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What do twentieth-century fictional images of the Chinese reveal about the construction of nationhood in the former West Indian colonies? In her groundbreaking interdisciplinary work, Searching for Mr. Chin, Anne-Marie Lee-Loy seeks to map and understand a cultural process of identity formation: “Chineseness” in the West Indies.
Reading behind the stereotypical image of the Chinese in the West Indies, she compares fictional representations of Chinese characters in Jamaica, Trinidad, and Guyana to reveal the social and racial hierarchies present in literature by popular authors such as V.S. Naipaul and Samuel Selvon, as well as lesser known writers and hard to access literary texts.
Using historical, discursive, and theoretical frameworks for her literary analysis, Lee-Loy shows how the unstable and ambiguous “belonging” afforded to this “middleman minority” speaks to the ways in which narrative boundaries of the nation are established. In addition to looking at how Chinese have been viewed as “others,” Lee-Loy examines self-representations of “Chineseness” and how they complicate national narratives of belonging.
Militarism, Sex Work, and Migrant Labor in South Korea
A New Interpretation of the Li sao
The first book-length study in English of the Chinese classic, the Li sao (Encountering Sorrow). Includes translations of Li sao and the Nine Songs. The Li sao (also known as Encountering Sorrow), attributed to the poet-statesman Qu Yuan (4th–3rd century BCE), is one of cornerstones of the Chinese poetic tradition. It has long been studied as China’s first extended allegory in poetic form, yet most scholars agree that there is very little in the two-thousand-year-old tradition of commentary on it that convincingly explains its supernatural flights, its complex floral imagery, or the gender ambiguity of its primary poetic persona. The Shaman and the Heresiarch is the first book-length study of the Li sao in English, offering new translations of both the Li sao and the Nine Songs. The book traces the shortcomings of the earliest extant commentary on those texts, that of Wang Yi, back to the quasi-divinatory methods of the highly politicized tradition of Chinese classical hermeneutics in general, and the political machinations of a Han dynasty empress dowager in particular. It also offers an entirely new interpretation of the Li sao, one based not on Qu Yuan hagiography but on what late Warring States period artifacts and texts, including recently unearthed texts, teach us about the cultural context that produced the poem. In that light we see in the Li sao not only a reflection of the era of the great classical Chinese philosophers, but also the breakdown of the political-religious order of the ancient state of Chu.
The Art of Being Alone
This extensive selection of Tanikawa Shuntaro's poetry reflects the full depth and breadth of his work, from his appearance as a fresh new voice to the mastery of his later poetry. It traces his artistic development and his shift in focus from man's cosmic destiny to the pathos of everyday life and a more internalized struggle with the nature of human expression. Lovers of poetry will find the experience exhilarating. The only such collection in English, this volume will prove indispensable to students and scholars of Japanese literature, as it opens a valuable new perspective on postware Japanese literature. The Introduction clarifies the social and artistic background of Tanikawa's extraordinary work and career, illuminating major themes as his poetry evolves over time.
Staging the American in China
Chinese views of the United States have shifted dramatically since the 1980s, with changes in foreign relations, increased travel of Chinese citizens to the U.S., and wide circulation of American popular culture in China. Significant Other explores representations of Americans that emerged onstage in China between 1987 and 2002 and considers how they function as racial and cultural stereotypes, political strategy, and artistic innovation. Based on fieldwork in Beijing and Shanghai, it offers a unique view of contemporary Mainland Chinese spoken drama from the perspective of a Western academic who is both a Chinese studies scholar and a theatre practitioner. Claire Conceison’s close readings of recent plays take into account not only the texts of the plays themselves and other primary sources, but also production contexts, creative origins, artistic collaboration, and audience reception. Identifying the American as China’s "significant Other," Conceison introduces the complex cultural relationship between China and the United States, situating it in both the long history of Sino-Western relations and the present dynamics of post-colonialism. She then examines the emergent discourse of Occidentalism, tracing its origins and recent circulation and repositioning it as a discursive strategy to analyze appearances of Americans on the Chinese stage. Conceison maintains that Chinese staging of American characters—often played by local actors made up and costumed as Americans, and more recently played by foreigners themselves—reveals cultural norms and attitudes regarding the United States, reflects Sino-American political relations, articulates Chinese national and cultural identity, and signifies innovation in spoken drama as an art form.
Single Sickness and Other Stories by Masuda Mizuko opens a window onto the intriguing fictional world of award-winning author Masuda Mizuko. Masuda explores themes of female subjectivity and biology, selfhood and autonomy, loneliness and desire, and the deep tensions inherent in female-male relations. The seven stories in this volume tap into a powerful undercurrent of disquiet pervading contemporary urban life. Masuda subtly evokes an air of menace underlying the mundane and a whiff of danger in the domestic.
Dread and Enchantment in an Indonesian Literary Archive
“This is a remarkable book in the way it attempts to tease out and crash through the barriers of self-restricting and self-restraining area studies. Situated Testimonies poses a challenge to Indonesianists as well as to many beyond the field. It is an adventure embarked upon with the help of Freud, Lacan, and other friends and foes. Sears demonstrates both the benefits and tribulations of such an endeavor. At its best, her book attains an impressive simplicity as it uncovers a sense of the world in both its subjects—the colonial and postcolonial literary figures—and its author as she thinks and writes about them.” —Rudolf Mrazek, University of Michigan
“In her innovative and sophisticated new book, Laurie Sears re-writes portions of the literary history of Indonesia over a sweep of many decades. Sears time-travels across the colonial and postcolonial divide, letting theory, translation, anxiety, and memory function as her airplane. It is an interesting and illuminating ride that we get to take with her.” —Eric Tagliacozzo, Cornell University
The Indonesian writer Pramoedya Ananta Toer made a distinction between a “downstream” literary reality and an “upstream” historical reality. Pramoedya suggested that literature has an effect on the upstream flow of history and that it can in fact change history. In Situated Testimonies Laurie Sears illuminates this process by considering a selection of Dutch Indies and Indonesian literary works that span the twentieth century and beyond and by showing how authors like Louis Couperus and Maria Dermoût help retell and remodel history.
Sears sees certain literary works as “situated testimonies,” bringing ineffable experiences of trauma into narrative form and preserving something of the dread and enchantment that animated the past. These literary works offer a method of reading the emotional traces that historians may fail to witness or record—traces that elude archival constructions where political factors or colonial conditions have influenced processes of what is preserved and how it is shaped. Sears’ use of Donna Haraway’s notion of “situatedness” reiterates the idea that all of us speak from somewhere. Testimony, especially eyewitness testimony, is a gold standard in historical methodology, and the authors of literary works are eyewitnesses of their time. But the works of authors like Tirto Adhi Soerjo and Soewarsih Djojopoespito are first of all written as literature, and literary or stylistic devices cannot be ignored.
Sears finds substantial evidence of the movement of psychoanalytic theories between Europe and the Indies/Indonesia throughout the twentieth century. She concludes that far from being only a Jewish or European discourse, psychoanalysis is a transnational discourse of desire that has influenced Indies and Indonesian writers for more than a century. Psychoanalytic ideas, and the suggestion by French psychoanalyst Jean Laplanche and Indonesian author Ayu Utami that memories, like literature, can move us back and forth in time, have inspired Sears’ thinking about historical archives, literature, and trauma.
Soekarno’s words haunt this book as he haunts Indonesia’s past. Situated Testimonies rewrites portions of the literary and social history of Indonesia over a sweep of many decades. Historians, scholars of literary theory, and Indonesianists will all be interested in the book’s insights on how colonial and postcolonial novels of the Indies and Indonesia illuminate nationalist narratives and imperial histories.
Laurie J. Sears is professor of history at the University of Washington in Seattle.
Sequels, Continuations, Rewritings, and Chinese Fiction
Snakes' Legs examines sequels (xushu), a common but long-neglected literary phenomenon in traditional China. What prompted writers to produce sequels despite their poor reputation as a genre? What motivated readers to read them? How should we characterize the nature of the relationship between sequels and rewritings? Contributors to this volume illuminate these and other questions, and the collection as a whole offers a comprehensive consideration of this vigorous genre while suggesting fascinating new directions for research. Xushu as a discursive practice reinforces the paradox that innovation is impossible without imitation. It presents us with fertile ground for studying the intricate ties that bind the writer and reader of traditional Chinese fiction: the writer of xushu is always self-consciously assuming the dual role of author and reader and in the writing process must consider both the work in progress as well as its precursor(s). Snakes' Legs contains detailed discussions of some representative xushu works from the late Ming and Qing periods, many of which have received little scholarly attention. It will shed light on the development of Chinese fiction and the various textual practices in traditional China as well as account for the genre’s continuing vitality in modern times.
Literary Culture and Social Memory in Guangdong
What has traditionally been the main matter explored by Cantonese literati? From the earliest poets—oceanic elements and riparian scenes contrasted with stunning rock formations; a love for the exotic, especially local plants, products, and lore; Daoist transcendentalism; and, finally, a concern for pointing up local loyalty to the distant throne and a fierce pride in being culturally authentically Chinese. The Southern Garden Poetry Society in Guangzhou was the only major literary club in Chinese history to be periodically reconvened over the Ming, Qing, and Republican eras. Beginning with an examination of its five founding members during the Yuan / Ming transition period, in particular Sun Fen (1335–1393), David Honey traces the various elements of this Southern Muse that became embodied in later Cantonese poetry, and pursues the issue of social memory by focusing on later reconvenings of the society.
The Transcendant in Modern Japanese Literature
Spirit Matters is a ground-breaking work, the first to explore a broad range of writings on spirituality in contemporary Japanese literature. It draws on a variety of literary works, from enormously popular fiction (Miura Ayako’s Hyôten and Shirokari Pass and the novels of Murakami Haruki) to more problematic "serious" fiction (Ôe Kenzaburô’s Somersault) to nonfiction meditations on martyrdom and miracles (Sono Ayako’s Kiseki) and the dynamics of religious cults (Murakami’s interviews with members of Aum Shinrikyô in Underground). The first half of the volume focuses on the work of two women Christian writers, Miura Ayako and Sono Ayako. Combining a decidedly evangelistic bent with the formulas of the popular novel, Miura’s 1964 novel Hyôten (Freezing Point) and its sequel are entertaining perennial bestsellers but also treat spiritual issues—like original sin—that are largely unexplored in modern Japanese literature. Sono’s Kiseki (Miracles) and Miura’s Shiokari Pass focus on the meaning of self-sacrifice and the miraculous and survey both the paths by which people come to faith and the spiritual doubts that assail them. Perhaps most striking for Western readers, Gabriel reveals how Miura’s novel shows the lingering resistance to Christianity and its oppositional nature in Japan, and how in Kiseki Sono considers the kind of spiritual struggles many Japanese Christians experience as they try to reconcile their belief in a minority faith.