Feminine Orientalism or Modern Enchantment? Peiping and the Graphic Artists Elizabeth Keith and Bertha Lum, 1920s–1930s


in NAN NÜ
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The ideological suppositions, images, and fantasy associated with orientalism has given rise to the conceptualization of a materialist “feminine orientalism.” The term refers to an historical moment in the early twentieth century when white women in Europe and North America defined their social roles and gender by appropriating male orientalist politics and ideology. This article challenges the concept of “feminine orientalism” through the study of the prints and travel writing of two modern graphic artists who sojourned in Republican-era Peiping in the 1920s and 1930s: Bertha Lum and Elizabeth Keith. Through close formal analysis of the new visions of Peiping that the two women conjured in their prints – a vision that relied as heavily on urban ethnography as it did on fantasy – it proposes an alternative concept of “modern enchantment” as a heuristic device to interpret gender. Drawing from Wolfgang Iser’s notions of the “fictive,” “modern enchantment” lays as much weight on Weberian modern rationality as it does on imagination, and critically functions as a means to recuperate cultural boundary crossing in female gender performance and construction.


Feminine Orientalism or Modern Enchantment? Peiping and the Graphic Artists Elizabeth Keith and Bertha Lum, 1920s–1930s


in NAN NÜ

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References

2

Bertha LumGangplanks to the East (New York: Henkle-Yewdale House1936) 148–49.

4

Mari YoshiharaEmbracing the East: White Women and American Orientalism (New York: Oxford University Press2003) 6.

8

Wolfgang IserThe Fictive and the Imaginary: Charting Literary Anthropology (Baltimore and London: Johns Hopkins Press1993) xi.

11

KeithEastern Windows41.

14

Philadelphia: J.B. Lippincott Company 1922.

16

August 5 1934.

18

H.H. Tolerton ed.Exhibition of Original Wood Block Prints in Colour by Bertha Lum (Chicago: Albert Roullier Art Galleries1916) n.p.

21

Mary Evans Gravalos and Carol PulinBertha Lum (Washington, dc and London: Smithsonian Institution Press1991) 14.

22

Ellen Johnston LaingArt and Aesthetics in Chinese Popular Prints: Selections from the Muban Foundation (Ann Arbor: The University of Michigan Center for Chinese Studies2002) 5.

23

LumGangplanks147. Five years earlier she had noted that the sale of “Gate Gods” “has been forbidden and it is ‘against’ the government to put them on the doors – but they are still seen and can still be bought if one enquires a little.” See Peiping Sojourn (Montreal: The Canada Pacific 1931) 7.

26

Peter LumPeiping and North China (Peiping: Distributed by Grand Hotel des Wagons Lits1933) cover.

31

KeithEastern Windows45.

34

KeithEastern Windows46.

35

KeithEastern Windows42.

36

KeithEastern Windows47.

37

James Clifford“On Ethnographic Authority,” Representations no. 2 (1983): 118–46 and see 119.

38

Clifford“On Ethnographic Authority” 125.

39

See Linda NochlinThe Politics of Vision: Essays on Nineteenth-Century Art and Society (London: Thames and Hudson1989).

43

Yi-Fu Tuan“Realism and Fantasy in Art, History, and Geography,” Annals of the Association of American Geographers 80.3 (1990): 435–46.

47

Clifford“On Ethnographic Authority” 119.

49

Peter LumPeiping and North China10.

52

Arif Dirlik“Chinese History and the Question of Orientalism,” History and Theory 35.4 (1996): 96–118 and see 97.

60

LumGangplanks170–71.

61

Sarah Gilead“Magic Abjured: Closure in Children’s Fantasy Fiction,” PMLA 106. 2 (1991): 277–93 and see 277.

63

Dong“Defining Beiping” 138.

64

Mingzheng Shi“From Imperial Gardens to Public Parks: The Transformation of Urban Spaces in Early Twentieth-Century Beijing,” Modern China 24.3 (1998): 219–48 and see 241–48.

66

Grant Hayter-MenziesImperial Masquerade: The Legend of Princess Der Ling (Hong Kong: Hong Kong University Press2008) 331.

69

Hayter-MenziesImperial Masquerade337.

72

Peter LumPeiping and North China15.

74

Peter LumPeiping and North China6.

76

Mary Louise PrattImperial Eyes: Travel Writing and Transculturation (London and New York: Routledge1992) 6; cited by Dirlik “Chinese History” 112 fn. 44.

77

Dirlik“Chinese History” 117–118.

Figures

  • View in gallery
    Bertha Lum portrait photograph. 1929. Courtesy of Laurent Hénin and Gucki Riva.
  • View in gallery
    Elizabeth Keith portrait photograph. Source: http://news.enorth.com.cn/system/2012/06/25/009514185.shtml
  • View in gallery
    Bertha Lum. Hall of Classics. 1925. Raised line colour woodblock print also reproduced lithographically in Peter Lum, Peiping and North China, ill. Bertha Lum (Peiping: Grand Hotel des Wagons Lits, 1933), 17. Courtesy of Laurent Hénin and Gucki Riva.
  • View in gallery
    Bertha Lum. Pavilion in a Chinese Garden. Lithograph. Source: Peiping Sojourn (Montreal: The Canada Pacific, 1931), 19. Courtesy of Laurent Hénin and Gucki Riva.
  • View in gallery
    Wu Youru. Shanghai baiyan tu 上海百豔圖 Source: Wu Youru huabao 吴友如畫寶 (1908; repr. Shanghai: Xinhua shudian, 2002): 1-269.
  • View in gallery
    Bertha Lum. Her Majesty Tzu Hsi [Cixi] and Princess Der Ling [Deling], Her First Lady-in-Waiting. 1933. Colour woodblock print reproduced lithographically. Source: Der Ling, Imperial Incense, ill. Bertha Lumn [sic] (London: Stanley Paul and Co, Ltd., 1933), inner cover page.

  • View in gallery
    Xunling 勳齡 (1874-1943). The writer assisting Her Imperial Majesty, the Empress Dowager of China, going down Peony Hill toward her Palace. (Empress Dowager Tzu Hsi [Cixi 慈禧太后], Princess Der Ling [Deling 徳齡公主, immediate left in photo] and the Eunuch Tsui Yu-Kuei [Cui Yugui 崔玉貴, partially obscured by umbrella]). 1903. Black and white photograph. Source: Princess Der Ling, Two Years in the Forbidden City (New York: Dodd, Mead, and Co., 1924 reprint of 1911 New York Moffat, Yard & Co. publication), 220.
  • View in gallery
    Elizabeth Keith. Lama Priest, Peking. 1922. Colour woodblock print; 39 × 26.75 cm. Courtesy of the University of Oregon Jordan Schnitzer Museum of Art.
  • View in gallery
    Anonymous. Portrait of a fourth-rank Manchu bannerman (xingle tu 行樂圖). Late eighteenth century. Hanging scroll, ink and colour on paper; 285.1 × 156.1 cm. Courtesy University of Alberta Museums, Mactaggart Art Collection.
  • View in gallery
    Elizabeth Keith. Sport in Peking. 1922. Colour woodblock print; 40 × 26.5 cm. Courtesy of the University of Oregon Jordan Schnitzer Museum of Art.
  • View in gallery
    Thomas Daniell. Album of Chinese Costume. 1793-94. Album leaf, ink and light colour on paper; 17.2 × 28 cm. Courtesy of the University of Alberta Museums, Mactaggart Art Collection.
  • View in gallery
    Scenes of the Mean Streets, Liangyou 良友 [The Young Companion] no. 75 (1933), n.p.
  • View in gallery
    Elizabeth Keith. Night Scene, Peking. Colour woodblock print reproduced lithographically. Source: Elizabeth Keith, Eastern Windows: An Artist’s Notes of Travel in Japan, Hokkaido, Korea, China and the Philippines (Boston and New York: Houghton Mifflin, 1928), 57.
  • View in gallery
    Bertha Lum. The Dragons of the Porcelaine Screen. Woodblock print reproduced lithographically. Source: Bertha Lum, Peiping Sojourn (Montreal: The Canada Pacific, 1931), inner title page. Courtesy of Laurent Hénin and Gucki Riva.
  • View in gallery
    Bertha Lum. Peking Dust. Colour woodblock print also reproduced lithographically in Peter Lum, Peiping and North China, ill. Bertha Lum (Peiping: Grand Hotel des Wagons Lits, 1933), inner title page. Courtesy of Laurent Hénin and Gucki Riva.

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