Teaching Film from the PRC

New Publication
Teaching Film from the People’s Republic of China has been published by the Modern Language Association (MLA).  It is a timely and multidisciplinary reference book for film pedagogy. The seven parts of this book include sections such as “Image and Reality of a Changing China,” “Recontextualizing National Culture,” “Intercultural and Comparative Approaches,” and “Multidisciplinary Approaches.”

Particularly, I would like to highlight my essay, “Visualizing Ethnic Minorities in Multicultural China,” in this volume. This is perhaps the first pedagogical piece published in the United States about teaching the ethnic minority visual cultures of China. The essay spans various visual realms, from film to photography and pre-modern China’s paintings albums about the “Miao barbarians,” to discuss interdisciplinary ways of engaging students in examining the historical evolution and contemporary ramifications of visualizing non-Han groups in China. The essay provides a variety of sources and methods for instructors to incorporate the discussion of cultural diversity, race, and ethnicity into their teaching about Chinese culture, history, and art.

Yanshuo Zhang <yanshuo2009@gmail.com>

Columbia Grad Conference 2024

30th Annual Columbia Graduate Student Conference on East Asia
October 18th and 19th, 2024

Graduate students are cordially invited to submit abstracts for the 30th Annual Columbia Graduate Student Conference on East Asia, to be held at Columbia University on October 18th and 19th, 2024. This two-day conference provides students from institutions around the world with the opportunity to meet and share research with their peers. In addition, participants will gain valuable experience presenting their work through discussion with fellow graduate students and Columbia faculty.

We welcome applications from students engaged in research on all fields in East Asian Studies. While applicants are welcome to anchor their research within specific disciplines such as History, Literature, Cinema, Art History, Religion, Sociology, and others, we particularly encourage projects that transcend national, temporal, and disciplinary boundaries, aiming to investigate how solidarity can be fostered among groups with diverse backgrounds.


Presenters deliver a talk no longer than 20 minutes based on an academic paper that summarizes research in progress. Presentations may take three possible forms: a standard academic research paper, a PowerPoint presentation accompanied by a talk, or a work of documentary filmmaking. A documentary work should be 20 minutes or less. Those interested in proposing research in alternative forms are encouraged to reach out to the committee directly at columbiaealacgradcon@gmail.com. Continue reading

Taiwan elects Lai Ching-te

Source: NYT (1/13/24)
In a Setback for Beijing, Taiwan Elects Lai Ching-te as President
Taiwan’s vice president, whose party has emphasized the island’s sovereignty, defeated an opposition party that favors reviving engagement with China.
By Chris BuckleyAmy Chang ChienJohn Liu and 

Taiwan’s vice president, Lai Ching-te, waving during a rally in Taipei on Saturday.

Taiwan’s vice president, Lai Ching-te, won the island’s presidential election on Saturday. Credit…Lam Yik Fei for The New York Times

The Taiwanese presidential candidate Lai Ching-te has for years been reviled by China’s Communist Party as a dangerous foe who, by its account, could drag the two sides into a war by pressing for full independence for his island democracy. Right up to Saturday, when millions of Taiwanese voted for their next president, an official Beijing news outlet warned that Mr. Lai could take Taiwan “on a path of no return.”

Yet, despite China’s months of menacing warnings of a “war or peace” choice for Taiwan’s voters, Mr. Lai was victorious.

Mr. Lai, currently Taiwan’s vice president, secured 40 percent of the votes in the election, giving his Democratic Progressive Party, or D.P.P., a third term in a row in the presidential office. No party has achieved more than two successive terms since Taiwan began holding direct, democratic elections for its president in 1996.

At a D.P.P. gathering outside its headquarters in Taipei, thousands of supporters, many waving pink and green flags, cheered as Mr. Lai’s lead grew during the counting of the votes, which was displayed on a large screen on an outdoor stage.

Addressing his supporters at the event, Mr. Lai called for unity, while also pledging his commitment to defending Taiwan’s identity. “Between democracy and authoritarianism, we choose to stand on the side of democracy,” Mr. Lai said. “This is what this election campaign means to the world.” Continue reading

No class war, we’re communists

Source: China Media Project (11/29/23)
No Class War Please, We’re Communists
The latest targets in China’s ongoing — and seemingly never-ending — internet rectification campaign include content that “incites class antagonism.” How did a Communist Party that lived and breathed class struggle for decades get to this point?
By Ryan Ho Kilpatrick

Dont’ Forget Class Struggle poster.

“For years, the regular ‘Clear and Bright” (清朗) online cleanup campaigns of China’s top internet control body have been a constant reminder to platforms and citizens to keep their behavior in check. But in recent months these campaigns have come with such dizzying frequency that keeping track of them has become a daunting task.

The latest case in point is an expansive list of regulatory priorities released earlier this month that includes not just concerns such as doxxing and cyberbullying — shared by regulators and citizens around the world — but also vague value labels that have the authorities at the Cyberspace Administration of China (CAC) meddling directly into areas such as “regional prejudice,” “gender antagonism,” and “class antagonism.”

Here’s a quick look at some of the most contentious forms of conduct identified in this latest “Clear and Bright” campaign.

Gender Antagonism (性別對立)

“Gender antagonism” (性別對立), identified as a key target of the latest Clear and Bright campaign, is a well-established dog whistle for feminism. The accusation has frequently been brought against women’s rights activists in China, framing their actions as a cantankerous attempt to upset harmonious relations between men and women. Continue reading

Shakespeare and East Asia review

MCLC Resource Center is pleased to announce publication of Yu Zhang’s review of Shakespeare and East Asia, by Alexa Alice Joubin. The review appears below and at its online home: https://u.osu.edu/mclc/book-reviews/yu-zhang/. My thanks to Michael Hill, out translations/translation studies book review editor, for ushering the review to publication.

Kirk Denton, MCLC

Shakespeare and East Asia

By Alexa Alice Joubin

Reviewed by Yu Zhang

MCLC Resource Center Publication (Copyright September, 2023)

Alexa Alice Joubin, Shakespeare and East Asia Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2021. 272 pp. ISBN: 9780198703563 (cloth); ISBN: 9780198703570 (paper).

As one of the most frequently performed playwrights in East Asia, Shakespeare has constituted an exemplary site to observe modes of cross-cultural exchanges and cross-media appropriations. Alexa Alice Joubin’s new book, Shakespeare and East Asia, is a scholarly masterpiece that contributes a nuanced and critically sophisticated understanding of these issues. Situating Asian adaptations of Shakespeare and Western performances with Asian themes in a post-national space of exchange, this book traces “shared and unique patterns in post-1950s appropriations of Asian and Western motifs across theatrical and cinematic genres” (4) and focuses on both the aesthetic and social functions of performances.

Studies of cultural globalization have often been bound by the pattern of linear, one-way transplantation of western cultural products into a colonial or postcolonial cultural context. However, Joubin aims to break down “the false dichotomy between the native and the foreign” and departs from the nation-centered approach to emphasize “the connections between distinctive and often conflicting interpretations of ‘Shakespeare’ and ‘Asia’ in different cultural and visual contexts” (12). In addition to describing global Shakespeares in Asian and inter-Asian contexts, Joubin also draws attention to how Asian interpretations of Shakespeare have had an impact on American and European performance cultures. As the author cogently points out, “[t]he clashes and confluences of Asia and Shakespeare give a ‘local habitation’ to the ‘airy nothing’ of globalization” (6). Moreover, Joubin uses “Asian Shakespeare” as a critical category to develop “a site-specific critical vocabulary to address the epistemological foundation of histories of cultural globalization” (10). The book treats cross-media and cross-generic adaptations of Shakespeare’s plays from Japan, Korea, the Chinese Mainland, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Singapore, as well as the US and UK, as “a body of works” rather than separate, individual stories about cross-cultural encounter. Therefore, Asian Shakespeares constitute a complex and coherent system of signification that can contribute to global cultural studies. Continue reading

Untamed Shrews

I’m pleased to announce the publication of my new book Untamed Shrews: Negotiating New Womanhood in Modern China (Cornell University Press, Cornell East Asia Series, 2023).


Untamed Shrews traces the evolution of unruly women in Chinese literature, from the reviled “shrew” to the celebrated “new woman.” Notorious for her violence, jealousy, and promiscuity, the character of the shrew personified the threat of unruly femininity to the Confucian social order and served as a justification for punishing any woman exhibiting these qualities. In this book, Shu Yang connects these shrewish qualities to symbols of female empowerment in modern China. Rather than meeting her demise, the shrew persisted, and her negative qualities became the basis for many forms of the new woman, ranging from the early Republican suffragettes and Chinese Noras, to the Communist and socialist radicals. Criticism of the shrew endured, but her vicious, sexualized, and transgressive nature became a source of pride, placing her among the ranks of liberated female models. Untamed Shrews shows that whether male writers and the state hate, fear, or love them, there will always be a place for the vitality of unruly women. Unlike in imperial times, the shrew in modern China stayed untamed as an inspiration for the new woman. Continue reading

Edinburgh lectureship

University of Edinburgh Lectureship in Chinese Studies

The Department of Asian Studies in the University of Edinburgh is looking for a lecturer in Chinese studies. We invite applications from scholars with research expertise and teaching experience in any discipline who focus on pre-modern China and/or the Sinophone world, preferably with a focus on mid to late imperial China.

Application deadline: 18 August 2023

Full details here: https://elxw.fa.em3.oraclecloud.com/hcmUI/CandidateExperience/en/sites/CX_1001/job/8069

The University of Edinburgh is a charitable body, registered in Scotland, with registration number SC005336. Is e buidheann carthannais a th’ ann an Oilthigh Dhùn Èideann, clàraichte an Alba, àireamh clàraidh SC005336.

Posted by: Christopher Rosenmeier <christopher.rosenmeier@ed.ac.uk>

Writing Manchuria

Writing Manchuria: The Lives and Literature of Zhu Ti and Li Zhengzhong (Routledge, 2023)
By Norman Smith


Writing Manchuria details the lives and translates a selection of fiction from one of the mid-twentieth century’s “four famous husband-wife writers” of China’s Northeast, who lived in the Japanese puppet state of Manchukuo: Li Zhengzhong (1921–2020) and Zhu Ti (1923–2012).

The writings herein were published from the late 1930s to the mid-1940s, in Manchukuo, north China, and Japan; their writings appeared in the most prominent Japanese-owned, Chinese-language journals and newspapers. This volume includes materials that were censored or banned by the Manchukuo authorities: Li Zhengzhong’s “Temptation” and “Frost Flowers,” and Zhu Ti’s “Cross the Bo Sea” and “Little Linzi and her Family.” Li Zhengzhong has been characterized as “an angry youth” while Zhu Ti’s work questioned contemporary gender ideals and the subjugation of women. Their writings – those that were censored or banned and those published – shed important light on Japanese imperialism and the Chinese literature that was produced in different regions, reflecting both official support and suppression.

Writing Manchuria is the first English-language translation of their writings, and it will appeal to those interested in Chinese wartime literature, as well as contribute to understandings of imperialism and the varied forms it took across Japan’s vast war-time empire.

A New Era for China’s Readers

Source: China Media Project (4/25/23)
A New Era for China’s Readers
Xi Jinping has been lauded in the official press as a deep reader who wants to create an atmosphere of love for books in China. But the latest numbers from the country’s publishing industry suggest a climate of political hypersensitivity is killing book titles before they ever reach the shelves.
By CMP Staff

Screenshot of a propaganda video by Xinhua linking lauding Xi for his love of reading and promotion of reading across the country.

As China celebrated World Book Day one year ago, Xi Jinping expressed the hope that “our whole society can take part in reading, creating an atmosphere of love for reading.” As the day rolled around again on Sunday, state media were inundated with visions of Xi as a great lover of literature, who as a sent-down youth at the age of 15 is said to have plodded down a long country road just to borrow a copy of Goethe’s Faust — which he then read assiduously by lamplight.

The April 24 edition of the CCP’s People’s Daily.

In yesterday’s official People’s Daily, Xi the Great Reader was once again front-page news. An article just below the paper’s masthead declared that “General Secretary Xi Jinping leads the way in promoting reading for all.”

But for China’s avid readers, the prospect of finding fresh and insightful books has grown as dim over the past few years as a cave home in Liangjiahe, the village where the young Xi of legend is said to have studied his Goethe.

Book publishers in China, including the private publishers once seen as an important channel of growth in the industry, have suffered under a thick atmosphere of political wariness as ideological controls have intensified.

The results can now be seen in the numbers. According to a report on the retail book market released in March, there were 25,000 fewer book titles released in China in 2022 than in 2021. This included a drop of 5,000 in the number of new original Chinese titles, and a drop of 20,000 in the number of imported titles in translation.

New titles have dropped substantially as a proportion of China’s book publishing industry during Xi’s decade in power, from more than 20 percent of the total in 2014 to just 13.63 percent in 2022. In 2020, the retail market for books shrank for the first time in decades, and in 2022 contracted even further. Continue reading

Whitewashing China’s record on Covid

Source: China Media Project (1/9/23)
Whitewashing China’s Record on Covid
An official commentary published yesterday in the CCP’s official People’s Daily newspaper is one of the more egregious efforts to date to present China’s handling of the pandemic over the past three years as evidence of strong global leadership.
By David Bandurski

Images by Gauthier Delacroix available at Flickr.com under CC license.

China’s leaders have been at pains in recent days to defend their handling of Covid-19 in the face of tough criticism both at home and abroad, with cases soaring and concerns rising among international experts and foreign governments that China is under-reporting cases and fiddling with the facts — the type of obfuscation, it could be said, that got the world into this mess in the first place.

Published yesterday in the Chinese Communist Party’s official People’s Daily newspaper, the latest official commentary from “Zhong Sheng” (钟声), an official pen name used routinely for important pieces on international affairs on which the leadership wishes to register its view, is one of the more egregious examples of how determined CCP leaders are to present their handling of the pandemic over three years as evidence of strong global leadership. Continue reading

MCLC 34.2

We are pleased to announce publication of Modern Chinese Literature and Culture, vol. 34, no. 2 (2022), a special issue on “Taiwan and Hong Kong’s Global Connections.” Find the table of contents below, with links to abstracts. See here for information on how to subscribe.

Natascha Gentz and Christopher Rosenmeier, Editors

Table of Contents
Volume 34, Issue 2, December, 2022

Note from the Editors, by Natascha Gentz and Christopher Rosenmeier
34(2), pp. v–vii
Full Text | PDF/EPUB

Beyond Party Politics? Visitors and Meaning-Making in the National Museum of Taiwan Literature, by Emily GRAF
34(2), pp. 241–290

The Making of Small Literature as World Literature: Taiwanese Writer Wu Ming-Yi, by Kuei-fen CHIU
34(2), pp. 291–312

“World Literature” between Transcultural Poetics and Colonial Politics: Yang Chichang, Le Moulin, and Surrealism in Taiwan, by Fangdai CHEN
34(2), pp. 313–344
Abstract Continue reading

Peng Ming-min dies at 98

Source: NYT (4/16/22)
Peng Ming-min, Fighter for Democracy in Taiwan, Dies at 98
He endured Japanese imperial rule, a lost limb in World War II, Chinese martial law and decades in exile to become a leading force for Taiwanese self-determination.
By Chris Horton

Peng Ming-min delivering a speech in 1995, when he was running for president of Taiwan. He did not win, but his candidacy was a turning point in Taiwan’s democratic journey.

Peng Ming-min delivering a speech in 1995, when he was running for president of Taiwan. He did not win, but his candidacy was a turning point in Taiwan’s democratic journey. Credit…Andrew Wong/Reuters

TAIPEI, Taiwan — Peng Ming-min, a victim of World War II who endured Japanese imperial rule, brutal Chinese martial law and decades of exile to become a leading fighter for democracy and self-determination for his native Taiwan, died here, the nation’s capital, on April 8. He was 98.

His death, at the Koo Foundation Sun Yat-Sen Cancer Center, was confirmed by Lee Chun-ta, director of the Peng Ming-min Foundation.

Mr. Peng pressed his case for a democratic Taiwan over the years as a lobbyist, author and academic, both in Taiwan and in exile in the United States.

As a young Japanese subject in 1945, near the end of the war, he lost his left arm during an American bombing raid on Japan. Days later, while convalescing at his brother’s home near Nagasaki, he witnessed the atomic bombing of that city by the United States.

Mr. Peng returned to Taiwan after Tokyo’s surrender ended its 50-year colonial rule of the island, with the Republic of China under Generalissimo Chiang Kai-shek taking control. In 1947, he lived through what came to be known as the 228 Massacre, in which Chiang’s government executed as many as 28,000 members of the Taiwanese elite, effectively killing off a generation of leaders. Mr. Peng’s father narrowly escaped the government roundups in the southern port city of Kaohsiung. Continue reading

Chen Qiufan on how sci-fi imagines the future

Chen Qiufan | 2041: How Chinese Science Fiction Imagines Our Future

We invite you to join us at an online seminar titled “2041: How Chinese Science Fiction Imagines Our Future,” featuring sci-fi author Chen Qiufan and Cornell professors Andrea Bachner and Anindita Banerjee.

Time: Thursday, April 28 at 7:30pm (EST) | Friday, April 29 at 7:30am (China Time)
Speaker:Chen Qiufan (Sci-fi writer, translator, and curator; Author of Waste Tide and AI 2041)
Discussants: Andrea Bachner (Cornell University) and Anindita Banerjee (Cornell University)
Moderator: Song Han (Cornell University)

The greatest value of science fiction is not providing answers, but rather raising questions.

Can AI help humans prevent the next global pandemic by eliminating it at the very root? How can we deal with future job challenges? How can we maintain cultural diversity in a world dominated by machines? How can we teach our children to live in a society where humans and machines coexist? Continue reading

African writing in Chinese translation

Source: Bruce-Humes.com (12/30/21)
African Writing in Chinese Translation: 2021 Round-up + A Peek at 2022
By Bruce Humes

“This has been a great year for African writing,” said South Africa’s Damon Galgut upon receiving the 2021 Booker Prize for his novel, The Promise.

As reported in From the Booker to the Nobel, several other African authors also snagged prestigious European literary prizes during 2021. They include Abdulrazak Gurnah (Nobel), David Diop (International Booker), Mohamed Mbougar Sarr (Prix Goncourt), and Karen Jennings and Nadifa Mohamed, longlisted and shortlisted, respectively, for the Booker.

But how keen are Chinese publishers on Africa, arguably an “emerging” supply market for the Middle Kingdom?

One way to gauge interest is to check out AfroLit4China, a bilingual (Chinese and English) database listing African writing (mainly book-length fiction) published in the Sinophone world since the 80s. Literary factoids listed below are based on AfroLit4China.

A few numbers first:

269:  African works published in Chinese
106:   African authors now available in Chinese
40:   People’s Literature Publishing House’s African titles
16:  African works newly published in China during 2020-21 Continue reading

The Battle of Images: The Sino-Hollywood Negotiation lecture

Oxford Seminar on Visual Culture in Modern and Contemporary China
The Battle of Images: The Sino-Hollywood Negotiation
Ying ZHU, City University of New York and Hong Kong Baptist University
Tuesday 23 November 2021, 5pm

HYBRID EVENT: In-person venue: University of Oxford China Centre, Kin-ku Cheng Lecture Theatre; or to attend online (via Zoom), please register here

All welcome

Hollywood dominated the Chinese film market during China’s Republic era, triggering a mixture of fascination and resistance. The Communist victory in 1949 and the outbreakof the Korean War in 1950 led to an official ban on Hollywood imports by the PRC government in 1950.China’sfilm market reopened to Hollywoodin 1994 amidst China’s declining domestic output and theatre attendance. Hollywood has since becomea regular fixturein China, spurringsimultaneously rejection, admiration, emulation, competition and coercion. Rejection and repulsionfor Hollywood’s historical injustice to the China image; admiration and emulation for thesheer allure and market prowess of Hollywood pictures; competition and coercion for Hollywood’s global dominance and a new determination to draft Hollywoodinto serving China’sglobalimage campaign. This talk comparesthe context and terms of Hollywood’s Republic era China triumphto those of its repeated performance in the post-1994 era, and the subsequent expansionof a powerful Chinese film marketto suggest historical contingencies, continuities andchanges in an ongoing Sino-Hollywood dynamic with competing political, cultural and economic interest on and off screen. Continue reading