Chinese Visions of World Order review

MCLC Resource Center is pleased to announce publication of Salvatore Babones’s review of Chinese Visions of World Order: Tianxia, Culture, and World Politics (Duke, 2017), edited by Ban Wang. The review appears below, but is best online at: http://u.osu.edu/mclc/book-reviews/babones/. My thanks to Nicholas Kaldis, MCLC literary studies book review editor, for ushering the review to publication.

Kirk Denton, editor

Chinese Visions of World Order: 
Tianxia, Culture, and World Politics

Edited by Ban Wang


Reviewed by Salvatore Babones
MCLC Resource Center Publication (Copyright February, 2018)


Ban Wang, ed. Chinese Visions of World Order: Tianxia, Culture, and World Politics. Durham: Duke University Press, 2017. 336 pp. ISBN: 978-0-8223-6946-2 (Paperback: $27.95)

Tianxia 天下! The word itself sounds more like the title of a movie or video game than of a political program. In fact it is a video game (now in its third edition), and the word played a key role in the 2002 film Hero, in which the hero (played by Jet Li) spares the life of the ruthless Emperor Qin for the sake of “tianxia,” controversially subtitled in the original American release as “our land.” The translation was controversial because it gave tianxia, usually rendered as “all under Heaven,” a poetically patriotic connotation. Perhaps critics should not be so critical. The title of the film is, after all, Hero.

Asked about the tianxia translation, the film’s director Zhang Yimou was quite frank. “We struggled for a long time with the translation because it’s difficult. There’s a Chinese proverb that goes, ‘to suffer yourself when all under Heaven suffer, to enjoy only when all under Heaven enjoy.’ In the Chinese tradition, the idea of ‘tianxia’ has a very profound significance, and a true hero can hold ‘all under Heaven’ in his heart. If you ask me if ‘our land’ is a good translation, I can’t tell you. All translations are handicapped. Every word has different meanings in different cultures.” Continue reading

Walk on the wild side (1)

too big, too perfect altogether, too much like a song, a poem, and one big translation effort to add anything. a colloquial poem. complete with footnotes, index. of course with characters. all about characters. characters and books. writing, performing.

poetry is a very good way to take part. in life in china. elsewhere. not knowing beforehand.

yi sha looms importantly. i have been taking part in his circles every day for five years. so of course i’m happy. every day means looking up today’s poem. yi sha has presented one poem per day since 2011. almost 900 people, 2500 poems. yi sha said in december my latest chinese poem was #2500. but that seems to have been a mistake. anyway, 8 poems of mine in there until now.

so of course i have to add this. at a reading, when yi sha places an order, it’s for the daily npc, new poetry canon, abbreviated from new century poetry canon, 新世纪诗典. books, yes. my stuff is in there, too. there is npc self-censorship. almost every poem from the daily series on Weibo and WeChat gets printed. but not everything that appears online and is a good poem can appear officially in npc. and it’s all subject to one person’s decisions. to yi sha’s mind, mood, memory. Continue reading

Homesickness review

MCLC Resource Center is pleased to announce publication of Lei Qin’s review of Homesickness: Culture, Contagion, and National Transformation in Modern China (Harvard UP, 2015), by Carlos Rojas. The review appears below and can also be read online here: http://u.osu.edu/mclc/book-reviews/leiqin/. My thanks to Nicholas Kaldis for ushering the review to publication.

Kirk Denton, editor

Homesickness: Culture, Contagion, and 
National Transformation in Modern China

By Carlos Rojas 


Reviewed by Lei Qin
MCLC Resource Center Publication (Copyright January, 2018)


Carlos Rojas, Homesickness: Culture, Contagion, and National Transformation in Modern China. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2015. 352 pp. ISBN: 9780674743946 Hardcover: US$45.00

Carlos Rojas’s book Homesickness: Culture, Contagion, and National Transformation in Modern China (hereafter, also abbreviated as Homesickness), which came out in 2015 with Harvard University Press, can be seen as a paradigm for a truly interdisciplinary project. In his exploration of a vast range of literary and cinematic texts, as well as historical discourses and ideas from China’s late nineteenth century to contemporary times, Rojas bridges the fields of medicine and science with Chinese literature, cinema, and history.

Homesickness can first be seen as expanding the cross-disciplinary subject of “medical humanities,” which, according to Howard Y. F. Choy, became popular in China following in the launch of the journal Chinese Medical Humanities Review (中国医学人文评论) by Peking University Medical Press in 2007 and the subsequent establishment of the Peking University Institute for Medical Humanities (北京大学医学人文研究院) a year later.[1] While medical humanities may be a nascent field of study rising in prominence, research into the understanding of disease as historically situated, socially meaningful, and culturally manifested has a long history both in Western and Chinese scholarship. A brief survey of this scholarship will help us to better situate Rojas’s contribution. Continue reading

Hollywood Made in China review

MCLC Resource Center is pleased to announce publication of Darrell William Davis’s review of Hollywood Made in China (University of California Press, 2017), by Aynne Kokas. The review appears below, but is best read online at: http://u.osu.edu/mclc/book-reviews/ddavis/. My thanks to Jason McGrath, MCLC media studies book review editor, for ushering the review to publication.

Kirk Denton, MCLC Editor

Hollywood Made in China

By Aynne Kokas 


Reviewed by Darrell William Davis
MCLC Resource Center Publication (Copyright January, 2018)


Aynne Kokas, Hollywood Made in China. Berkeley: University of California Press, 2017. 272pp. ISBN: 9780520294011 (Cloth: $85.00) ISBN: 9780520294028 (Paperback: $29.95)

Hollywood Made in China is an elegant account of Hollywood’s evolving engagements in China’s commercial film environment. In six concise chapters, Aynne Kokas details the myriad flows of policy, investment, deployment, and rewards of Sino-US media co-productions. Her aim is mostly large-scale entertainment schemes, including contemporary blockbusters, theme parks, and studio co-ventures. Because China is now becoming the world’s largest film market, Hollywood is courting Chinese executives and regulators, the better to ensure access to viewers and returns for American pictures. The objective is market access, in return for which Hollywood players are willing to cede control, a tradeoff the author calls “transformative” (33). This is a transaction not available to Silicon Valley (e.g., Google, Facebook, Netflix), and despite frustrations of piracy and capricious regulations, Hollywood may well count itself fortunate. In any case, Kokas demonstrates that the Sino-US co-production enterprise is a work in progress, always in a state of renegotiation and revision, as she aptly puts it: “The Hollywood dream factory and the Chinese Dream work together, while mired in a state of perpetual negotiation” (20).  A combination of Hollywood “thirst” for ever-larger markets (old) and China’s “cultural trade deficit” (new) brings potential synergies and symbiosis (2-3). It also brings evolving forms of contention and conflict (13). With every new co-production, new standards and practices appear in the playbook. Aynne Kokas makes a strong case for the “interaction and variability” (8), the unpredictability inherent in this volatile relation. Continue reading

Walk on the Wild Side: Snapshots of the Chinese Poetry Scene

MCLC Resource Center is most pleased to announce publication of “Walk on the Wild Side: Snapshots of the Chinese Poetry Scene,” by Maghiel van Crevel. With its 143 mini-chapters and lavish illustrations, this is the longest and most ambitious piece we’ve published to date in our online publication series. Though written in a non-academic style that makes it accessible to a general readership, it is filled with details of interest to academic specialists in contemporary Chinese poetry. The essay can be read online at:

http://u.osu.edu/mclc/online-series/walk-on-the-wild-side/

It is also available as a pdf download. Go to the link above, and click “DOWNLOAD IN PDF FORMAT” near the top of the page.

I want to thank Professor van Crevel for sharing with us his deep insights into the contemporary Chinese poetry scene.

Happy holidays,

Kirk A. Denton
Editor, MCLC

Vol. 29, no. 2 of MCLC

We are pleased to announce publication of Modern Chinese Literature and Culture, volume 29, number 2 (Fall 2017). Find a table of contents for the issue below, along with links to abstracts. For those of you who are subscribers, you should be receiving your copy in the next couple of weeks. For those of you who would like to subscribe or to purchase single copies of this issue, please contact my (new) assistant Mario De Grandis (mclc@osu.edu). We greatly appreciate the support you show for MCLC through your subscriptions. Back issues of MCLC, with a two-year lag, are available through JSTOR. Seeing as it is the season of giving, if anyone is in a giving mood, please consider donating to MCLC. Enjoy the new issue.

Kirk Denton, editor

Volume 29, Number 2 (Fall 2017)

Articles

Can We Talk about Dialogue?

MCLC Resource Center is pleased to announce publication of “Can We Talk About Dialogue? A Prescript to Art and China after 1989,” David Borgonjon’s take on the current contemporary Chinese art exhibition at the Guggenheim in New York. The essay appears below, but is best read online at: http://u.osu.edu/mclc/online-series/borgonjon/

Enjoy, Kirk

Can We Talk about Dialogue
A Pre-script to Art and China after 1989

By David Borgonjon


MCLC Resource Center Publication (Copyright December 2017)


Xiao Lu, Dialogue, 1989, performance and installation.

The Guggenheim Museum in New York currently has on view an expansive survey of Chinese contemporary art; as many of the reviews on the subject show, it focuses on the long shadow of Tiananmen. Yet, this survey is also an opportunity to rewrite the art-historical period that Theater of the World: Art and China, 1989-2008 covers. Such a rewritten narrative could do worse than to zone in from the scale of the state to the scale of the family; love, the origin story, retells the institution of the family as a voluntary association in the age of the market. If this is a story about 1989, it is different than the one we were told. Continue reading

Exile or Pursuit

MCLC Resource Center is pleased to announce publication of Wai-chew Sim’s translation of an excerpt from Exile or Pursuit, by the Singapore writer Chia Joo Ming. The translation is too long to include here in full. The whole translation can be found at http://u.osu.edu/mclc/online-series/sim/

Born in 1959 in Singapore, Chia Joo Ming (谢裕民) won the Singapore Young Artist award in 1993 and participated in the Iowa international writing program in 1995. He was also writer-in-residence in the Chinese program, Nanyang Technological University, in 2014. Chia is a three-time recipient of the Singapore Literature Prize, in 2006, 2010, and 2016. His works include: The Most Boring Nationality (最闷族, 1989),  New Words of Worldly Tales (世说新语, 1994), The Insignificance of Being (一般是非, 1999), Reconstructing Nanyang Images (重构南洋图像, 2005),  M40 (2009), 1644: The Year A Dynasty Was Hanged (甲申说明书, 2012), and Exile or Pursuit (放逐与追逐, 2015). He is currently a senior executive sub-editor in Lianhe Zaobao (联合早报), Singapore main’s Chinese-language newspaper.

Exile or Pursuit (2015) tells the story of Hok Leong (福良), whose family runs a won ton noodle stall in a food centre. It follows his experiences through school, national service (compulsory military service), and early adulthood, detailing in the process a distinct period in the Singapore socio-historical formation and experience.

Kirk A. Denton, editor

Exile or Pursuit (an extract)

By Chia Joo Ming [1]
Translated by Wai-chew Sim [2]


MCLC Resource Center Publication (Copyright October 2017)


1

The year it all started, Hok Leong had just entered secondary two. A new student came into their classroom. Her name is Lin Chiu-yun, the form teacher said. She’s from Indonesia. From now on—everybody—please help her out as much as you can.

Hok Leong’s tentative memories of school life began more or less from that period.

To welcome the new student, the teacher clapped his hands, willing everyone to join in. Hok Leong felt that this was a tad unsophisticated but was prepared to go through the motions. He raised his hands and was about to bring them together when suddenly he heard his name.

“Hok Leong. Your Chinese is pretty good. You should help Chiu-yun.”

The boys in the class started to hoot. Hok Leong felt embarrassed and put his arms down. Continue reading

Reconfiguring Class, Gender, Ethnicity and Ethics in Chinese Internet Culture

MCLC Resource Center is pleased to announce publication of Jamie J. Zhao’s review of Reconfiguring Class, Gender, Ethnicity and Ethics in Chinese Internet Culture (Routledge, 2017), by Haomin Gong and Xin Yang. The review appears below, but is best read at: http://u.osu.edu/mclc/book-reviews/jamie-zhao/. My thanks to MCLC book review editor Nicholas Kaldis for ushering the review to publication.

Kirk A. Denton, editor

Reconfiguring Class, Gender, Ethnicity and 
Ethics in Chinese Internet Culture

By Haoming Gong and Xin Yang 


Reviewed by Jamie J. Zhao
MCLC Resource Center Publication (Copyright September, 2017)


Haomin Gong and Xin Yang. Reconfiguring Class, Gender, Ethnicity and Ethics in Chinese Internet Culture. London and New York: Routledge, 2017. viii, 175 pp. ISBN: 978-1-138-95153-2 (Hardback: $145).

China’s online population has gone through exponential growth in the past several decades since the country gained Internet access in the early 1990s. In 2016, the number of its Internet users reached 713 million, nearly one half of its total population.[1] Thanks to increasingly easy, cheap access to the Internet, as well as to the “decentralized” online censorship system enforced by the government since the 2000s,[2] numerous intriguing digital phenomena, such as e-governance, e-commerce, microblogging/Weibo (微博), online literature (网络文学), online celebrity culture (网红文化), and online live streaming (线上直播), have emerged and transformed Chinese cyberspace into a pluralistic, embattled social-political landscape.[3] The challenges and transformations generated by the diversification of Chinese Internet user groups and activities have attracted a significant amount of scholarly attention.[4] Nevertheless, this body of scholarship mostly centers on “the technologicality and mediality of the Internet” (original emphasis, 5) and overstresses its “social and political” potential (original emphasis, 2), as the authors of Reconfiguring Class, Gender, Ethnicity and Ethics in Chinese Internet Culture put it. Continue reading

Idle Talk under the Bean Arbor

MCLC and MCLC Resource Center are pleased to announce S. E. Kile’s review of Idle Talk under the Bean Arbor: A Seventeenth-Century Chinese Story Collection (University of Washington Press, 2017), by Aina the Layman, edited by Robert E. Hegel. The review appears below and at its online home: http://u.osu.edu/mclc/book-reviews/kile/. My thanks to Michael Berry, MCLC book review editor for translations, for ushering the review to publication.

Enjoy,

Kirk A. Denton, editor

Idle Talk under the Bean Arbor:
A Seventeenth-Century Chinese Story Collection

By Aina the Layman
Edited by Robert E. Hegel


Reviewed by S. E. Kile
MCLC Resource Center Publication (Copyright September, 2017)


Even though some new shoots with tender leaves are growing up the bean arbor that I set up some days ago, the bean vines have not yet entirely covered the arbor, and beams of sunlight still shine through empty places among the leaves. These spaces are like storytellers who break off at some crucial spot in the middle, leaving gaps that make the audience unhappy. But let’s be done with that troublesome talk. (23)

Aina the Layman, Idle Talk under the Bean Arbor: A Seventeenth-Century Chinese Story Collection Ed. Robert E. Hegel. Seattle: Washington University Press, 2017. 288 pp. ISBN: 978-0-295-99997-5.

The most elaborate frame-story narrative in traditional Chinese literature is now available in English for the very first time, thanks to the impressive collaborative achievement of editor Robert E. Hegel and nine of his current and former students who did most of the translation work.[1] Idle Talk under the Bean Arbor (豆棚閒話) by Aina jushi 艾衲居士 (Aina the Layman) is a thoroughly enchanting early Qing departure from the conventions of the Ming vernacular short story (huaben 話本). It is such a departure, in fact, that to call the volume a “collection” of “stories” is to disregard many of its most vibrant elements. Continue reading

The Yangtze and My Father

MCLC Resource Center is pleased to announce publication of Paul E. Festa’s translation “The Yangtze and My Father: A Love Story,” by Yuan Jinmei. The essay appears below and can be read at its permanent home here:

http://u.osu.edu/mclc/online-series/festa2/

Enjoy,

Kirk Denton, editor

The Yangtze and My Father: 
A Love Story

By Yuan Jinmei [1]

Translated by Paul E. Festa


MCLC Resource Center Publication (Copyright September 2017)


Yuan Jinmei

When I was young, I never knew fish got sick, birds became poisoned, kids died. My father, however, was well aware. He was a biologist. After he died, I learned from his students that fish from the Yangtze River are inedible. Birds fly in the cogon grass of the Yangtze’s riparian zone; they flutter and fly, and plunge and die—it’s lead poisoning. Children raised near the river, young children, contract liver cancer.

Before people knew why, the great Yangtze—the legendary river that for so long flowed from the horizon into eternal poems and paintings—suddenly lost its halcyon aura as the carefree setting for the solitary swan under sunset clouds, suddenly found its expansive bosom heretofore unfailingly open to all and sundry sailing ships now closed. The Yangtze, suddenly, became our enemy. Continue reading

The Ancient Art of Falling Down

MCLC Resource Center is pleased to announce publication of “The Ancient Art of Falling Down: Vaudeville Cinema between Hollywood and China–A Conversation between Christopher Rea and Henry Jenkins.” The piece has too many images and video clips to post here in full. Find below the opening description. To read it its entirety, go to: http://u.osu.edu/mclc/online-series/rea-jenkins/. I thank the authors for sharing their work with the MCLC community.

Kirk Denton, editor

The Ancient Art of Falling Down
Vaudeville Cinema between Hollywood and China

A Conversation between Christopher Rea and Henry Jenkins


MCLC Resource Center Publication (Copyright August 2017)


Description

Slapstick performance and trick cinematography dominated early global cinema. People climb into boxes and are tossed around; they jerry-rig all manner of dwellings and conveyances; they leap out of windows, crash through doors, dangle from clock towers, and slide down staircases; they appear and disappear like ghosts. But what did such visual gags look like in films made in Shanghai, as opposed to Los Angeles? How did filmmakers from different cultural traditions share or adapt comic tropes—and which ones? And how did their comedy change with technology, such as the advent of sound cinema, or with politics, war, and revolution?

The following conversation between Henry Jenkins, a media scholar who works primarily on American popular culture, and Christopher Rea, a cultural historian of China, explores comic convergences on the silver screen, focusing on filmmakers who embraced a vaudevillian aesthetic of visceral comedy and variety entertainment. It offers a guided tour of cinematic comedy in comparative perspective, drawing out resonances between Hollywood and Chinese films from the 1910s to the 1950s. Illustrating the discussion are clips from a variety of films, from early works by Charlie Chaplin to the short-lived era of cinematic satire in Mao’s China. Continue reading

Chinese Subjectivities and the Beijing Olympics review

MCLC is pleased to announce publication of Wendy Larson’s review of Chinese Subjectivities and the Beijing Olympics (Rowman and Littlefield, 2017), by Gladys Pak Lei Chong. The review appears below and at its online home: http://u.osu.edu/mclc/book-reviews/larson4/. My thanks to Nicholas Kaldis, MCLC book review editor for literary studies, for ushering the review to publication.

Kirk Denton, editor

Chinese Subjectivities and the Beijing Olympics

By Gladys Pak Lei Chong


Reviewed by Wendy Larson
MCLC Resource Center Publication (Copyright August, 2017)


Gladys Pak Lei Chong. Chinese Subjectivities and the Beijing Olympics. London/New York: Rowman and Littlefield, 2017). vii, 283 pp. ISBN 978-1-78660-009-7 (PB), £29.95/$44.95.

Chinese Subjectivities and the Beijing Olympics is a sociological study of the way in which various actors, including the Chinese state, the population at large, and geopolitical forces combined to produce a shared understanding of the Beijing Olympics in 2008, and to drive engagement, accommodation, and resistance among Chinese citizens. Closely following the work of Michel Foucault, Gladys Pak Lei Chong examines the usefulness of famous concepts such as disciplinary power, biopower, and governmentality in deciphering how the Chinese population participated in the Olympics, and the meaning of their engagement. Chong’s data comes from interviews with taxi drivers, volunteers, and others who worked on the Olympics in different capacities. She also studied TV productions and the Internet presence of anything concerning the Olympics, as well as texts, advertisements, posters, photos, and other promotional materials, all collected or examined in four fieldwork trips to China and Hong Kong. At the core of her study is the ethnographic observation of participants, observers, and interlocutors of the Beijing Olympics. Continue reading

Old Fool: Elegy for a Monkey

MCLC Resource Center is pleased to announce publication of Paul E. Festa’s translation “Old Fool: Elegy for a Monkey” (老傻), by Hu Fayun 胡发云. The essay, which mourns the death of a smuggled rare monkey, was widely circulated online. The essay appears below, but is best read at its online home: http://u.osu.edu/mclc/online-series/festa/. Enjoy.

Kirk Denton, editor

Old Fool
Elegy for a Monkey

By Hu Fayun [1]

Translated by Paul E. Festa


MCLC Resource Center Publication (Copyright August 2017)


Hu Fayun

Old Fool is a tiny monkey.  He’s not a kind of monkey we commonly see, but one that’s on the verge of extinction.

Early last winter, my wife returned from the wet market and reported seeing a peddler selling two tiny monkeys; they were caged in a wire rattrap, curled up pitifully into little balls and huddled together to escape the cold.  Each time my wife returned from the wet market she brought back a few of these heartrending stories: about a wounded muntjac deer with melancholy eyes; about a few small hedgehogs fighting fruitlessly to break free from a nylon net bag; about a row of brilliantly plumaged golden pheasant corpses; about a small squirrel struggling in the scorching sun for its final dying breath; about a clowder of cats crushed together and yowling piteously in chorus. There were also small squawking quail bouncing frenziedly in a basket, bare and bloody from being plucked featherless while alive. There were frogs, tortoises, soft-shelled turtles, and snakes—all of which, as recipes prescribe, had been skinned alive. There were also those docile and adorable pigeons, rabbits, and lambs. For these small creatures, every wet market is their Auschwitz concentration camp. Continue reading

Reportage special issue for MCLC–cfp reminder

Dear colleagues,

This is a friendly reminder that the abstract for the MCLC special issue “Reportage and Its Contemporary Variations” is due by August 31. Please send abstracts of 500 words by August 31, 2017 to both guest editors, Charles Laughlin (cal5m@virginia.edu) and Li Guo (li.guo@usu.edu), and the general editor, Kirk A. Denton (denton.2@osu.edu). Selected abstracts will be invited to submit full manuscripts (30-50 pages, double-spaced) by May 15, 2018 for consideration of inclusion in the special issue for Modern Chinese Literature and Culture in Fall 2019.

https://u.osu.edu/mclc/2017/06/17/contemporary-reportage-at-work-special-mclc-issue-cfp/

Li Guo <li.guo@usu.edu>