|Select||On Ssu-k’ung T’u’s Shih-p’in
Achilles FANG, YAN Yuezhen
Front Liter Stud Chin. 2011, 5 (4): 457-476. DOI: 10.1007/s11702-011-0138-6
This paper was drafted by Achilles Fang (1910–1995) who was a senior lecturer of the Department of East Asian Languages and Civilizations of Harvard University. The paper is kept in Harvard University Archives. According to Achilles Fang’s description in the first edition, “The first draft of this iconoclastic paper was drafted in the early 1960’s and, after lying in dust for more than a decade was edited by the late John Lyman Bishop for Harvard Journal of Asiatic Studies. I have, however, held it back all this while not out of timidity. But I have found it futile to complete the demolition of the rest of the 24 poems as thoroughly I made with half of them. But those who are unabashed in their schwarmerei for this patently forged document (forged was it in spite of endorsement meted out in the Ssu-k’u Catalogue (195) and silence of Yu Chia-hsi in his Ssu-k’u t’i-yao pien-cheng, and Chang Hsin-ch’eng in Wei-shu t’ung-k’ao, will understand why I broke down my long-lasting reticence about their sacred cow: I am paying a fitting tribute to the memory of the man whom I miss as Chuang Chou missed Hui Shih. Fitting it should be, for my demolition finds its justification in the cope-stone unearthed by Bishop about 1945 somewhere in China: I am grateful to him for presenting me with his copy of a rubbing of three (Nos. 1, 6, 7) of the Shih-p’in poems attributed to Ssu-k’ung T’u (837–908) supposedly in the holograph of Yen Chen-ch’ing (709–785).” In a word, Achilles Fang found that Erh-shih-ssu Shih-p’in was a forgery and Ssu-k’ung T’u was not the original author of it.
|Select||The Early Philosophical Discourse on Language and Reality and Lu Ji’s and Liu Xie’s Theories of Literary Creation
Front Liter Stud Chin. 2011, 5 (4): 477-510. DOI: 10.1007/s11702-011-0139-5
This paper is an attempt to investigate how Lu Ji and Liu Xie develop their theories of literary creation on the foundation of the early philosophical discourse on language and reality. The first part of the paper examines various key terms, concepts, and paradigms developed in the philosophical discourse. The second part pursues a close reading of Lu’s and Liu’s texts to demonstrate how ingeniously they adapt and integrate those terms, concepts, and paradigms to accomplish two important tasks: to establish a broad framework for conceptualizing literary creation and to differentiate the complex mental and linguistic endeavors at different stages of the creative process. The paper ends with some general reflections on the impact of the two essays on the subsequent development of Chinese literary and aesthetic thoughts.
|Select||Cultural and Ritual Empowerment of Women in the Northern Courts: Yu Xin’s Epitaphic Writings
Front Liter Stud Chin. 2011, 5 (4): 511-536. DOI: 10.1007/s11702-011-0140-z
Yu Xin (513–581) was famous for writing muzhiming epitaphs. Of his nineteen extant pieces written for the Xianbei nobles in the Northern courts, thirteen were for women. In this regard, Yu Xin surpassed his contemporary men of letters of the entire Southern and Northern dynasties (420–589), both by quantity and by quality. As the leading man of letters from the South, Yu Xin was retained by the Northern courts for cultural strengthening. His epitaphic writing obviously resulted from the court’s order for this purpose. His emphasis on women was however rooted in his personal experience as well as the intellectual trends and social customs of his time. Influenced by the Wei-Jin (220–420) self-awakening, women in the Southern and Northern dynasties enjoyed relatively more spiritual freedom and less social confinement than their Han predecessors. While this Wei-Jin legacy continued in the South more from the intellectual respect, in the North it found unison from tribal regimes’ inherited esteem for women. Yu Xin’s epitaphs for women clearly combined all these cultural and social influences. Using ornate parallel prose (pianwen) style, Yu Xin wove cultural traditions into Northern women’s daily lives, bestowing these women with collective cultural status as well as intimate personal profiles. The genre of epitaph, as a ritual language, also highly ritualized these women’s social status. Both effectively empowered women in the Northern court. Meanwhile, these works also reflected Yu Xin’s own vision of an ideal womanhood.
|Select||Zhan Kai and Five “Novels of Women’s Liberation” of the Late Qing
Front Liter Stud Chin. 2011, 5 (4): 537-565. DOI: 10.1007/s11702-011-0141-y
Zhan Kai’s 詹垲 (c. 1860–c. 1910) two novels about women’s liberation of 1907 (Zhongguo xin nühao 中国新女豪 and Nüzi quan 女子权) are compared with each other and with three slightly earlier novels that could have been influences: Nü yuhua 女狱花 of 1904, Nüwa shi 女娲石 of 1904, and Huang Xiuqiu 黄绣球 of 1905–7. An effort is made to show what he might have borrowed and what were the most original points in Zhan’s writing. One further issue is the reason he might have written two such similar novels. Finally his guidelines for readerly behavior are explored.
|Select||The Legacy of Crossdressing in Tanci: On A Histoire of Heroic Women and Men
Front Liter Stud Chin. 2011, 5 (4): 566-599. DOI: 10.1007/s11702-011-0142-x
This essay studies a tanci work, A Histoire of Heroic Women and Men (1905), as a case which reflects the intersecting themes of crossdressing, gender representation and the literary form of tanci. Written tanci, appropriated and redeveloped by educated women to tell stories of female crossdressers, scholars, and military leaders, offers a meaningful intervention in the dominant social and cultural discourses of womanhood in late imperial China. In the fictional realm, women’s acts of crossdressing transcend the Confucian ideological prescriptions of feminine identity, displaying their heroic efforts to pursue autonomy in a patriarchal culture. This essay will analyze how these examples of crossdressing interact with and modify current critical accounts of gender and sexuality. A Histoire, in particular, holds a place of prominence in late imperial Chinese literature because of its revelation of the troubled relationship between gender construction, narrative agency, and women’s identity. The text manifestly destabilizes conventional attitudes toward gendered identity, yet simultaneously exposes the social and practical challenges of such temporary and often imagined transgressions, which are exercised by incarcerating the feminine and borrowing the male subjective position through transvestite performance.
|Select||Modern Chinese Poetry: Translation and Translatability
Front Liter Stud Chin. 2011, 5 (4): 600-609. DOI: 10.1007/s11702-011-0143-9
This paper is divided into two parts. Part I gives a brief survey of English translations of modern Chinese poetry in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries. The select translations—their foci and chronology—not only delineate a historic trajectory but also suggest broader geopolitical and sociocultural implications. Part II proposes that we understand “translatability” as “elective affinity.” Borrowed from German letters and science, “elective affinity” is an essential component of translation across cultures, and it is illustrated with two sets of examples: the encounters between classical Chinese poetry and modern American poets, and those between modern Chinese poetry and Anglo-American translators.
|Select||From Counter-Canon to Hypercanon in a Postcanonical Age: Eileen Chang as Text and Myth
Front Liter Stud Chin. 2011, 5 (4): 610-632. DOI: 10.1007/s11702-011-0144-8
This article revisits the history of canon formation in modern Chinese literary study and explores the complexities and quandaries of literary historiography as evidenced in the case of Eileen Chang (Zhang Ailing 张爱玲). Chang’s change of fortune from counter-canon to hypercanon addresses not simply the aesthetic imperatives of textual production and critical evaluation, but also the contingencies and vicissitudes of literary criticism and the periodic self-refashioning of critical concepts and values. Simultaneously operating as text and myth, the spectacular “Eileen Chang phenomenon” compels us to confront the intertwined issues of canon, discipline, and pedagogy.
|Select||A Dictionary of Maqiao: Metafiction of Collective Biography
Front Liter Stud Chin. 2011, 5 (4): 633-649. DOI: 10.1007/s11702-011-0145-7
In the field of life writing, a collective biography is a biography of a group of lives that share common background characteristics. Han Shaogong’s A Dictionary of Maqiao (1996) collects life stories, in a lexical list of entries, of 22 principal characters from the fictitious village of Maqiao. If there is a common background characteristic of Maqiao’s people, it is their special way of using words to shape their way of thinking. The 115 word entries that Maqiao people use reveal life stories covering more than a century. As a first person narrator and a biographer of collective lives, Han also seems to be a witness to their lives. How does he fuse autobiographical, biographical and historical truths into this text? How does he interpret Maqiao’s lexicon in the light of their collective lives? Are auto/biographical theories applicable to Han’s collective biography? Finally, what contributions does he make to collective life writing? To answer the above questions, this paper takes A Dictionary of Maqiao as a metafiction to discuss life writing issues with theorists such as Paul John Eakin, Philippe Lejeune, and Zhao Baisheng. It also searches for Han’s methodologies and techniques in creating collective life stories through a textual analysis. By reading literary biographies of Han Shaogong and his stories of Maqiao people, this paper also analyzes what constitutes “truths” and “facts” in this collective biography. Finally, it demonstrates how Han makes biography new in terms of life writing.
Front Liter Stud Chin. 2012, 6 (1): 1-1. DOI: 10.3868/s010-001-012-0001-4
|Select||Geopolitics, Moral Reform, and Poetic Internationalism: Liang Qichao’s The Future of New China
Front Liter Stud Chin. 2012, 6 (1): 2-18. DOI: 10.3868/s010-001-012-0002-1
Liang Qichao’s novel The Future of New China views culture and commerce in international contexts under the rubric of datong. While the novel begins with a scene of cultural exchange and commerce, it soon centers on the foreign education and travel of two young protagonists, who are to become the founding fathers of a constitutional nation-state. The urgency of nation building plays out in the two young men’s over the political, moral or populist means of achieving the nation. How does nation-state building relate to the initial datong cosmopolitanism? This paper suggests that Liang’s nation contains international dimensions. The new Chinese nation is situated in a geopolitical network of nation-states, but it also aspires to self-determination and equality with other nations. The nation is to be built by resorting to a moral reform that contains the idea of tianxia (all under heaven). In his Discourse on the New Citizen, Liang calls for personal outlooks based on culture and morality rather than institutions or actual politics. The novel analyzes China’s debates on reform and revolution; the present paper traces the connection between this moral quality of a nation and internationalism. I contend that Liang’s nation-building projects an international type of aspiration toward tianxia.
|Select||The 1911 Revolution and the Politics of Failure: Takeuchi Yoshimi and Global Capitalist Modernity
Front Liter Stud Chin. 2012, 6 (1): 19-38. DOI: 10.3868/s010-001-012-0003-8
Chinese historians have considered the 1911 Revolution an incomplete bourgeois revolution, especially in comparison to the more successful 1949 Revolution. On the other hand, in their famous tract in the early 1990s, Li Zehou and Liu Zaifu claimed that a rethinking of the 1911 Revolution should lead us to reject the concept of revolution altogether. In both of these formulations, as stepping stone towards socialism or demonstration that any revolution is futile, the 1911 Revolution is in some way connected to the legitimacy of capitalism. However, in post-war Japan, when Japanese intellectuals were debating the consequences of the American Occupation and Japan’s role in the Second World War, the 1911 Revolution had a different significance. Post-war Japanese sinologists often turned to the 1911 Revolution as a symbol of hope, despite its failure. Takeuchi Yoshimi was the pioneer of this intellectual trend and he argued that, unlike the Meiji Ishin, which was a pale imitation of Western modernity, the 1911 Revolution represented a unique affirmation of revolutionary subjectivity, precisely because its initial attempts at modernization failed. Takeuchi and his disciples’ discussions of how the 1911 Revolution produced subjectivity out of failure illustrate post-war Japanese sinologists employed the 1911 Revolution in debates about subjectivity and anti-colonialism. An analysis of their writings will open the way to thinking both the 1911 Revolution and its perception in Japan as it relates to the trajectory of capitalism and its discontents in the 20th century.
|Select||Wengongtuan and the Rural Literary Popularization Movement in Yan’an
Front Liter Stud Chin. 2012, 6 (1): 39-55. DOI: 10.3868/s010-001-012-0004-5
This paper takes the folk song collection movement in Yan’an as an example to examine the role of the wengongtuan (The League of Literary and Artistic Workers) in organizing the rural literary popularization movement in the 1940s. Dispatched by the Communist Party of China (CPC), wengongtuan members took on the task of mobilizing peasants into cultural production, and realized a self-reconstruction in the process of integrating themselves into the lives of revolutionary peasants. The idea of the wengongtuan derived from the CPC’s theory of the mass line—“from the masses and to the masses”—which laid the foundation of New Democratic culture in the 1940s.
|Select||Sisterhood at the Nexus of Love and Revolution: Coming-of-Age Narratives on Both Sides of the Cold War
Krista Van Fleit Hang
Front Liter Stud Chin. 2012, 6 (1): 56-77. DOI: 10.3868/s010-001-012-0005-2
This article examines the similarities between Song of Youth and The Best of Everything, coming-of-age novels published in China and the United States in 1958. The author finds that comparable narrative structures reveal parallels in two societies that are often viewed in stark contrast. In both novels, a feminist ideal of sisterhood is woven into the coming-of-age stories of young women moving into society, and in each novel, the social background of the times determines the degree to which mainstream values are conducive to imagining a public sphere that is welcoming to women.
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|Select||Ren, Geren and Renmin: The Prehistory of the New Man and Guo Moruo’s Conception of “the People”
Front Liter Stud Chin. 2012, 6 (1): 78-94. DOI: 10.3868/s010-001-012-0006-9
This paper aims to contribute to the ongoing debate about the “socialist New Man” in modern Chinese literature. Focusing on the ideas of humanity, individuality and the people, it attempts to show the prehistory of the “New Man,” i.e., the emergence of the concept-figure of “the people” out of the discourse of humanity. The making of a new historical subjectivity of “the people” was part and parcel of the singular historical experience of the Chinese Revolution and the precondition for its social experiments. Yet this issue receives insufficient critical attention. This paper gives an outline of this idea’s genealogy, by concentrating on Guo Moruo’s literary-intellectual trajectory. It will show how the enlightenment project and romantic historical imagination paved the way for the concept of the people, and how the new subjectivity of the people prepared for the ideal of the new man.
|Select||How the Steel Was Tempered: The Rebirth of Pawel Korchagin in Contemporary Chinese Media
Front Liter Stud Chin. 2012, 6 (1): 95-111. DOI: 10.3868/s010-001-012-0007-6
Russian writer Nicholas Ostrovski’s novel How the Steel Was Tempered (1934) provided generations of Chinese youth with a widely admired role model: a young devoted communist soldier, Pawel Korchagin, whose image occupied a prominent place in the orthodoxy revolutionary education and literary imagination during Mao’s era. Over the past decade, Pawel Korchagin has regained his popularity in Chinese media, his name and image have been appropriated by numerous artists and filmmakers to help in portrayals of the new generation’s self-fashioning. The various (unorthodox) interpretations recently attached to Pawel’s heroic story reveal a huge gap between Maoist ideology and the post-Mao ideas. This paper looks into the intricate relationships between Pawel Korchagin’s revolutionary past and his varied contemporary representations. By doing so, I hope to gain a better understanding of the cultural politics of appropriating Mao’s legacy to create new meanings for a changing Chinese society. One example on which this paper focuses is the sixth-generation director Lu Xuechang’s film Becoming a Man (1997), which rewrites the revolutionary Bildungsroman of Pawel in a startling different context.
|Select||In Light of Concreteness: Wang Anyi and the Bildungsroman of the Cultural Revolutionary Generation
Front Liter Stud Chin. 2012, 6 (1): 112-137. DOI: 10.3868/s010-001-012-0008-3
Based on detailed textual analysis, the article argues that Wang Anyi brings the abstract idealism of the second-generation of PRC into a productive collision with its concrete Other—from its parents’ generation to the resilient national bourgeoisie to quotidian sensuousness embodied by the world of its female counterpart. In so doing, as the author seeks to show, the novel presents a compelling narrative of the self-education, growth, and formation of the generation of the Cultural Revolution without reducing it to ideological stereotypes rampant in China after 1976. While delving into the structure and style of fiction, the article takes as its focus the confrontation between abstraction and concreteness; Self and Other; superstructure and infrastructure, or social consciousness and social existence, at a philosophical level in order to construct a phenomenology of the experience of post-revolutionary Subjectivity.
|Select||Button, Peter, Configurations of the Real in Chinese Literary and Aesthetic Modernity;Wang, Ban ed., Words and Their Stories: Essays on the Language of the Chinese Revolution
Pu Wang, Zhen Zhang
Front Liter Stud Chin. 2012, 6 (1): 138-146. DOI: 10.3868/s010-001-012-0009-0
|Select||The Will to Allegory and the Origin of Chinese Modernism: Rereading Lu Xun’s Ah Q—The Real Story
Front Liter Stud Chin. 2012, 6 (2): 147-183. DOI: 10.3868/s010-001-012-0010-4
Through a formal analysis of this seminar work of Lu Xun, the author observes that the narrative and dramatic motivation of Ah Q—The Real Story is an intense yet futile search for a proper name and identity within a system of naming and identity-formation as the system, by default, repels the identity-seeking and “homecoming” effort of the sign in question (“Ah Q”). Based on this observation, the author goes on to argue that the origin of Chinese modernism lies in a highly political awareness of one’s loss of cultural belonging and thus one’s collective alienation from the matrix of tradition and indeed existence. Departing from conventional reading of this work, often anchored in sociopolitical interpretations of class, nation, and group psychology centered on the “critique of national characteristics” discourse, this article maintains that the true ambition and literary energy of Lu Xun’s masterpiece can only be fully grasped when one confronts this epic cultural-political struggle to regain a cultural system’s power and legitimation to name one’s own existence and define one’s own value.
|Select||Woman, Sacrifice, and the Limits of Sympathy
Front Liter Stud Chin. 2012, 6 (2): 184-197. DOI: 10.3868/s010-001-012-0011-1
In both Lu Xun’s “The New Year’s Sacrifice” (1924) and Shirley Jackson’s “The Lottery” (1948), a woman is made a sacrificial victim by her village community, one symbolically and one literally. Using the two stories as my cross-cultural examples, I ponder the connection between the failure of sympathy and patriarchal sacrificial logic, and ask what literature can do to help create the condition of possibility for moral agency.
|Select||Disease and Humanity: Ba Jin and His Ward Four: A Wartime Novel of China
Front Liter Stud Chin. 2012, 6 (2): 198-207. DOI: 10.3868/s010-001-012-0012-8
“Family” as Ba Jin’s intense concern seems to be a central icon of his literary works, carrying through from his Family (1933) to Cold Nights (1947). After briefly reassessing Ba Jin’s literary contribution in his early phase, this essay will focus more on Ba Jin’s novels written in the 1940s, particularly his Ward Four, which rarely attracts critical attention. For Lu Xun, mental disease in China was more crucial than physical disease. Ba Jin uses both mental and physical diseases to explore humanity in a wartime hospital. Ba Jin’s early novels were infused with more radical ideas, but as a more mature writer in the 1940s he provided readers with a new perspective to explore and understand society.
|Select||“Problem Stories” as Part of the “National Form”: Rural Society in Transition and Zhao Shuli’s Peasant Stories
Front Liter Stud Chin. 2012, 6 (2): 208-231. DOI: 10.3868/s010-001-012-0013-5
This paper offers a new interpretation of Zhao Shuli’s (1906–70) stories by examining how his efforts were coinciding, or sometimes perhaps in conflict, with the Communist Party of China’s mandate of creating a “new direction” for society. The discussions of his stories reveal the general historical experience of a rural society in transition in the “liberated area.” There are two major themes: social improvement under the intervention of the new government, and the “standing up” of the subaltern peasant class. These motifs often overlap to various degrees, and sometimes there is a hybrid narrative which combines the two. The last section of this paper briefly explores the supposed paradox of Zhao Shuli’s “direction,” its contributions to representing and educating the masses, and its limitations in fulfilling the party’s long-term ideological goal of reforming the peasants’ ethical-moral world.
|Select||Meditator and Doer: On the Socialist New Man in Liu Qing’s Novel The Builders
Front Liter Stud Chin. 2012, 6 (2): 232-254. DOI: 10.3868/s010-001-012-0014-2
This article examines Liu Qing’s 1959 novel The Builders, an epical work on the Agricultural Cooperation Movement, from the perspective of configuration of the Socialist New Man. Illuminated by the works of the May Fourth generation, especially Lu Xun, the author argues that the figure of the Socialist New Man usually differentiates itself into two literary prototypes—meditator and doer. Liu Qing attempts to maintain a productive and dialectic tension between meditations and deeds, instead of mere discrepancy or incompatibility. The article demonstrates that in literature, while the meditator can be depicted thoroughly through psychological dynamics and unconscious dreams, it is more problematic to represent the doer. Such a formal and philosophical problem is central to literature, as well as corresponds to the socio-historical paradox of the 1950s China.
|Select||The Construction of the New Man: A Historical Perspective
Front Liter Stud Chin. 2012, 6 (2): 255-276. DOI: 10.3868/s010-001-012-0015-9
The purpose of the paper is to draw the historical background of the New Man in Socialism from his beginning in the 1917 avant-garde circles after the October Revolution in Russia—specially in Vsevolod Meyerhold’s technique of typage—to its oversimplification as official aesthetic during the Stalin’s period and its adoption by the People’s Republic of China and the motivation behind it. The iconic and extremely codified images of the Socialist New Man are analyzed under the new light of the recent essays about art, which defy the traditional image among scholars of the style as monolithic and lackluster. The later part of the paper deals with the fading away of Socialist Realism during the 1980s as the Soviet bloc disintegrated and China evolved into a “socialist market economy with Chinese characteristics,” but persisted, applied adamantly, in North Korea, who exports it to African countries like Senegal or Namibia.
|Select||From Immortality to Mortality: Images of Tang Courtesans in Verse, Painting, and Anecdote
Front Liter Stud Chin. 2012, 6 (2): 277-293. DOI: 10.3868/s010-001-012-0016-6
This paper examines different modes of representation of the courtesan in the poetry, painting and anecdotes of the Tang dynasty, and the implications of the disparities between these genres. Examples of courtesan poems idolized these entertaining girls and featured a poetic approach that drew on early romantic depictions of goddesses. The courtesan was presented as an immortal woman, given a transcendental dimension. These elements were echoed and reinforced in visual depictions in grotto or mausoleum murals. Stories from the Beili zhi (Records of the northern quarter), a collection of anecdotes about courtesans in Chang’an by a contemporary Tang scholar, show a different set of criteria for immortality. The author held up to his readers a more realistic and faithful mirror of the courtesan’s manners and life.
|Select||Lyric Poem as Representation: From Plato to the New Criticism
Front Liter Stud Chin. 2012, 6 (2): 294-314. DOI: 10.3868/s010-001-012-0017-3
This essay treats the understanding of poetry, especially lyric poetry, as representation. The theme is developed partly as a historical survey, from the Classical Age to Romanticism and to Modernism, and through the history of aesthetics in Western terms. It offers critical scrutiny with the intention to explore a more justifiable theory of representation. Hopefully it may help to understand lyric poetry in historical contexts from Plato and Aristotle’s imitation theories, to Beardsley’s theory of illocutionary action and New Criticism. It is the image in lyric poetry that accounts for human action’s being represented. Poetic beauty is an illusionary reality, as that in painting, and the role of image has been widely appreciated in producing this beauty as verbal icon. Finally, I mention the connection between Western theorizing of poetry as representation and Chinese poetry and poetics in general. We see the possibility that the importance of lyric poetry as representation can encourage comparative literature and world literature, and a general theory of representation. These might be informative in Chinese literary studies, from a theoretical point of view. Keywords poem, representation, illocutionary action, verbal
|Select||Introduction to “Special Issue on Lu Xun”
Front Liter Stud Chin. 2012, 6 (3): 315-316. DOI: 10.3868/s010-001-012-0018-0
|Select||Lu Xun’s Classical-Style Poetry and the 1911 Revolution
Jon Eugene von Kowallis
Front Liter Stud Chin. 2012, 6 (3): 317-336. DOI: 10.3868/s010-001-012-0019-7
The extent of Lu Xun’s identification with the cause of the revolutionists who worked to bring about the 1911 Revolution has been the subject of debate among scholars ever since the year after his death when his brother Zhou Zuoren emphatically denied his membership in the Guangfu Hui. The scholars who think he did join (and actively participate in) that revolutionary organization rely on attributions to Lu Xun by third parties who conversed with him late in his life, but Lu Xun never actually addressed this question in his written or published works and, despite his student-teacher relationship with Zhang Taiyan (and therefore by inference the Tokyo and Zhejiang branches of the Guangfu Hui), no one has ever brought forth archival evidence to support the claim of his membership. Here I will examine the classical-style poetry Lu Xun wrote before and after the event in order to gauge through first-hand evidence his disposition toward the Republican revolution and the historic transition it signaled for China.
|Select||The Ancient Wellspring and the Source of the Future: The Creation of New Poetry and the New Man in Lu Xun’s On the Power of Mara Poetry
Front Liter Stud Chin. 2012, 6 (3): 337-353. DOI: 10.3868/s010-001-012-0020-1
Focusing on literary tradition and innovation, this paper examines Lu Xun’s poetics as represented in his early treatise On the Power of Mara Poetry (Moluo shi li shuo). As a leading writer and thinker deeply engaged in the dramatic social and cultural transformations taking place in early twentieth- century China, Lu Xun was very concerned about how to build up the New Man and new society via new literature. Advocating Maratic poets who are full of the spirit of revolt and nonconformity, Lu Xun endeavored to disturb and reinvigorate Chinese minds by bringing in foreign dynamics and energies based upon modern individualism and humanism. At the same time, Lu Xun insisted that, while moving toward a bright future, people should constantly consider China’s prosperous past. For Lu Xun, tradition was still of great relevance in creating and nurturing new poetry, new men, and a new society. To simply lump Lu Xun together with pure anti-traditionalists is problematic. Lu Xun is commonly seen as an iconoclastic pioneer in modern China; however, I argue that Lu Xun demonstrated a dialectical reflection on the relationship between tradition and modernity. Actually, Lu Xun envisioned a process by which, galvanized by imported Maratic spirit, selected cultural legacies would undergo modern reconfiguration and revitalization.
|Select||Lu Xun, Shin Eon-jun, and Karashima Takeshi
Front Liter Stud Chin. 2012, 6 (3): 354-373. DOI: 10.3868/s010-001-012-0021-8
Shin Eon-jun and Karashima interacted with Lu Xun during a similar period but their relationships with him proceeded in different directions. Shin Eon-jun participated in the independence movements in Korea, introduced Lu Xun from the progressive position, and actively reported the political situation and philosophical trends in China. On the other hand, Karashima put his major focus on Lu Xun and left wing literature, when introducing the new literature of China, but gradually revealed an opportunistic attitude and actively participated in promoting Japan’s “National Policy.”
|Select||Between Human and Animal: A Study of New Year’s Sacrifice, Kong Yiji, and Diary of a Madman
Front Liter Stud Chin. 2012, 6 (3): 374-392. DOI: 10.3868/s010-001-012-0022-5
A subtle aspect of Lu Xun’s writing, running through several of his works of fiction, is his animalistic portrayal of some of his most well-known characters. Scraping away their humanity as he writes, Lu Xun depicts Kong Yiji, Xianglin Sao, and the infamous Madman crawling on their hands and knees, working like draught animals, and abandoning all rational thought. In short, all three end up occupying an ambiguous space between the realms of human and animal. This paper attempts to examine how Lu Xun’s description and situation of these characters suggests, aside from the standard agendas of May Fourth writing in general, a certain, shared metaphysical conundrum. Drawing on the work of Giorgio Agamben to take the hiatus between human and animal as an occasion for ontological possibility, I will investigate how the dehumanized portrayal of these characters situates them at the threshold of a new becoming: one which has not yet been realized, but which is also rendered impossible either through the character’s death or return to health. Examining Lu Xun’s works in this way not only recognizes his major emphasis on social critique, but suggests both that his thought on Chinese society pierces through to the level of metaphysical inquiry, and that the relationship between human and animal marks a productive entry point for this sort of questioning.
|Select||“Literal Translation” and the Materiality of Language: Lu Xun as a Case
Front Liter Stud Chin. 2012, 6 (3): 393-409. DOI: 10.3868/s010-001-012-0023-2
With his insistence upon the literal rendering in Chinese of foreign texts, especially regarding syntax, Lu Xun’s understanding of “literal translation” strikes a rather distinct note in the modern Chinese literary scene. The intention behind this method, namely, the aim to “retain the tone of the original,” reveals a generative perception of language that takes language as not just the bearer of the already existent thought, but as the formative element of thought that has meaning in itself. This paper seeks to delineate the structural constitution of the materiality of language as grasped by Lu Xun. By comparing the notion of the “tone” to Wilhelm von Humboldt’s notion of the “inner form of language” and situating it within the genealogy of qi, as well as tracing its link with Zhang Taiyan’s idea of “zhiyan,” I will attempt to reveal the philosophical and historical basis of Lu Xun’s principle of “literal translation” and its significance for Chinese literary modernity in general.
|Select||Lu Xun’s View of the Awakening of the Chinese People—Was There Really an “Epistemological Break”?
Front Liter Stud Chin. 2012, 6 (3): 410-425. DOI: 10.3868/s010-001-012-0024-9
It has been argued that, starting in the late 1920s, Lu Xun’s intellectual development underwent a significant transformation constituting what the French Marxist philosopher Louis Althusser has termed an “epistemological break.” Some of the explicitly more positive comments about the masses that Lu Xun made in his later years have been used to demonstrate this point. However, the existence of such a “break” is still debatable, and a detailed examination of Lu Xun’s apparently optimistic comments reveals that Lu Xun possessed a more sophisticated understanding of the masses and the Chinese people. His understanding was informed by the concept of “national character.” This paper attempts to demonstrate the consistency of Lu Xun’s view of the masses and the Chinese people and to resolve an apparent self-contradiction in Lu Xun’s arguments.
|Select||Translation and Time: A Memento of the Curvature of the Poststructuralist Plane
Front Liter Stud Chin. 2012, 6 (3): 426-468. DOI: 10.3868/s010-001-012-0025-6
Ever since Derrida’s appropriation of Walter Benjamin’s “The Task of the Translator,” and the deconstruction of the traditional notion of translation as an unequivocal communication of meaning, “translation” has become a powerful conceptual means in many fields of the humanities to underscore the agency of the subalterns in the context of colonialism, imperialism, or globalization, and to emphasize historical contingency over against necessity. As a matter of consequence, however, the question of the historically specific condition of the possibility of such “translation” has been largely neglected. In this essay I will argue, that a profound understanding of the processes of social and cultural transformation, which have been conceptualized in terms of “translation,” can not be achieved unless global capitalism and its specific temporal dynamics are taken into consideration more seriously. Finally, this approach will also enable us to re-read Benjamin, and to reassess the significance of his “Task” for a more powerful critique of a social formation, “which produces commodities.”
|Select||Introduction to the Forum on “Women, Writing and Empowerment”
Front Liter Stud Chin. 2012, 6 (4): 469-471. DOI: 10.3868/s010-001-012-0026-3
|Select||Building Power: Conspicuous Consumption, Projection of Identity, and Female Power in the Late Seventh and Early Eighth Centuries
Front Liter Stud Chin. 2012, 6 (4): 472-489. DOI: 10.3868/s010-001-012-0027-0
This article explores propaganda and self-portrayals among women rulers in seventh and eighth century Tang China, a unique era in which court politics were dominated by female leaders. I analyze the way in which these leaders themselves wished to be rhetorically constructed, the images and allusions with which they desired to be figured, and the way in which they were rhetorically reconstructed by later writers after their deaths. I focus on the theme of auspiciousness—in particular, the definition of the “natural” in relation to gender identity and power. Female imagery is deployed in late seventh- and early eighth-century works to create the image of a particular brand of far-reaching, generative power possessed and/or desired by the leaders of the time. Beyond revealing the images and allusions with which the female power-holders wished to hear themselves be described and exalted, and what occasions were deemed worthy of exalting, these works offer a fascinating counterpoint to materials which retroactively defame this image. The rhetorical strategies and images later used to delegitimize and denigrate the power of these women often represent opposite treatments of themes present in the court literature from the Zhou-Jinglong era. This paper argues that reconstructions of these women’s identities as female power-holders indicate the prerogative of later writers to reshape their images in accordance with their own judgments, conceptualizations, and fears of female power.
|Select||Behind “Burning”: Women Writers’ Self-Censorship and Self-Promotion
Front Liter Stud Chin. 2012, 6 (4): 490-510. DOI: 10.3868/s010-001-012-0028-7
This article examines the phenomenon of women writers burning their own manuscripts, which took place during the Ming-Qing period. By analyzing women’s poems and biographies of women, this study explores the reasons and implications behind “burning.” The self-censorship embodied by “burning” was geared towards protecting female virtue or enabling women writers to express their intense personal emotions while promoting an ideal public self-image. For example, due to their gender and class-consciousness, upper-class women tended to portray themselves as virtuous ladies, whereas, in contrast, courtesan writers were fascinated with the power of love. However, the act of burning manuscripts could both lead to partial loss of an author’s works and imbue her writing with the tantalizing aura of an unfulfilled promise, thereby immortalizing the manuscripts that had almost been turned to ashes and publicizing the work of the formerly obscure author. In this sense, the “burning” is transformed into a literary conceit which promotes women’s writings instead of destroying them. This article demonstrates the dual functions of manuscript burning by Ming-Qing women: self-censorship and self-promotion.
|Select||The Representation of Rural Migrant Women and the Discourses of Modernity in Contemporary China——A Study of Zhang Kangkang’s Novel Zhima
Front Liter Stud Chin. 2012, 6 (4): 511-525. DOI: 10.3868/s010-001-012-0029-4
Contemporary Chinese female writer Zhang Kangkang’s novel Zhima uses the lives of rural migrant women to symbolize the experience of the individual in Chinese urban modernity. The novel exposes the gender and class discrimination suffered by the rural migrant woman Zhima, but it does not fully unmask or probe the deeply institutionalized imbrications between gender, class and power in both rural and urban society. The challenge posed to the hierarchical distinction between rural/urban in this text’s narrative ultimately gives way to the discourses on suzhi (quality) and “population control” that actually reinforce the rural/urban differences. The author’s self-proclaimed feminist standpoint is also overshadowed by the text’s complicity with developmentalist modern urban values. This literary text thus affirms, rather than calling into question, the post-socialist discourses of modernity, which are distinguished by their promotion and celebration of urbanization and free market.
|Select||Anthology, Criticism, and Canonization——An In-Depth Analysis of Ancient Chinese Literary Anthologies
Front Liter Stud Chin. 2012, 6 (4): 526-538. DOI: 10.3868/s010-001-012-0030-8
The literary anthology is one of the key categories in ancient Chinese literary theory and criticism. Theoretically, anthology criticism focuses on three main areas: the preface and postscript, the annotation of the anthology, and the works selected for inclusion in the anthology. Anthology criticism is unique in its methodological synergy, including the direct and indirect communication of literary judgments and the amalgamation of critical theory and practice. This paper argues that the anthology as a form of literary criticism possesses great theoretical value; it sheds light on the development of literary concepts and forms, as well as suggesting the nature of literary transmission. Therefore, the literary anthology plays a key role in the canonization of Chinese literature.
|Select||Some Remarks on the Earliest Poetry of Guo Moruo (1904–12)
Front Liter Stud Chin. 2012, 6 (4): 539-552. DOI: 10.3868/s010-001-012-0031-5
This is a study of the earliest poetry by the modern Chinese writer Guo Moruo (1892–1978), composed between 1904 and 1912. He became famous mostly due to his “early poetry” composed in the 1920s, such as Nüshen (The Goddesses), but he was also an author of autobiographies. His autobiography Shaonian shidai (Childhood) and the poems published in the volume Guo Moruo shaonian shigao (Guo Moruo’s childhood poetry), are analysed here in comparison with the traditional Tang poetry.
|Select||The Spread of Cosmopolitanism in China and Lu Xun’s Understanding of the “World Citizen”
Fugui Zhang, Chuangong Ren
Front Liter Stud Chin. 2012, 6 (4): 553-569. DOI: 10.3868/s010-001-012-0032-2
The concept of World Citizen was not introduced to China by Lu Xun, but it is an important term in his thought. The most obvious difference between Lu Xun and other cultural pioneers during the May Fourth period is that rather than understanding and promoting cosmopolitanism as a social or systematic phenomenon, he was mainly interested in human nature and therefore attempted to formulate the concept of World Citizen in terms of a humanistic or spiritual dimension. In so doing, he profoundly expressed an ideological appeal for the significance of the human consciousness, understood within its historical context. This particular conception of cosmopolitanism is symbolically valuable and relevant to the present ideological reality.
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|Select||North America, English Translation, and Contemporary Chinese Literature
Front Liter Stud Chin. 2012, 6 (4): 570-581. DOI: 10.3868/s010-001-012-0033-9
Although contemporary Chinese writers attach great importance to the translation of their works and their introduction into the English-speaking world, especially North America, their efforts are rarely able to improve the international status of Chinese literature. There are various obstacles and prejudices faced by Chinese writers that can be roughly divided into three categories: institutional language filters, selective translation based on “Cold War logic,” and self-proclaimed literary evaluation criteria by the English speaking critics. These factors interact to influence the dissemination of contemporary Chinese literature in English-speaking world, especially North America.
|Select||Minor Movies: On the Deterritorialising Power of Wong Kar-wai’s Works
Front Liter Stud Chin. 2012, 6 (4): 582-597. DOI: 10.3868/s010-001-012-0034-6
The article approaches Wong Kar-wai’s cinematic work using the notion of “minor literature” as coined by Gilles Deleuze and Félix Guattari. Minor literature—or, in other words, minor language—signifies oppositional/resistant uses of a major/hegemonic language. It appropriates hegemonic language and deterritorialises it by re-signifying its original meanings. By transferring this concept from literature to cinema, we can describe Hong Kong cinema, which deterritorialises Hollywood cinema, as a minor cinema in relation to Hollywood. Following this interpretation, Wong Kar-wai’s movies appear as a “minor language of a minor cinema” because they are significantly different from Hong Kong’s mainstream action cinema. Consequently, Wong’s movies possess a high level of deterritorialising power, which opens up new spaces of meaning and gives voice to positions usually oppressed by mainstream cinema. Finally, a close reading of Wong’s movie Happy Together shows how “minor movies” challenge the mainstream’s unison and give space to a resistant and transforming polyphony.
|Select||Making Revolution on the Mind: Fanxin and the Exercise of Thought-Power in the Land Reform Movement of Northern China (1946–48)
Front Liter Stud Chin. 2012, 6 (4): 598-620. DOI: 10.3868/s010-001-012-0035-3
The practice of fanxin, literally, “turning hearts and minds,” was widespread in the Liberated Areas of Northern China during the Land Reform Movement of 1946–48. This article examines the forms of power relations emerged during the course of revolutionary education and transformation which were geared towards awakening the peasants’ “self-consciousness of mastership.” Taking ku/suffering as the focal point, the article investigates two main types of thought-power, “speaking bitterness” (suku) and “visiting the suffering people” (fangku), both of which were important to the practices of fanxin. Through the investigation of fanxin, this empirical study reveals an important feature of the Chinese revolution: that is, the significance of the mind/heart, thought, or “spiritual elements.”
|Select||The Subversion of Modernity and Socialism in Mu Shiying’s Early Fiction
Front Liter Stud Chin. 2013, 7 (1): 1-22. DOI: 10.3868/s010-002-013-0001-8
Mu Shiying’s first short story collection, North Pole, South Pole (Nanbeiji) from 1932, is usually seen as socialist or proletarian literature preceding his later modernist writings. I argue that this view needs to be revised. In one short story Mu deliberately parodies the social agenda of contemporary leftist writers. The protagonists are neither enlightened workers nor victims of social injustice. On the contrary, they turn to rage, misogyny, and self-righteous violence, and their motives are rooted in their sexual frustrations and inability to cope with modern life. Their righteous ideals are based on fiction and an imagined tradition. Mu’s construction of the fictive tradition plays an important part in these early short stories, and, in this respect, I compare them with Shi Zhecun’s writings.
|Select||Psalm 137 According to Zhang Xiaofeng: The Wailing Wall in Post-1949 Taiwan Literary History
Front Liter Stud Chin. 2013, 7 (1): 23-36. DOI: 10.3868/s010-002-013-0002-5
The aim of this essay is to analyze the first story by Zhang Xiaofeng, Taiwan writer, playwright, known in the mainland of China mainly as an excellent essayist. The Wailing Wall (Kuqiang) was written in 1968 in the atmosphere of the Six Days War in Israel, the atrocities during the first years of the Cultural Revolution in the mainland of China, and war in Vietnam. Wailing Wall is a poetic symbol of sadness and suffering mostly of the innocent people. For the author of the story it is reminiscent of the biblical Psalm 137 depicting the moods of the Hebrews in the Babylonian Captivity after 586 B.C. and the situation of her compatriots who were forced to leave their old homes in the Mainland before Oct. 1, 1949. Zhang Xiaofeng is a Christian author regarding love as the cornerstone of inter-human relations. She believes in love of God for all human beings and in the universal love. The short story consisting of one woman and her relations with two brothers between October 1949 and June 1967, against the background what happened in the world around them, and in their vicinity, brought her an unpleasant cognition: The true love is hardly possible where the human beings should live between, or behind the walls, where hate is prevailing.
|Select||Family “Drama” and Self-Empowerment Strategies in the Genealogy Writings of Yuan Jingrong 袁镜蓉 (1786–ca.1852)
Front Liter Stud Chin. 2013, 7 (1): 37-64. DOI: 10.3868/s010-002-013-0003-2
This article focuses on a genre of late imperial women’s writing that has rarely been explored, namely, genealogy writing. By “genealogy writing,” I refer not only to family histories composed of lists of descendants and ancestors’ biographies, but also, more broadly, to writings specifying the terms for ancestral rites. This genre of writing conferred ritual and moral authority, especially during a time when ancestral worship became the defining attribute of a lineage and was held in supreme importance by local families and lineages. Women, however, almost never enjoyed such authority. My selection of the case of Yuan Jingrong (1786–ca.1852, wife to the Vice Minister of Rites, Wu Jie) is based precisely on this concern of genre. By appropriating the authority conferred by genealogy writing, Yuan Jingrong gained the upper hand in her family’s dramatic shifts of fortune and power, and pushed women’s self-empowering strategies to extraordinary proportions.
|Select||The Natural Imagery in the Zhuangzi: A Preliminary Study
Front Liter Stud Chin. 2013, 7 (1): 65-86. DOI: 10.3868/s010-002-013-0004-9
This essay presents a preliminary examination of the use of natural imagery in the Inner Chapters of the Zhuangzi. The essay analyzes the characteristics of this imagery and the possible reasons for Zhuangzi’s particular use of fantastic language, exaggeration, and fiction in connection with natural images. In doing so, I also compare the Zhuangzi with several important classical Chinese and Greek texts. In addition, I explore the possible motivations for and influence exerted by Zhuangzi’s use of natural imagery. The essay aims to demonstrate that an analysis of the roles played by natural imagery in the Zhuangzi contributes significantly to our understanding of the work as a whole, as well as its abiding influence on later works.
|Select||Estrangement: A Possible Lens through which to Understand the Femininity of Contemporary Chinese Intellectual Women
Front Liter Stud Chin. 2013, 7 (1): 87-116. DOI: 10.3868/s010-002-013-0005-6
The paper analyzes the femininity of Chinese intellectual women through reference to the historically and culturally significant concept of estrangement. The paper explores what it manes to be a contemporary Chinese intellectual woman with an emphasis on how popular cultural images of Chinese intellectual women articulated particular, historically-conditioned tensions. The paper focuses on the theoretical construction of “estrangement,” an important concept in the fields of psychoanalysis, socialist feminism and French feminism. My discussion of “estrangement” centers on the way in which the femininity of intellectual women is constructed, in particular, the degree to which they are depicted as adhering to or becoming estranged from the norms for feminine behavior. I focus on the female writer Huang Beijia’s novellas, published between 1981 and 1994. The paper concludes that estrangement constitutes a haunting motif that is used to represent/understand Chinese intellectual women in the contemporary context and that the contemporary intellectual woman’s predicament is, in turn, a telling motif for understanding historical changes in Chinese gender relations.
|Select||The Problematic of “High (-Brow) Literature” and “Low (-Brow) Literature”: Some Thoughts on the Origins of Modern Chinese Literature
Front Liter Stud Chin. 2013, 7 (1): 117-141. DOI: 10.3868/s010-002-013-0006-3
This paper discusses the criteria according to which literature is categorized as “high (-brow) literature” or “low (-brow) literature” in modern China. I suggest that these standards change over time and are intimately tied to the problematics of canonization, legitimization, and cultural hegemony. In modern China, the criteria are also closely related to class differentiation. Furthermore, I contend that, in the Chinese academic world, there is often a tendency to interpret certain forms of middle-brow literature as belletristic literature that breaks though the boundary between “high (-brow) literature” and “low (-brow) literature.” In discussing “middle-brow” literature in modern China, this paper takes “Mandarin Ducks and Butterfly” literature as the object of its analysis and proposes that middle-brow literature is essentially the moralization of political and social issues, which serves to displace social-economic and political concerns. This is usually accomplished through the glorification of conservative ethical-moral viewpoints.
|Select||East and West: Forging A Bridge Across Cultures—An Interview with Prof. John Blair and Prof. Jerusha McCormack
Front Liter Stud Chin. 2013, 7 (1): 142-153. DOI: 10.3868/s 010-002-013-0007-0
|Select||NPR Interview on the Nobel Winner: Chinese Novelist Mo Yan
Front Liter Stud Chin. 2013, 7 (1): 154-157. DOI: 10.3868/s010-002-013-0008-7
|Select||Taiwan New Cinema: A Movement of Unintended Consequences
Front Liter Stud Chin. 2013, 7 (2): 159-182. DOI: 10.3868/s010-002-013-0009-4
Taiwan New Cinema movement that began in the 1980s is arguably one of Taiwan’s greatest cultural breakthroughs; the movement eventually led to numerous awards for Taiwanese filmmakers at the biggest festivals, such as Venice, Berlin and Cannes. This implies that the New Cinema movement was ultimately the result of a carefully orchestrated policy on the part of the Taiwan authority. In truth, however, the New Cinema was more accidental than planned. The initial factors behind the movement were more domestic in orientation than foreign; the movement represented a makeshift attempt to save a domestic film industry that was slowly dying. The multiple awards received by Taiwanese filmmakers were thus unexpected benefits, which the authority and others were slow to recognize. Regardless of its origins, however, the New Cinema’s lasting impact is undeniable. To this day, many of the controversies first raised about the New Cinema remain core issues for Taiwan cinema.
|Select||Voices and Their Discursive Dis/Content in Taiwan Documentary
Front Liter Stud Chin. 2013, 7 (2): 183-193. DOI: 10.3868/s010-002-013-0010-8
Instead of attempting to provide a survey of Taiwan documentary, this article focuses on a few critical moments in its long and uneven history and proposes a potentially productive site for understanding its formal manifestations of representational politics. By honing in on the uses of sounds and words, I show that the principle of a unitary voice—voice understood both as the utterances of sound and the politico-cultural meaning of such utterances— organizes the earlier periods of the colonial and authoritarian rules and shapes later iterations of and formal reactions to them. Be it voice-over narration or captions and inter-titles, this article provides a historiographical lens through which the politics of representation in Taiwan documentary may be rethought. Furthermore, this article takes documentary not merely as a genre of non-fiction filmmaking. Rather, it insists on documentary as a mode, and indeed modes, of representation that do not belong exclusively to the non-fiction. Notions of “documentability” are considered together with the corollary tendency to “fictionalize” in cinema, fiction and non-fiction. Taiwan, with its complex histories in general and the specific context within which the polyglossiac practices of New Taiwan Documentary have blossomed in recent decades in particular, is a productive site to investigate the questions of “sound” in cinematic form and “voice” in representational politics.
|Select||The Postcolonial Appearance of Colonial Taiwan: Film and Memory
Bert M. Scruggs
Front Liter Stud Chin. 2013, 7 (2): 194-213. DOI: 10.3868/s010-002-013-0011-5
This preliminary consideration of genre and memory explores the appearance of colonial Taiwan in the work of Japanese and Taiwan filmmakers. Visuality and identification in cinema, the pragmatic and affective dimensions of memory, and the colonial and postcolonial viewing subject are discussed. Also noted in this essay are the apparatuses of recording and reproducing music and the human voice, ideologies, and time in Taiwan during the twentieth century. The examination of postcolonial and colonial documentaries and postcolonial fiction films suggests that colonial filmmakers often demonstrate a utopian outlook, while postcolonial cinema tends to adopt a dystopian, retrospective gaze. These examinations, in turn, comprise a reflection, on multiple levels, of diegetic register and on the uniquely Taiwanese visual and aural aspects of these multi-lingual films. In summary, this article is an attempt to highlight the powerful and sometimes subversive uses of film in the propagation and circulation of a postcolonial Taiwanese identity which transcends national boundaries, and the polarizing, moribund research that they engender, so that scholars might better understand the postcolonial condition.
|Select||Bidding Farewell with Regret: Notes towards Affective Articulations and Inter-Asian Writing
Front Liter Stud Chin. 2013, 7 (2): 214-234. DOI: 10.3868/s010-002-013-0012-2
This paper proposes an alternative approach to the contemporary discussion of Asia, or more specifically East Asia. Rather than conceptualizing Asia as a geo-economic entity, as a cultural historical construct of Euro-centrism, and as a capitalist vision of the world market, this paper seeks to recapture “Asia” in what I call “affective articulations.” Specifically, I will examine Dazai Osamu’s Farewell with Regret (Sekibetsu, 1945) and Zhang Chengzhi’s Respect and Farewell with Regret (Jingzhong yu xibie, 2008) as two exemplars of inter-Asian writing in which Asia is represented as a loaded symbol of affect. Whereas Dazai’s book was written in the heat of Great East Asia War, to comply with the demands of the Japanese war effort, Zhang’s book was written at the no less challenging time of China’s rise to regional hegemony. Though they differ in style and purpose, both texts hold up a vision of Asia which is distinctly grasped in affective encounters, symbolized by the act of “bidding farewell with regret” (xibie). Intrigued by the affective significance of bidding farewell with regret, this paper first considers “farewell” as a method to recast the discussion of Asia in regional and geopolitical terms, and then performs an analysis of the texts in question so as to identify crucial moments when Asia, despite its internal heterogeneity and complicated history, is grasped in the affective articulation of Sino-Japanese encounters. Such moments, I believe, are real, sincere, and indispensable for our attempt to re-imagine Asia as a translocal solidarity.
|Select||On Zhang Jingsheng’s Sexual Discourse: Women’s Liberation and Translated Discourses on Sexual Differences in 1920s China
Wai Siam Hee
Front Liter Stud Chin. 2013, 7 (2): 235-270. DOI: 10.3868/s010-002-013-0013-9
This article explores and re-evaluates Zhang Jingsheng’s views on sex education and aesthetic education, as revealed in his book Sexual Histories and in articles that he published in the journal New Culture. His endorsement of sex education and aesthetic education constructed a sexual discourse, advocating the redefinition of Chinese men and women’s gender and sexuality through knowledge/power. Zhang Jingsheng highly valued eugenics and “aesthetic sexual intercourse,” and he attempted to use sex education to improve Chinese people’s innate physical weakness and their “androgynous” sexual characteristics. By prescribing an aesthetic education that covered all fundamental aspects of life, he also attempted to remedy what he saw as the inadequate or inverted models of masculinity and femininity available to Chinese men and women. Furthermore, by collecting and analyzing articles solicited for Sexual Histories and letters addressed to New Culture, he discussed how to cure the sexual perversions that were associated with Chinese men and women’s sexualities. Finally, this article compares the contents of New Culture with the discourses (in Chinese and other languages) on sexual difference published in other Chinese journals in the 1920s, including how the discourses on sexual difference by Havelock Ellis and Edward Carpenter were translated into the modern Chinese context. The article concludes that the contributors to New Culture held unified opinions on the issues of homosexuality and women’s liberation. Thus, in comparison with journals such as The Chinese Educational Review, The Ladies’ Journal, and New Women, New Culture was less tolerant of divergent opinions. Although Zhang supported sexual liberation, he nonetheless sought to eliminate homosexuality from the aesthetic society that he envisioned. His idea of sexual liberation tended to signify women’s liberation and excluded a homosexual agenda because he was homophobic. For most of the May Fourth Generation, including Zhang Jingsheng, sexual and women’s liberation were not equivalent to self-liberation. Instead, the concepts of sexual liberation and women’s liberation were invoked to re-code the bodies of Chinese men and women, with the aim of creating a “Strong Breed to Rescue the Nation.”
|Select||German Popular Music Studies as Part of (International) Media Cultural Studies
Front Liter Stud Chin. 2013, 7 (2): 271-286. DOI: 10.3868/s010-002-013-0014-6
This paper begins by explaining current developments in popular music research, mainly in connection with approaches used in international media and Cultural Studies. It then provides an overview of German-language research methods and discourses on popular music. In addition to the traditional reflections from musicology and music education, nine perspectives will be described, primarily from the media, communications, culture and social sciences. These nine contemporary perspectives are distributed along lines of thematic focus, moving beyond disciplines or fields per se. This paper will close with a list of suggestions for popular music research and education in the German cultural sphere, insisting above all on a clear connection/link, in the sense of a mixing/incorporation/integration, with (current) international discourses. Finally, the paper synthesizes German research, not only to systematize it but also to illustrate its diversity and multiperspectivity.
|Select||Dactyls and Pterodactyls: New Convergences of Poetics and Science
Front Liter Stud Chin. 2013, 7 (2): 287-304. DOI: 10.3868/s010-002-013-0015-3
If poetics refers broadly to the principles by which things are made, how is the kind of process that yields poetry (in the narrow sense) related to other kinds of making? This essay explores promising resonances between traditional poetics and new paradigms coming out of complexity and systems theory. Of particular interest is Terrence Deacon’s Incomplete Nature, an account of the relationships among layers of emergent order in the universe, under the heading of a general theory of dynamics. In particular, this essay understands poetry in relation to other kinds of making through three principles Deacon identifies as crucial: constraint, emergence, and absence. These principles tend to validate rather than to undermine traditional accounts of poetic making as inspiration, often involving entification in the form of attribution of creative agency to entities such as muses or to the text itself.
|Select||Allegory, the Nation, and the March of Time: An Essay on Modern Chinese Literature in Honor of Fredric Jameson
Front Liter Stud Chin. 2013, 7 (2): 305-318. DOI: 10.3868/s010-002-013-0016-0
In this essay I engage with Fredric Jameson’s theoretical works and ideas, especially his concept of national allegory, and examine their possibilities and limits for use in literary analysis of Modern Chinese Literature. In particular, I examine the themes of the nation and the passage of time in the works of Yu Dafu, Lao She, Xiao Hong, and Zhao Shuli and argue for evidence of a historical development from cyclical narrative to messianic and utopian linear time in their novels. While Yu Dafu’s “Sinking” (Chenlun) and Lao She’s Camel Xiangzi (Luotuo Xiangzi) both display a desire to break free from cyclical time and narration, the narratives fold back into themselves. In contrast, Xiao Hong’s The Field of Life and Death (Shengsi chang) mediates between two different temporal schemes and marks a transition to the linear developments prevalent in Socialist Realist novels such as Zhao Shuli’s Sanliwan Village (Sanliwan). While Jameson’s earlier works on Realism, Marxism, and the “Political Unconscious” all provide valuable insight into Modern Chinese Literature and the novels mentioned, Jameson’s engagement with Chinese authors has also opened up new ways of examining Chinese literature.
|Select||Cai Xiang 蔡翔, Geming/Xushu: Zhongguo shehuizhuyi wenxue-wenhua xiangxiang (1949–1966)革命/叙述:中国社会主义文学-文化想象(1949–1966)
Front Liter Stud Chin. 2013, 7 (2): 319-323. DOI: 10.3868/s010-002-013-0017-7
|Select||Rethinking China, Confucianism and the World from the Late Qing: A Special Issue on Zhang Taiyan and Lu Xun
Jon Eugene von Kowallis
Front Liter Stud Chin. 2013, 7 (3): 325-332. DOI: 10.3868/s010-002-013-0018-4
|Select||Confucian Humanism in Perspective
Front Liter Stud Chin. 2013, 7 (3): 333-338. DOI: 10.3868/s010-002-013-0019-1
This paper is a synthetic piece based on my attempts to address the significance and importance of Confucian humanism as a spiritual resource for human self-understanding in the 21st century. The relevance of Confucian spirituality to ecological civilization is self-evident, but the Confucian revival in Cultural China is predicated on its ability to transcend instrumental rationality, the Faustian drive to dominate, anthropocentrism, and China-centered mentality. The enabling power that helps an open, pluralistic and self-reflexive cultural identity to emerge will be greatly enhanced if China takes India as an essential reference society.
|Select||Research and Reflections on Zhang Taiyan
Front Liter Stud Chin. 2013, 7 (3): 339-345. DOI: 10.3868/s010-002-013-0020-5
Historians generally describe Zhang Taiyan章太炎 (Binglin 炳麟, 1869–1936) as an anti-Manchu revolutionary and treat his Buddhism as subordinate to this larger political project. Far less commonly understood is Zhang’s role in preparing the groundwork for the establishment of Chinese philosophy as an academic discipline. Against the backdrop of an intellectual climate in Japan and China during the decades either side of 1900, in which a premium had come to be placed on logic as a precondition for the development of philosophy, Zhang was one of the first Chinese intellectuals to follow the lead of Japanese scholars in maintaining that classical Chinese philosophers had developed indigenous forms of logic. Significantly, he further argued that Chinese versions of Yogācāra texts on Buddhist logic and epistemology (yinming 因明; Skt. hetu-vidyā) made it possible once again to gain a proper understanding of China’s earliest writings on logic. In this paper I argue that Zhang sought to establish that early Chinese texts “bear witness” to insights into realities that transcend individual cultures but are most fully and systematically articulated in Yogācāra systems of learning; and that classical Chinese philosopher-sages had attained an awareness of the highest truths, evidence of which can be found in their writings. In short, I will show that Zhang used Yogācāra to affirm the value of “Chinese philosophy” and, in doing so, helped shape its early definition.
|Select||Zhang Taiyan: Daoist Individualism and Political Reality
Front Liter Stud Chin. 2013, 7 (3): 346-366. DOI: 10.3868/s010-002-013-0021-2
Zhang Taiyan is one of the most powerful thinkers in modern times. From the 1890s he began reading European works of philosophy, history, and thought as they became available in Japanese translation. He also began to assess this knowledge in the framework of his Chinese training and scholarship. Specializing in the study of the Confucian classics, by his early twenties he had distinguished himself through his philological research on ancient texts. Aware of his intellectual prowess, he had an uncompromising belief in the judgments of his subjective self. His notion of the self and its relationship with society was based on the Daoist philosophy of Laozi and Zhuangzi: An individual’s actions are dictated by the self, not by any other person, or by the society, the nation, ideology, or religion; he saw himself as an individual, but also as being at one with society. Escalating foreign encroachments on Chinese territorial sovereignty and the extreme suffering of the people from the 1890s was for him a viscerally perceived experience. He therefore had no option but to engage in politics. However, his Daoist individualism made him unsuited to politics, and his liaisons with various agents of change inevitably failed. Nonetheless, his cogently argued essays calling for the expulsion of the Manchu rulers significantly contributed to the successful outcome of the revolutionary cause. In the post-Manchu era, his opposition to a Western-style parliamentary system in favor of the appointment of the meritorious and worthy either created enemies or fell on deaf ears. His entry into politics had resulted in ignoble failure, and this has consigned him to historical obscurity until very recent times. This study focuses on Zhang Taiyan as a rational human being acting in the context of extraordinary historical circumstances and seeks to demonstrate how his thinking remains relevant for understanding the nature of meaningful human existence not just in China in his times, but also in the globalized world of today.
|Select||Records of a Minor Historian: Lu Xun on Zhang Taiyan
Eileen J. Cheng
Front Liter Stud Chin. 2013, 7 (3): 367-395. DOI: 10.3868/s010-002-013-0022-9
Lu Xun, nearing his death, wrote two essays commemorating Zhang Taiyan. Both are rather unconventional eulogies, which engage the style, themes, and conventions of traditional biographies. Keenly aware of the depictions of his teacher as a conservative Confucian scholar and a political reactionary, Lu Xun provides a counter image. By associating his teacher with prominent revolutionaries and framing his idiosyncratic behaviors and political choices in later life as the product of failed ambition, Lu Xun harks back to the figure of the “mad genius” lauded as exemplars in the classical literary tradition, an image that resonates as well with the gallery of “modern” misanthropes and madmen in his short stories. Cast within a lineage of awakened eccentrics often deemed insane in their own times, Zhang emerges in Lu Xun’s essays as a revolutionary par excellence: an outspoken rebel who, after the founding of the Republic, remained a fearless critic of the establishment; an uncompromising radical at heart, who remained committed to the ideals of a true social transformation long since forgotten by those around him. In making the “worthiness” and relevance of Zhang Taiyan as a historical figure legible to modern readers through his engagement with traditional biographical conventions, Lu Xun also affirms the value of a traditional literati culture which continued to structure his worldview as a modern intellectual and writer. For his portrait of the “master of classical studies” as a radical revolutionary, however partial, was an attempt to ensure that Zhang’s name would remain relevant to posterity, leaving open the possibility that his teacher’s “precious records” might also be transmitted and still find knowing readers in later ages.
|Select||The Conceptualization of Qing-Era (1644–1911) Chinese Literature in Nineteenth Century Chos?n (1392–1910) Korea
Gregory N. Evon
Front Liter Stud Chin. 2013, 7 (3): 396-421. DOI: 10.3868/s010-002-013-0023-6
In a poem composed in 1832, the Chos?n-Korean polymath Ch?ng Yagyong (1762–1836) declared his fidelity towards Confucian literary principles. Ch?ng’s poem was a product of an elite education, and in both form and content, it embodied the ideals of the Chos?n elite: written in classical Chinese rather than Korean, it was an expression of cultural self-confidence. From the point of view of nationalism and its emphasis on vernaculars, it seems strange to define oneself through a cosmopolitan written language. But Ch?ng was no nationalist. He was a Confucian conservative, and the sense of distinction and difference that animated Ch?ng’s poem was Confucian and literary. His articulation of such ideals manifested unease over the erosion of Confucian literary values in China and the prospect of the same occurring in Chos?n under Chinese influence. The source of that influence was books imported from China. What Ch?ng was reacting against was, at root, the commodification of literature and all that had entailed in Ming (1368–1644) and Qing (1644–1911) China. Although such concerns had grown increasingly urgent a half-century before, they had a long pedigree in Chos?n, stretching back to debates that had arisen in relation to Ming China and the principal emblem of the commodification of literature: commercial bookstores. This paper examines some of the principal differences between Chinese and Korean literary cultures that were embodied in Ch?ng. It therefore begins with a brief overview of Ch?ng and his poem, before turning to a discussion of some key sociopolitical and intellectual features that distinguished Chos?n’s literary culture from that of China. Sixteenth-century attitudes towards bookstores are discussed to contextualize subsequent worries over Chinese books, with special attention given to the historical and historiographical dimensions of the question, before concluding with an assessment of the final moments of direct Chinese literary influence in Korea.
|Select||Translating Lu Xun’s Māra: Determining the “Source” Text, the “Spirit” versus “Letter” Dilemma and Other Philosophical Conundrums
Jon Eugene von Kowallis
Front Liter Stud Chin. 2013, 7 (3): 422-440. DOI: 10.3868/s010-002-013-0024-3
Not long after he withdrew from medical studies at Sendai and returned to Tokyo in 1906, Lu Xun began research on the history and philosophy of science, modern European thought, and comparative literature which produced five treatises he eventually published in an archaistic classical prose style influenced by that of Zhang Taiyan. Central to, and the longest among these essays is Moluo shi li shuo (On the power of Māra Poetry), which focuses on literature East and West and, in particular, the Byronic poets and their international legacy. In translating, annotating, and analyzing this essay, one meets with a number of quotations and terms derived originally from Western sources, sometimes through a secondary Japanese, German, or English translation. This article will focus on issues that arise in the translation and interpretation of that essay, in particular on the question of determining the source text, what bearing that has or should have on scholarly translation and how the study of textual issues can shed light not only on texts but also on literary and intellectual history. It offers an analysis of Lu Xun’s own interpretation of the source texts as well as conclusions reflecting on the significance of his literary career and broader mission.
|Select||Zoology, Celibacy, and the Heterosexual Imperative: Notes on Teaching Lu Xun’s “Loner” as a Queer Text
Ari Larissa Heinrich
Front Liter Stud Chin. 2013, 7 (3): 441-458. DOI: 10.3868/s010-002-013-0025-0
This essay reflects on the reception of Lu Xun’s short story “The Loner” (Gudu zhe, alternately translated as “The Lone Wolf,” “The Misanthrope,” and “The Isolate”) in American classrooms, where students have sometimes wondered whether that character might be read as “queer.” It suggests that the title character’s unusual and self-imposed celibacy is probably best explained by his belief, in a very general sense, in the foundational values of zoology as practiced in Japan and China in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, and thus that the story may be a better gateway to understanding the ways in which Lu Xun envisioned the mixed impact of new political economies on private life than a source text for queer studies. At the same time, however, this essay emphasizes that in “The Loner,” as elsewhere, accounting for the “heterosexual imperative” of early zoology (e.g., with its emphases on animal husbandry, propagation, reproduction) can have meaningful consequences for “queering” interpretations of received texts from literature, history of science, and beyond.
|Select||The Inner Workings of Lu Xun’s Mind: Behind the Author’s Pen-Names
Front Liter Stud Chin. 2013, 7 (3): 459-482. DOI: 10.3868/s010-002-013-0026-7
Lu Xun is arguably the most prolific user of pseudonyms of all writers in the world. The question, then, is why. While the diversity and multiplicity of Lu Xun’s pseudonyms defy clear classification, a close examination reveals much more than just the erstwhile political justifications for anonymity. This article argues that Lu Xun’s pseudonyms, with their rich literary allusions, satire, and humour, shed light on his complex character, and contributed to his sophisticated writing style. Through the author’s choice of pseudonyms, we see the inner workings of his mind, hear a voice of a national conscience, and feel his intense—albeit at times ambivalent—emotions. The pen-names Lu Xun ingeniously employed constructed his image as a solitary thinker and fighter embarked on a long and difficult journey in search of light in the darkness. Indeed, not only have the pseudonyms enriched the layered significance of his writing, they also have much to tell about Lu Xun both as an author and a person: his keen awareness of social and political issues, his deep insight into the weakness of the national character, and his passionate concern for the nation, as well as his eclectic approach to both classical discourse and modern narrative. And as such, these pseudonyms should form an integral part of the many queries posed and pondered by Lu Xun studies.
|Select||Lu Xun in the Rhetoric of the Sino-Soviet Split: A View from Contemporary Russia
Front Liter Stud Chin. 2013, 7 (3): 483-493. DOI: 10.3868/s010-002-013-0027-4
The historical role of the prominent Chinese writer, social activist and thinker Lu Xun (1881–1936), is difficult to overestimate. His works influenced social change within China and became recognized internationally. For these and other reasons, he was of particular interest in the Soviet Union. Since 1932, his works have been published in numerous editions in Russian and have received a great deal of scholarly attention in the Soviet Union. Such unprecedented attention was initially based on the idea that he held similar revolutionary sentiments to those prevailing in the Soviet Union. Later, from the second half of the 1960s to the early 1970s, the ideological disagreements between the Soviet Union and China influenced the direction of Lu Xun studies in the Soviet Union. Soviet leader Khrushchev called for peaceful coexistence with the capitalist West, while Mao Zedong stressed the universal character of the proletarian revolution. Lu Xun was highly respected in both the USSR and China, and thus became an influential tool in this polemic. But, for Soviet scholars, this renewed focus on Lu Xun offered an opportunity to provide a new perspective on the writer’s works. This paper analyzes how the Sino-Soviet split influenced Russian academics’ positions on Lu Xun. The focus is on the three main points of contention in the ideological disagreements between the PRC and the USSR. First, Soviet critics focused on the psychological aspects and individualism in the Lu Xun’s works. Second, a special focus on humanistic elements in the writer’s ideas can be seen as a result of the Soviet disagreement with the Cultural Revolution’s period. Third, by pointing to the internationalist aspects of Lu Xun’s writings, Soviet scholars attempted to expose the Sinocentric political attitudes of the ruling circles in China.
|Select||Narrative and Representation in the Age of iPhone—A Dialogue Between Wang Anyi and Fredric Jameson on Shanghai, Urban Experience, and Technological Conditions of Possibility for Literature
Anyi Wang, Fredric Jameson
Front Liter Stud Chin. 2013, 7 (3): 494-510. DOI: 10.3868/s010-002-013-0028-1
Front Liter Stud Chin. 2013, 7 (3): 511-512. DOI: 10.3868/s010-002-013-0029-8
|Select||Vibeke B?rdahl and Margaret B. Wan, eds., The Interplay of the Oral and the Written in Chinese Popular Literature
Front Liter Stud Chin. 2013, 7 (3): 525-527. DOI: 10.3868/s010-002-013-0033-3
|Select||The Historical Fate of Lu Xun in Today’s China*
Front Liter Stud Chin. 2013, 7 (4): 529-540. DOI: 10.3868/s010-002-013-0034-0
|Select||The Unfinished Text or Literature as Palimpsest towards Lu Xun and His Relevance to the Present*
Front Liter Stud Chin. 2013, 7 (4): 541-550. DOI: 10.3868/s010-002-013-0035-7
The fact that Lu Xun is no longer regarded as the most important Chinese writer of the 20th century raises many questions. Is there only one benchmark for good literature, or are there different norms? To what extent are these norms dictated by the market? Questions like these relate to the issue of evaluation. Is literature still evaluated according to the internationally recognized definition of “modernity” that prevailed before World War II, or is it unfair to judge contemporary writers according to standards that dominated before 1949? The reason why contemporary Chinese literature (after 1949) might sometimes seem somehow lacking in comparison with modern Chinese literature (1912–49) might be found in historical changes in the role of the narrator in the novel. Literature after 1949 often returns to the omnipresent narrator, whose comments can be taken for granted. But, in the works of Lu Xun, the reader is often confronted with a narrator who is not reliable. In this way, the literature becomes ambivalent, and it is precisely this ambivalence that makes the literature “modern,” as the reader has to decide which voice he or she is going to trust. It is also ambivalence which turns a narrating “I” into a fictional character, which cannot be equated with the (real) author.
|Select||Zhou Zuoren’s Influence on Lu Xun’s “The Shadow’s Leave-Taking”
Front Liter Stud Chin. 2013, 7 (4): 551-572. DOI: 10.3868/s010-002-013-0036-4
It is generally acknowledged that Lu Xun’s collection of prose poems, Wild Grass (Yecao), is his epitomizing work. Among the numerous research on this work, it is rare to find studies that explicitly expound Zhou Zuoren’s relationship with Lu Xun and his effect upon the latter’s writing. This is probably because scholars seldom associate poetry with Zhou Zuoren, a writer famous for his prose and essays. In addition, the relationship between the two brothers broke up completely in 1923. Therefore, Zhou Zuoren does not appear to have played a significant role in the composition of Wild Grass in 1924. This essay attempts to explore the relationship between the two brothers from a new perspective, revolving the analysis around the “Shadow’s Leave-Taking” (Ying de gaobie) the most difficult and important work in Lu Xun’s collection of prose poems, Wild Grass.
|Select||Law, Morality, and the Nation-State in the Case of Zhou Zuoren: Revisiting the Rhetoric of “Culpability” *
Front Liter Stud Chin. 2013, 7 (4): 573-589. DOI: 10.3868/s010-002-013-0037-1
When the Chinese Revolution led by the Communist Party eventually prevailed in 1949, Zhou Zuoren (1885–1967) wrote to Zhou Enlai—the first premier of the People’s Republic—in the hope of reversing the verdict on his “culpability.” To what extent, Zhou Zuoren asked, was he, a wartime collaborator with the Japanese enemy, recognizable not only as an offender of the traditional moral norms (mingjiao), but also as a traitor of the nation (minzu)? Before the Second Sino-Japanese War broke out, Zhou Zuoren had long been viewed as a leading figure of the Chinese “New Culture.” Zhou Zhuoren’s sudden decision to collaborate with the Japanese Occupation in 1938 then turned out to be a traumatic and scandalous event for the Chinese intellectual community. The whole case of his collaboration exposed, in disturbing ways, the convergences and the divergences of law, morality and politics in China’s modern nation building. By revisiting this controversial case, this paper attempts at a symptomatic reading of the following texts: “An Open Letter to Zhou Zuoren” written collectively by a group of Chinese intellectuals, court documents of the post-war trials, and Zhou Zuoren’s letter to Zhou Enlai. This re-reading focuses on the domain of the cultural-political rhetoric, within which Zhou’s contentious “culpability” has turned into an ambiguous zone of modern law, traditional morality, and nationalism in East Asia.
|Select||A Gun Is Not a Woman: Local Subjectivity in Mo Yan’s Novel Tanxiang xing
Front Liter Stud Chin. 2013, 7 (4): 590-616. DOI: 10.3868/s010-002-013-0038-8
Mo Yan’s historical novel Sandalwood Death revisits the Boxer Uprising, exploring a local structure of feeling from the point of view of oral transmissions that, one hundred years after the events, appears gradually to be receding into oblivion. It is a project of recuperation or, rather, aesthetic reconstruction of local knowledge. The staging of a variety of local performances, such as Maoqiang opera, seasonal festivals, military and religious parades, as well as of scenes of excessive violence in executions and battle scenes, appears to be a strategy for the cultural reclamation of these local experiences. The story challenges the ingrained dualism between foreign, modern imperialist and nationalist forms of rationality, and pre-modern, local patterns of behaviour and thought. Employing polyphony and multivalent historical representtations, the novel aspires to portray the social dynamics in a given geohistorical circumstances by measuring the spatiotemporal as well as the cognitive distance between the witnessed event, the testifying witness and the future receivers of the transmitted stories. Thus, the inquiry does not focus on the historical events as facts, but rather on their cultural afterlife in (founding) narratives. In times of a growing gap between the modernist vision of human liberation and the actual conditions of growing inequality, delegitimization and dispossession, this tale of unrest in the wake of globalization has as much to say about the world’s peoples around the year 2000, when the novel was published, as about the microcosm of Shandong Gaomi County around the year 1900, when the historical events took place. Taking into account that the novel was written as a local Maoqiang opera in the making and that theatres are major providers of cultural space for the enactment of the human self as the subject of history, Sandalwood Death can perhaps best be described as a theatre of reclamation.
|Select||Who Are the Most Beautiful Women of China? —The “One Hundred Beauties” Genre in the Qing and Early Republican Eras*
Front Liter Stud Chin. 2013, 7 (4): 617-653. DOI: 10.3868/s010-002-013-0039-5
Established in the late imperial era, “one hundred beauties” (baimei) genre selected and portrayed one hundred beautiful women in Chinese history often through three cultural artifacts: woodblock print portraits, biographies, and poems. This paper takes as its focus the anthology Gujin baimei tuyong 古今百美 图咏 (Illustrated biographies of and poems on one hundred beauties of the past and the present, 1917), which has not received scholarly attention before. Bringing together collections of old and new-style beauties, the anthology is a showcase of the genre straddling two centuries. The transformation of the genre, as reflected in the Gujin baimei tuyong, complicates a simplistic distinction between tradition and modernity while enriching our understanding of the changing representations of women.
|Select||Fredric Jameson’s “Third-World Literature” and “National Allegory”: A Defense
Front Liter Stud Chin. 2013, 7 (4): 654-671. DOI: 10.3868/s010-002-013-0040-9
A controversial concept in reading “third-world literature,” Fredric Jameson’s “national allegory” has more often been refuted or approvingly appropriated than properly understood. Taking the “national allegory” as a convenient theoretical category describing the content of “third-world literature” misses Jameson’s underlying problematic, i.e. his concern about “third-world literature” as an immanent deconstructive force leading to the breaking down of chains of signification of capitalist culture. Insofar as the functional concept of the “national allegory” is concerned, one must read “nation” not as a term designating a substantial entity, but as an “allegory” in itself. To read “third-world literature” through the lens of a “national allegory” thus means to deterritorialize the third world from its substantial determinants in terms of traditional geo-politics. Rather, “third-world literature” in its deconstructive force is toward what Jean-Luc Nancy calls “the inoperative community.”
|Select||The Difficulty of Balancing Art and Life: Examining the Influence of Salome on Tian Han’s Early Dramatic Works*1
Front Liter Stud Chin. 2013, 7 (4): 672-689. DOI: 10.3868/s010-002-013-0041-6
Tian Han is well-known for writing realistic and revolutionary works in modern Chinese literature, but his early dramatic works are full of Western aesthetic decadence which values “art is for art’s sake.” He was strongly influenced by Oscar Wilde and his Salome, which can be found from his translating Salome to directing it performed on the Chinese stage, and to his own drama writing in 1920s. He did his best to balance art and life in his dramatic works in order to make them accepted by the masses in China. However, in 1930 he declared in his Self-criticism Directed at Ourselves that he would give up writing the aesthetic and decadent literary works and transfer to “art is for life’s sake.” The conflict between art and life through his works and theories demonstrates his complex about Salome.
|Select||Love in a Changing Society of the Past Half a Century: Suzhou River as a Historical Allegory
Front Liter Stud Chin. 2013, 7 (4): 690-705. DOI: 10.3868/s010-002-013-0042-3
Suzhou River, a 2000 film directed by Lou Ye, explores several tragic love stories set in Shanghai around the transitional period of 1980s and 1990s. Many critics have praised its technical excellence, yet generally they have not paid sufficient attention to its subject matter. This paper departs from previous interpretations of the film, which have tended to be premised on superficial readings of the plotline, and contends that the work constitutes a poignant socio-political critique, which is conveyed through the construction of differing love stories set against a changing socio-cultural landscape. The past and the present incarnations of the cardinal female protagonist—who can be understood as a symbol for the average Chinese (woman)—suggest the fact that the society has transformed dramatically across the three disparate eras of the past half a century; accordingly, the identity of the Chinese also shifts tremendously. In this way, Lou Ye in effect constructs a diachronic re-presentation of the changing social mores and varied cultural ethos in a synchronic structure, which is subject to be read as an ingenious historical allegory.
|Select||What Is Politics?—A Dialogue between Profs. Dongfeng Tao and Harvey Claflin Mansfield
Dongfeng Tao, Harvey Claflin Mansfield
Front Liter Stud Chin. 2013, 7 (4): 706-712. DOI: 10.3868/s010-002-013-0043-0
|Select||Introduction to the Forum on “Nation, Gender, and Transcultural Modernism in Early Twentieth-Century China”
Ping Zhu,Li Guo
Front. Lit. Stud. China. 2014, 8 (1): 1-4. DOI: 10.3868/s010-003-014-0001-2
|Select||“Going to the Land of Barbarians”: Nation, Ethnicity, and the Female Body in Late Qing and Republican Travel Writing on the Yunnan-Burma Borderlands
Front. Lit. Stud. China. 2014, 8 (1): 5-30. DOI: 10.3868/s010-003-014-0002-9
This paper studies several travel accounts featuring transcultural and transnational experiences in the Yunnan-Burma borderlands where the British, Chinese, French and various indigenous peoples encountered each other, including Yangwentun xiaoyin, an anonymous “ballad” circulated in late Qing and Republican Yunnan, Ai Wu’s (1904–92) early fiction based upon his wanderings in Yunnan and Burma from 1925 to 1931, and Xiao Qian’s (1910–99) utopian “travelogue” featuring a European couple’s futuristic travel to the area. These writings illustrate the intersection of issues of nation, ethnicity, and gender, which are intertwined with the discourse of barbarism: On the one hand, their authors often express anxiety over threats to China’s dominance in this area; on the other, frequently resorting to the discourse of barbarism, these accounts, tinged with Sino-centrism, often exoticize and barbarize other cultures, particularly indigenous groups. The eroticized and racialized female body constitutes a privileged site of representation in these writings: On the one hand, travel writings often make a distinction between Han Chinese women and indigenous women, treating the latter as exotic, seductive, dangerous, and/or primitive; on the other hand, as the need to build a strong, modernized multi-ethnic nation became increasingly urgent, Republican authors began to “universalize” the female body, Chinese or indigenous, treating both as threatened and exploited by the Western “newcomer,” and thus are (potential) allies sharing a nationalist, anti-imperialist cause.
|Select||The Masquerade of Male Masochists: Two Tales of Translation of the Zhou Brothers (Lu Xun and Zhou Zuoren) in the 1910s
Front. Lit. Stud. China. 2014, 8 (1): 31-51. DOI: 10.3868/s010-003-014-0003-6
Through reading two creatively translated stories by the Zhou brothers, Lu Xun’s (Zhou Shuren) “The Soul of Sparta” (Sibada zhi hun, 1903) and Zhou Zuoren’s “The Chivalrous Slave Girl” (Xia nünu, 1904), this paper takes a close look at the intellectual trend in the first decade of the twentieth-century China of constructing strong and heroic women as the emblem of national power while rendering men as powerless. By focusing on a foreign heroine with traditional Chinese virtues, both translations creatively Sinicized and feminized the foreign power in the original tales. At the same time, male characters, prospective readers of the stories, and even authors themselves were marginalized, diminished, and ridiculed vis-à-vis the newly constructed feminine authority. Comparing this form of cultural masochism to other literary masochisms in modern China analyzed by Rey Chow and Jing Tsu respectively, this paper endeavors to excavate a hybrid model of nationalist agency grounded in the intertwined relationship of race, gender and nation. In my analysis, Gilles Deleuze’s discussion on masochism is utilized as a heuristic tool to shed light on the revolutionary potential embedded in the “strong women, weak men” complex in the 1910s. I argue that the cultural masochism in late Qing represents one of the earliest attempts of the Chinese intellectuals to creatively use Chinese traditional gender cosmology to absorb the threat of Western imperialism and put forward a hybrid model of nationalist agency.
|Select||Writing Women in Northeast China: Melancholic Narrative in Mei Niang’s Novellas
Front. Lit. Stud. China. 2014, 8 (1): 52-77. DOI: 10.3868/s010-003-014-0004-3
Mei Niang (1920–2013), the pen name of Sun Jiarui, is a female fiction writer, translator, and editor of Funü zazhi (Ladies’ journal). In the semi-colonial Northeast China, Mei Niang’s exploration of melancholic narratives shore up manifold levels of socio-historical discourses that are constructive of women’s subjectivity. Melancholic narrative functions as an inverted mirror of both the author’s cultural displacement from her diasporic experience, and her portrayal of colonial domination of local elites by the Japanese in Northeast China. Also, the author’s depiction of feminine melancholia revokes the modernist ideology of love and its constitutive male-centered discourses, dismantles the social disenfranchisement of women by feudal authority, social prejudices, and the eroding urban materialism. Stylistically, Mei Niang’s second-person texts reinforce the feminine authority in enunciation, and by articulating women’s emotions and afflictions, transmogrify the melancholic narrative into a mode of self-narration and self-empowerment.
|Select||Gendering National Imagination: Heroines and the Return of the Foundational Family in Shanghai during the War of Resistance to Japan
Front. Lit. Stud. China. 2014, 8 (1): 78-100. DOI: 10.3868/s010-003-014-0005-0
During the War of Resistance to Japan (1937–45), the cultural scene in Japanese-occupied Shanghai took on a “feminine” quality, as female leads dominated stage performance and film screens. This essay seeks to engage this gendered phenomenon through examples of Ouyang Yuqian’s wartime play Peach Blossom Fan (Taohua shan) and the film Mulan Joins the Army (Mulan congjun). Borrowing affect theory in conjunction with the gendered perception of modernity, the author argues that these representations of female characters, on the one hand, highlight the subjective projection of male intellectuals motivated by intense feelings of shame and anger, which constitutes a feminized national imagination encountering the colonial Other. On the other hand, such representations continue the May Fourth project of enlightening and liberating woman from the conventional family while reintroducing the concept of the nation in the family setting and proposing the foundational family as the basic unit of the new nation.
|Select||Feminine and Masculine Dimensions of Feminist Thought and Transcultural Modernism in Republican China
Front. Lit. Stud. China. 2014, 8 (1): 101-125. DOI: 10.3868/s010-003-014-0006-7
This study examines critical essays and imaginative fiction by three key writers of the Republican period: Mao Dun, Ba Jin and Lu Yin. I argue that, while Mao Dun and Ba Jin fuse elements of classical Chinese and modern Western sources so as to create strong heroines and a critique of “new men” for the purpose of revolutionary cultural and national reform, Lu Yin foregrounds an inward examination of the self, multiple narrative points of view and a dialogical perspective which fuses her protagonists’ interior consciousness with external reality as well as other characters’ streams of feeling and thought. My reading of Lu Yin’s texts reveals that she not only succeeds in bringing communion and solace to her readers but also creates “moments of being,” markedly similar to Virginia Woolf’s modernist aesthetics and Walter Benjamin’s mosaic-like “moments of recognition,” which allow her characters to perceive “wholeness” from fragmentary flashes of understanding. These intense moments of awareness enhance Lu Yin’s dialogic imagination and enable her to create discursive feminine narratives that convey the full complexity of women’s consciousness while simultaneously resisting the male realist literary discourse and strengthening her feminist-activist agenda in the national public sphere.
|Select||Rescuing Love from the Nation: Love, Nation, and Self in Xu Xu’s Alternative Wartime Fiction and Drama
Frederik H. Green
Front. Lit. Stud. China. 2014, 8 (1): 126-153. DOI: 10.3868/s010-003-014-0007-4
Abstract PDF (370KB)
This essay explores the wartime fiction and drama of Xu Xu (徐訏, 1908–80), one of China’s most widely read authors of the Republican-period (1912–49). By placing Xu Xu’s popular spy fiction into the context of literary production during the war years, the essay illustrates that Xu Xu’s oeuvre protested against an ideology of moral collectivism in which the individual had to submit self to a higher political authority that professed to represent the will of the nation. Through a literary aesthetic that largely defied the demands for a literature of resistance that subjugated the individual self to the national collective, Xu’s ostensibly autobiographical I-novels brought comfort to urban readers whose personal salvation was rarely addressed in official wartime narratives depicting the nation in peril and calling for collective sacrifice. At the same time, Xu’s confident cosmopolitan heroes satisfied urban readers’ desire for political agency in the raging international conflict. Furthermore, this paper explores Xu Xu’s wartime drama through which Xu attempted to piece together a quasi-existentialist vision of the individual and human experience that was revealed only under the extreme condition of war.
|Select||Infatuation with Skeletons: Yu Dafu’s Accidental Loyalism and Classical-Style Poetry
Front. Lit. Stud. China. 2014, 8 (1): 154-180. DOI: 10.3868/s010-003-014-0008-1
Modern Chinese writer Yu Dafu continued composing classicalstyle poems for his whole life, claiming himself to be “a man infatuated with skeletons.” This article interprets Yu’s lyricism as a stylistic manifestation of his personal and national anxieties that were stimulated by the transition of Chinese culture into modernity during the first half of the twentieth century. By examining Yu’s status as a displaced loyalist both in his verses as well as in real life, I argue that Yu’s loyalist rhetoric represents the identity crisis of a Chinese writer in confronting the menacing power struggles of the modern world.
|Select||Circulating Smallness on Weibo: The Dialectics of Microfiction
Haomin Gong,Xin Yang
Front. Lit. Stud. China. 2014, 8 (1): 181-202. DOI: 10.3868/s010-003-014-0009-8
The focus of this essay is microfiction (wei xiaoshuo), a form of Weibo-based fiction writing. From the perspective of its most prominent feature—microness—the authors investigate the dialectical relationship between microness and largeness embodied in its form, the context of its emergence, the conditions of its existence, as well as the issues reflected in its content. Studying three disparate cases of microfiction writing, namely microfiction selected from contests hosted by Sina, Chen Peng’s personal Weibo posts, and Wen Huanjian’s Weibo novel, Love in the Age of Microblogging (Weibo shiqi de aiqing), we explore the cultural status of microfiction as a reflection of the combination of literary writing and online activities; and its aesthetic, literary, and cultural characteristics. Reading microfiction in both a literary and a sociocultural text, we argue that the smallness is an intrusion upon the largeness and hegemony of grand narratives on the one hand, and a reflection of a boradly changing reality on the other.
|Select||Shao Bingjun,Textual Criticism of the Spring and Autumn Literary Chronicle (in Chinese)
Front. Lit. Stud. China. 2014, 8 (1): 203-204. DOI: 10.3868/s010-003-014-0010-2
|Select||The “Loss” of Purity: Changes and Persistence in the Cultural Memory of the Cold Spring Pavilion
Front. Lit. Stud. China. 2014, 8 (2): 205-224. DOI: 10.3868/s010-003-014-0011-9
Ever since the Cold Spring Pavilion (Lengquan ting 冷泉亭) was built, it has been extolled by scholar-literati as a place of purity, where the dust of the mundane world could be cleansed by the cold spring water flowing beside it. For centuries, people tried to reinforce the image of the pavilion as an innocent haven through writing poems, stories, and essays about their visits there. But they were unaware, or refused to admit, that their admiration of the place also possessed the power to destroy whatever sacredness and serenity it stood for. This paper examines representations of the Cold Spring Pavilion in Chinese literature through the lens of a paradox that has haunted the pavilion since it was first built. The paper argues that, ever since the pavilion was built, it has, through its literary-historical representation, been slowly but inevitably absorbed or assimilated into what it had originally been built to fend off. Like the Cold Spring, which flowed into West Lake, the Cold Spring Pavilion, which was created to help people resist the temptations of city life, was inevitably absorbed into the very fabric of the city.
|Select||Two Halls of Hangzhou: Local Gazetteers and the Grading of Geography for a Song Dynasty City
Benjamin B. Ridgway
Front. Lit. Stud. China. 2014, 8 (2): 225-252. DOI: 10.3868/s010-003-014-0012-6
This article examines the shifting geo-political significance of Hangzhou as presented in two local gazetteers dating from the Southern Song dynasty (1127–1276). Focusing on literary works quoted in both of these gazetteers that describe two of Hangzhou’s famous halls on West Lake, I argue that geographic discourses on these halls manifest a tension between two conflicting presentations of Hangzhou’s geo-political significance as understood by literati elite of the Southern Song. In writings concerning the Hall of Possessing Beauty (Youmei tang 有美堂), Hangzhou was viewed as a city of rising economic and cultural importance during the Northern Song. Writings on the Hall of Centrality and Harmony (Zhonghe tang 中和堂), in contrast, depict Hangzhou as an imperial refuge for a court in flight and associate it with the motif of territorial loss during the Southern Song when the city became the dynastic capital. By examining how these two views of Hangzhou are contrasted, this essay concludes that gazetteers functioned to grade and rank different kinds of landscapes in order to make geo-political arguments about the proper reconstitution of the empire during the Southern Song.
|Select||Li Ang’s Gendered Dissent in “The Devil in a Chastity Belt”
Front. Lit. Stud. China. 2014, 8 (2): 253-276. DOI: 10.3868/s010-003-014-0013-3
Through a close reading, this article explores a few aspects of gendered dissent in Li Ang’s story, “The Devil in a Chastity Belt,” which reveals the ambivalence and irony of a woman’s participation in the Taiwanese opposition movement. Instead of writing a stereotypical work of political fiction for the opposition movement that she supports, Li Ang interrogates the problematic intersection of gender and politics, while reclaiming some of the neglected aspects of oppositional history. While recognizing the inevitability of historical contingency, she nevertheless questions the politically-motivated choice of asceticism, heroism, and sacrifice over individual and familial well-being. Li juxtaposes seemingly trivial and disorderly details of ordinary life against the apparently important and grandiose arena of national politics, creating tension through their interaction and contention. She employs images—including the Devil, the female body, and sensory feelings—to perform gendered dissent. While the lyrical and trivial discourse gradually disrupts the political and didactic, the story’s open-ended conclusion inspires complex interpretations of the enigmatic symbol: the Devil wearing a chastity belt.
|Select||When the Exotic Met the Erotic: The Representation of the Foreign in Ruyijun zhuan and “Jinhailing zongyu wangshen”
Front. Lit. Stud. China. 2014, 8 (2): 277-301. DOI: 10.3868/s010-003-014-0014-0
Erotic fiction produced during the 16th and the early 17th centuries used different strategies to create settings for subversive sexual desires. This article examines one of these strategies: Authors of Ming erotic stories often associated the sexual expressions that challenged the existing social order with portrayals of the foreign. This article demonstrates that historical accounts and literary traditions informed the representations of the foreign in Ming erotic stories produced during the mid- and late Ming period through the examination of Ruyijun zhuan and “Jinhailing zongyu wangshen.” I argue that both narratives exoticized the erotic in order to exclude unsettling elements of sexual desire from China. However, due to their different views of sexual desire, they depicted the foreign differently. This paper concludes that the different strategies for appropriating sexual desire into foreign settings may be related to the historical contexts within which the two works of fiction were created.
|Select||Political Modernity and Its Musical Dissociation: A Study of Guomin and Geming in Liang Qichao’s Historical Biographies
Front. Lit. Stud. China. 2014, 8 (2): 302-330. DOI: 10.3868/s010-003-014-0015-7
After the Sino-Japanese War (1894–95), leading late Qing intellectuals such as Liang Qichao introduced modern political concepts in a highly affective fashion, making the passionate interest in and adoption of western-imported political concepts a hallmark of Chinese modernity. What are these highly personalized affective experiences like? What have given rise to them? How can the study of these experiences broaden our understanding of modernity, and myriad modernizing experiences, in China and other similar cultural contexts? More importantly, how can the use of affect and emotion as analytical categories offer us better insights into some of the most radical intellectual and political transformations that have taken place in China? To answer these questions, perhaps we need to look elsewhere than the semantic content of language. This article focuses on the incipient moments of this affective trend in late Qing China and studies the formation of discursive “text” as the production of sensational “object.” It examines musical and visual appeals Liang Qichao generated for two recently translated political concepts, “national citizen” (guomin) and “revolution” (geming), in historical biographies published in New Citizen Journal in 1902. By exemplifying that Liang’s semantic text was intended to be circulated as an audio text and pictorial text, and that modern concepts had been received as literary as well as auditory and visual experiences, I argue that Chinese modernity often teeters in a state of aesthetic ambivalence. It is displaced and suspended from discursive meanings of the constructed discourse resulting from cross cultural exchanges and consolidated by power relations on both the local and the international levels.
|Select||The Missing Link: Japan as an Intermediary in the Transculturation of the Diary of A Madman
Front. Lit. Stud. China. 2014, 8 (2): 331-346. DOI: 10.3868/s010-003-014-0016-4
The Diary of A Madman (Kuangren riji), Lu Xun’s first well-known short story and the alleged first modern short story in vernacular Chinese, is famous for its first-person narrative by an intellectual that is suffering from a persecution complex. As acknowledged by Lu Xun himself and argued by most scholars, this short story was influenced by Gogol’s homonymic short story, but has developed more profound melancholy and indignation. However, as my paper demonstrates, this perspective neglects the role of Japan as an intermediary in the transculturation of madness. First, Lu Xun’s initial encounter with Gogol’s Diary of A Madman was through his reading of Futabatei Shimei’s translation in the Japanese magazine Kyōmi. Second, the framed narrative and contrasting styles of Lu Xun’s short story, which are not features of Gogol’s, might also be due to the inspiration from the Japanese genbun itchi movement in the Meiji period. Third, and most importantly, cannibalism, a major theme in Lu Xun’s Diary of A Madman, was arguably shaped by the heated discussion in Japan on national character and cannibalism. My paper will trace the double origin of the depiction of madness and cannibalism in Lu Xun’s work and illustrate the importance of the role of Japan in the transculturation of the story of a madman.
|Select||How the Society of Spectacle Has Taken Shape
Front. Lit. Stud. China. 2014, 8 (2): 347-349. DOI: 10.3868/s010-003-014-0017-1
|Select||The Era of “Bei …”
Front. Lit. Stud. China. 2014, 8 (2): 350-352. DOI: 10.3868/s010-003-014-0018-8
Front. Lit. Stud. China. 2014, 8 (2): 352-357. DOI: 10.3868/s010-003-014-0019-5