- Women and the Periodical Press in China's Long Twentieth Century: A Space of Their Own? eds. by Michel Hockx, Joan Judge, and Barbara Mittler
This is a much-needed collection of interdisciplinary essays that provide fresh insights into the methodological challenges in examining gender and transcultural dimensions of the Chinese women's periodical press in the late nineteenth and twentieth centuries. The contributors are an international team consisting of China scholars on literature, history, gender and women's studies, media culture, and art history as well as non-China experts on women's periodicals, popular culture, book culture, and studio art. The essays represent the current intellectual trend of the scholarship on Chinese women's journals in North America, Europe, China, and Taiwan.
The fourteen essays in this volume highlight the inherent complexities of the literary, cultural, and social qualities of the magazine and challenges the stereotype of reading the magazine simply as a repository of facts. As the scholar on Victorian periodicals Margaret Beetham points out magazines—including women's journals—are multivocal and multigeneric as they comprise of a wide range of materials including essays, fiction, poetry, photographs, cover art, painting, advertisements, and letters. This distinctive print culture is further complicated by specific historical, political, and global conjunctures, making the study of the magazine a difficult task in the emerging field of periodical studies. To tackle this task, non-China experts Nathalie Cooke and Jennifer Garland advocate reading women's magazines as sites of negotiation between prescriptive and descriptive practice. Specifically, the essays in this volume suggest four different methodologies of reading Chinese women's journals: "horizontal" (a close examination of all materials included in one issue of a particular journal), "vertical" (tracing a particular genre of theme over time in one journal), "integrated" (holding a women's magazine up against contemporary periodicals and other publications), and "situated" (treating the journal as embedded in the broad network of the reading and producing communities).
All essays in this volume incorporate one or more methodologies in their studies. In part 1 of this volume, Julia Andrew's chapter "Persuading with Pictures: Cover Art and The Ladies' Journal (1915–1931)" uses both horizontal and vertical methods in reading the cover images against other contents of The Ladies' Journal over two decades. It traces the trajectory of the cover art and highlights the shifting editorial objectives over time. Liying Sun's chapter "Engendering a Journal: Editors and Nudes in Linloon Magazine and Its Global Context" employs integrated and situated methodologies, reading Linloon [End Page 25] Magazine (1931–1937) against either other Chinese periodicals by the same publisher or other non-Chinese magazines circulating in the 1930s. It shows how a gendered voice was shaped through editorial practice of selecting and interpreting the images of nudes in different ways for variable audiences. The essay "Raising Eyebrows: The Journal Eyebrow Talk (1914–1916) and the Regulation of 'Harmful Fiction' in Modern China" by Michel Hockx adopts situated and integrated methods and examines the reasons for the banning of the rarely studied journal Eyebrow Talk. Its discussion of the state regulation of women's magazines shows how the category of pornography developed since the May Fourth Movement.
Part 2 of this volume focus on the complexities of public expression of female subjectivities. Grace Fong in the chapter "Radicalizing Poetics: Poetic Practice in Women's World, 1904–1907" provides a vertical reading of the social and political function of poetry in women's journals as a revolutionary medium. It reveals the previously neglected contribution of women of the educated scholar-gentry class to social change and women's education in the late Qing period. Doris Sung uses both horizontal and vertical approaches in her chapter "Redefining Female Talent: The Women's Eastern Times, The Ladies' Journal, and the Development of 'Women's Art' in China, 1910s–1930s" to discuss the function of art in women's lives, women...