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Hongbo Jia (賈洪波)

Translator Carl Gene Fordham

Abstract

This paper proposes an alternative chronology for the Xia dynasty [ca. 2100-1600 BCE] based on the respective year counts and generation numbers of the Xia, Shang [ca. 1600-1046 BCE], and Zhou [1046-256 BCE] dynasties. It argues that Qi 啟 founded the Xia dynasty midway through the twentieth century BCE and further discusses questions relating to the capital cities and culture of the Xia. By integrating archeological material, it further contends that the ancient city of Wangchenggang 王城崗 located in Dengfeng 登封 was Yangcheng 陽城, the capital established by Yu 禹. It also argues that the Wadian 瓦店 site in Yuzhou 禹州 may have been inhabited by Yu and Qi, that the ancient city of Xinzhai 新砦 was an early capital of the Xia dynasty from the reigns of Qi to Shao Kang 少康, and that the Erlitou 二里頭 site was the capital of the Xia dynasty during its middle and late periods after the reign of Di Huai 帝槐. Xia culture should be approached as a concept that blends the disciplines of archeology and history and defined as the Xia people and the Xia dynasty within its region of governance or a culture whose creators mostly consisted of the Xia people. Furthermore, the ruins of the Xinzhai period represent Xia culture during its formative period, while Erlitou culture represents Xia culture during its maturity.

Hong Xu (許宏)

Translator Yin Zhang

Abstract

The abundance of classical literature and the conventions of historical studies have shaped the archaeological exploration of the origin of the state in China, starting with and centering on the identification of specific dynasties. The linear evolutionary account of the Chinese civilization, based on royal genealogies, has become mainstream. The emergence of the state has been continuously dated earlier. I argue that theoretical flaws, nationalism, and disciplinary limits have obscured the complexities of this research project. Drawing on archaeological findings, I propose a two-stage model regarding the origin of the state in East Asia.

Edward L. Shaughnessy

Abstract

David Shepherd Nivison (1923-2014) devoted the last three and a half decades of his life to an attempt to reconstruct the original text of the Bamboo Annals and to use that text to reconstruct the absolute chronology of ancient China. Nivison’s attempt to reconstruct that chronology involved astronomy; textual criticism, especially—though not exclusively—of the Bamboo Annals; and a considerable amount of historiographical conjecture concerning both the period of the Xia dynasty and of the Warring States period, during which, Nivison argues, the Bamboo Annals was undergoing multiple revisions. This attempt was also based on three major theses: (1) the Xia kings were named for the tiangan 天干 of the first day of the first year of their reign; (2) irregular gaps of zero, one, two, three, four, and even forty years recorded in the Bamboo Annals between the reigns of Xia kings should invariably have been two years; and (3) the final Xia king, Jie 桀, is completely mythical.

In this article, I first present Nivison’s arguments and then present a critique of those arguments, based on my own study of the Bamboo Annals. My own study of the Bamboo Annals in turn has shown three points that are important for understanding its annals of Xia: that at least some of the manuscript was damaged or lost when it was taken from the tomb, that the Western Jin editors made some mistakes in their editing of the text, and that they added commentary to the text. Based on this discussion, I conclude that Nivison’s hypothesis concerning the chronology of the Xia dynasty remains just that: a hypothesis.

Qi Sun (孫齊)

Minzhen Chen (陳民鎮)

Translator Carl Gene Fordham

Abstract

Three debates on the historicity of the Xia dynasty [ca. 2100-1600 BCE] have occurred, spanning the 1920s and 1930s, the late 1900s and early 2000s, and recent years. In the first debate, Gu Jiegang 顧頡剛 [1893-1980], Wang Guowei 王國維 [1877-1927], and Xu Xusheng 徐旭生 [1888-1976] pioneered three avenues for exploring the history of the Xia period. The second debate unfolded in the context of the Doubting Antiquity School [Yigupai 疑古派] and the Believing Antiquity School [Zouchu yigu 走出疑古] and can be considered a continuation of the first debate. The third debate, which is steadily increasing in influence, features the introduction of new materials, methods, and perspectives and is informed by research into the origins of Chinese civilization, a field that is now in a phase of integration.

Qingwei Sun (孫慶偉)

Translator Ady Van den Stock

Abstract

In a broad sense, the term “Xia culture” means the culture of the Xia dynasty [ca. 2100-1600 BCE] period. In a narrower sense, however, it refers to the culture of the Xiahou 夏后 clan of the mythical founder Yu 禹. In much of the contemporary research, the question of the primary ethnic affiliation of Xia culture is often overlooked and obscured, thus blurring the distinction between Xia culture in the broad and narrow senses. This has resulted in considerable conceptual and epistemological imprecision. Research on Xia culture can be conducted in two main ways: on the one hand, what has been called “metropolitan conjecture” and, on the other, cultural comparison. Departing from the method of cultural comparison and bringing together temporal, spatial, and cultural elements in our analysis allows us to distinguish a primary central area within the “region of Yu” that coincides with Xia culture in the narrow sense, as reflected in later phases of the Wangwan 王灣 and Meishan 煤山 regional subtypes of Longshan culture [Longshan wenhua 龍山文化], from the later phases of the various archaeological remains found within a secondary and tertiary central area, which can be included in the category of Xia culture in a broad sense. Erlitou 二里頭 culture should be regarded principally as part of Xia culture. As such, the Meishan and Wangwan subtypes of Henan Longshan culture, along with the first to the fourth phases of Erlitou culture, can be seen as making up a consistent Xia culture.

Zhange NI

This paper studies Su Xuelin’s imaginative and scholarly writing from the 1940s to the 1980s as a series of projects aimed at building a utopian world to reconcile the conflicting claims of Chinese nationalism and her Christian faith. In her short stories celebrating the Ming loyalists, Confucian and Catholic, who defended the Manchus unto death, she highlighted the image of the mountain as the center of their moralpolitical universe. She continued to work on the mountain in her scholarly articles and, under the influence of the European school of Pan-Babylonianism, traced the origin of Mount Kunlun, the Biblical Eden, and other sacred mountains to ancient Mesopotamia. On this basis, she postulated that Qu Yuan produced his rhapsodies by drawing from the repository of world mythologies brought to him by ancient migrations, the forgotten foundation of the Chinese civilization. Although Su’s work is limited to the medium of print culture, her seemingly disconnected projects coalesce to enact a fantastical world mediating diverse times and places. A representative of the Chinese Catholics, a knowledge community actively participating in what Henry Jenkins calls trans-media world-building, Su reimagined China and Christianity as both located in a global network of migrations and mutations.

Editors Frontiers of Literary Studies in China

Satoru Hashimoto

This paper examines the performative significance of Lu Xun’s historical short stories collected in Gushi xinbian (Old stories retold, 1936) by focusing on the mediality of his idiosyncratic writing, which he himself called “facetious.” It revisits the young Lu Xun’s uneasy engagement with medical science as student documented in his lecture notebooks bearing corrections by his teacher as well as his early essays. This provides an analytical framework for discussing the stakes of his historical fiction as a critique of the discourse of scientific historiography which was increasingly gaining currency in May Fourth China. Lu Xun’s historical fiction is conspicuously not meant to function as a stable medium between the past and the present but betrays its opaque and even arbitrary mediality, which disrupts identity in historical representation and thus critiques ideological, “cultural” power inherent in scientific discourse that tries to establish that identity. The paper then reads Gushi xinbian as attempts at recovering history from such power and envisioning new possibilities of historical transmission in the midst of an aporetic search of a prehistory of Chinese modernity—attempts hinged on anachronistic textual moments whose meanings circulate in defiance of any identity of time with itself, thereby bespeaking an alternative power to “make” history.

Stephanie SU

This paper examines the visual representation of the famous poem The Song of Everlasting Sorrow in modern China. Painted by Li Yishi in 1929, this sequential set of paintings was based on the Tang poet Bai Juyi’s poem, written under the same title. First shown at the National Art Exhibition in Shanghai and then published as an illustrated book in 1932, Li’s work rekindled public imagination of the tragic romance. Li’s choice of subject, format, as well as style and its mixed reviews raise crucial questions regarding the notion of realism and the authenticity of historical representation. This paper argues that Li’s work revealed new transmedia aesthetics and cross-cultural fascination with China’s past that shaped the cultural identity of East Asia in the early twentieth century.

Yuqian Yan

This article examines the effect and affect of historical representations in wartime Chinese theater and cinema, as well as the interplay between the two media. With the burgeoning of late Ming stories on stage and on screen, the fall of the Ming became a “chosen trauma” that connects the nation’s past with its historical present. However the traumatic fate of the nation was never the actual subject of representation, but served to enhance the affective power of tragic‐heroic figures. Focusing on A Ying’s Sorrow for the Fall of the Ming, one of the most popular wartime historical plays, the paper studies the narrative structure, performance style and adaptation strategy of the play to demonstrate how patriotic spirit was foregrounded as the key to national survival. It was through the audience’s resonation with the characters’ passionate speech on stage and on screen that individuals’ emotional attachment to the nation was consolidated, both horizontally across space and vertically through history.

Pu Wang

“Make the past serve the present!” Thus goes Mao Zedong’s slogan on how to appropriate the ancient in revolutionary times. In my previous studies, I have argued that the Chinese writers’ engagement with the ancient gave rise to a platform of “necessary anachronism” in cultural transformation. This new project carries further this argument and draws attention to the transmediality in the leftist historical imagination. From the 1940s through the 1970s, the revolutionary representations of the ancient were simultaneously poetic, theatrical, intellectual, and cinematic, to say nothing about the calligraphic and visual adaptations they elicited. This current of reinventing the ancient manifested itself in the historical drama in wartime China and found a coda in the anti-colonial leftist cinematic adaptation of the historical play Qu Yuan in 1970s Hong Kong. Starting with a broader theoretical intervention into the issue of media, this paper emphasizes that the transmedial reinterpretation of the ancient in fact formed a mode of mediation between revolution and history, between politics and aesthetics. In the cultural regime of China’s long revolution, the transference or translation of the allegorical-anachronistic energies among different media was a key site of signification, contestation, and crisis.

Intellectual Captivity

Literary Theory, World Literature, and the Ethics of Interpretation

Chen Bar-Itzhak

Abstract

This essay concerns the unequal distribution of epistemic capital in the academic field of World Literature and calls for an epistemic shift: a broadening of our theoretical canon and the epistemologies through which we read and interpret world literature. First, this epistemic inequality is discussed through a sociological examination of the “world republic of literary theory,” addressing the limits of circulation of literary epistemologies. The current situation, it is argued, creates an “intellectual captivity,” the ethical and political implications of which are demonstrated through a close reading of the acts of reading world literature performed by scholars at the center of the field. A few possible solutions are then suggested, drawing on recent developments in anthropology, allowing for a redistribution of epistemic capital within the discipline of World Literature: awareness of positionality, reflexivity as method, promotion of marginal scholarship, and a focus on “points of interaction.”

Xudong Zhang

The paper examines the ways in which memory is constructed in Lu Xun’s writings, above all his essay (zawen) by means of an artistic staging of its antagonism with forgetting. The author emphasizes the primacy of forgetting, as opposed to recollection conventionally understood, as the centrality of Lu Xun’s stressful, tragic principle of memory. The author argues that, by turning to forgetting as a register of and formal-spatial space for historical and political content, Lu Xun puts his signature stylistic maneuvers and mannerisms in full display. Hence, “memory for the sake of forgetting” must be understood literally, that is, as forgetting functioning as a heightened and intensified form of social protest, albeit in modernistic rather than realistic terms; and through this pressurized and agonistic inner space of convoluted temporality. Furthermore, the author seeks to show that forgetting also serves a representational function that goes hand-in-hand with Lu Xun’s zawen as poetics and chronicle all at once. In Lu Xun’s writing of reminiscence, that which fails to be repressed into silence, despair and oblivion roars back from the depth of an existential void, and reorganizes historical experiences of chaos and danger into a more powerful and intimate encasement and mimesis of reality. Thus, in Lu Xun, a modernist intervention into nothingness makes palpable history’s own structure of conflict, oppression and impasse which simultaneously stands for a metaphysics of defiance and hope.

Wang Anyi

Translator Todd Foley

Editors Frontiers of Literary Studies in China

Xudong Zhang

Editors Frontiers of Literary Studies in China

Wang Anyi

Translator Todd Foley

Jon Eugene von Kowallis

This article makes a reinterpretation of Lu Xun’s acclaimed prose poetry collection Yecao (Wild grass), written between 1924−27, by reading it in conjunction with a rediscovered prototype consisting of seven pieces published in Guomin gongbao (The citizen’s gazette) between August and September 1919 under the title Ziyan ziyu (Talking to oneself). Lu Xun’s baihua prose style had advanced considerably in the interim, but the author discerns a degree of thematic overlap between the two collections, on the basis of which he proposes answers to key questions that have been asked about Yecao since its first publication, concluding that it is still as fresh and avant-garde a collection to readers today as it was nearly one hundred years ago.

Workshop Discussions

On “A Girls’ Trip” & “The Rescue Truck”

Xudong Zhang

Yi Liu

Translator Casey Lee

Abstract

The ancient Chinese people believed that they existed at the center of the world. With the arrival of Buddhism in China came a new cosmic worldview rooted in Indian culture that destabilized the Han [huaxia 華夏] people’s long-held notions of China as the Middle Kingdom [Zhongguo 中國] and had a profound influence on medieval Daoism. Under the influence of Buddhist cosmology, Daoists reformed their idea of Middle Kingdom, for a time relinquishing its signification of China as the center of the world. Daoists had to acknowledge the existence of multiple kingdoms outside China and non-Han peoples [manyi 蠻夷] who resided on the outskirts of the so-called Middle Kingdom as potential followers of Daoism. However, during the Tang dynasty, this capacious attitude ceased to be maintained or passed on. Instead, Tang Daoists returned to a notion of Middle Kingdom that reinstated the traditional divide between Han and non-Han peoples.

Wen Lei

Translator Kathryn Henderson

Abstract

The Abbey Celebrating the Tang [Qingtang guan 慶唐觀], a Daoist temple on Mount Longjiao in southern Shanxi Province, played a special role in the religious history of China in the Tang dynasty. Because of the myth that Laozi himself emerged from this mountain during the war to found the Tang state, this abbey was closely linked to the political legitimation of the Tang. Even plants in this abbey were regarded as the harbingers of the fate of the state. The emperor Xuanzong erected a huge stele in the Abbey Celebrating the Tang, demonstrating the support enjoyed from the royal house. Images of the six emperors, from Tang Gaozu to Xuanzong, were also held in the abbey. After the collapse of the Tang dynasty in 907, the Abbey Celebrating the Tang lost its political, legitimizing privileges, but its connection with the local community continued to develop well into the Song, Liao, Jin, and later dynasties. The creation and transformation of the Abbey Celebrating the Tang not only show the political influence of popular religion in ancient medieval China but also provide an interesting case of how a Daoist temple grew in popularity and prestige after it lost favor with the state.

Shuchen Xiang

Abstract

This paper, unlike scholars who ascribe to it a copy theory of meaning, argues that the logic of the Xici is best described through “philosophy’s linguistic turn,” specifically Ernst Cassirer’s philosophy of symbolic forms. Cassirer’s concept of the symbol as a pluralistic, constitutive, and functional yet concrete and observable form, is comparable to the symbolic system in the Xici 系辭: xiang 象, gua 卦, yao 爻, and yi 易. Their similarity is due to a shared philosophical orientation: humanism. The characteristics of the Xici—the part-whole (structuralist) relationship typical of correlative cosmology, the simultaneously sensuous and conceptual nature of its symbols, the stress on order as opposed to unity, and the importance of symbols per se—for Cassirer are characteristics that were only possible in European intellectual history after a substance ontology was replaced by a functional one. For Cassirer, a functional ontology is closely associated with a humanism that celebrates creations (i.e., language) of the human mind in determining reality. This humanism is coherent with the intellectual context—Confucian humanism—contemporary with the period of the Xici’s composition. It would thus be inconsistent to concede this humanism to the Xici without also conceding that its understanding of the symbols is akin to that of the linguistic turn. Finally, even regardless of this comparative framework, the Xici runs into a paradox if we read it through a copy theory of meaning, paradoxes that immediately dissolve if we read it through the paradigm of the linguistic turn.

Bin Wei

Translator Casey Lee

Abstract

During the Six Dynasties period, the cultural landscape of the mountains underwent a transformation. Most notable among these were the appearance of monasteries and Daoist temples as well as the system of immortals’ grottos and estates that accompanied the latter. Because of this shift, mountains began to constitute a special religious and cultural space. Two factors contributed to this shift. The first was religious, specifically, the movement of Daoist and Buddhist practice into mountain retreats. The second was political, namely, how political power was shaped by new geopolitical configurations centered on the city of Jiankang (Nanjing). With these two factors at work, a new cultural form and spatial configuration emerged from the mountains that reflects the intimate relationship between the Six Dynasties politics, society, and culture.

He Guimei

As we enter 21st century, with China’s economic rise, Chinese intellectual circle have come up with some new narratives regarding China’s position in the world order. Among these narratives, one that attracts most attention is the “civilization narrative.” It holds that China is not a general “nation-state,” nor a traditional “empire,” but a political body that should be described in terms of “civilization.” This article, by combining together intellectual history and social history, tries to make a critical evaluation of this “civilization narrative” from four aspects: first, the narratives about “civilization-state”; second, the relation between “civilization” and “China”; third, the contemporaneity of “civilization,” i.e. the historical condition under which classical canons and tradition are reconstituted in contemporary China; fourth, to examine the genealogy of “civilization narratives” and conceive the possibility for imagining a pluralistic world.

Yuan Xianxin

“Youth and the Countryside” by Li Dazhao is a pivotal text that initiated the “Going to the People” movement in China. Scholars have long focused either on its similarity with Russian populism or on its impact on Chinese Communist revolution later on. This paper attempts to situate the essay in its historical context and to delineate the process how the countryside as a problem emerged in Li Dazhao’s thinking. In “Youth and the Countryside,” the rural problem is closely associated with Li’s reflections on youth problems. Accordingly, the emergence of the countryside as a problem can only be possible after Li formed an understanding of class issues through his concept of “common people.”

Songjian Zhang

This essay aims to examine one key dimension of Yang Mu’s literary writings, namely, his “poetics of history.” From 1968 to 2011, Yang Mu created approximately twenty-two poems on history at different stages of his life. This paper holds that, by invoking historical memory, Yang Mu not only offers his critical response to the polemics on modern Chinese poetry in 1970s Taiwan but also brilliantly conceives of two specific approaches and modes, namely, “observing and presenting history” and “reenacting and re-interpreting history.” This paper argues that the second approach and mode, e.g., Yang Mu speaking through fictionalized and dramatized historical figures, should be viewed as Yang’s insight, as it powerfully displays the originality and depth of the poet’s vision. In addition, as the focus of Yang Mu’s historical imagination shifts from Chinese mainland to Taiwan over the decades, his cultural identity undergoes a major transformation; in a sense, this shift results from the rise of Taiwan’s nativization movement in the age of globalization.

Editors Frontiers of Literary Studies in China

Sean Macdonald

This paper is a discussion of the fantastic genre in literature and film. I employ the term genre in this paper in two ways. First, I attempt to define the fantastic as a genre of writing through the emblematic form of the zhiguai. Second, I link this genre of writing to fantastic film, a category of genre film that has dominated the market in China recently. One of the earliest forms of fiction in Chinese literature, zhiguai were often contrasted to textually verifiable historic writing. First, I contrast discussions of zhiguai to modern conceptions of the fantastic and Enlightenment and revolutionary conceptions of narrative and history. The zhiguai share some features with fantastic storytelling in Europe, notably the Gothic tale that emerged in the late eighteenth century. Second, I draw links between state intervention in religion and superstition and the early modern classification of fantastic literature and film. State anti-superstition campaigns in the early twentieth century would frame fantastic films as superstitious (shenguai dianying). Third, I discuss how the fantastic has been framed in the contemporary China. The modern and contemporary fantastic in China is a combination of Chinese and Western categories of the real and the supernatural.

Editors Frontiers of Literary Studies in China

Xudong Zhang

Setting to the task of a logical exposition of this article from Mao’s Talks with regards to both historical context and philosophical content, a re-reading explores the “living historical document” as a theoretical possibility. The author indicates that the literary-artistic hypothesis of Talks consists in the political and military logic of “the revolutionary machine,” offering a politically autonomous character to artistic formulation while simultaneously drawing up a mechanics for the general relationship between the reconstruction of art and social relations in the country’s future. Successively, in an attempt to engage with an elucidation of Mao’s notion of “universal enlightenment” in the contemporary context, is an analytical emphasis on the implications of the material of Talks which embodies its cultural-political framework. This indicates that the revolutionary machine imposes a double function on the cultural-artistic worker as somebody who undertakes the responsibilities of both teacher and servant; who occupies the position of a “vanishing mediator” in the process of universal historical movement; and whose vanguard characteristics and ultimate existence possess no independent value but instead depend on and draw from their relationship with the historical totality. The author holds that this perspective supports the advancement of our cognizance with regards to the civilizing functionality and ethical constructiveness of the Chinese Revolution in world-historical context.

Elena Macrì

In his book Time in Ruins, the French anthropologist Marc Augé pointed out that “humanity is not in ruins, it is being built.” These words well fit both the present-day Chinese context and the figurative trend of new shanshuihua in which construction sites, cityscapes and artificial nature territories become the subject of depiction. New iconic elements that provide a visual and conceptual framework for artists’ construction of a different shanshui-type heavily indebted to Chinese social and environmental changes, these new coded depictions substitute the traditional representation of natural landscape, reflect the rise of a new sensibility about nature and challenge the idea of what landscape is in the context of Chinese contemporary art. By focusing on a variety of works related to the theme of artificial nature and representing paradigmatic images of physical and allegorical landscape, this paper aims to explore this visual and conceptual innovations introduced in the context of new shanshuihua and analyze the way in which artists use nature, trying to find a new aesthetic categorization for this artistic genre.

Mengtian Sun

Chinese science fiction (sf) writer Liu Cixin (b. 1963) has constantly been dubbed as China’s Arthur C. Clarke (1917−2008) ever since he won the 2015 Hugo Award for best novel. He himself humbly states on several occasions that everything he writes is just clumsy imitations of Arthur C. Clarke. One similarity between Liu and Clarke is the obsession with the imagination of the alien encounter. But their imagination of the alien other has one major difference: While the aliens in Clarke’s sf are mostly benevolent, those in Liu’s are mostly malevolent. This essay compares the differences between their alien encounter sf, focusing on Childhood’s End and The Three-Body Trilogy (Santi sanbuqu). I will especially look at how the narrative point of view and the consequence of the alien encounter differ in the two texts. And I argue that Childhood’s End is an unapologetic justification of (British) colonialism (dressed up as the benevolent Overlords) and propaganda for colonial logics, whereas Liu’s trilogy is a representation of the colonial encounter story written from the point of view of the (semi-) colonized, for whom this experience is characterized by dehumanization. The Three-Body Trilogy could be considered as resulted from the revival of the national humiliation discourse in the 1990s.

Veronica Hollinger

The current ecological crisis is the single most pressing problem for utopian projects today. The ever-expanding intersections of technology and capital in the Age of the Anthropocene are, if nothing else, invitations to consider the possibilities for utopian thought particularly as it is embodied in the formal structures of science fiction (sf). Science fiction is a genre whose origins in post-Enlightenment industrial modernity align it with globalization’s valorization of the scientific progress and limitless economic expansion that have contributed so much to the shape of the current crisis. This introduces a significant tension into science fiction’s efforts to imagine a way out of the crisis and toward some kind of utopian future that is not simply a repetition of the present. In the context of today’s climate crisis, what are the possibilities for utopian thought that succumbs neither to the anxieties that arise in the face of inevitable and radical change nor to an optimistic “techno-utopianism” that threatens to repeat all the errors of the past? What are the possibilities for utopian thought that takes account of human beings as an inter-relational species deeply imbricated with all life on Earth? I look at a variety of twenty-first-century Anglo-American sf stories through the lens of eco-philosopher Timothy Morton’s theory of climate change as a “hyperobject” and in the framework of sf writer Geoff Ryman’s “Mundane Manifesto” (2004)—his call for a kind of science fiction that recognizes the Earth as the only home that can sustain us.

The Other Greek

An Introduction to Chinese and Japanese Characters, Their History and Influence

Arthur Cooper

Edited by Imre Galambos

In The Other Greek, Arthur Cooper offers a captivating and unorthodox introduction to the world of the Chinese script through the medium of poetry, explaining the structure, meaning and cultural significance of each character. Written nearly half a century ago, and now published posthumously, the book argues that the role of Chinese writing was analogous to the influence of Greek civilization on Western culture. Chinese is the Greek of the Far East, ‘the other Greek’! Originally a cryptanalyst, Cooper uses his professional—and distinctly non-academic—training to analyse Chinese characters and points out a series of unacknowledged associations between them. Ultimately, he aims to initiate the reader with no prior knowledge of the language into Chinese writing and poetry.

Luo Xiaoming

Following China’s large-scale process of urbanization, the distinctive characteristics of China’s “city(s)” has also begun taking shape. Descriptions and imaginative writings about the city found in contemporary Chinese science fiction have demonstrated unique and yet very specific ways of understanding the city. They have displayed discontentment with the high-level fragmentation of urban space as well as its implicit social inequality, yet also have reflected upon the urban individual’s resort to acquiescence and self-justification as a result of their inability to effectively dismantle such predicaments. In these kinds of imaginary relations, the city becomes an object which is difficult to fathom yet unable to be resisted. Though science fiction novels are able to reconceptualize the city through the reconstruction of space and time, thus bringing about seemingly new visions of the city, yet when these narratives begin to deviate from topics such as the “social property of time,” or that of “social labor,” they themselves then become problematic.

Wang Anyi

Translator Todd Foley

Xudong Zhang

Zhiyi Yang and Ma Dayong

In this paper, we examine the various approaches toward literary classicism among contemporary Chinese poets. If “poetry of the establishment” features ideological conservatism and aesthetic populism, then its opposite is the online scene of classicist poetry which represents an innovative continuation of the poetic tradition. Here such innovations are discussed in terms of theme, language, and form. Thematic innovations include further that of ideology, worldview, and urbanity. In particular, we argue that a major distinction between contemporary online classicist poets and their premodern predecessors is in their cultural identity. Unlike a traditional literatus who is a poet, scholar, and bureaucrat, contemporary poets often endure economic, intellectual, or political marginalization; or at the very least, writing in the marginalized genre of classicist poetry is a skill that can no longer be readily translated into career success. This new type of poetic identity, in addition to their modern education, has given rise to fresh interpretations of our living world unseen in premodern poetry. Despite their broad spectrum of intellectual persuasions and aesthetic preferences, most of the poets have demonstrated an audacity to experiment, which, coupled with full versatility and virtuosity in the classical poetry tradition, creates outstanding poems. The highly original works of a few leading classicist poets like Lizilizilizi (Zeng Shaoli), Xutang (Duan Xiaosong), and Dugu Shiroushou (Zeng Zheng) will be examined in depth.

Lam Lap

A revival of ci writing was witnessed in the Qing dynasty. Emerging with this resurgence was the founding of scores of ci societies. After the fall of the Qing, some loyalists and traditional literati, following the examples of their predecessors, joined together to form a number of ci societies in Republican China. For loyalist-lyricists such as Zhu Zumou, ci writing was not just one of the effective ways to convey their memories of the past. It also meant to be a gesture of practicing and preserving traditional Chinese culture. However, due to ideological bias, their works and the vitality of cishe did not receive sufficient attention from literary historians in the past. This paper attempts to reveal and examine the interesting features of cishe in the Republican era, asserting that within the collective voice of and harmonious correspondence among the traditional lyricists, there were always some dissonances occurred. First I delineate a general picture of ci societies in Republican China, explicating the geographical distribution and social networks of ci lyricists and why lyricists from the Qing loyalist faction can associate with members of the anti-Manchu Southern Society (Nanshe), and what this phenomenon means to us. Then I focus on the Foam Society (Oushe), the ci society formed in Shanghai before the Japanese occupation of the city, and its group ci composition. Besides recounting Oushe members’ backgrounds and the details of their “refined gatherings,” I will bring into light the multifaceted thematic and stylistic features displayed in the members’ works.

Xiaofei Tian

Nie Gannu 聶紺弩 (1903–86), essayist and poet, had begun his literary career as an avid advocate of the New Culture and New Literature Movement of the early twentieth century; but later in life, he became well-known for his classical-style poetry. This paper examines the paradox of old and new in Nie Gannu’s writings by juxtaposing classical-style with new-style poetry for a comparative analysis. In contrast to new-style poetry, classical-style poetry with its prosodic requirements and formal conventions has a strong technical aspect. Nie Gannu’s preference for the regulated verse in the seven-syllable line is a deliberate embrace of this technical aspect of classical-style poetry: On the one hand, the absorption in poetic skills and craftsmanship was therapeutic for him in the traumatic years of the socialist revolution; on the other, the restraint of the form and the use of parallel couplet afforded him linguistic resources unavailable in the new-style poetry, so that he was able to express emotional complexity, ambivalence, and an irony that is, in his own words, “both there and not quite there.” Nie Gannu’s case demonstrates the importance of understanding the new and old verse forms in each other’s context. Rather than considering the mapping of modern Chinese poetry as following a linear line of progression from classical-style to new-style, this paper proposes a spatial model of configuring the relationship of the two major verse forms in modern times, as mutually defining and constricting.

Editors Frontiers of Literary Studies in China

Editors Frontiers of Literary Studies in China

Jon Eugene von Kowallis

In this paper I will re-contextualize Lu Xun’s early thought, as evidenced in his lengthy classical-style essays, which are concerned with issues in literature, philosophy, politics and aesthetics during an era when China was facing profound cultural changes. Part of their significance lies in the way they provide us with an unabashed glimpse at what Lu Xun set out to accomplish, early on, in his new-found literary career. Although they are mainly the product of his final Lehrjahre (years of study) in Japan, the fact that he chose to include the two longest of them in the very first pages of his important 1926 anthology Fen (The grave) indicates that he considered the views expressed therein neither too immature nor too passé to reprint at the height of his career as a creative writer. In fact, he wrote that one of his reasons for doing so was that a number of the literary figures and issues treated in these essays had, ironically, taken on an increased relevance for China “since the founding of the Republic.” The central concern of all the essays turns on questions of cultural crisis and transition. What I propose to do in this paper is to re-examine the essays within the context in which they first appeared, i.e., the expatriate Chinese journal Henan, then published in Tokyo as an unofficial organ of the anti-Manchu Tongmenghui (Revolutionary Alliance).

Frederik H. Green

When late Qing and early Republican-period Chinese reformers grappled with the challenges of creating a new poetic language and form in the early decades of the twentieth century, Zhou Zuoren (1885–1967), one of modern China’s most influential intellectuals, believed that much could be learned from the experiments of modern Japanese poets who had overcome similar challenges in the decades following the Meiji restoration. Of all the verse forms Japanese poets were experimenting with, Zhou was particularly interested in modern haiku and tanka. Zhou felt that the modern haiku and tanka’s rootedness in tradition on the one hand and their ability to express modern sensibilities on the other could offer a model for Chinese poets seeking to create a poetic voice that was at once modern, but also anchored in traditional poetics. This article will analyze some of Zhou’s translations of modern haiku and tanka and illustrate how these translations led him to promote a new poetic form in China, typically referred to as “short verse” (xiaoshi). By further reading Zhou’s critical essays on modern Japanese poetry against the writings of a number of Western modernist poets and translators who themselves were inspired by East Asian verse forms—Ezra Pound in particular—I will comment on the degree to which Zhou’s promotion of short verse inspired by modern Japanese haiku and tanka challenges a perceived Western role in legitimizing East Asian forms as conducive to modernism.

Kang-i Sun Chang

Shi Zhecun (1905–2003) was a modern Chinese literary superstar. In the early 1930s, he had already established a canonical position for himself in the sphere of modernist fiction writing. But starting in fall 1937 when the Anti-Japanese War began, Shi suddenly changed direction and devoted his efforts to writing classical style poetry. This paper argues that it was Shi’s wartime experiences, especially during his refugee’s journey to Yunnan, that triggered his poetic inspiration to write in the classical form. It also discusses how Shi’s poems, though written in the classical style, often expressed a kind of “modern” feeling. In other words, the poet utilized a complex, classical use of language to describe his own unique psychological impressions. In a way Shi was actually using his kind of “modernist” fictional writing style to write poetry. Like the many psychological stories he had written, his poems often used classical references, while describing extremely modern emotions. This kind of freshness in classicism is a very important feature of Shi’s Yunnan poems. Some of his poems exemplify his uses of synesthesia in poetry. On the other hand, Shi was undoubtedly influenced by the poetic technique of the Tang poet Li He (ca. 791–ca. 817), but his imagery has the unique quality of modernism, which touches upon the level of psychological/emotional truth. Moreover, to Shi, Kunming seemed to represent an inner haven. Had he not traveled to Yunnan in the year of 1937, the second half of his life would have been vastly different.

Jingxi Liu

Translator Anja Bihler

Abstract

To construct socialism with Chinese characteristics, advance socialist democracy, and establish a political ecology for socialism with Chinese characteristics, we should devote our efforts toward building a stronger political system and strengthening the rule of law and democracy. Important projects, such as the anti-corruption campaign, mass-line education, or team building for government officials should be guided by the spirit of democracy and the rule of law and proceed in an orderly and regulated manner. Still, voices in support of political meritocracy have become increasingly audible in Chinese political and academic circles, supporting a political phenomenon completely incompatible with the goal of building a socialist democracy. Meritocracy as a political system entails a high degree of uncertainty, unsustainability, and risk and is essentially just a modified version of the rule of man or, to put it differently, the rule of man “2.0.” Its fatal weakness is its inability to resolve two fundamental problems related to the legitimacy of political power: Where does power originate, and how can we control it? An important theoretical prerequisite for building a clean political ecology is thus to demystify meritocracy and dispel any popular myths surrounding it.

Yushun Huang

Translator Kathryn Henderson

Abstract

“Meritocracy” is among the political phenomena and political orientations found in modern Western democratic systems. Daniel A. Bell, however, imposes it on ancient Confucianism and contemporary China and refers to it in Chinese using loaded terms such as xianneng zhengzhi 賢能政治 and shangxian zhi 尚賢制. Bell’s “political meritocracy” not only consists of an anti-democratic political program but also is full of logical contradictions: at times, it is the antithesis of democracy, and, at other times, it is a supplement to democracy; sometimes it resolutely rejects democracy, and sometimes it desperately needs democratic mechanisms as the ultimate guarantee of its legitimacy. Bell’s criticism of democracy consists of untenable platitudes, and his defense of “political meritocracy” comprises a series of specious arguments. Ultimately, the main issue with “political meritocracy” is its blatant negation of popular sovereignty as well as the fact that it inherently represents a road leading directly to totalitarianism.

Yongle Zhang

Translator Colleen Howe

Abstract

Compared to Wang Shaoguang’s approach to re-interpret the old concept “democracy” to overcome the Schumpeterian model of political legitimation, Daniel Bell’s Political Meritocracy takes a more challenging path, attempting to build a new discourse of legitimacy centering on the concept “meritocracy” and incorporating elements of ancient China’s traditions, the socialist revolutions in the twentieth century, and the system of competitive elections common in the Western world today. This inspiring work is full of incisive arguments, but could be improved by further considering the tension between the Confucian tradition and the revolutionary tradition in the twentieth century.

Feng Cao

Translator Caterina Weber

Abstract

In the pre-Qin era, the xianneng 賢能 [those of virtue and talent] were a commonly discussed topic, on which every school of thought had its own views. Daoist discussions on the xianneng sometimes reflected strong aversion and rejection, yet at other times gave them abundant praise and approval. Because of uncertainty on the universality of moral principles, on the limitations of one’s individual ability, and on the effectiveness of political actions, views in the Laozi 老子 and the Zhuangzi 莊子 on the xianneng saving society were skeptical in nature, sometimes even taking a mocking tone. Scholars of the Huang-Lao tradition had realized the limitations of individual ability and hoped that the greatest level of political benefit could be attained. Consequently, under the premise of safeguarding monarchical authority, fully displaying the skills and talents of all kinds of sages (imperial teachers and virtuous officials) through the practice of wuwei 無為 [inaction], and the highest leaders’ respect for virtue became the main direction in the Huang-Lao understanding of the xianneng. This tendency has much in common with the Legalist school of thought.

Zhaohui Fang

Translator Stefano Gandolfo

Abstract

Lucian W. Pye, the renowned American Sinologist, argues that power/authority in Chinese culture follows a paternalistic structure, that the distinction in Chinese society between public and private has historically been in a state of tension, and therefore that Chinese governance has always emphasized central power over local self-governance, suppressed cultural pluralism, and rebuffed multipolar structures of power. Even though the inherent tension identified by Pye certainly exists, the thesis that Chinese culture has a deeply ingrained authoritarian orientation is simply incorrect. In order to resolve the tension between the public and private realms, Chinese thinkers—from the various strands of legalist thought to the Confucian notion of “kingly governance”—have premised the division of power on the priority of preserving centralized power. In other words, diffusion of power has been premised on the idea of an already collectivized authority. Therefore, the power structure that defines Chinese culture has certainly not been the polycentric one that Pye implicitly values, but neither has it been the centralist, authoritarian structure that he abhors. Rather, it has been the Confucian model premised on the values of governance through ritual and moral virtue. Insights from cultural psychology help explain ethical governance—that is, rule by an ethical meritocracy—in Chinese society and culture.

Arthur Cooper

Edited by Imre Galambos

Arthur Cooper

Edited by Imre Galambos

Arthur Cooper

Edited by Imre Galambos

Arthur Cooper

Edited by Imre Galambos

Arthur Cooper

Edited by Imre Galambos

Arthur Cooper

Edited by Imre Galambos

Arthur Cooper

Edited by Imre Galambos

Arthur Cooper

Edited by Imre Galambos

Arthur Cooper

Edited by Imre Galambos

Arthur Cooper

Edited by Imre Galambos

Arthur Cooper

Edited by Imre Galambos

Arthur Cooper

Edited by Imre Galambos

Arthur Cooper

Edited by Imre Galambos

Arthur Cooper

Edited by Imre Galambos

Arthur Cooper

Edited by Imre Galambos

Arthur Cooper

Edited by Imre Galambos

Sun Zhimei

Edited by Zhiyi Yang

Translator Thomas J. Mazanec

Abstract

This paper examines the birth of classicist poetry by paying attention to the Southern Society’s (Nanshe) diachronic succession of the late Qing Poetic Revolution. It provides a careful analysis on the novelty of Huang Zunxian’s poetry and shows how the Southern Society transformed Huang’s Europeanized innovation into something that was rooted in both traditional scholarship and modern political discourse. I argue that the poetry of the Southern Society as being more formally conservative than Huang’s; however, spiritually, it represents a kind of progress as it styled itself as the “poetry of the cotton-clothed” (buyi zhi shi)—the “cotton- clothed” stands for the scholars not serving in court. In this regard, its poetry could be seen as modern in spirit. It selectively integrated the traditional and the Western, for pragmatic and utilitarian purposes.

Editors Frontiers of Literary Studies in China

Jerry D. Schmidt

Abstract

This paper discusses the biography, thought, and works of Li Ruqian (1852–1909). He was appointed Consul in Kobe 1882–84, during which period he studied the political institutions and culture of Meiji Japan and the West, eventually translating Washington Irving’s biography of George Washington into Classical Chinese, a book which exercised a great influence on late Qing reformers. Li’s literary theory strongly emphasized the importance of originality. He also cultivated a style that was simpler and closer to spoken Chinese than many of his contemporaries. He eventually espoused a thoroughgoing reform of Chinese government and society. He abandoned the idea of the centrality of Chinese culture for a worldview of cultural relativity in which all cultures of the world are viewed as equally valid. After his return to China Li became even more involved in reform activities, but soon he became almost totally alienated from Chinese society and even began expressing strong doubts about the whole tradition of classical writing. In his poems and prose works, he warned Chinese intellectuals to abandon their smug conservatism and adapt to the new world or perish, making fun of his own society in biting satirical pieces that remind one of the writings of Lu Xun’s May Fourth era. Li Ruqian may, indeed, be the first Chinese author to develop the idea of Chinese inadequacy and guilt which is so common in the literature of the next century.

Lin Hsiang-ling

Edited by Zhiyi Yang

Translator Thomas J. Mazanec

Abstract

This paper examines the voluminous “poetry talks” (shihua) written by Southern Society (Nanshe) members and focuses on two tendencies in these discourses: The general cult of sentimentality and the narrative strategy on women’s poetry. These poetic discourses succeeded the language of traditional literary criticism, but also exhibited ideals of the new epoch. As a rebellion to the Qing imperial standard on measured and learned poetry, Southern Society poets took instead as their role models eccentric and iconoclastic poets who “venerated feelings.” The cult of sentimentality continued the trend of individual liberation from the late Ming and further showed a collective discourse that promoted a new kind of revolutionary subjectivity. These authors were also fond of collecting sentimental stories about female poets. More than being traditional “talented women,” these poets exhibited a diversity of female roles in an era of liberation.

Tsung-Cheng Lin

Abstract

Chen Sanli broke the conventional stereotypes, regulations and structural limitations of past poetry to create innovations in poetic form, as well as adopting a variety of writing devices such as the transformed metaphors and the abstruse diction. Within these invented poetic forms, converted metaphors and recondite diction, Chen Sanli experiments with new subject matters which were unprecedented in poetry before his time, and convey his psychological reactions such as oppression, anxiety, helplessness, fear, despair, and confusion toward the change and upheaval. All the poetic forms, metaphors, linguistic devices and emotions in Chen’s verse have a great impact on modern Chinese literature. This paper aims to examine how Chen’s verse promoted classical Chinese poetic tradition but also contributed to the transition from traditional to modern literature.

Editors Frontiers of Literary Studies in China

Richard John Lynn

Abstract

Huang Zunxian, member of the staff of the Qing legation in Tokyo (1877–82), became acquainted with prominent Japanese literati (bunjin). His experiences provide a window of information and insight into the cultural atmosphere of early Meiji Japan and the attitude of progressive and Chinese intellectuals then resident there. With the skills of a literatus, Huang had access to the modes of discourse and thought of his hosts, so formed discriminating views of almost all aspects of Japanese life in an era of change. His experience is captured in some 200 quatrains in the two editions of his Riben zashi shi (Poems on miscellaneous subjects from Japan, 1879 and 1890), whose contents overlap to include different poems and different versions of same poems. The poems were intended to have more than literary impact—to enlighten those in power in China by casting Japan in a positive light and promote Japan as a model for reform and modernization. Huang linked Japanese tradition with the Chinese, which he did in poems emphasizing their common high culture. The scope of the poems is quite broad: Japanese history and geography, Sino-Japanese cultural relations, Chinese culture in Japan, poetry (kanshi) and prose (kanbun), painting and calligraphy, Confucianism and Buddhism, the Meiji Restoration and modernization, new political and social institutions, the Diet, local government, political parties, museums, taxation, education reform, women’s education. Many subjects were unknown to earlier tradition but now topical and urgent as China began to shed old ways and embrace the new.

Nanxiu Qian

Abstract

The late Qing woman poet Shen Queying (1877–1900) had lived in the shadow of her husband, the reform martyr Lin Xu (1875–98). This paper subverts the conventional portrayal of Shen Queying as a chaste widow through reading her poems and song-lyrics in comparison with the poetic works of Lin Xu, to show that she herself was a reformer in her own right, and in this she was Lin Xu’s vocal soul-mate rather than his mute wife and then widow. In her poems and song-lyrics, Shen Queying made clear that she had endeavored in poetic learning for expressing “the grand ambition of a racing steed,” and her poetry sent unmistakable message to become a political player herself in China’s reform era, fighting for the welfare of the country and the people. For some subtle reasons, however, she was not able to fulfill this ambition by personally participating in the reform activities. Frustrated, she resolved to be a supporter and protector of her husband. Precisely because Shen Queying had put so much of her reform ideal into her husband’s career, the execution of Lin Xu fell on her as a double blow. Her pining away to death, although conforming to a seemingly late imperial lienü model, transcends this traditional image and bears a clear mark of the reform era, when a woman tied her personal life closely to the destiny of the country and the people.