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Anglo-Indian Literature and the Geography of Displacement
Out of Bounds focuses on the crucial role that conceptions of iconic colonial Indian spaces—jungles, cantonments, cities, hill stations, bazaars, clubs—played in the literary and social production of British India. Author Alan Johnson illuminates the geographical, rhetorical, and ideological underpinnings of such depictions and, from this, argues that these spaces operated as powerful motifs in the acculturation of Anglo-India. He shows that the bicultural, intrinsically ambivalent outlook of Anglo-Indian writers is acutely sensitive to spatial motifs that, insofar as these condition the idea of home and homelessness, alternately support and subvert conventional colonial perspectives.
Colonial spatial motifs not only informed European representations of India, but also shaped important aesthetic notions of the period, such as the sublime. This book also explains how and why Europeans’ rhetorical and visual depictions of the Indian subcontinent, whether ostensibly administrative, scientific, or aesthetic, constituted a primary means of memorializing Empire, creating an idiom that postcolonial India continues to use in certain ways. Consequently, Johnson examines specific motifs of Anglo-Indian cultural remembrance, such as the hunting memoir, hill station life, and the Mutiny, all of which facilitated the mythic iconography of the Raj. He bases his work on the premise that spatiality (the physical as well as social conceptualization of space) is a vital component of the mythos of colonial life and that the study of spatiality is too often a subset of a focus on temporality.
Johnson reads canonical and lesser-known fiction, memoirs, and travelogues alongside colonial archival documents to identify shared spatial motifs and idioms that were common to the period. Although he discusses colonial works, he focuses primarily on the writings of Anglo-Indians such as Rudyard Kipling, John Masters, Jim Corbett, and Flora Annie Steel to demonstrate how conventions of spatial identity were rhetorically maintained—and continually compromised. All of these considerations amplify this book’s focus on the porosity of boundaries in literatures of the colony and of the nation.Out of Bounds will be of interest to not only postcolonial literary scholars, but also scholars and students in interdisciplinary nineteenth-century studies, South Asian cultural history, cultural anthropology, women’s studies, and sociology.
The Rise of Chinese Vernacular Fiction
The novel Water Margin (Shuihu zhuan), China's earliest full-length narrative in vernacular prose, first appeared in print in the sixteenth century. The tale of one hundred and eight bandit heroes evolved from a long oral tradition; in its novelized form, it played a pivotal role in the rise of Chinese vernacular fiction, which flourished during the late Ming (1368-1644) and Qing (1644-1911) periods. Liangyan Ge's multidimensional study considers the evolution of Water Margin and the rise of vernacular fiction against the background of the vernacularization of premodern Chinese literature as a whole. This gradual and arduous process, as the book convincingly shows, was driven by sustained contact and interaction between written culture and popular orality. Ge examines the stylistic and linguistic features of the novel against those of other works of early Chinese vernacular literature (stories, in particular), revealing an accretion of features typical of different historical periods and a prolonged and cumulative process of textualization. In addition to providing a meticulous philological study, his work offers a new reading of the novel that interprets some of its salient characteristics in terms of the interplay between audience, storytellers, and men of letters associated with popular orality.
The martial arts novel is one of the most distinctive and widely-read forms of modern Chinese fiction. In Paper Swordsmen, John Christopher Hamm offers the first in-depth English-language study of this fascinating and influential genre, focusing on the work of its undisputed twentieth-century master, Jin Yong. Through close readings of Jin Yong’s recognized masterpieces, Hamm shows how these works combine a rich literary tradition with an extraordinary narrative artistry and an evolving appreciation of the political and cultural aspects of contemporary Chinese experience.
Virtue, Commerce, and Orientalism in Eighteenth-Century England, 1660-1760
China in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries was a model of economic and political strength, viewed by many as the greatest empire in the world. While the importance of China to eighteenth-century English consumer culture is well documented, less so is its influence on English values. Through a careful study of the literature, drama, philosophy, and material culture of the period, this book articulates how Chinese culture influenced English ideas about virtue. Discourses of virtue were significantly shaped by the intensified trade with the East Indies. Chi-ming Yang focuses on key forms of virtue—heroism, sincerity, piety, moderation, sensibility, and patriotism—whose meanings and social importance developed in the changing economic climate of the period. She highlights the ways in which English understandings of Eastern values transformed these morals. The book is organized by type of performance—theatrical, ethnographic, and literary—and by performances of gender, identity fraud, and religious conversion. In her analysis of these works, Yang brings to light surprising connections between figures as disparate as Confucius and a Chinese Amazon and between cultural norms as far removed as Hindu reincarnation and London coffeehouse culture. Part of a new wave of cross-disciplinary scholarship, where Chinese studies meets the British eighteenth century, this novel work will appeal to a number of fields, including performance studies, East Asian studies, British literature, cultural history, gender studies, and postcolonial studies.
Ghosts and Gender in Seventeenth-Century Chinese Literature
The "phantom heroine"—in particular the fantasy of her resurrection through sex with a living man—is one of the most striking features of traditional Chinese literature. Even today the hypersexual female ghost continues to be a source of fascination in East Asian media, much like the sexually predatory vampire in American and European movies, TV, and novels. But while vampires can be of either gender, erotic Chinese ghosts are almost exclusively female. The significance of this gender asymmetry in Chinese literary history is the subject of Judith Zeitlin’s elegantly written and meticulously researched new book. Zeitlin’s study centers on the seventeenth century, one of the most interesting and creative periods of Chinese literature and politically one of the most traumatic, witnessing the overthrow of the Ming, the Manchu conquest, and the subsequent founding of the Qing. Drawing on fiction, drama, poetry, medical cases, and visual culture, the author departs from more traditional literary studies, which tend to focus on a single genre or author. Ranging widely across disciplines, she integrates detailed analyses of great literary works with insights drawn from the history of medicine, art history, comparative literature, anthropology, religion, and performance studies. The Phantom Heroine probes the complex literary and cultural roots of the Chinese ghost tradition. Zeitlin is the first to address its most remarkable feature: the phenomenon of verse attributed to phantom writers—that is, authors actually reputed to be spirits of the deceased. She also makes the case for the importance of lyric poetry in developing a ghostly aesthetics and image code. Most strikingly, Zeitlin shows that the representation of female ghosts, far from being a marginal preoccupation, expresses cultural concerns of central importance.
Selected Poetry of Han Dong
AN DONG was born in 1961 in Nanjing, where he continues to live and work as a full-time writer. He has a long history in the Chinese contemporary poetry scene: he was not only very influential in avant-garde poetry in the 1980s but continues to be highly regarded as a poet today and has a seriously devoted following. He has edited groundbreaking literary magazines and websites such as Them and Today and was a leader of the 1998 "Fracture" movement, which encouraged independent writers to break free of conventional literary values. Today, characteristically, he continues to court controversy with his blogs and essays. He is also a respected novelist—his first, published in translation as Banished! by University of Hawai'i Press, was long-listed for the Man Asian Literary Prize 2008. He has won independent poetry prizes in China, and has made several literary tours in the West in recent years.
An Asian Americanist Critique of U.S. and Chinese Multiculturalisms
Pluralist Universalism: An Asian Americanist Critique of U.S. and Chinese Multiculturalisms by Wen Jin is an extended comparison of U.S. and Chinese multiculturalisms during the post–Cold War era. Her book situates itself at the intersection of Asian American literary critique and the growing field of comparative multiculturalism. Through readings of fictional narratives that address the issue of racial and ethnic difference in both national contexts simultaneously, the author models a “double critique” framework for U.S.–Chinese comparative literary studies.The book approaches U.S. liberal multiculturalism and China’s ethnic policy as two competing multiculturalisms, one grounded primarily in a history of racial desegregation and the other in the legacies of a socialist revolution. Since the end of the Cold War, the two multiculturalisms have increasingly been brought into contact through translation and other forms of mediation. Pluralist Universalism demonstrates that a number of fictional narratives, including those commonly classified as Chinese, American, and Chinese American, have illuminated incongruities and connections between the ethno-racial politics of the two nations. The “double critique” framework builds upon critical perspectives developed in Asian American studies and adjacent fields. The book brings to life an innovative vision of Asian American literary critique, even as it offers a unique intervention in ideas of ethnicity and race prevailing in both China and the United States in the post–Cold War era.
Western scholars have tended to read Heian literature through the prism of female experience, stressing the imbalance of power in courtship and looking for evidence that women hoped to move beyond the constraints of marriage politics. Paul Schalow’s original and challenging work inherits these concerns about the transcendence of love and carries them into a new realm of inquiry—the suffering of noblemen and the literary record of their hopes for transcendence through friendship. He traces this recurring theme, which he labels "courtly male friendship," in five important literary works ranging from the tenth-century Tale of Ise to the early eleventh-century Tale of Genji. Whether authored by men or women, the depictions of male friendship addressed in this work convey the differing perspectives of male and female authors profoundly shaped by their gender roles in the court aristocracy. Schalow’s analysis clarifies in particular how Heian literature articulates the nobleman’s wish to be known and appreciated fully by another man.
China's Quest for a Nobel Prize in Literature
In the 1980s China’s politicians, writers, and academics began to raise an increasingly urgent question: why had a Chinese writer never won a Nobel Prize for literature? Promoted to the level of official policy issue and national complex, Nobel anxiety generated articles, conferences, and official delegations to Sweden. Exiled writer Gao Xingjian’s win in 2000 failed to satisfactorily end the matter, and the controversy surrounding the Nobel committee’s choice has continued to simmer. Julia Lovell’s comprehensive study of China’s obsession spans the twentieth century and taps directly into the key themes of modern Chinese culture: national identity, international status, and the relationship between intellectuals and politics. The intellectual preoccupation with the Nobel literature prize expresses tensions inherent in China’s move toward a global culture after the collapse of the Confucian world-view at the start of the twentieth century, and particularly since China’s re-entry into the world economy in the post-Mao era. Attitudes toward the prize reveal the same contradictory mix of admiration, resentment, and anxiety that intellectuals and writers have long felt toward Western values as they struggled to shape a modern Chinese identity. In short, the Nobel complex reveals the pressure points in an intellectual community not entirely sure of itself. Making use of extensive original research, including interviews with leading contemporary Chinese authors and critics, The Politics of Cultural Capital is a comprehensive, up-to-date treatment of an issue that cuts to the heart of modern and contemporary Chinese thought and culture. It will be essential reading for scholars of modern Chinese literature and culture, globalization, post-colonialism, and comparative and world literature.