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Nakagami, Japan Cover

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Nakagami, Japan

Buraku and the Writing of Ethnicity

Anne McKnight

How do you write yourself into a literature that doesn’t know you exist? This was the conundrum confronted by Nakagami Kenji (1946–1992), who counted himself among the buraku-min, Japan’s largest minority. His answer brought the histories and rhetorical traditions of buraku writing into the high culture of Japanese literature for the first time and helped establish him as the most canonical writer born in postwar Japan.

In Nakagami, Japan, Anne McKnight shows how the writer’s exploration of buraku led to a unique blend of fiction and ethnography—which amounted to nothing less than a reimagining of modern Japanese literature. McKnight develops a parallax view of Nakagami’s achievement, allowing us to see him much as he saw himself, as a writer whose accomplishments traversed both buraku literary arts and high literary culture in Japan.

As she considers the ways in which Nakagami and other twentieth-century writers used ethnography to shape Japanese literature, McKnight reveals how ideas about language also imagined a transfigured relation to mainstream culture and politics. Her analysis of the resulting “rhetorical activism” lays bare Nakagami’s unique blending of literature and ethnography within the context of twentieth-century ideas about race, ethnicity, and citizenship—in Japan, but also on an international scale.

The New Asian City Cover

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The New Asian City

Three-Dimensional Fictions of Space and Urban Form

Jini Kim Watson

Under Jini Kim Watson’s scrutiny, the Asian Tiger metropolises of Seoul, Taipei, and Singapore reveal a surprising residue of the colonial environment. Drawing on a wide array of literary, filmic, and political works, and juxtaposing close readings of the built environment, Watson demonstrates how processes of migration and construction in the hypergrowth urbanscapes of the Pacific Rim crystallize the psychic and political dramas of their colonized past and globalized present.

Examining how newly constructed spaces—including expressways, high-rises, factory zones, department stores, and government buildings—become figured within fictional and political texts uncovers how massive transformations of citizenries and cities were rationalized, perceived, and fictionalized. Watson shows how literature, film, and poetry have described and challenged contemporary Asian metropolises, especially around the formation of gendered and laboring subjects in these new spaces. She suggests that by embracing the postwar growth-at-any-cost imperative, they have buttressed the nationalist enterprise along neocolonial lines.

The New Asian City
provides an innovative approach to how we might better understand the gleaming metropolises of the Pacific Rim. In doing so, it demonstrates how reading cultural production in conjunction with built environments can enrich our knowledge of the lived consequences of rapid economic and urban development.

New Woman in Early Twentieth-Century Chinese Fiction Cover

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New Woman in Early Twentieth-Century Chinese Fiction

by Jin Feng

Jin Feng proposes that representation of the "new woman" in Communist Chinese fiction of the earlier twentieth century was paradoxically one of the ways in which male writers of the era explored, negotiated, and laid claim to their own emerging identity as "modern" intellectuals.

Oe and Beyond Cover

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Oe and Beyond

Fiction in Contemporary Japan

Stephen Snyder

Are the works of contemporary Japanese novelists, as Nobel Prize winner Oe Kenzaburo has observed, "mere reflections of the vast consumer culture of Tokyo and the subcultures of the world at large"? Or do they contain their own critical components, albeit in altered form? Oe and Beyond surveys the accomplishments of Oe and other writers of the postwar generation while looking further to examine the literary parameters of the "Post-Oe" generation. Despite the unprecedented availability today of the work of many of these writers in excellent English translations, some twenty years have passed since a collection of critical essays has appeared to guide the interested reader through the fascinating world of contemporary Japanese fiction. Oe and Beyond is a sampling of the best research and thinking on the current generation of Japanese writers being done in English. The essays in this volume explore such subjects as the continuing resonances of the atomic bombings; the notion of "transnational subjects"; the question of the "de-canonization" (as well as the "re-canonization") of writers; the construction (and deconstruction) of gender models; the quest for spirituality amid contemporary Japanese consumer affluence; post-modernity and Japanese "infantilism"; the intertwining connections between history, myth-making, and discrimination; and apocalyptic visions of fin de siecle Japan. Contributors pursue various methodological and theoretical approaches to reveal the breadth of scholarship on modern Japanese literature. The essays reflect some of the latest thinking, both Western and Japanese, on such topics as subjectivity, gender, history, modernity, and the postmodern. Oe and Beyond includes essays on Endo Shusaku, Hayashi Kyoko, Kanai Mieko, Kurahashi Yumiko, Murakami Haruki, Murakami Ryu, Nakagami Kenji, Oe Kenzaburo, Ohba Minako, Shimada Masahiko, Takahashi Takako, and Yoshimoto Banana.

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Officialdom Unmasked

T.L. Yang

Officialdom Unmasked (官場現形記) was written by Li Boyuan in the early years of the twentieth century as the dynasty crumbled. Bizarre though they may seem, the stories told in the novel are based on true stories.

Out of Bounds Cover

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Out of Bounds

Anglo-Indian Literature and the Geography of Displacement

Alan Johnson

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.

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Out of the Margins

The Rise of Chinese Vernacular Fiction

Liangyan Ge

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.

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Paper Swordsmen

John Christopher Hamm

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.

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Performing China

Virtue, Commerce, and Orientalism in Eighteenth-Century England, 1660-1760

Chi-ming Yang

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.

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The Phantom Heroine

Ghosts and Gender in Seventeenth-Century Chinese Literature

Judith T. Zeitlin

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.

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