The Routledge Companion to Yan Lianke

MCLC Resource Center is pleased to announce publication of Martina Codeluppi’s review of The Routledge Companion to Yan Lianke, edited by Riccardo Moratto and Howard Yuen Fung Choy. The review appears below and at its online home: https://u.osu.edu/mclc/book-reviews/codeluppi/. My thanks to Nicholas Kaldis, MCLC book review editor for literary studies, for ushering the review to publication.

Kirk A. Denton, MCLC

The Routledge Companion to Yan Lianke

Edited by Riccardo Moratto and Howard Yuen Fung Choy


Reviewed by Martina Codeluppi

MCLC Resource Center Publication (Copyright November, 2022)


Riccardo Moratto & Howard Yuen Fung Choy, eds., The Routledge Companion to Yan Lianke. London and New York: Routledge, 2022, ISBN: 9780367700980 (cloth).

Putting together a comprehensive volume about one of the most interesting, prolific, and internationally recognized voices in contemporary Chinese literature is not an easy task. This work, edited by Riccardo Moratto and Howard Yuen Fung Choy, makes the most of its 519 pages to retrace Yan Lianke’s 阎连科 literary production from its origins to the present day, providing a generous number of essays on the author’s poetics in theory and in practice, as well as on the challenges of its translation and reception.

The ambition of the project is self-evident, and it takes no more than one glance at the table of contents to realize it: the volume comprises 32 chapters divided into four parts, each of them addressing two specific aspects of Yan Lianke’s literary production. The table of contents is followed by a list of illustrations and then that of the contributors, which shows a considerable degree of diversity in terms of academic position and nationality, thereby ensuring a multifaceted perspective. The volume has multiple levels of introduction. The foreword by Carlos Rojas provides a retrospective view on Yan Lianke’s main works, focusing on the key elements that characterize his literary production. In particular, Rojas employs the metaphor of darkness to bring forward the relationship between Yan’s works and censorship, leading the way for the following essays, just like the flashlight Yan himself talked about on receiving the Franz Kafka Prize in 2014 (xxii). Subsequently, Yan Lianke’s preface—translated by Riccardo Moratto—introduces the collection of essays by quoting from both Western classics, such as The IliadThe MetamorphosisThe Divine Comedy and The Bible, and Chinese ones to show that literature emerged out of human experience. Yan then goes on to analyze how the relationship among writers, critics, and readers has changed across the centuries, and raises the question of where the truth and the “story field” of twenty-first century literature are to be found (xxxv). In doing so, he shows an aspiration to move beyond realism and seek the truth by transcending real-life experiences. Following Yan’s essay, the editorial preface by Riccardo Moratto and Howard Yuen Fung Choy provides some background information concerning the birth of the project and a description of it parts. Finally, two sections of acknowledgments—one by Yan and one by the editors—brings the introductory section to a close. Because of the richness of the volume and the variety of its contributions, I address each of its parts separately and provide a brief overview of each chapter. Continue reading

Literary Information in China review

MCLC Resource center is pleased to announce publication of Victor Mair’s review of Literary Information in China: A History, edited by Jack W. Chen, Anatoly Detwyler, Xiao Liu, Christopher M. B. Nugent, and Bruce Rusk. A teaser (it’s a long review) appears below. To read the review in its entirety, go to its online home here: https://u.osu.edu/mclc/book-reviews/victor-mair/. My thanks to literary studies book review editor, Nicholas Kaldis, for ushering the review to publication.

Kirk A. Denton, MCLC

Literary Information in China:
A History

Edited by Jack W. Chen, Anatoly Detwyler, Xiao Liu, Christopher M. B. Nugent, and Bruce Rusk


Reviewed by Victor H. Mair

MCLC Resource Center Publication (Copyright September, 2022)


Jack W. Chen, Anatoly Detwyler, Xiao Liu, Christopher M. B. Nugent, and Bruce Rusk, eds. Literary Information in China: A History. New York: Columbia University Press, 2021, xxxii + 672 pp. ISBN: 9780231195522 (Hardcover); 9780231551373 (E-book).

This is a hefty volume, with a total of 670 pages of closely spaced, compact, but still readily legible, type. It explicitly styles itself a “history,” as in the subtitle. Yet, at the head of the “Introduction,” the editors state that it is “For a History of Literary Information in China” (p. xxi, emphasis added), which might be interpreted as signifying something like “materials for, or toward, a history of literary information in China.” In other words, one could think of this volume, which I will henceforth refer to as LIIC, as constituting a collection of fundamental data and ideas that could be used in the making of a history of literary information in China. But that begs the question, because we still don’t know precisely what “literary information” is with reference to the Chinese tradition (history). The aim of this review is to extrapolate from its many chapters just what sort of history of literary information LIIC is pointing toward.

***

In her “Foreword,” Ann Blair has done a worthy job of succinctly tracing the growth of information sciences since the mid-twentieth century, but one still wants to know what literary information is. One thing is certain: LIIC is not a history of literature in China. If that is what the reader is looking for, they have come to the wrong place. Indeed, in LIIC one will find little reference to literary works and authors themselves. Instead, what one will find in abundance are data concerning the epiphenomena of written texts—their constituent symbols (what the authors mostly refer to consistently as “graphs” (wen 文 and zi 字), the nature and form of written texts, the ordering, storage, and retrieval of words, books, articles, and so forth. To be sure, we now have in English and other languages a plentiful assortment of histories of Chinese literature. Thus, there is room for a work like LIIC, which tells us about the “stuff” of written texts in China not the written texts themselves. The notion of “literary information” is quite a novel concept in Chinese studies, though it owes much to Endymion Wilkinson’s monumental Chinese History: A New Manual (1973/1998—2022; six editions), which strives to make available answers and access to all aspects of the written and material culture of Chinese civilization since it began. Rather than a history of literary information per se, however, one may think of LIIC almost as an encyclopedia or handbook for the study of literary information. The editors do make a serious attempt to come to grips with the phenomena of information theory and information studies, not merely as they have emerged in China, but globally. . .  [READ THE ENTIRE REVIEW HERE]

Unending Capitalism review

MCLC Resource Center is pleased to announce publication of Ruksana Kibria’s review of Unending Capitalism: How Consumerism Negated China’s Communist Revolution, by Karl Gerth. The review appears below and at its online home: https://u.osu.edu/mclc/book-reviews/kibria/. My thanks to Nicholas Kaldis, our literary studies book review editor, for ushering the review to publication.

Kirk A. Denton, MCLC

Unending Capitalism: How Consumerism
Negated China’s Communist Revolution

By Karl Gerth


Reviewed by Ruksana Kibria

MCLC Resource Center Publication (Copyright August, 2022)


Karl Gerth, Unending Capitalism: How Consumerism Negated China’s Communist Revolution. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2020, xi + 384 pp. ISBN: 9780521688468 (Paperback).

The Chinese Communist Party (CCP)’s victory in 1949 under Mao Zedong’s leadership was commonly regarded as the beacon of international proletarian salvation, epitomizing the triumph of socialist egalitarianism and liberty over the inequities of capitalism. The discursive construction of Maoist China as building socialism obfuscated the fact that what had occurred was essentially a nationalist revolution whose goal was to develop a self-reliant, independent, and powerful national economy—a coveted goal among the Chinese intelligentsia since the nineteenth century, long before the revolution or the advent of Mao. However, due to a convergence of ideological and geo-political factors, the perception was created that the People’s Republic of China (PRC) had not only embarked on a communist journey following an untrodden radical path, but was also a progressive and emancipatory paradigm to be emulated by other postcolonial developing countries. Reality, however, was quite different because, rather than liberation, the revolution essentially replaced one form of oppression with another.[1]

Karl Gerth’s Unending Capitalism: How Consumerism Negated China’s Communist Revolution is a thought-provoking contribution to the study of the expansion of consumerism in the Maoist era, a meticulously researched, clearly argued, and highly readable interpretation of this period. Although Unending Capitalism is Gerth’s most recent book, it is in fact the middle volume of a trilogy, bookended by the author’s China Made (2003), which deals with the emergence of nationalism and consumer culture in China in early twentieth century, and As China Goes, So Goes the World (2010), an exploration of the history of post-Mao consumerism. Continue reading

MCLC 34.1

We are delighted to announce the publication of issue 34.1 (Summer 2022) of Modern Chinese Literature and Culture, now published and distributed by Edinburgh University Press. Titles and links to abstracts are listed below. The printed copies are still coming off the press, but subscribers can access the full content right away using the new MCLC repository:  https://www.euppublishing.com/toc/mclc/34/1

(direct URLs may vary depending on your home institution). Non-subscribers and those without institutional access can read one free article (Shu Yang’s “Wrestling with Tradition: Early Chinese Suffragettes and the Modern Remodeling of the Shrew Trope”) and the “Note from the Editors.” In the latter, we present some of the notable changes coming to the journal, including to layout and JSTOR access. A few things are changing for MCLC, but we hope the transition will be a smooth one for both readers and authors. Most importantly, the scholarship of the journal remains of the highest standard, so we hope you enjoy exploring this latest issue.

Natascha Gentz and Christopher Rosenmeier

Volume 34, Number 1 (Spring 2022) 
Articles

Travel, Translation and Transmedia Aesthetics review

MCLC Resource Center is pleased to announce publication of Robert Moore’s review of Travel, Translation and Transmedia Aesthetics: Franco-Chinese Literature and Visual Arts in a Global Age, by Shuangyi Li. The review appears below and at its online home: https://u.osu.edu/mclc/book-reviews/robert-moore/. My thanks to Michael Hill, our book review editor for translations/translation studies, for ushering the review to publication.

Kirk Denton, MCLC

Travel, Translation and Transmedia Aesthetics:
Franco-Chinese Literature and Visual Arts in a Global Age

By Shuangyi Li


Reviewed by Robert Moore

MCLC Resource Center Publication (Copyright June, 2022)


Shuangyi Li, Travel, Translation and Transmedia Aesthetics: Franco-Chinese Literature and Visual Arts in a Global Age. Singapore: Palgrave Macmillan, 2021. 267 pp. ISBN 978-9811655616 (cloth).

Shuangyi Li’s Travel, Translation and Transmedia Aesthetics: Franco-Chinese Literature and Visual Arts in a Global Age is a long-form study of four Franco-Chinese writers: Gao Xingjian 高行健, Shan Sa 山颯, Dai Sijie 戴思杰, and François Cheng 程抱一. All were born and raised in China but moved to France during early adulthood and compose works in French. All are also recipients of numerous awards, and one, François Cheng, is a member of the Académie Française, the first Asian-born person to be so honored. Li’s strategy is to demonstrate that all four share a recognizable aesthetic, one that is transmedial and transnational, and only emerges when we are able to understand how the cultures and languages with which they work influence each other simultaneously.

Chapter 1 is an introduction that lays out the conceptual framework for the study. Chapter 2 leads with a short consideration of some of the principal concerns of all four writers before launching into a long analysis of François Cheng’s Le Dit de Tianyi (The River Below in English translation). Chapter 3 discusses historically-minded works by Cheng, Shan, and Dai, with a particular eye on how images and motifs from ancient China can be re-presented and re-imagined in French. Chapter 4 looks at the way calligraphy influences, and is influenced by, the fiction of the same three writers. Chapter 5 concludes the main body of the study with a consideration of how Dai Sijie’s fiction, and Gao Xingjian’s painting, interact with each writer’s respective cinematic interests. Continue reading

China in the World review

MCLC Resource Center is pleased to announce publication of Julia Keblinska’s review of China in the World: Culture, Politics, and World Vision, by Ban Wang. The review appears below and at its online home: https://u.osu.edu/mclc/book-reviews/keblinska/. My thanks to Nicholas Kaldis, our literary studies book review editor, for ushering the review to publication.

Kirk Denton, MCLC

China in the World:
Culture, Politics, and World Vision

By Ban Wang


Reviewed by Julia Keblinska

MCLC Resource Center Publication (Copyright June, 2022)


Ban Wang, China in the World: Culture, Politics, and World Vision. Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2022, xi + 215 pp. ISBN: 9781478010845 (paper).

Ban Wang’s China in the World: Culture, Politics, and World Vision examines how the nation of China was imagined in political discourse and cultural practice vis à vis “a broad spectrum of international outlooks”—that is, conceptions of “the world”—throughout the twentieth century (7). More than a mere history of such worldly outlooks, be they late Qing reformulations of Confucian social concepts of tiānxià 天下  and dàtóng 大同 (“all under heaven” and “great unity,” respectively) or later iterations of socialist internationalism, Wang offers a serious and urgent critique of Chinese Studies and a call to political awareness at a moment when Cold War logics threaten to flatten the nuance and complexity of our field. In accomplishing this task, China in the World is an elegantly efficient volume. Coming in under 200 pages, the text is comprised of an introduction and eight chapters, the initial six of which are devoted to focused historical case studies of literary and cinematic works, while the final two are more polemical, urging an interrogation of the state of the Chinese Studies classroom and articulating the imperative to critically “use the past to understand the present” (170). Continue reading

The Making of Chinese-Sinophone Literatures as World Literature review

MCLC Resource Center is pleased to announce publication of Dylan Suher’s review of The Making of Chinese-Sinophone Literatures as World Literature, edited by Kuei-fen Chiu and Yingjin Zhang. The review appears below and at its online home: https://u.osu.edu/mclc/book-reviews/suher/. My thanks to Nicholas Kaldis, our literary studies book review editor, for ushering the review to publication.

Kirk Denton, MCLC

The Making of Chinese-Sinophone
Literatures as World Literature

Edited by Kuei-fen Chiu and Yingjin Zhang


Reviewed by Dylan Suher

MCLC Resource Center Publication (Copyright June, 2022)


Kuei-fen Chiu and Yingjin Zhang, eds., The Making of Chinese-Sinophone Literatures as World Literature. Hong Kong: Hong Kong University Press, 2022. xi + 249 pp. ISBN 9789888528721.

Listing just a few of the texts analyzed in the 11 chapters of Kuei-fen Chiu and Yingjin Zhang’s The Making of Chinese-Sinophone Literatures as World Literature is a good demonstration of this edited volume’s ambition:

  • A translation by Mao Dun 茅盾 of the Nicaraguan writer Rubén Dario’s story “El velo de la reina Mab” (The veil of Queen Mab);
  • a Taiwanese picturebook about a half-crocodile, half-duck creature’s identity crisis;
  • translations of pseudo-haiku by the poet Chen Li 陳黎 into subway posters, “poetry walls,” and dance pieces.

The editors and nine other contributors to this volume show an admirable lack of complacency in exploring the intersection between Chinese-Sinophone literatures and world literature. But despite the thoughtfulness of the essays collected here, I nevertheless retain some doubts about the volume’s overall framework.

Kuei-fen Chiu and Yingjin Zhang’s introduction, “Chinese-Sinophone Literatures as World Literature” is dedicated to explaining the somewhat unwieldy conceptual contraption of the title. At its core is “world literature”; Chiu and Zhang favor David Damrosch’s definition of world literature as encompassing works that are “actively present within a literary system beyond that of its original culture”[1] while acknowledging that even this effort to open up the category does not do away with the structures of publishing, scholarship, and prestige that favor a Eurocentric canon. Chiu and Zhang use the term “Chinese-Sinophone Literatures” as a way to “distance our position from a preoccupation with ‘China/center/major vs. non-China/periphery/minor debates” (8), charting a course between lumping all literature written in Chinese together and a Sinophone framework that excludes mainland literature and non-Chinese-speaking readers. Chinese-Sinophone literatures, the editors posit, are actively made into world literature as “the work travels beyond national boundaries and gains a new life in world literary space” (11, original emphasis). Chiu and Zhang emphasize a world literature defined not only by texts, but also by the translators and publishers who bring those texts across borders, by the genres used to package those texts for new audiences, and by the technologies and media used to disseminate these texts globally. Continue reading

The Suicide of Miss Xi review

MCLC Resource Center is pleased to announce publication of Joan Judge’s review of The Suicide of Miss Xi: Democracy and Disenchantment in the Chinese Republic, by Bryna Goodman. The review appears below and at its online home: https://u.osu.edu/mclc/book-reviews/joan-judge/. My thanks to Nicholas Kaldis, our book review editor for literary studies, for ushering the review to publication.

Kirk Denton, MCLC

The Suicide of Miss Xi:
Democracy and Disenchantment in the Chinese Republic

By Bryna Goodman


Reviewed by Joan Judge

MCLC Resource Center Publication (Copyright June, 2022)


Bryna Goodman, The Suicide of Miss Xi: Democracy and Disenchantment in the Chinese Republic. Cambridge MA: Harvard University Press, 2021, 339 pages. ISBN: 9780674248823 (Hardcover)

The Suicide of Miss Xi: Democracy and Disenchantment in the Chinese Republic is a deeply researched thick description of a dramatic suicide that took place on September 8, 1922, a pivotal moment in the unfolding of China’s troubled Republic. Goodman extracts three key facets of the incident that have ramifications for a fuller understanding of the period: gender and the ambiguous status of the New Woman; the stock exchange and the fragility of both economic structures and economic understanding; and the law as manipulable force rather than final arbiter. The story is layered, the key protagonists flawed, and the outcome neither clear nor satisfactory. Miss Xi’s suicide thus stands in for the complexity and unsettledness of the period.

The book “illuminates a moment, after the fall of empire and before the rise of central party rule, when urban Chinese improvised practices of liberal democracy in public life” (24). The moment coincides with the May Fourth period with its forceful narratives of newness and its invocations of the power of Mr. Science and Mr. Democracy. The suicide of Miss Xi highlights how removed those narratives were from the messy contradictions of what Goodman labels the “vernacular” realm. She probes reactions to the suicide in the periodical press and in associational life (native-place associations, chambers of commerce, trade associations [a.k.a., “guilds”], the Jingwu Athletic Association, etc.) for evidence of democratic forces that struggled to assert themselves despite the lack of state scaffolding to support them. Her rich primary source base includes newspapers; associational, professional and women’s journals; and police, commercial, native place, diplomatic, private, and court archives. Through scrutinizing of these materials, she uncovers what she describes as an active “public without a Republic.” Continue reading

Feminisms with Chinese Characteristics review

MCLC Resource Center is pleased to announce publication of Lina Qu’s review of Feminisms with Chinese Characteristics, edited by Ping Zhu and Hui Faye Xiao. The review appears below and at its online home: https://u.osu.edu/mclc/book-reviews/lina-qu/. My thanks to Nicholas Kaldis, MCLC literary studies book review editor, for ushering the review to publication.

Kirk Denton, MCLC

Feminisms with Chinese Characteristics

Edited by Ping Zhu and Hui Faye Xiao


Reviewed by Lina Qu

MCLC Resource Center Publication (Copyright June, 2022)


Ping Zhu and Hui Faye Xiao, eds. Feminisms with Chinese Characteristics. Syracuse: Syracuse University Press, 2021. xii + 380 pp.
ISBN: 9780815637257 (Paper); 9780815637394 (Hardcover); 9780815655268 (eBook).

Feminisms with Chinese Characteristics, an edited volume by Ping Zhu and Hui Faye Xiao, was published in 2021 by Syracuse University Press in the book series “Gender and Globalization.” In addition to its theoretical interventions, the volume’s originality stems from the way its editing philosophy and content reflect the same feminist politics. The volume is comprised of ten research essays and two interviews; among these, five are translations from Chinese and seven were written in English; half were published previously (between 2001 and 2017) and the other half are newly written. These twelve entries are interconnected through common themes such as the intersection of class and gender, socialist women’s liberation, Chinese feminists’ internal negotiation with the state, and the pivotal role of NGOs on China’s feminist landscape. As a result of Zhu and Xiao’s admirable efforts in selecting, translating, and editing, this polyglossic volume assembles diversified voices (in terms of time, space, language, and identity) of scholars and cultural icons from within and outside China, forming a dialogue that bridges Chinese and English academia. Continue reading

Subjectivity and Realism in Modern Chinese Fiction review (3)

This is my short reply to Yunzhong Shu’s inquiry: I studied both Hu Feng and Lu Ling at that time. It’s not necessary to tell the whole process of how and when I sought its publication, save for the fact that it followed the academic standard and  integrity.  I only want to say that during that process, I find some reviews positive and very helpful, while some others just carelessly brushing my work aside without trying to understand how it organizes its arguments and its major points. Again, I hope to read more substantial and responsible reviews in the future.

Best Regards,

Xiaoping Wang

Subjectivity and Realism in Modern Chinese Fiction review (2)

As I read Subjectivity and Realism in Modern Chinese Fiction: Hu Feng and Lu Ling, I had the impression that the writing, reviewing and production of the book were all done in haste. Professor Wang claims his monograph was completed more than ten years ago as a byproduct of his dissertation, which contains a 44-page chapter on Lu Ling but nothing on Hu Feng. I am curious to know when Professor Wang submitted his manuscript to Lexington Books for review and what kind of review and production processes the manuscript had gone through before publication.

Yunzhong Shu <yunzhong.shu@qc.cuny.edu>

Subjectivity and Realism in Modern Chinese Fiction review (1)

Dear Colleagues,

I read Prof. Yunzhong Shu’s review of my monograph, and I would like to thank him for offering the review and I welcome the critique. I would like to provide some feedback.

Firstly, I admit that there are some grammatical errors in my book. The monograph was completed more than ten years ago as a byproduct of my dissertation. And when I revised it, I updated some messages based on some new publications of the same subject in the English world in recent years. Before the formal publication, Lexington Press told me that it would offer professional proofreading service. However, when I received the first version of the proof, I found many problems there and personally made more than 3000 changes by myself. I contacted the assistant editor complaining the ill service of the press’ proofreader, and suggested that either the press’ proofreader goes through the whole text once more, or I could hire a professional proofreader by myself, yet the assistant declined my suggestion and ensured me that the project manager and the team are “very capable and have worked hard to ensure your book went to the press in great shape.” As a non-native speaker, I chose to trust in the professional service of the press. This, to be sure, does not mean that I do not admit my fault of not insisting on more proofreading work by myself.

Secondly, even though the book is not an immaculate work, I do not think the grammatical issues would hinder the comprehension of my arguments for those readers responsible. Otherwise, the major part of the first and the second chapter would not have passed the peer review and was published in the English journal Critique: Journal of Socialist Theory in the year of 2012. Continue reading

Subjectivity and Realism in Modern Chinese Fiction review

MCLC Resource Center is pleased to announce publication of Yunzhong Shu’s review of Subjectivity and Realism in Modern Chinese Fiction: Hu Feng and Lu Ling, by Xiaoping Wang. The review appears below and at its online home: https://u.osu.edu/mclc/book-reviews/yunzhong-shu/. My thanks to Nicholas Kaldis, MCLC book review editor for literary studies, for ushering the review to publication.

Kirk A. Denton, MCLC

Subjectivity and Realism in Modern Chinese Fiction:
Hu Feng and Lu Ling

By Xiaoping Wang


Reviewed by Yunzhong Shu

MCLC Resource Center Publication (Copyright May, 2022)


Xiaoping Wang, Subjectivity and Realism in Modern Chinese Fiction: Hu Feng and Lu Ling. Lanham, MD: Lexington Books, 2022. xxxii + 201 pp. ISBN 978-1-4985-6619-3 (cloth); ISBN 978-1-4985-6620-9 (ebook).

Subjectivity and Realism in Modern Chinese Fiction: Hu Feng and Lu Ling consists of an introduction, nine chapters, and a conclusion. In the introduction, the author provides a brief survey of the leftist literary world in China during the War of Resistance, a summary of scholarly works on Hu Feng 胡风 and Lu Ling 路翎 published in English, and a section on his methodology and the structure of his book. Chapter 1, titled “Cultural Capital, Hegemony and the Zeitgeist,”  discusses Hu Feng’s wartime struggle for cultural leadership as a spokesperson for realism and his views on subjectivity. Chapter 2, “Intellectuals’ Politics and a Bourgeois Subjectivity,” examines Hu Feng’s views on critical realism, modern Chinese intellectuals, and bourgeois subjectivity. Chapter 3, “Subjectivity in Loss: Disintegration of Traditional Family and Emergence of Desire,” investigates issues such as “primitive unconsciousness” and “political anxieties” in connection with Lu Ling’s Children of the Rich (财主底儿女们) and Hungry Guo Su’e (饥饿的郭素娥). Chapter 4, “Subjectivity in Search of ‘Bildungsroman’ of Modern Chinese Intellectuals,” discusses moral relativism and the notion of “the people” in Children of the Rich.  Chapter 5, “Subjectivity in Vain: A Fable of the Failure of Bourgeois Social Reforms,” analyzes the mental experiences of Jiang Chunzu 蒋纯祖, a main character in Children of the Rich, together with some other characters in the novel. Chapter 6, “Intellectuals in Predicament: Other Stories,” categorizes characters along a spectrum from “weaklings” to those who “bust out by taking violent rebellious actions” (107) depicted in Lu Ling’s wartime stories. Chapter 7, “Politics of Recognition and Politics of Style,” uses concepts from Hegel’s Phenomenology of Mind as tools to analyze the language and style in Children of the Rich. Chapter 8, “Self-Other Relationship and the Other as the People,” focuses on the mental states of Jiang Chunzu and his brother Jiang Shaozu 蒋少祖 as intellectuals influenced by the May Fourth enlightenment agenda. Chapter 9, “Lu Ling’s Theory and His Fiction,” approaches Lu Ling’s views on realism from a cultural-political perspective and discusses the similarities and differences between Lu Ling and Hu Feng. In the conclusion, the author briefly discusses the general significance of Hu Feng and Lu Ling in their historical context. Continue reading

Manhua Modernity review

MCLC Resource Center is pleased to announce publication of Paul Bevan’s review of Manhua Modernity: Chinese Culture and the Pictorial Turn, by John A. Crespi. The review appears below and at its online home: https://u.osu.edu/mclc/book-reviews/paul-bevan/. My thanks to Nicholas Kaldis, MCLC book review editor for literary studies, for ushering the review to publication.

Kirk A. Denton, MCLC

Manhua Modernity:
Chinese Culture and the Pictorial Turn

By John A. Crespi


Reviewed by Paul Bevan

MCLC Resource Center Publication (Copyright April, 2022)


John A. Crespi, Manhua Modernity: Chinese Culture and the Pictorial Turn. Oakland: University of California Press, 2020. xiv + 236 pp., incl. 75 ills. ISBN 9780520309104 (paperback).

I have met John Crespi in person only once. I’ve always thought this a pity, because we work in similar areas and explore the same sort of material in our research. Our one and only meeting took place quite by chance in a reading room in the Shanghai Library more than a decade ago, at a time when scholars from outside China took library research and fieldwork for granted. I’d been told in advance by Michel Hockx that John would be in Shanghai at the same time as me, but I had made no plans to meet him. One afternoon in the library, on seeing what appeared to be an American man holding a copy of Zhongguo manhua (中國漫畫), I immediately guessed that this was John and promptly introduced myself. For both of us, the research into manhua and pictorial magazines that we carried out in Shanghai—on this occasion, and on subsequent visits—eventually resulted in our respective monographs.

In the introduction to his book, Crespi tells the captivating story of how he was introduced to manhua in the mid-1990s through piles of dusty volumes in an underground warehouse, a converted bomb shelter belonging to the “China Bookstore’s Old Periodicals Department” (1). Today, at a time when Chinese historical magazines of all types have become highly sought after as collectables in China and abroad, a story of exciting discovery and acquisition such as this seems like a dream of another age. The magazines John purchased at the time became the basis for his hugely valuable project, the digitization of the magazine Modern Sketch, and related websites at Colgate University and MIT’s Visualizing Culture project. Continue reading