial

By Qi Wang


MCLC Resource Center Publication (Copyright June 2020)


The Reel China Biennial is an independent Chinese film and documentary screening series that was inaugurated in 2001. In November 2019, New York University hosted its 9th edition, co-curated by NYU professors Zhang Zhen (张真) and Angela Zito (司徒安) along with Wang Xiaolu (王小鲁), a leading critic of independent film in China (fig. 1).[1] As in the past, this most recent program is fresh and comprehensive. It showcases twelve films created after 2015. Among those, nine are from 2018, and six are of feature length, going over ninety minutes each.

24th Street (24号大街, dir. Pan Zhiqi 潘志琪, 2018), a nominee for the Best Documentary at the 55th Taipei Golden Horse Film Festival, observes the vagabond life of Su and Qin, a couple nearing retirement age who have lived together out of wedlock for over two decades (fig. 2). The two make a living by running makeshift restaurants to feed fellow migrant workers on construction sites, the latter a common sight in and near cities such as Hangzhou, where the first part of the film is set, due to the massive urbanization unfolding in China. Without a license and at the mercy of shifting conditions that range from weather and location to the police, the hardworking Su and Qin know distress and failure only too well. With their investment turning fruitless once again, they decide to return to their native Guizhou province and perhaps settle down there. . .  [read the whole essay]

New Studies in Socialist Performance

MCLC Resource Center is pleased to announce publication of Xiaomei Chen’s “New Studies in Socialist Performance: A Review Essay,” which reviews Staging Revolution: Artistry and Aesthetics in Model Beijing Opera during the Cultural Revolution, by Xing Fan, and Revolutionary Bodies: Chinese Dance and the Socialist Legacy, by Emily Wilcox. The review appears below and at its online home: https://u.osu.edu/mclc/book-reviews/xiaomei-chen/. My thanks to Jason McGrath, MCLC book review editor for media studies, for ushering the review to publication.

Kirk Denton, editor

New Studies in Socialist Performance: A Review Essay

Staging Revolution: Artistry and Aesthetics in Model Beijing Opera during the Cultural Revolution, by Xing Fan
Revolutionary Bodies: Chinese Dance and the Socialist Legacy, by Emily Wilcox


Reviewed by Xiaomei Chen
MCLC Resource Center Publication (Copyright June, 2020)


Xing Fan, Staging Revolution: Artistry and Aesthetics in Model Beijing Opera during the Cultural Revolution Hong Kong: Hong Kong University Press, 2018. 308 pp. ISBN: 978-988-8455-81-2 (cloth).

Emily Wilcox, Revolutionary Bodies: Chinese Dance and the Socialist Legacy Berkeley: University of California Press, 2018. 322 pp. ISBN: 9780520300576 (cloth).

This review essay examines two outstanding recent books in Chinese performance studies: Xing Fan’s monograph Staging Revolution: Artistry and Aesthetics in Model Peking Opera during the Cultural Revolution (Hong Kong University Press, 2018) and Emily Wilcox’s Revolutionary Bodies: Chinese Dance and the Socialist Legacy (University of California Press, 2019). Both books are substantial and significant contributions to theatre studies, contemporary Chinese literary and cultural studies, and comparative Asian theatre history, with a sharp focus on aesthetic traditions in the context of intellectual and political history.

Xing Fan’s Staging Revolution focuses on the complexities of the “revolutionary modern Peking opera” promoted during the Cultural Revolution (1966-1976), also widely known as “model theatre.” She is among the very few in English language scholarship to fully delve into the aesthetic features of Peking opera (jingju 京剧) in the modern period, with an emphasis on five major components of jingju arts: playwriting, acting, music, design, and directing. Staging Revolution expands the scope of Barbara Mittler’s remarkable book A Continuous Revolution: Making Sense of Cultural Revolution Culture (Harvard University East Asian Center, 2013) and Rosemary A. Roberts’s excellent study Maoist Model TheatreThe Semiotics of Gender and Sexuality in the Cultural Revolution (1966-1976) (Brill, 2010)With a comprehensive study of the artistry of model theatre, Fan’s Staging Revolution has raised to a new level the academic study of the model theatre, and by extension, the cultural legacy of the Cultural Revolution.

The scope of her book, moreover, reaches beyond the period of the Cultural Revolution. Her succinct narrative of jingju history and practice—from the late eighteenth century to the Yan’an period of the 1930s-40s and on to the high Maoist period before the Cultural Revolution—delineates a rich history of the sociological and ideological functions of jingju and its artistic heritage and development, with the latter being the most innovative contribution of Fan’s book. Continue reading

Vol. 32, no. 1 of MCLC

I am pleased to announce publication of vol. 32, no. 1 (Spring 2020) of Modern Chinese Literature and Culture. Find below a table of contents for the issue, with links to essay abstracts. Subscribers will be receiving copies in the next couple of weeks. If you would like to subscribe, or if you have any questions about the status of your subscription, please contact Mario De Grandis at mclc@osu.edu.

Modern Chinese Literature and Culture
Volume 32, Number 1 (Spring 2020)

Articles

Illiberal China review

MCLC Resource Center is pleased to announce publication of Gabriele de Seta’s review of Illiberal China: The Ideologicial Challenge of the People’s Republic of China, by Daniel F. Vukovich. The review appears below and at its online home: https://u.osu.edu/mclc/book-reviews/de-seta/. My thanks to Jason McGrath, MCLC media studies book review editor, for ushering the review to publication.

Kirk Denton, editor

Illiberal China: The Ideological Challenge
of the People’s Republic of China

By Daniel F. Vukovich


Reviewed by Gabriele de Seta

MCLC Resource Center Publication (Copyright April, 2020)


Daniel F. Vukovich, Illiberal China: The Ideological Challenge of the People’s Republic of China London: Palgrave Macmillan, 2019. 250 pages. ISBN: 9789811344466 (Paper); 978-9811305405 (Hardcover).

Daniel F. Vukovich’s Illiberal China is an unabashedly provocative book, both in the sense of stringing together provocations that spare no academic field or political camp (except, perhaps, the author’s own) and in the sense of being thought-provoking (if, at times, in a maddeningly disagreeable way). The title of this book is almost a détournement of Elizabeth J. Perry’s 2012 article “The Illiberal Challenge of Authoritarian China,”[1] which is herein repeatedly referenced and functions as a springboard for Vukovich’s own argument. A few pages in, it becomes rapidly clear how Vukovich has taken Perry’s sensible conclusion—that “under certain conditions, a robust civil society may actually work to strengthen and sustain an attentive authoritarian regime” (Perry, 15)—and subtly reshuffled the terms of her formulation: instead of the illiberal challenge posed by Chinese authoritarianism, the author identifies instead China’s illiberalism as a challenge to the liberal world. The latter is often equated with the West, which conveniently overlaps with the other target of the book’s critique: orientalism, and more specifically the brand of “Sinological orientalism” that was the target of Vukovich’s previous monograph (2013).[2] Illiberal China is chronologically situated after 1989—Vukovich has previously written about orientalist interpretations of the Tiananmen square protests[3]—and maps the vicissitudes of liberal and illiberal politics during China’s “definitive and even epochal” rise on the world stage (vii). Continue reading

Animation in the Sinosphere

MCLC Resource Center is pleased to announce publication of “Animation in the Sinosphere: A Review Essay,” by Evelyn Shih. The essay reviews two recent publications on animation in China and Taiwan. The review appears below, and at its online home: https://u.osu.edu/mclc/book-reviews/evelyn-shih/. My thanks to Jason McGrath, MCLC media studies book review editor, for ushering the review to publication.

Kirk Denton, editor

Animation in the Sinosphere: A Review Essay

Puppets, Gods, and Brands: Theorizing the Age of Animation from Taiwan, by Teri Silvio
Animated Encounters: Transnational Movements of Chinese Animation, 1940s-1970s, by Daisy Yan Du


Reviewed by Evelyn Shih
MCLC Resource Center Publication (Copyright May, 2020)


Teri Silvio, Puppets, Gods, and Brands: Theorizing the Age of Animation from Taiwan Honolulu: University of Hawai’i Press, 2019. 290 pages. ISBN: 9780824881160 (Paper); 9780824876623 (Hardcover).

Daisy Yan Du, Animated Encounters: Transnational Movements of Chinese Animation Honolulu: University of Hawai’i Press, 2019. 276 pages. ISBN: 9780824877644 (Paper); 9780824872106 (Hardcover).

Has the age of animation begun? And if it has, to whom does it belong? Two new books on Chinese and Taiwanese animation bring these questions into focus using materials that have thus far received scant attention in English-language scholarship. In global animation studies, by far the dominant loci for animation have been America and Japan—the former beginning with the worldwide stardom of Mickey Mouse, and the latter beginning with the post-WWII boom of anime, which subsequently drew interest to earlier animation and related media. The modes of animation that emerged from these locations have come to define the paradigms through which most scholars approach animation, and included among these framing paradigms is the specter of national cinema. While both Teri Silvio’s Puppets, Gods, and Brands: Theorizing the Age of Animation from Taiwan and Daisy Yan Du’s Animated Encounters: Transnational Movements of Chinese Animation engage with that framework, they also work to push the model forward with new perspectives.

Silvio challenges “Japanamerica” through the lens of post-colonialism, taking as her case study a past colony of Japan and a neo-colonial client state of the US: Taiwan.[1] More importantly, however, she broadens the field of animation studies by finding an interdisciplinary interface with anthropology and religious studies—that is, she engages seriously with media studies, especially areas such as fan and reception studies, film analysis, and production studies, but her strength is in cultural theory. The “age of animation” that she proposes in her title is not just an acknowledgement of increasingly sophisticated digital technologies and virtual realities reaching a new level of omnipresence in contemporary life; it also redefines animation as a mode of post-humanism. As she puts it, “animation in the narrow sense (a kind of cinema or video) is popular because animation in the broad sense (giving objects lives of their own) is good to think with—specifically, to think through what is happening right now in the intersections of technology and capitalism, of the global and the local, of the human and the nonhuman” (3). In one deft move, Silvio provincializes Japanese and American animation, which is after all just “a kind of cinema or video,” and finds a larger question that puts a relatively marginal mode of Taiwanese puppet animation at the center. Puppets, after all, are objects that exist precisely to have a “life of their own.” Continue reading

After Eunuchs review

MCLC Resource Center is pleased to announce publication of Elise Huerta’s review of After Eunuchs: Science, Medicine, and the Transformation of Sex in Modern China, by Howard Chiang. The review appears below and at its online home: https://u.osu.edu/mclc/book-reviews/huerta/. My thanks to Nicholas Kaldis, MCLC literary studies book review editor, for ushering the review to publication.

Kirk Denton, editor

After Eunuchs: Science, Medicine,
and the Transformation of Sex in Modern China

By Howard Chiang


Reviewed by Elise Huerta

MCLC Resource Center Publication (Copyright April, 2020)


Howard Chiang, After Eunuchs: Science, Medicine, and the Transformation of Sex in Modern China New York: Columbia University Press, 2020. xx + 391 pgs. ISBN: 9780231185790 (Paper); Hardcover published 2018: ISBN: 9780231185783.

Since the late 1980s, China scholars have produced a steady stream of research on sex, gender, and feminism that has critically reframed the way the field approaches major topics such as love, labor, nationalism, and modernity. Despite the vast magnitude of  existing work on sexuality and same-sex desire, Howard Chiang’s After Eunuchs: Science, Medicine, and the Transformation of Sex in Modern China (2018) is the first book-length history of sex change to appear within the field of Chinese studies. In this meticulously-researched interdisciplinary study, Chiang unearths a plethora of archival evidence to not only shed fresh light on decades-long debates about shifting discourses of sex in modern China, but also to reveal the precise mechanisms and conditions that made such discourses possible. Chiang’s detailed close reading of visual and literary texts, his rigorous engagement with queer, Sinophone, and post-structuralist theories, and his sensitive treatment of the archive culminate in a coherent and convincing genealogy of sex in China, from the demise of eunuchism in the late imperial period through the emergence of public discourse on transsexuals in 1950s Taiwan. The book’s major historical intervention is its establishing of an unexpected relationship between these two phenomena, arguing that the conceptual foundation necessary for “transsexual” to emerge as an intelligible category in 1950s Taiwan can be traced back to a three-pronged “‘epistemic nexus’” that came to the fore during the early twentieth century (13). This nexus, which posited a new conceptualization of sex as composed of  “elements of visibility, carnality, and elasticity,” was constructed by Chinese sexologists and self-proclaimed “sexperts” who developed globally-circulating ideas within the context of examples from traditional culture, among which was the body of the eunuch (14). Continue reading

Revisiting Hu Fayun’s SARS Novel

MCLC Resource Center is pleased to announce publication of Haiyan Lee’s essay “Déjà Vu: Revisiting Hu Fayun’s SARS Novel during the 2020 Coronavirus Pandemic,” which appears below and at its online home: https://u.osu.edu/mclc/online-series/haiyan-lee/. I thank the author for sharing her thoughts with the MCLC community.

Kirk Denton, editor

Déjà Vu: Revisiting Hu Fayun’s
SARS Novel during the 2020 Coronavirus Pandemic

By Haiyan Lee


MCLC Resource Center Publication (Copyright May 2020)


In the summer of 2016, I visited the Wuhan-based author Hu Fayun in his home to interview him on the subject of his animal-themed writings and animal welfare activism. I had written about his claim-to-fame Internet novel Such Is This World@SARS.Come (2006)[1] as well as his environmentalist novel The Disappearance of Lao Hai (2001),[2] and am an admirer of his political astuteness and outspokenness. When Wuhan went into lockdown more than three months ago, I thought often about him and his SARS novel. Hu set the novel in an unnamed city in central China during the 2003 SARS epidemic, though few Chinese readers would fail to recognize the setting as Wuhan—this time the original epicenter of the COVID-19 pandemic. The novel was first serialized online and, I shudder to say, went viral. The print edition became a bestseller and was subsequently banned by the government.[3] Continue reading

Manchukuo Perspectives review

fMCLC Resource Center is pleased to announce publication of of Pei-Yin Lin’s review of Manchukuo Perspectives: Transnational Approaches to Literary Production, edited by Annika A. Culver and Norman Smith. The review appears below and at its online home: https://u.osu.edu/mclc/book-reviews/pei-yin-lin/. My thanks to Nicholas Kaldis, MCLC book review editor for literary studies, for ushering the review to publication.

Kirk Denton, editor

Manchukuo Perspectives:
Transnational Approaches to Literary Production

Edited by Annika A. Culver and Norman Smith


Reviewed by Pei-Yin Lin
MCLC Resource Center Publication (Copyright May, 2020)


Annika A. Culver adn Norman Smith, eds., Manchukuo Perspectives: Transnational Approaches to Literary Production. Hong Kong: Hong Kong University Press, 2019. xii + 315 pgs. ISBN: 978-988-8528-13-4.

Since the 1990s, a growing body of scholarship on the Japanese Empire has embarked upon a systematic “de-imperialization.” This effort is manifested primarily through two interrelated reappraisals. The first is that of the literary production from Japan’s former colonies, such as Taiwan and Korea, as well as its occupied areas, such as Manchuria. The impetus of this type of de-imperialization is to eschew the rigid colonizer-colonized and collaboration-resistance dichotomies, in order to paint a more nuanced picture of how individual writers navigated the muddy waters between censorship and identity[1] in their literary negotiations with “colonial modernity”; this approach also sheds light on how the subjectivity of Japanese citizens was artistically renegotiated in relation to Japan proper and its colonies.[2] The second type of reappraisal explores the transnational (or trans-colonial) literary interactions within the Japanese Empire or Japanophone cultural representations,[3] offering an alternative framework through which to understand dynamic exchanges across Japanese colonies and semi-colonies. Continue reading

In the Clouds: COVID-19, Dystopian Reality, and Online Carnival

MCLC Resource Center is pleased to announce publication of “In the Clouds: COVID-19, Dystopian Reality, and Online Carnival,” a panel discussion edited by Shiqi Lin and Kaiyang Xu. A snippet appears below; to read the whole thing, go to https://u.osu.edu/mclc/online-series/in-the-clouds/. My thanks to the two editors and to the other panel participants for sharing their thoughts on this important topic.

Kirk Denton, editor

In the Clouds:
COVID-19, Dystopian Reality, and Online Carnival

Edited by Shiqi Lin and Kaiyang Xu

Participants: Jenny Chio | Belinda Kong | Shiqi Lin | Carlos Rojas | Kaiyang Xu


MCLC Resource Center Publication (Copyright May 2020)


Introduction
Shiqi Lin and Kaiyang Xu

This collection of short essays and Q&A series derives from an online panel, “In the Clouds: COVID-19, Dystopian Reality and Online Carnival,” which was put together in response to the global spread of the epidemic since February 2020. Convened by Shiqi Lin (UC Irvine) and Kaiyang Xu (USC), this panel was held on Zoom on March 26, 2020[1] with an audience across the world. Drawing inspiration from “cloud clubbing,” a creative practice engaged by self-quarantined Chinese web users during the pandemic, this “cloud panel” was an experimental endeavor to discuss digital media, societal fears, and the responsibility of humanities scholars in a time of crisis. The panel brought together scholars working on biopolitics, media studies, video ethnography, urban studies, diaspora studies, and Chinese cultural studies to discuss the sources of pandemic anxieties; humor, care and intimacy animated by creative uses of social media; and the implications of social media in border-crossing. As the spread of the pandemic coincided with a transitional period of remote teaching in academia, the panel was also set up as a space for exploring alternative modes of intellectual collaboration during the pandemic.

The panel was carried out under two shared beliefs. First, in the face of a global crisis, collaboration and dialogue are needed more than ever. Acknowledging the limits of individual strengths brought the panel together, as a reminder that we all need to think collectively, draw expertise from each other and learn from each other in a time of radical uncertainties. In honor of various academic conferences disrupted by the global spread of the pandemic in March 2020, this panel was conducted as a gesture to carry forward the spirit of dialogue and broaden the possibilities of engaging academics in turbulent times. . . . (click her to read all the essays and comments)

Interview with Yan Lianke

MCLC Resource Center is please to announce publication of Haiyan Xie’s interview with Yan Lianke, entitled “An Age without Classics and the Writer’s Anxiety.” The interview appears below and at its online home: https://u.osu.edu/mclc/online-series/haiyan-xie/.

Kirk Denton, editor

An Age without Classics and the Writer’s Anxiety:
An Interview with Yan Lianke

By Haiyan Xie


MCLC Resource Center Publication (Copyright May 2020)


Yan Lianke and the author at the International Culture Center of Capital Normal University in Beijing.

The Multiple Dimensions of Anxiety

Haiyan Xie[1] : Professor Yan, thank you for taking some of your precious time to do this interview. First of all, when seeing you, I immediately think of two words that you mentioned on separate occasions: drift and stability. These form a pair of antonyms in some sense, but they seem to have been paradoxically projected onto yourself. If we take the “stable countryside” as the platform from which you write and the high ground from which you perceive the world, indeed, standing on that platform and high ground, you always seem to be in a state of internal drift.  Whether engaging with your novels, prose, or lecture collections, I can feel a lingering anxiety and unease in them. I felt this emotion or sentiment more intensely in your novels such as The Odes of Songs (风雅颂) and Want to Sleep Together Quickly (速求共眠). The feeling of anxiety I detected in your writings also reminds me of your talk entitled “In Search of the Lost Yan Lianke” given at the Perth Writers’ Festival in Australia. I would like to know if your persistent anxiety and restlessness, as stated in this talk, stem from your lost or never-gained independent spirit and existence as a writer? Or, while standing on this literary high ground and looking back at the world, you have felt the tremors that a drifting modern life brings to the countryside in your writing, which makes you anxious and restless? Continue reading

Fang Fang’s Wuhan Diary essay

MCLC Resource Center is pleased to announce publication of Marco Fumian’s essay “To Serve the People or the Party: Fang Fang’s Wuhan Diary and Chinese Writers at the Time of Coronavirus.” The essay appears in full below and at its online home: https://u.osu.edu/mclc/online-series/marco-fumian/.

Kirk A. Denton, editor

To Serve the People or the Party: Fang Fang’s Wuhan Diary
and Chinese Writers at the Time of Coronavirus

By Marco Fumian[1]


MCLC Resource Center Publication (Copyright April 2020)


Fang Fang in Wuhan during the coronavirus pandemic. Source: Sina News

In an article published online a few weeks ago, Yan Lianke 阎连科 lamented that Chinese literature, in the face of the raging epidemic and given its incapacity to bring material comfort to those in need, has already become powerless and marginal. What he really meant, was precisely the opposite: in these tragic events, literature can definitely play a certain role, if only Chinese writers decided to finally speak out, “to write about those who are afflicted or alienated” or bear witness to the “absurdity” of the ongoing historical circumstance. But Chinese writers, bounded as they are by the “choices of political correctness,” “fragile and weak like penguins at the South Pole,” and comfortable, after all, in their warm “padded jackets,” are, according to Yan Lianke, mostly turning a deaf ear, and in some cases are even taking part in the ritual of collective celebration singing their “hymns of praise” and “applauding” their own very impotence. Continue reading

Chinese Grammatology review

MCLC Resource Center is pleased to announce publication of Shuheng (Diana) Zhang’s review of Chinese Grammatology: Script Revolution and Literary Modernity, 1916-1958, by Yurou Zhong. The review appears below and at its online home: https://u.osu.edu/mclc/book-reviews/shuheng-zhang/. My thanks to Nicholas Kaldis, MCLC literary studies book review editor, for ushering the review to publication.

Kirk Denton, editor

Chinese Grammatology:
Script Revolution and Literary Modernity, 1916-1958

By Yurou Zhong


Reviewed by Shuheng (Diana) Zhang
MCLC Resource Center Publication (Copyright April, 2020)


Yurou Zhong, Chinese Grammatology: Script Revolution and Literary Modernity, 1916-1958 New York: Columbia UP, 2019. Xiii + 279 pages. ISBN: 9780231192637 (paper); ISBN: 9780231192620 (cloth).

Yurou Zhong’s Chinese Grammatology: Script Revolution and Literary Modernity, 1916-1958 is a noteworthy study of a monumental contestation that took place roughly during the first half of the twentieth century between advocates of Chinese logographs and proponents of various phonocentric efforts “to eliminate Chinese characters and implement a Chinese alphabet” (p. 1). Below, I have structured this review of Zhong’s book around a parsing of its title, which provides an efficient way to approach the book’s main foci/contents and to evaluate the author’s achievements.

While the key term, “grammatology,” may not be known to many readers, it is fairly clear what Yurou Zhong means by it: the science of writing (p. 4). But this is “Chinese grammatology,” which we might think of as “grammatology with Chinese characteristics.” And what would that be? It is grammatology that focuses on the special features and nature of the Chinese writing system that are all too often overlooked in universal schemes of the history of writing and the history of linguistics. That is to say, Zhong wishes to take grammatology seriously, but not at the expense of ignoring the stark differences between phonetic scripts and Chinese characters. In the end, she aims to find a new path that combines phoneticism and logography as the vital embodiment of yǔwén 語文, which is how Chinese language textbooks and classes are denominated in China today. Continue reading

Chinese Surplus review

MCLC Resource Center is pleased to announce publication of Howard Y. F. Choy’s review of Chinese Surplus: Biopolitical Aesthetics and the Medically Commodified Body, by Ari Larissa Heinrich. The review appears below and at its online home: https://u.osu.edu/mclc/book-reviews/choy/. My thanks to Nicholas Kaldis, MCLC literary studies book review editor, for ushering the review to publication.

Kirk Denton, editor

Chinese Surplus: Biopolitical Aesthetics
and the Medically Commodified Body

By Ari Larissa Heinrich


Reviewed by Howard Y. F. Choy
MCLC Resource Center Publication (Copyright April, 2020)


Ari Larissa Heinrich, Chinese Surplus: Biopolitical Aesthetics and the Medically Commodified Body Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2018. xi + 246 pgs. ISBN: 978-0-8223-7053-6 (Paper) / ISBN: 978-0-8223-7041-3 (Cloth).

Seven months after Ari Larissa Heinrich’s Chinese Surplus: Biopolitical Aesthetics and the Medically Commodified Body was published by Duke University Press in March 2018, the BBC’s health correspondent Matthew Hill followed up his earlier news report titled “China’s Questionable Organ Transplant Trade.”[1] Although organ harvesting from executed Falun Gong 法轮功 sectarians and political prisoners of conscience is not Heinrich’s main concern (briefly mentioned, p. 127), the appearance of Heinrich’s book, which addresses representations of the medically commercialized body in contemporary Chinese literature, art, and film, is timely. The monograph is a sequel to the author’s The Afterlife of Images: Translating the Pathological Body between China and the West (Duke UP, 2008), which investigated how the modern Chinese body and identity were defined by the languages of medicine, science, and realism through literary and cultural translations in the early twentieth century. Crossing the boundaries between biotech and culture, Heinrich continues to explore how the Chinese body is narrated, displayed, and visualized in the postcolonial context with “the emergences of new medical technologies designed to map, quantify, and ultimately aestheticize hard knowledge of the body” (p. 9). Continue reading

Creating the Intellectual review

MCLC and MCLC Resource Center are pleased to announce publication of Sebastian Veg’s review of Creating the Intellectual: Chinese Communism and the Rise of a Classification, by Eddy U. The review appears below and at its online home: https://u.osu.edu/mclc/book-reviews/veg/. My thanks to Nicholas Kaldis, MCLC literary studies book review editor, for ushering the review to publication.

Kirk Denton, editor

Creating the Intellectual:
Chinese Communism and the Rise of a Classification

By Eddy U


Reviewed by Sebastian Veg
MCLC Resource Center Publication (Copyright April, 2020)


Eddy U, Creating the Intellectual: Chinese Communism and the Rise of a Classification Oakland: University of California Press, 2019. xix + 226 pgs. ISBN: 9780520303690 (paper).

Eddy U has been studying intellectuals in the communist and PRC context for a number of years, and it is very pleasing to see many of the strands he has previously explored collected and reorganized into a new monograph. Creating the Intellectual is devoted not so much to the people usually called “intellectuals” in various contexts as to the category of zhishifenzi (知识分子), which U argues is mutually constitutive with Chinese communism. Rather than examining a pre-existing group, the book investigates how Chinese communism instituted a top-down reordering of people into class subjects based on Marxist ideology, and how this reordering defined the party’s governing practice. U adopts a theoretical approach that he terms “institutional-constructivist” (4), in which he examines how the category of zhishifenzi was constructed both through institutions of classification and registration that “objectified” intellectuals, and through the representations that made the category visible and meaningful in social interactions. In his argument, classification is a tool of domination, but also the result of ongoing negotiations within society. From an early date, the party felt a need to harness expertise and at the same time to contain the political threat posed by the holders of that expertise. For this reason, it became expedient for the party to define communism against the ideas and lifestyles of intellectuals. This in turn stimulated an oppositional identity among intellectuals, and the imaginary enemy became real, in a self-fulfilling prophecy. Continue reading