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428 China Review International: Vol. 4, No. 2, Fall 1997 John Hay, editor. Boundaries in China. Critical Views Series. London: Reaktion Books; distributed by University ofWashington Press, 1994. 360 pp., 62 illus. Hardcover $45.00, isbn 0-948462-37-x. Paperback $27.00, isbn 0-948462-38-8. This volume consists ofnine essays and one interview: Robin Yates, "Time and Bureaucracy: Boundary Creation and Control Mechanisms in Early China" (QinHan eras); Wu Hung, "Beyond the 'Great Boundary': Funerary Narrative in the Cangshan Tomb" (Qin-Han eras); Pauline Yu, "The Chinese Poetic Canon and its Boundaries" (Ming and Qing with flashbacks to the Tang and Song eras); John Hay, "Boundaries and Surfaces of Self and Desire in Yuan Painting"; Jonathan Hay, "The Suspension ofDynastic Time" (the painter Gong Xian IBIR and aesthetics during the period ofthe Ming-Qing cataclysm); Dorothy Ko, "Lady-Scholars at the Door: The Practice of Gender Relations in Eighteenth-Century Suzhou" (women's poetry societies); Isabelle Duchesne, "The Chinese Opera Star: Roles and Identity" (early Republic of China, 1912-1937); Rey Chow, '"Love Me Master, Love Me Son': A Cultural Other Pornographically Constructed in Time" (focuses on the contemporary writer Bai Xianyong's Ù9tM Yuqingsao 3£JÍP$Ü1 [Yuqing's wife]); Ann Anagnost, "Who Is Speaking Here? Discursive Boundaries and Representation in Post-Mao China" (the discourse of perception/representation of China by Chinese and Westerners); Jonathan Hay, interviewer, "Zhang Hongtu / Hongtu Zhang: An Interview" (Zhang Hongtu, the Moslem-Chinese painter who now lives in the United States). The scope of these essays is remarkably far-ranging—in time, from early China to the present, and including a wide variety of disciplines: history, literature, the visual arts, aesthetics, gender studies, theater, sociology, and politics. A lengthy Introduction by the editor heads the collection of essays, which can be divided into premodern topics—beginning with the essay by Robin Yates and ending with that of Dorothy Ko—and modern and contemporary topics—beginning with Isabelle Duchesne's essay and ending with the interview recorded by Jonathan Hay. All notes and references are detached from the essays and placed together, following the sequence of the essays, before the bibliography at the end ofthe volume —an inconvenient arrangement that requires the reader to expend much time-consuming effort. The lack of a Chinese-character glossary for names and terms is even more egregious—especially deplorable in diese times ofwidely avail9y7 by University ^j6 anci mexpens¡ve computer-based Chinese-English text composition. No book of this range, complexity, and erudition—often exploring unfamiliar areas ofChinese studies—should ever be published without such a glossary or glossary-index. ofHawai'i Press Reviews 429 The essays are an odd mixture ofsolid scholarship, informed insight, and clarity ofargument on the one hand and, on the other, a tendency at times to indulge in the obscurantist and jargon-laden discourse favored by many followers ofpostmodernism and the techniques ofdeconstruction. The ideological presence ofDerrida, Foucault, Lacan, et al. is also strongly felt on many pages; thus, the reader who is not used to—or does not have the taste for—the labyrinthian polemics ofsuch critics will find some parts ofthis book hard going. The essays by Robin Yates, Wu Hung, Pauline Yu, Jonathan Hay, Dorothy Ko, Isabelle Duchesne, and Ann Anagnost are thankfully free ofsuch obscurity andjargon— as is the interview conducted by Jonathan Hay with the contemporary painter Zhang Hongtu—but this does not mean that these authors have refrained from postmodernist/deconstructionist assumptions, polemics, or the kinds ofconclusions this mode of criticism tends to form. Whereas the essays by Robin Yates and Wu Hung seem entirely innocent of such things, all the others, to some extent (less in those by Yu and Jonathan Hay and more in those by Ko and Duchesne), incorporate elements ofpostmodernism and deconstruction—but they are still (albeit at times only with effort) intelligible, present, useful insights, and often quite persuasive. The subject ofAnn Anagost's essay seems particularly suitable for this kind of approach. However, I found both the Introduction by John Hay and Rey Chow's essay extremely hard to read. John Hay's own essay, which focuses primarily on Yuan-era landscape painting, a long...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1527-9367
Print ISSN
1069-5834
Pages
pp. 428-429
Launched on MUSE
2011-03-30
Open Access
No
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