Collecting Objects / Excluding People
Chinese Subjects and American Visual Culture, 1830-1900
Publication Year: 2012
Published by: State University of New York Press
Title Page, Copyright
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Illustrations and Credits
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I have been very fortunate in relationships, with mentors whose wisdom and compassion have been seemingly limitless, and with a loving and supportive family. My research could not have started without the initial support of the Committee of Social Thought at the University of Chicago. I was accepted into this PhD program...
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This book explores the cultural consequences of politicized imagery of Chinese people in the mid- to late nineteenth century. American political policy and cultural orientations intersected, interpenetrated, and were transformed when Chinese people, and not just Chinese objects, arrived on American shores. The four chapters...
Chapter One: The Politics of Chinoiserie: The Disappearance of Chinese Objects
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This chapter explores an absence, or more accurately, an erasure. It is an attempt to understand why Chinese art disappeared from an American art discourse in the 1870s. This remains a critical question still, because despite the reemergence of Chinese objects in the art discourse of the 1890s, that almost twenty-year silence has shaped...
Chapter Two: The Power of Inaction: Chinese Objects and the Transformation of the American Definition of Art
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To Americans in the Victorian era, fine art conveyedâor rather, they hoped it would conveyâa seemingly transparent message of morality. The English art critic John Ruskin advocated this thesis authoritative declarations to that point, stating: âthe...
Chapter Three: From Class to Race: The New York Times Reconstructs âChineseâ
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In 1870, the idea of excluding Chinese from the United States seemed an absurd goal, not to mention an impossible undertaking. The minority agitating to exclude an entire nationâs people was initially viewed by most people on the East Coast as disreputable, and their opinion patently wrong. Protest against Chinese immigration...
Chapter Four: The Chinese of the American Imagination: Nineteenth-Century Trade Card Images
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Art and politics met again in the images of Chinese people on American nineteenth-century advertising trade cards. In the last third of the nineteenth century, these vernacular images became so plentiful they contributed to the cultureâs expanding fluency in visual language. Innovations in color lithography transformed print media from monochrome inkings into a riot of colorful images that...
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Throughout the nineteenth century, Americans used the Chinese figure as a means to explore contested areas of their culture. Unlike representations with a single established meaning, such as Uncle Sam representing the quintessential American, the Chinese figure had a wide range of possible meanings. A vast amount of cultural exploration, accommodation, and adaptation occurred outside the...
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Page Count: 320
Publication Year: 2012