Journal Articles

June 2008 - Vol.38/No.2
Introductory Remarks
Author : Wang Ning
Keywords :
Teaching China as a Global Culture
Author : Robert E. Hegel
Keywords : Undergraduate students; cultural differences; analytical paradigms; global competition; language study; cultural understanding; the responsibility of the teacher
Recent decades have witnessed a striking change in the attitudes of students in American institutions of higher learning toward China as a subject for study. Whereas China formerly was “exotic” because it was so old or so politically foreign to American students, now studying China is seen as an appropriate avenue to interesting employment and important careers. This has produced enormous increases in Chinese language course enrollments. But these changes bring new responsibilities to teachers: to the extent that we help shape the future through our students, we must balance our new emphases on shared political and economic ends with continued awareness of cultural differences. As China’s interpreters to students in the West, we must engage new analytical paradigms in order to promote greater understanding among our peoples in the highly competitive global marketplace for goods and ideas.
Translating Memory, Transforming Identity: Chinese Expatriates and Memoirs of the Cultural Revolution
Author : Lingchei Letty Chen
Keywords : memory, identity politics, Chinese diaspora, memoirs, Cultural Revolution, self-Orientalism, schizophrenia
This article explores a newly emerged popular literary genre in the West at the end of the 20th century and the beginning of the 21st century: Cultural Revolution memoirs by expatriates. This literary phenomenon is revealing of the continuous imbalanced power dynamics between the East and the West, manifested in an interesting mutation of the discourse of Orientalism that Edward Said has theorized of a similar phenomenon in the nineteenth century. These Cultural Revolution memoirs guarantee the Western reader a direct linguistic experience (without the mediation of translation) as well as absolute cultural and experiential authenticity about Mao’s China. In addition to feeding the West’s perennial fascination of the Orient, these memoirs of victimhood—which always end with finding salvation and happiness in the West—also help to strengthen the moral and emotional vulnerability felt in the post-Cold War and post-911 West.
Chinese Broken Homes Melodrama in the Era of Globalization
Author : Tonglin Lu
Keywords : broken home melodrama, neoliberalism, privatization, internal orientation, happy ending
This essay studies a contemporary Chinese filmic genre “broken home melodrama,” which has emerged at the turn of the millennium. In order to regain the shrinking domestic film market, a younger generation of filmmakers has tried to address the needs of Chinese audiences by focusing on their everyday life. Inadvertently, these melodramas capture the essence of ideological contradictions in contemporary Chinese society by portraying home, the ultimate private space, as irreversibly broken in the era of massive privatization and marketization. As a result, happy ending required by the melodramatic convention can no longer function in this otherwise typically commercial genre, as it distances itself from Chinese cinematic tradition emphasizing political engagement since 1930s.
Liang Qichao’s Modern Project in The Future of New China
Author : Hao Tianhu
Keywords : Liang Qichao, The Future of New China, Hong lou meng, the modern, the pre-modern, tensions, modernization, modernism
Moments of the modern occurred in late Qing fiction as a response to the general historical circumstances of Western intrusions. Meanwhile traditional Chinese literature experienced a creative transformation in and through its contact and conflict with Western literature. This essay will examine the intricate interplays between the modern and the pre-modern in The Future of New China to reveal the difficulties and contradictions in Liang Qichao’s modern project. Along the way, how to define the modern and the pre-modern in a Chinese context will be discussed. In addition to the socio-historical context, the author analyzes the narrative techniques of The Future of New China by comparing it with Hong lou meng, the crowning achievement of pre-modern Chinese fiction. More or less, the pre-modern is reformed, transformed, or deformed by the nascent, emergent modern.
A Traveling Salesman in Beijing: Global Cultures Translated Through Theatre
Author : Henry I. Schvey
Keywords : Death of a Salesman, ‘Salesman’ in Beijing, Arthur Miller, cultural translation
Arthur Miller’s Death of a Salesman (1949), sixty years after it was written, remains remarkably alive and is the work most Americans feel speaks directly to their lives and concerns today. But more remarkable than the play’s durability in the United States is what it tells us about the remarkable power of theatre to bridge and transcend cultural and ethnic boundaries. In 1983, just a few short years after the end of the Cultural Revolution, Miller was invited to direct his play in Beijing. The invitation came from two Chinese theatre luminaries, playwright Cao Yu, and actor Ying Ruocheng, who met Miller in 1978. The production was performed at the Beijing People’s Art Theatre, and ran several months, after which it embarked on a national tour culminating in a televised production. Afterwards, it was re-mounted in Beijing with its original cast. Since Miller spoke no Chinese, the play was translated into Chinese by Ying Ruocheng, who also played the part of Miller’s salesman, Willy Loman, and served as Miller’s interlocutor when he spoke to the cast. How do we account for this play’s spectacular success in a culture so apparently alien to that of 1940s Brooklyn as that of Beijing in the early 80s? This act of remarkable global translation is the subject of the present essay.
Identity Politics and (Re)Construction: Toni Morrison Studies in China
Author : Du Lanlan
Keywords : Toni Morrison, identity politics, Morrison criticism in China
As an Afro-American female writer who has received many prestigious awards for literary writing, including the Nobel Prize in 1993, Toni Morrison has drawn great scholarly attention both at home and abroad. Her fiction offers such a profoundly moving meditation on racial, cultural and gender issues in American society that the readers find her texts indispensable to the understanding of what it means to be an African American. Ever since Morrison was first introduced to China in 1981 by Dong Dingshan in Dushu, Chinese critics have written remarkable reviews on her highly acclaimed novels. This essay intends to draw an outline of the evolution of Morrison criticism in China, focusing on how the Chinese scholars respond to Morrison’s view of identity politics as reflected in her novels and in what sense the Morrison criticism in China is similar to and different from that in China.
Victorian Urban Governance and Modern Cosmopolitan Imaginary: H. G. Wells’s A Modern Utopia
Author : Chi-she Li
Keywords : cosmopolitan imaginary, H. G. Wells, A Modern Utopia, classical globalization, urban governance, Friedrich Schiller
This paper explains how H. G. Wells’s modern cosmopolitan imaginary, as evidenced in A Modern Utopia, translates Victorian politics of demos and urbanization discourse onto the global space at the turn of the twentieth century to bring into being a mutual reinforcement of urban governance and imagined globalism. I first briefly cover the historical contexts of Victorian urbanization to situate the making of H. G. Wells’s utopia of a world state in the history at the turn of the century and then analyze the plot structure in terms of Friedrich Schiller’s aesthetic theory. The creative attempts of H. G. Wells’s utopian writing, linking two major historical contexts of his day, liberal governance and global trading, give expression to a cosmopolitan imaginary of classical globalization. London as an imagined city in the Wellsian utopia substantiates what the Great Exhibition of 1851 stands for, the vision of light that takes imperialism for granted and celebrates in the urban locale concentration of commodities brought forth by global trading. The significance of this historical situating of cosmopolitan imaginary is then to think of the city as a persistently dominant form of contemporary global visions.
In the Ocean of Words: An Interview with Ha Jin
Author : Te-hsing Shan
Keywords : Ha Jin, Chinese diaspora, Between Silences, Facing Shadows, Wreckage, Waiting, In the Pond, Ocean of Words, War Trash, A Free Life, Sinophone Literature, Asian American
Conducted in April 2008 via e-mail, this interview with Ha Jin explores various aspects of this first-generation Chinese American author who writes in English and has won a number of prestigious literary awards in the U.S. The issues covered include the difficulties of writing in a language other than his mother tongue, his literary ideas and system, his role as a poet and storyteller, the contents and characteristics of his poetry, his comments on his fiction (including his latest novel A Free Life), the relationship between craft and vision, the question of intellectual climate and censorship, the concepts of Chinese diaspora and Sinophone literature, his writing and publishing projects, and his observation of Taiwan as a site of cultural production in the Chinese speaking world.