What Liu Xiaobo’s death says about China’s futures

Source: The Nation (7/25/17)
What Liu Xiaobo’s Death Says About China’s Two Futures
China’s president has crafted an increasingly progressive image for himself abroad, while stifling dissent at home.
By Gina Anne Tam and Jeffrey Wasserstrom

Liu Xiaobo Memorial

Protesters chant slogans to mourn the death of Nobel laureate Liu Xiaobo in Hong Kong, China, July 15, 2017. (Reuters / Bobby Yip)

In mid-January, when Xi Jinping made his debut at Davos, the head of the Chinese Communist Party and president of the PRC took pains to appear as a self-confident leader determined to guide his country into a high-tech, globally interconnected future. He wanted the world to think that China had put far behind it the century of oppression by foreign powers that preceded the founding of the PRC, during which time, so goes the national myth, the country had been poor, weak, and badly governed. He wanted, too, to show that China had moved on from the ideological upheavals, irrational personality cult, and global isolation that characterized much of the era of rule by Mao Zedong (1949–76). This image of Xi, taken at face value in some international press reports, has stayed in the news via reports of such things as his championing of the “One Belt, One Road” initiative, presented as a 21st-century reboot of China’s economic integration with the global community. Continue reading

Why Chinese sci-fi fans love homegrown heroes

Source: Sixth Tone (7/24/17)
Why Chinese Sci-Fi Fans Love Homegrown Heroes
Film and literary protagonists wield ancient philosophy to ward off alien invasions.
By Wu Shuang, a screenwriter and science fiction author

Two adjacent manhole covers are painted with the symbol of yin and yang (left) and the shield design of Captain America (right) at Beijing Normal University in Beijing, June 16, 2017. VCG.

The growth of the Chinese film market in recent years has brought an increasing number of foreign sci-fi films to the country’s cinema screens. People might assume that domestic films can’t hold a candle to the polished products put out by Hollywood’s slick sci-fi screenwriters, yet actual box office figures beg to differ.

In 2016, “The Mermaid” became China’s highest-grossing sci-fi fantasy movie of all time, raking in 2.2 billion yuan ($333 million). “Monster Hunt,” meanwhile, led the charge for fantasy films at a whopping 2.43 billion yuan ($360 million). Both are domestic movies. The former posits the existence of an isolated population of mermaids in a future war with humans, who wish to destroy the mermaids’ habitat as part of a sea reclamation project. The latter tells the story of two hunters in a world populated with people-eating monsters. Continue reading

Absurd Accident review

Source: China Film Insider (7/23/17)
Film Review: Absurd Accident
By Jonathan Landreth

Absurd Accident. Photo: AAIFF website.

Don’t miss the New York premiere of young Chinese writer and director Li Yuhe’s directorial debut, Absurd Accident [提着心吊着胆] (2017), at the Asian American International Film Festival at Asia Society on August 3. It’s a great, dark comedy (perfect for date-nights) and a refreshing cinematic surprise that laughs at the real-life challenges faced by modern-day rural Chinese trying to cope with the encroachment of big city values.

Were it not for the odd funk soundtrack and turns to what might be best described as “Keystone Cops” interludes—complete with madcap silent movie-era ragtime piano and subtitles—Li’s six-act feature debut could claim a rightful connection to the Coen Brothers’ modern noir, Blood Simple. Continue reading

On Monster Hunt as an Ecological Fable

Source: Association for Chinese Animation Studies (ACAS) (June 28, 2017)
Monsters to Die For: On Monster Hunt as a Ecological Fable
By Haiyan Lee

The 2015 animated feature film Monster Hunt (Zhuoyao ji) is a popcorn caper served up by a mainland-Hong Kong coproduction team led by director Raman Hui who cleverly meld the nonsensical (moleitau) conventions of Hong Kong cinema with state-of-the-art CGI technologies. It also rehashes the well-worn Hollywood motif of a bumbling everyman turned reluctant superhero. The film seems to have touched a chord with Chinese audiences: it broke numerous box office records and became the highest-grossing domestic film (though this reputation was disputed). Here, I propose to read the film as an allegory that packs a none-so-subtle ecological message: that we can learn to live with others, human as well as non-human, so long as we are imaginative enough to imagine the impossible. Continue reading

High school pupils make LGBT film

Source: SCMP (7/24/17)
Chinese high school pupils make a film tackling LGBT issues
Team of 37 youngsters produces, directs and stars in movie designed to raise public awareness of ‘widely ignored’ group
By Eva Li

A group of high school students in Beijing has made a film about the life of a transgender boy in a bid to raise public awareness of the issue, local media reported.

The 75-minute production, titled Flee, tells the story of Zhang Wangan, a high school-age boy who thinks of himself as a girl, as he tries to come to terms with his emotions with the help of his friends, Beijing Youth Daily reported. Continue reading

LARB China Channel

Dear MCLCers,

The Los Angeles Review of Books will launch its new China Channel this fall. The China Channel will host a broad range of writing and multimedia about China and the Sinophone world, with an emphasis on literature and culture, and will be accessible to a general audience.

As a commissioning editor, I invite you to pitch and submit essays, book reviews, and multimedia content. Please send your ideas and work to larbchinachannel@gmail.com.

Feel free to email me as well at anne.henochowicz@gmail.com. I look forward to reading/seeing/hearing your submissions. Continue reading

Asia and the Anthrpocene–cfp

Call for Papers
“Asia and the Anthropocene”

The Association for Asian Studies is pleased to invite applications to participate in the second of three workshops in its series “Emerging Fields in the Study of Asia” supported by the Luce Foundation. The second workshop, “Asia and the Anthropocene,” will take place August 23-27, 2018 at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor.

The purpose of this gathering is to explore the emerging concept of the Anthropocene through shared readings and collective conversations about how scholars of Asia might best respond to the scientific proposal of a new geological epoch. The selection committee seeks bold ideas and broadly framed research papers that grapple with the challenges posed by this new understanding of planetary conditions. Participants will present short papers (20-30 pages, double spaced, including notes) designed to further this new field of study, leaving ample time for discussion. We will also read and discuss certain key texts that are relevant to this emerging field. The workshop will include a field trip to a location to be determined. Continue reading

Pursuing a Career in Chinese Art in the UK–cfp

Call for participation for “Pursuing a career in Chinese art in the UK”
An event co-organised by BPCS and MEAA
October 3rd 2017, 12:30-17:00 in Bath

This event is aimed at postgraduate students and early career academics interested in Chinese art, whether as a career or as a source for their research. As the sectors of Chinese art higher education and art market are evolving fast in the UK, this event invites participants to reflect on and prepare for a career related to the arts of China.

Event schedule:

1) Visit of the MEAA (Museum of East Asian Arts, Bath) in small groups: an occasion to network among each other. (Free for selected participants. For general public, included in the talks’ fees if booked in advance, entrance only valid on the same day.) Continue reading

China’s quest to end its century of shame

Source: NYT (7/13/17)
China’s Quest to End Its Century of Shame

CreditMatt Chase

SHANGHAI — At an ocean research center on Hainan Island off China’s southern coast, officials routinely usher visitors into a darkened screening room to watch a lavishly produced People’s Liberation Army video about China’s ambitions to reassert itself as a great maritime power.

As enormous, new naval vessels plow through high seas, a deep male voice intones: “China’s oceanic and overseas interests are developing rapidly. Our land is vast, but we will not yield a single inch to foreigners.” Continue reading

Guangdong-HK-Macao Greater Bay Area Cultural Forum–cfp

The First Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area Cultural Forum

  • Date: Early June, 2018
  • Location: Guangzhou, China
  • Organizer: School of Humanities, Guangzhou University
  • Co-organizers: Center for Media and Social Change Studies, Shenzhen University; Department of Cultural and Religious Studies, Chinese University of Hong Kong; Department of History, University of Macao; Department of East Asian Languages and Cultures, Washington University in St. Louis
  • Theme: Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area and the Rise of Contemporary Chinese Popular Culture

Continue reading

Seeking AAS panel for ‘boys love’ paper

Dear all,

I currently research on the Chinese male readership of “boys love” (BL) manga and fiction that focus on romantic or homoerotic male-male relationships, but are read and received mainly by heterosexual female readers. I am seeking an AAS panel that may be interested in my paper. Based on readership studies and interviews, this paper can fit into panels on media studies, gender studies, cultural studies or studies on censorship. If you are interested, please contact me for paper proposal and more details.


TIAN Xi <xt003@bucknell.edu>

Poem for Liu Xiaobo (2)

I admire the translation of the poem by 小众童网 on CDT. It was probably harder to translate than the one by Meng Lang, although I don’t think Meng Lang is easy to translate. This period since Liu Xiaobo’s terminal illness was announced has brought much attention to poetry by and for Liu Xiaobo and his wife Liu Xia.

Two days ago I discovered a poem on Weibo. I think it wasn’t censored, probably because it is circulated as a picture. My translation is below. Click on the picture on my bloghttp://banianerguotoukeyihe.com/2017/07/20/cannot-speak-his-name-%e6%b9%98%e8%93%ae%e5%ad%90/

and click through to Weibo. Or see the author’s blog: http://blog.sina.com.cn/s/blog_4be24db70102wmp4.html

I have also tried to translate (to German) a poem by Liu Xiaobo from 1997. An excerpt was circulated on Twitter when Liu Xiaobo was still alive. You can see the original interspersed with my efforts here:
Two sections were published in Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung and Neue Zürcher Zeitung. They are very poignant. There is one section that I found too hard to translate. I googled the two most difficult lines, and found an entry titled “Who writes better poetry, Liu Xiaobo or a junior high school student?” Continue reading

Cantonese opera film Guan Hanqing (1)

Dear Zhou Yunjun —

A DVD copy of the Cantonese opera film exists that has Chinese-English dual subtitles. I think there were a few lines that weren’t translated though I can’t recall w/o looking at it again. Further work on rethinking the film script with a new English translation should be beneficial and welcomed, I would think.

Marjorie Chan <chan.9@osu.edu>
Ohio State University

Style guide for Party media (1)

The article states that the name “Xinhuashe” (新华社) was adopted “after the 1949 revolution.” Two problems with this. First, the name Xinhuashe was used from 1937 when the CCP moved to Yan’an (after the Xi’an Incident). Second, officially there was no “revolution” in 1949, only the “establishment of the PRC” (建国).

Thomas Kampen <tk1893@yahoo.com>

Wu He’s Remains of Life

Once again we have a case of a reviewer failing to mention the name of the translator, or even seeing the book under review as a translation. By the way, the translator is Michael Berry.–Kirk

Source: SCMP (6/7/17)
James Joyce-like novel about Japanese genocide of Taiwan tribes is a tough read, but worth the effort
Award-winning Remains of Life, written without chapters or paragraphs, is a technically daunting account of a terrible event from Taiwan’s occupation that has taken 18 years to publish in English, and it’s not hard to see why
Mike Cormack

The cover of Wu He’s Remains Of Life. Columbia University Press

It’s taken 18 years for Wu He’s critically lauded Remains of Life to appear in English translation, and a glance at the text readily explains this delay.

This is an avowedly experi­mental novel that revolves around one dreadful event. On October 27, 1930, at a sports meeting at Musha Elementary School, on an aboriginal reservation in the mountains of Taiwan, a bloody uprising took place against the Japanese. By noon, the headhunting ritual had left 134 of the occupiers decapitated. The colonial power’s response was to mobilise a 3,000-strong militia, roll out the heavy artillery, put planes in the air and deploy poisonous gas in a ferocious act of genocide that saw the near extermination of the Seediq tribes.

The Musha Incident, as it came to be known, had been forgotten by many Taiwanese, but the book led to a resurgence in interest, and a new evaluation of its significance. Continue reading