Sunday, January 31, 2010

Dissertation, Chapter 1: Writing Lives in China

The Shape of Chapter 1:

Writing Lives in China

1. The paradox of Chinese self-writing: we write of ourselves for history, but to truly grasp history we should be selfless. The self equals history; the self is opposed to history.

2. Yuan'er bunu: Rancor without complaint.

3. Modern answers to the paradox: Zhou Zuoren, for examples


Notes on a New Paper: Yang Jiang and her Intimate Public

Yang Jiang and her Intimate Publics

Central Concepts of this paper:

Yuan'er bu nu (draw clear connection back to Qu Yuan)
Proposition: It is not baogao wenxue. [must read Charles' book]

The Paradox of Chinese self writing

Modern answers to that paradox -- Zhou Zuoren, for example.


Article Notes: Wakeman's Romantics, Stoics and Martyrs

Mao Xiang (1611-1693), one of a group of men who witnessed the Ming-Qing collapse and lived to reflect on it.

Wakeman, Frederic, Jr. "Romantics, Stoics, and Martyrs in Seventeenth-Century China." The Journal of Asian Studies 43, no. 4 (1984): 631-665. Professor Wakeman delivers a report on the consolidation of Qing rule up to roughly 1683 via the lives of a number of different men of letters who all followed roughly parallel and related paths of writing, working, and living (or dying, in a few cases of suicide).

Sundry notes, in order of their occurence in the paper and in a rough bibliographic format:

Wakeman, Frederic, Jr. "Romantics, Stoics, and Martyrs in Seventeenth-Century China." The Journal of Asian Studies 43, no. 4 (1984): 631-665.

The Peach Blossom Fan, Kong Shangren. 1976. The relationship between plays and life writing -- hm! The early Qing: satrapies, Three Feudatories (三反), 1673-1681. Take over Koxinga in 1683. 1684, consolidate control. Maunder Minimum theory of global climatic change? "The distinction drawn in the title of this article between the three groups of that seventeenth-century elite is, to a certain extent, heuristic."

Spence and Wills 1979 -- background on the early Qing to 1683, 三反. From Ming to Ch'ing

Haydn 1950, 638 "philosophies of desperation" The counter-Renaissance‎ - Page 638Hiram Collins Haydn - History - 1960 - 705 pages

Xie Guozhen, 1982, 南明史略 "moral courage" of late ming figures like Chen Zilong; his stoical self drowning, 50-52. Qian Qianyi, "the leading romantic" sybaritic laxity, "In the late Ming, terms like fengliu (style-flowing) were attached to the poetry of untrammeled lyricists such as Zhu Hao and Li Yingzhen, who were admired for their spontaneous expression of "native sensibility" (xingling) (Lynn 1975:239; Murck 1978:87-89; Yoshikawa 1970:18-21; Zhu Tan 1930:532)." also Liu Zongzhou, starved himself to death by way of protest. (on p. 640 of this paper)

Birch, Studies in Chinese Literary Genres. Liu, J. J. Y. 1974, heroic temperaments in poetry

Owen, Readings : Wang Shizhen (1634-1711) shen yun and xiong hun; Qian Qianyi was xiong-y; which one was Yang Jiang? Qian Qianyi, Li Mengyang (1472-1529), Wang Shizhen (1526-1590) classmate Li Liufang of Jiading (1575-1629), disciple of Gui Youguang (1506-1571), 

(Ch'en 1961) the three Yuan brothers (Zongdao, Hongdao and Chongdao) "flow out fresh from the heart and soul" gongan school. iconoclast Li Zhuowu (1527-1602), Wang Yangming Confucianism. Cheng Jiasui (1565-1643)...

Qian Qianyi made his own contribution to this amalgam, especially after he had given up his position as a Hanlin compiler after 1610 to return to Jiangnan to mourn the death of his father. He was known for his love of luxury and connoisseurship, and during the following decade he began to gather around him the most talented young poets and painters of the lower Yangzi delta. In his own writings on literary criticism, Qian argued not only that authentic feelings had to be experienced in personal relations connecting one individual to the next but also that the foundation of all great poetic expression was an appreciation for material substantiality, for sensually experienced "things" (wu)

The poet Mao Xiang-one of the Four Lords (Si gongzi) of the lower Yangzi, along with Fang Yizhi, Hou Fangyu, and Chen Zhenhui-has left an intentionally idealized account of a Mid-Autumn Festival banquet in 1642, when he was reunited with his concubine after she had braved river bandits in order to reach the safety of Nanjing. At Nanjing on the day of the Mid-Autumn Festival, the fellows of our literary society from various parts of the country . . . invited us to a banquet which was spread in a pavilion at Peachleaf Ferry (Taoye shuige). Among those present were Madame Gu of Meilou and Madame Li of Hanxiuzhai, my concubine's near relatives, who had come to offer their congratulations upon her success in uniting with me. On that day the play [by Ruan Dachengi entitled The Swallow Letter ( Yanzi jian) was newly performed, full of sweet and loving pathos, and when it came to the most touching point describing the separation and reunion of the hero and the heroine, my concubine wept and so did Madame Gu and Madame Li. The meeting of a crowd of scholars and beauties amongst towers and pavilions amid a scene of smoke and water and in the bright moonlight, with melodious dramatic songs cheering up one's senses, was something to be remembered forever.

(Mao 1931:31-32)1"

Mao Xiang's concubine, Dong Xiaowan, whom he first met in 1639 when he went up to Nanjing to take the provincial examinations, was one of the most accomplished courtesans of the Qinhuai quarter; she had been trained from the age of seven by her mother in music and drama, needlework and cuisine, poetry and calligraphy. She was also one of the most beautiful women in China, so contemporaries claimed, and when Mao Xiang (whom courtesans called "the handsome shadow" txiuyingl) reached the southern capital, Fang Yizhi tried to introduce his friend to her. But Dong Xiaowan, tired of the life of a courtesan and longing to marry an accomplished gentleman, had left the carved, belanterned balustrades of Qinhuai to return to Suzhou with her mother. Mao Xiang went to see her there, but left, and for a brief period he was infatuated with another famous beauty, Chen Yuanyuan, of whom he wrote:

Nonchalant but charming,

she walked with a graceful

gait as if wafted by the wind.

Dressed in pepper

silk, she frequently

turned around

to look at her flowing skirt.

Her elegant appearance closely resembled

that of a lone phoenix fluttering

behind a screen of mist. (Mao 1931:10-11)

Chen Yuanyuan, however, was not to be his.

Qian Jibo 1935, 明代文学. Lynn (De Bary, ed. Unfolding of Neo-Confucianism, 217-269) 1975 and other sources: Shen yun and xiong hun

Dennerline 1981, THe Chia-ting Loyalists. personal experiences of a Huang Chunyue, tutor in Qian estate.

Mao 1931, The Reminiscences of Tung Hsiao-wan. Wakeman's edition of Mao Xiang. [Reminiscences of the convent of shadowy plum blossoms, written "in memory of his concubine, Dong Xiaowan"]

Peterson 1979, 142. Bitter Gourd: Fang I-chih Was Mao Xiang an indulgent escapist?

Hegel 1981, 175. The Novel in Seventeenth-Century China. The caizi and the jiaren. Qian Qianyi and Liu Shi. lambencies in a brilliant, shimmering age that was slowly losing its glow. 637: Qian's story, cf. Idema and Grant.

Birch 1972, 134. Wu Weiye's nostalgia, in play form? Anthology of Chinese Literature, vol 2. a reclusion pattern: initial refusal to serve. Grand Secretary Chen Mingxia. "an ambivalent decision." Ma 1935 Buddhism, the monk HOngchu, "Three Phoenixes of the Left Bank of the Yangzi"


Wan Shouqi, at Princeton's Sackler, a hybrid figure, also Wan 1967, and again, 4:6b. cf. Tang Yin. Ideenverbindung. 节 to regulate or moderate -- great discussion of the term here. 桊 juan, caution -- another important term. Notice structurally, Wakeman's brief notes on tradition here. writing lesson for you.

The romantic idealists preferred Tang and Song expository prose models; stoical rationalists like Chen Zilong or Zhang Pu chose instead complex medieval modes of discourse (Qian Jibo 1935:66-69).

641: Seventeenth-century Confucian stoics were often both men of
letters and warriors. Yan Ermei, the popular Xuzhou poet, was as at
home on horseback as he was at the banquet table, and he served the loyalists as an officer in the military secretariat of Shi Kefa, the defender of Yangzhou.

(Pirazzoli and Hou 1973, 157-58) Wang Shouqi, cf. Tao Yuanming. Un Rouleau de Wan Shouqi: une peinture pour un poème" A scrool by Wan Shouqi: A painting for a poem. La Revue du Louvre et des musées de France. Wan Shouqi is reminiscent of Sima Qian:

His travels, which carried him back and forth across the Yellow River many times, made him unusually sensitive to the tremors of a dying empire. He saw in the river's constant flux a promise of eventual continuity with China's past:

Here divine Yu knew he held the Mandate

Once he'd seen the dragon's undulating coils.27 (Yan 1967, 5:3a)

Shi Kefa, Yangzhou, irredentist policy

Peterson, 1968, THe Life of Ku Yen-wu, HJAS. p. 149-150. Gu Yanwu's personal sense of grief. Liu Zongzhou, starved himself to death by way of protest. cf. the Qian Zhongshu preface, "On Shame."

Yan 1967, 9:29b. Yan Ermei by contrast, bedded and boarded, brittle evanescence

Wan Shouqi, who had been captured and thrown in prison at the time of the 1647

Songjiang uprising, was just such a person. After he escaped from prison, Wan

returned to Xuzhou to find his family's mansion in ruins (Yan 1967, 5:47b). He tried

to sell what he could of the few stony fields that had not been occupied or seized by

conquerers and collaborators, but got very little money from his property. To support

his wife and son, he at first relied upon marketing his calligraphy, seal carvings, and

paintings.28 Later, he bought a vegetable garden where he grew medicinal plants. "We

live in a rundown little alley, surrounded in front and in back by peasants who raise

pigs for a living. . . . I wonder what's become of those I used to argue with before:

the sage emperor, the shining prince, the loyal ministers, the righteous scholars"

(Wan 1967, 3: 10a). Early in 1646, Wan Shouqi decided to "abandon

the ephemeral world for the true Reality," and he took the Buddhist names of Huishou, Shamen

huishou, and Mingzhi daoren (Wan 1967, 3:29b-30a). But his new attachments as a

Buddhist did not keep him from eating meat or drinking alcohol, and his con-

temporaries saw him as a hybrid figure.


Anatomy of Criticism. Four Essays. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1957. 
Professor Frye throws his mind against the literature of "Western" and "Classical" ages. He comes up with a set of "modes" that broadly matches against certain stages of history -- the classical era, the middle ages, the Renaissance, the 17th through 19th centuries, and the 20th century. Overall, for example, literature has tended to become more and more ironic, which is to say in its most basic sense less and less concerned with the Gods and more and more concerned with humans and their foibles.

: 39-42. Tragic modes.

In 青人杂剧初集 续离骚 Ji Yongren, 1931-1934: 2a, Fan Chengmo, who looked to Qu Yuan, and Ji Yongren. Zheng Zhenduo's preface. Governer Ma Xiongzhen, the neoclassicism of the High Qing during the following century. back to public performance in the early Qing. note the theme of Wen Tianxiang. The murder of Ma Xiongzhen. mass suicide by the women of the lineage. Biographical plays: Guilin shuang. Guilin frost. capture of the popular imaginations -- intimate publics?

imposed trajectories.

Giles A Chinese Biographical Dictionary. 1962, 857, Wei Jie the jewel, romanticism 实真明士自风流

清代文学批评资料汇编 [Collection of materials on Qing literary criticism] Wu Hongyi and Ye Chongbing, comps. 香草亭 传奇序 Preface to the play Eupatory Pavillion. Li Yu, 1979b: 106, Li Yu's play about Fan Chengmo

Su Xuelin, 1970. 中国文学史. hm!


Thursday, January 28, 2010

Preliminary Dossier: Mao Xiang, Memoirist

Mao Xiang (1611-1693), the Handsome Shadow. Mm, dashing, eh?

Preliminary Notes on a figure I've just learned about: the memoirist Mao Xiang:

According to a profile on the website of Oberlin College, Mao was a talented disciple of the calligrapher Dong Qichang 董其昌, but left few examples of his own calligraphy behind (Oberlin has one though -- note to self to look at that if ever in Ohio). As with predecessors Dong Qichang and Yuan Hongdao, the younger Mao was a "bon vivant". C. Mason, author of this piece for Oberlin, goes on to describe the progress of the mind through learning a craft that is a linking narrative among many lovers of beauty, Chinese and otherwise:
The calligraphy of Waiting for the Moon at Six Bridges is not written in the imitative hand of a student; rather it reflects a mature style in which Mao has synthesized elements of Dong's calligraphy with his own. In thus passing through the stages of emulation, divergence, and synthesis, Mao reveals that Dong's influence upon him was not just stylistic, but theoretical as well. Dong, like Yuan Hongdao, felt that tradition was most valuable when mastered and transcended. That belief is embodied in this important scroll, and thus creates a special harmony between form and content that goes beyond stylistic comparisons and resonates on a much higher philosophical plane.
That Mao was a Ming loyalist and a lover of the famous concubine Dong Xiaowan is only briefly mentioned.

Mason refers us to one other source for the life of Mao Xiang that might be worth checking out:

Hummel, Arthur W., ed. Eminent Chinese of the Ch'ing Period. Washington, D.C., 1943, pp. 566-67.

I don't know that I've ever read one of these entries, which is odd and slightly embarrassing.

A short note in (which also contains the portrait I placed above) gives his original home town as Rugao 如皋 in today's Jiangsu. There are also some critical comments in the entry:
-- Chen Mingxia 陈名夏,《重订朴巢诗文集序》

清音奔赴,灵想超忽 ; 一笔一洞壑,一转一绝境
-- Du Jun 杜濬《朴巢文选序》, comparing his travel writing to that of Liu Zongyuan

-- Chen Hanhui 陈函辉on his poetry 《寒碧孤吟序》

-- Ni Yuanlu 倪元璐 on his poetry 《朴巢诗序》

The Hudong author calls Mao's work "Shadow Plum Reminsicences" a classic of biji literature 笔记文章, but offers no critical comments specifically speaking to that. has a much larger biographical entry that dwells at surprising length on his affair with the courtesan Dong Xiaowan.


Poetics of Biography: 2

Some Calligraphy by the Memoirist Mao Xiang 冒襄

Yang Zhengrun 杨正润. Xiandai zhuanji xue 现代传记学 (A Modern Poetics of Biography). Nanjing, China: Nanjing University Press, May 2009.A very long work that tries to map out both a canon and theoretical issues within "biographical literature" 传记文学 in two compared contexts, Chinese and Western.

I wrote a bit about the introduction in fall of 2009, but I didn't make it back to this volume, even though it sat right on my desk!

A few thoughts on what's going on in this volume:

Yesterday I read through the first section of chapter 8, 亚自传, which I take to mean "Asian Autobiography," although I feel I may have that term wrong. More to come on that. The first section of this chapter is on "memoires" 回忆录, in which Prof. Yang outlines the why readers value memoirs uniquely, distinct from biographies and autobiographies, for the memoir's own freer structure comprised of anecdote. Autobiographies should aim for something with strong unity, but memoirists need not have any such worry, though they do at times craft strongly unified works that blur the line between autobiography and biography.

The whole section is full of rather simple ideas, but they make for good Chinese reading, especially as they introduce an unusual list of memoirs that helps Prof. Yang outline the types. My notes have a fairly complete list, though many of the Russian and other foreign names are obscure to me. I was delighted to see Kruschev contrasted to Zhou Zuoren, the one with an interest in historical record, the other on the self. This self <-> history dichotomy is the most striking tension that unites the section. I wonder if we might call it the key paradox of Chinese thought on biography (we follow Wu Pei-yi in this, of course).

Bibliography of Memoirs Mentioned in Chapter 8, Section 1:

Mao Xiang 冒襄. Ying mei an yi yu 影梅庵忆语 [Shadow-plum hut reminiscences]. Beijing: Foreign Languages Education and Research Press, 2009. One of four named examples of Ming and Qing memoir that present the details of married life, elements of the setting and other details. These and three other Ming memoir are said to have high-falutin language, as compared to the plainer Qing work of Shen Fu.


Monday, January 25, 2010

Portraits of Recluses

Some of the Seven Sages

Li Chi 李. “The Changing Concept of the Recluse in Chinese Literature.” Harvard Journal of Asiatic Studies 24 (1962): 234–247.

I enjoyed reading this article, twice. You can actually use it to begin creating a sort of card deck of recluse portraits. I'll begin this list here:

1. Boyi 伯夷 and Shuqi 叔齊

2. Xu You 許由 (Image and story here)

3. Jie Zhitui (Seen here with his Mom; Image and story here; also see an article by Longxi Zhang)

4. Jieyu, the Madman of Chu. cf. p. 239 on "Summons to the Recluse" 楚狂接輿. Also note that Confucius himself half wanted to be a recluse!

5. Zhuangzi, who couldn't abide a selfish recluse

6. The Motif of Refusal: Zhuge Liang, Chen Tuan 陳摶 (p. 244)

6.5 Fake Recluses: Huangfu Xizhi 皇甫希之, the fake recluse 充隱; Du Yan and Wei Suchang, punished for their lies. Also see the joke that embarrassed Xie Anshi.

7. Huiyuan, Tao Qian's Buddhist Friend

8. "Recluses in Society" : Dongfang Shuo, Bai Juyi, Su Dongpo

Tang officials, among whom Bai Juyi learned to be a 中隱

9. Yuan Mei, the Dandy Recluse. I should really find a better portrait of him.

On Yuan Mei, also see Arthur Waley's Yuan Mei, Eighteenth Century Chinese Poet


Old Recluse List

Recluses on the march. Er, I mean NOT on the march, very much so.

I started cleaning out the expanding divider that I carry around in my backpack, for it has gotten large and unwieldy. I came across some material on recluses that I don't think I had typed up, though I wrote an entryon Tao Qian that seems to have been influenced by these sources.

Li Chi 李. “The Changing Concept of the Recluse in Chinese Literature.” Harvard Journal of Asiatic Studies 24 (1962): 234–247.

This is really nice short introduction to the recluse figure as one that changes quite a bit over time; this is illustrated with a series of brief portraits of representative recluses. I especially like Li's opening image of the recluse portrait: "tiny human figures, almost imperceptible among the rocks and pines;" this reminds me of the notes I've taken on a large-format book about Chinese paintings, and the lecture I gave on Chinese portraits.

Berkowitz, Alan. Patterns of Disengagement: The Practice and Portrayal of Reclusion in Early Medieval China. Stanford Calif.: Stanford University Press, 2000. I didn't actually get through this, though I made a few notes on the back of the Li Chi's paper, which I printed out in full.


Whither Wise Wanderings

You Majored in What? This is the state of the art when it comes to education publishing; also check out the webpage

A brief note on current pleasure reading:

Brooks, Katharine. You Majored in What?: Mapping Your Path from Chaos to Career. New York N.Y.: Viking, 2009.

I feel like I already know everything in this book, but I want to read it anyway so that I can show off my knowledge. For example, a central feature of the book is the "Wise Wandering System," which sounds very close to my original vision of the purpose of my blog "WanderMonkey" : "...while you may not see a coherent pattern in what you're doing right now, you'll learn to think about the connections you're building between your classes, your experiences, and so on."

I had no trouble doing the first of 11 exercises, so I'll post it below, along with any others I happen to get to:

Chapter 1: A Butterfly Flaps Its Wings and You Find a Job

Butterfly Moments in Your Life So Far

As you look back on your life, can you identify what Dickens called "memorable days" ...?
1. The day I went to the GLBT support group at Harvard -- I think it was in Adams House -- I met Adam Robbins. Looking back, meeting the love of my life was the most important day of my undergraduate career. And I did actually have some inkling that this was so. As I first ran my eyes over Adam, I imagined what life would be like if we were lovers, best friends, together on the project of life. And when it comes to jobs and career, we were influential on each other. He helped me more than any advisor or professor to leave my course of study and pursue another. And I persuaded him to come with me to Texas where we both went to graduate school.

2. Having already learned some of the lessons of this book, when I met RAA a few weeks ago I consciously chose to wander along with him, to keep in touch, and to begin my own course of creative writing, which includes attempting to put together a screenplay.

Have you already decided the career you plan to pursue? Describe the connections between the courses you're taking and your experiences so far that connect you to this career
The author shows that the book is for undergraduates still enrolled in courses. But if I step back and ask myself, instead of courses, "What are we learning now," I'd point how right now I'm learning yoga, learning to teach large groups of undergraduates effectively. I'm learning to research and execute major writing projects. I'm learning to translate academic prose from Chinese to English efficiently and professionally. I've also got mentors right now who are helping me with creative writing, to see how a story works from the inside out. What I picture doing with all this is throwing myself at the academic job market and trying hard to become a tenure-track assistant professor, but I want to have the flexibility to work in China or even pursue a creative writing project if my academic career doesn't take off as hoped.

Here are some ideas for future "classes," by which I mean things to learn: languages (German, Japanese, French and Spanish), more on the story: novels, short stories, poetry vs. stories.


Note on a Book Series

Looks like a nice cover, right? You'd think the publisher would give us a larger version of the central graphic...

I've always wanted to read books in the series that the publisher comes up with. A newish example of this is the "Critical Interventions" series edited by Sheldon Lu. Don't you love the long, intimidating titles? I do want to get to such books, but I also don't feel bad when I don't have time to read them.
This latest series from University of Hawai‘i Press aims at building a list of innovative, cutting-edge works with a focus on Asia or the presence of Asia in other continents and regions. Manuscripts and proposals exploring a wide range of issues and topics in the modern and contemporary periods are welcome—especially those dealing with literature, cinema, art, theater, media, cultural theory, and intellectual history, as well as subjects that cross disciplinary boundaries. The scholarship should combine solid research with an imaginative approach, theoretical sophistication, and stylistic lucidity.

Children of Marx and Coca-Cola: Chinese Avant-garde Art and Independent Cinema, by Xiaoping Lin (January 2010)

Cinema, Space, and Polylocality in a Globalizing China, by Yingjin Zhang (October 2009)


Chinese Dissidents List

Gao Zhisheng, via the Guardian

Around Christmas last year Liu Xiaobo made headlines when he was given a heavy prison sentence; essentially his only crime was to help write and distribute the "Charter '08." I remember at the time that Wei Jingsheng, the famous Democracy wall activist now exiled in the USA, spoke on Liu's behalf before news media, showing inter-dissident solidarity.

Now another human rights lawyer, Gao Zhisheng, is making some waves for a strange story of disappearance -- or perhaps he was in custody the whole time? The British press in particular seems to enjoy the opportunity to make Chinese security bureaucrats look evil:
China says missing lawyer is 'where he should be'

Foreign ministry official hints leading human rights lawyer Gao Zhisheng is in custody after he disappeared nearly a year ago.
I'll be honest, the debate over human rights in China has never been my favorite subject. But that's because I was not looking at it from a literary perspective. Portraits of dissidents have a long tradition in all cultures, and particularly get a lot of attention in English-language coverage of China.

So here I'll leave a list of dissidents and interesting texts about dissidents -- I'm not sure what if anything I'll do with that yet. My larger goal is to create knowledge banks sort of like old-school note cards to come back to. I notice that so far in this blog I have not come back to things very often, but I want that to change.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Book Note: Worlds Apart: Recent Chinese Writing and Its Audiences

Random Image from the Ricci Map: Texas/Mexico

Lee, Gregory. “Review: [Worlds Apart: Recent Chinese Writing and Its Audiences, edited by Howard Goldblatt].” The China Quarterly, no. 124 (December 1990): 744-745. I had no luck finding anything quickly in English about the Gao Yang novel Qing gong wai shi (Secret History of the Qing Imperial Palace), but I hit on a valuable essay volume. I feel like my dissertation should also answer to the issue of what has Chinese literature done well in the past 40 years, and what are its limitations. I feel like my own readings, though less voluminous than more mature scholars, can provide a needed alternate perspective here.


Poems in Yang Jiang: "Youzhou Terrace" by Chen Zi'ang

Chen's sad poem explained to children

I'm always particularly interested in how Yang Jiang and other modern Chinese writers use traditional Chinese themes and motifs in their writing. I've always thought that Yang Jiang was especially good at working common allusions and popular lines from classical Chinese poems into her creative nonfiction.

One example of this is from the first section of her essay "'Sent Down' for the First Time" (now updated). She's climbing a mountain with the rest of her team of urbanite volunteers, where they will spend three months working with peasants in a small mountain village. Exhausted and unable to carry her pack any further, Yang Jiang looks around at the fields and says she "greatly was possessed of the feeling that 'Facing ahead, I can see no ancients, And facing back, I see no newcomers.'" She's quoting the first half a quatrain that is the single biggest claim to fame by one of the Tang dynasty masters, Chen Zi'ang 陳子昂:
Song of Climbing up Youzhou Tower 登幽州台歌

Facing ahead, I can see no ancients,
And facing back, I see no newcomers.

To think -- how large, how absurd, is this world,
So alone and sorry am I, that tears fall.

A few more comments:

The video above gives us some indication of how well-known the poem is -- in China, poems continue to be recited in classrooms, books, and on the internet, and carry in them pre-packaged affective responses -- here sadness and sublimity at once. Random blog posts show that at least some readers understand and apply the poem with great sophistication. At least one musical number with flute and stringed zheng shows a similarly nuanced and imaginative appropriation of the poem.

Note on translation: I've tried to render the Chinese as literally as possible while at the same time giving some sense of the line length (2 x five characters, 2 x 6 characters, so my version is shorter, shorter, longer, longer) and preserving the syntax to a high degree. There is not "I" in the Chinese text, but in my current thinking there is an "I" expressed tacitly simply by the use of verse. Chinese verse is powerfully personal, and as the last line of this poem shows Chinese poets do not shy from deeply affective writing. Thus, just by writing a poem at all, and further by giving us a title that lets us know the poem is an attempt to state what the poet felt when he climbed the Youzhou Tower, shows us that there is very much a speaking "I" that is mean to be felt at all times in the poem. Thus, to my current thinking at least, I don't feel there is anything wrong with just putting those "I"s in at will.

For reference, I see another translation on, and I'll watch for more. A website devoted to Chinese poetry in particular has a translation that stays quite literal, as I have tried to do.

A blog entry on seems to have a nice discussion of this poet, who I must admit I'm not that familiar with.


Friday, January 22, 2010

Unexpected Theatre

Keith Hennessy in Crotch

Thanks to JPF for introducing us to this one man show. Keith Hennessy gives his audience chocolate, speaks to them, and reads them a poem before they even move into the auditorium. And once we are in there, we are not to sit down immediately but move up onto the stage to examine some posters, books, a number of lemons with night-lights jammed into them, a chair with a big pile of shea butter on it. Meanwhile, Keith dresses up as if to enact an S&M scenario and begins whipping a big stuffed animal hanging by a rope, with a black hood.

At its worst, this seems like pure shock tactics, perhaps a crude effort at awaking political consciousness (I seem to remember one poster asking us to think of all the people in pain, but I forget the details). But then we sit down again and Henessy begins to do a more familiar one-man show. He lectures a bit about the artistic and philosophical traditions that contextualize Joseph Beuys: Plato, Hegel, Butler. One thousand plus years of art history. From the worship, and thus, portrayal, of gods, to that of men, to that of the self in general: Gott, Ich. Shamans play a role here. So do many Germans and German terms.

This lecture/mindmap scene is one of the show's strongest. Later it turns just a bit crazy as Keith tries a modern shamanic spirit journey/call, and crazier still when he gets naked and breaks out a needle and thread.

Still, a fun way to spend a Friday evening, especially if a friend can score you five-buck tickets. Minneapolis proves itself a solid place to find some avant-garde goodness.


Morning at Tretter: Chatting with Good People

Émilie du Châtelet, Physicist and Femme noble

I've spent the last week not working as much as I should have, but socializing rather more than normal. At least some of the socializing is somewhat productive. My new friend S. told me about Émilie du Châtelet today. She translated the Principia Mathematica into French for her 13-year-old son -- I wonder if he appreciated that? S. has written a screenplay about her, that I will read soon.


Our Protagonist and Sidekick This Week

Much delayed and then only done in a half-assed way as friends played my PS3, I move on to story 2 for A's class:

I waunts dat Kusstard.

I waunts dat Kusstard.

Is dat flán? Bet you didn't think Li'l Willy Boy kud diskwiminate difwent kinds of Kusstard, didja? Akchooly, my nose is about a thowsand, ah, huh huh, about ten thowsand times stwonger than uh human bean's. Yeppers.

I can smell the sheep in my master's wool coat. Mmm, and salty highlands over the ocean in the old moors of Scotland. Mmmm. Tasty. I think I could eat a sheep. Maybe I could tell a sheep what to do! Hah, huh, huh. But I think I pwefurr Kusstard. Yup, yup, yup.  Master, will you give me some kusstard? Master? Master?

I will rub my little warm body against your pants. Mmm. Are these jeans? I tink jeans usually kums in da color 'blue,' but I'm not so good at colors. Nope, nope, my beady wittle eyes were not designed to separate blue and green and red and such like. No, nope, nope, nosirree. Huh huh huh. Yip! yip!

What is go-ed on right now? Oh! Is dat flán? Li'l Willy Boy likes Kusstard. It's right up there on the table, isn't it. Willy is wittle, and he cannot see that high. But his nose knose what is there. Flán is a traditional MecksiCan Kusstard, made with a Kone of dark sugar called 'piloncillo.' I can smell da little factory in MecksiCo where dat comes from. The Master there was sweaty. And the floor smelt like poop. But that's okay, I will still eat some. If you offer me some. Master, will you offer me one? Master? Master? Oooh, Master. I know dat is flán. It has dat silky Karamel sauce drizzled over the crispy top, doesn't it?

Is it cut into wittle circles? Good presentation!

Master! It's made with fresh eggs that will make my furr shine. Will you offer me some? Pwease! Huhuhuhuhuh. Yip! yip!

Master, Kwit payin attention to dat Lady. What is that thing in her hand? It keeps fwashin' bwight lights at me. I dunnot like it. Yip! Go away, you! Are you why Master decided to dress up tonight, with his Banana RepubliK red plaid shirt? And also his wool coat, da one I like to smell.

R you why he made dee apartment so nice tonight? Cleanin' up n' such? You know the wud floor is not usually polished and shiny. Kause I messes it. I Kan't helps it, but my footses brings in da' snow and da mud. Mmrm. Mrm, mrm, mrm. I Kannot help it. But it's messy! Probably you won't like it later! Usually the chair over there is covered in his stuff. And it has stains. Yep, yep. Yip.

Why you keep taking pickchers? I think you shuld leave me and Master alone. I think you should go. Yip, yip. Master does not need a pretty lady in a black dress to make him clean up the whole apartment and sweep up all my hair and make me take a bath and make him make flán but never give me any. Yip! Go away, you introduce uncertainty and fear! I do not like you! No! Yip, yip! Yip! yip! yip yip yip yip!

 *     *     *

"I'm so sorry, Jessica, I don't know what got into him. Usually he likes my guests. Maybe if I just shut him up in the bedroom..."

"No, Wilson, really....uh, I should be going. But thank you for that wonderful dinner. So exotic. I mean, southwestern eggrolls? And the flán..."

"Oh, but you've hardly touched yours. Here, I'll pack it up for you."

"It really looks as if Willy would rather have it."

"Are you sure? Well, okay.


June Auto/biography Conference

Gosh, I'm so behind on everything this week. Social occasions and time with A. really cut into my writing productivity, but I'm determined to turn that around again.

I got an email from the International Auto/Biography Association this morning about their upcoming conference. At the bottom is a great preliminary bibliography of scholars in the field, some of whom I'm aware of, some not:
...we thought you would like to know that we have had an exceptional interest in the conference and estimate at least 250 delegates. We are delighted to confirm that presenters will include Nancy K. Miller, Sidonie Smith, Alessandro Portelli, Nadje Al-Ali, Leigh Gilmore, Alistair Thomson, Jenny Diski, Michael Holroyd, Liz Stanley, Ruth Padel, Philippe Lejeune, Alexander Masters, Michelene Wandor, Rachel Cusk, Blake Morrison, Tom Couser, Mike Roper, Julia Watson, Bella Brodzski, Judith Coullie, Gillian Whitlock, Suzanne Bunkers, Trev Broughton, Mary Evans, Craig Howes, Vesna Goldsworthy, Ivor Goodson, Marlene Kadar, Linda Peterson, June Purvis, Julie Rak, Max Saunders, Dorothy Sheridan, Clare Brant, Kay Schaffer, Paula Morao, Alfred Hornung, Monica Soeting, Meg Jensen, Zhao Baisheng, Valerie Yow, David Amigoni, Michael Murray, Roger Porter, Max Saunders, Louise Yelin, Michael Keren, Cynthia Huff, Joanne Leonard, Deirdre Heddon, Suely Kofes, Helena Saianda, Thlalo Radison, Stephan Meyer, Elizabeth Podnieks, Kate O'Riordan, Kim Lacy Rogers, Lanfang Zou, Pat Sikes, Gabriele Linke, Jeanne Perreault, Jan Montefiore, Gabriele Linke, Vera Hoorens, Marjorie Dryburgh, Isobel Duran, Azeem Badroodien, Celia Hunt, Susanna Mintz, Sylvie Crinquand, Meenakshi Malhotra, Jeremy Popkin, Helena Whitbread, Arianne Baggerman, Rudolf Dekker, Kate Douglas, and, we hope, Lauren Berlant too. And many more whose details we will be posting on the website as soon as we can!
We are also pleased to say that we will be publishing a selection of the papers in the journal Biography and are also negotiating with another journal in addition.


Thursday, January 21, 2010

Morning at Tretter: Random Photo

Here tonight


Class, Week 1, Day 2

Something here soon


The Landscape Literature of John Haines

Oh, it's you. Well, hello. You've caught me in a casual, but nonetheless highly artistic moment.

Not a writer I think I'm going to like. More later.


Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Table of Contents for My Dissertation

Yang Jiang in the 1980s or 1990s. What is she writing, and why? And what of it? That's what we're going to look at here

Dissertation: ___

Chapter 1: Writing Lives in China: From Sima Qian to Yang Jiang
Chapter 2: The Rhetoric of Floating Lives: From Shen Fu to Modern Chinese Memoir; the Case of Six Chapters of a Floating Life
Chapter 3: The Short Portrait: Essays of the 1990s

Appendix: Translations of Major Texts

"'Sent Down' for the First Time" 第一次下鄉


Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Theoretical Sources for Asian Studies

Answering to Adler's points in "How to Read a Book;" also, a backbone of sources suggested by DD when he taught our department's major project seminar last month. I'll add to these as necessary.



First Day of Skool

...Is still going on.


Sunday, January 17, 2010

Blog to Read: Song of a Reformed Headhunter; Jee Leong Koh

A young Singaporean literati's blog; I'd like to read through this one end to beginning. The recent post on Singapore lit looks really interesting.


A reminder about the Bible

The Wedding at Cana, from Siena

I went to the First Presbyterian Church in Mineral Wells, TX this morning and heard an old, old presbyter ramble on about life's "journey." I was far from satisfied with his sermon, but after so long not attending church I sure did enjoy hearing a sermon.

I know I don't have time to focus much on the Bible in my current line of thinking, but I want to note here just a few passages that I may come back to, and I would like to start a file that can contain various thoughts I have about Biblical texts as they come up -- because they do come up. Intermittently these days, but always they are there.

Isaiah's call to celebrate; the wedding at Cana:


Saturday, January 16, 2010

Translation comparison

As I translated the last paper, I came across two passages that were translations of Leo Ou-fan Lee's Chinese. Here's a comparison between the Chinese, my translation of the Chinese, and the original English -- a useful exercise perhaps.

Passages below the fold:

The source of these remarks is

Lee, Leo Ou-fan. Shanghai Modern: The Flowering of a New Urban Culture in China, 1930-1945. Cambridge Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1999.

The Chinese version our author, QIn Yanhua, uses is


Passage 1, Original:

Shi "wants to put some distance between the guiding principles of his editing and popular editing methods. At the time, the commanding pattern of almost all literary periodicals was to form miniature 'schools' -- a group of friends in a literary society with shared ways and aims, supporting the literature they themselves promoted and their ideological positions."

p. 136

"Shi's emphasis on nonpartisanship was meant to distinguish his editorial policy from prevailing practice: most literary journals were in fact run by small 'cliques' -- groups of several like-minded friends who belonged to a literary society and advocated the same literary and ideological positions."


Passage 2, Original:
My translation (sketched only, as I knew I would look up the quote later):
As Leo Ou-fan Lee points out, "Even though Shi Zhecun in his 'editors announcement' ... preference for European modernist literature."
Finally, the passage in Prof. Lee's original, from p. 137 of the book:
Thus, in spite of his avowed refusal to promote any literary trend or doctrine, the works of foreign literature published in the journal clearly mirrored his own literary preferences for European modernism, although he was not conscious of a modernist movement as such.

As you can see, the Chinese translation looks pretty good overall, though there are some minor differences. And it bothers me a little bit that our author elides part of Prof. Lee's sentence -- but I can understand that he or she wants to focus on the question that does not involve whether Lee was aware of international trends.





我閱讀了這個長篇小說三分之一才發現了主角”沒事之士“("Sir Apropos of Nothing")怎麼能夠引起一種年輕人的注意。小說的背景是封建社會,人人都保持“忠”(honor)這一纇得道德,但是主角跟一般得年輕人一樣都不服從傳統的道德。主角不服從而住封建社會的矛盾是諷刺幽默的來由。


Thursday, January 14, 2010

The Rake's Progress

Tom Rakewell marrying a loathly one-eyed lady in a "church of ill repute"

I went to see The Rake's Progress tonight in St. Paul. It was a very, very good show, one particularly suited to A., I thought. A. is like Tom Rakewell in some ways, a "shuttle-headed boy" who is neither completely good nor bad, as we all are, which is quite touching.

I feel like reading over the entire libretto again, as it is the first one that has ever really sung as poetry to me. The attached name, W. H. Auden, certainly provides impetus to this effect, but it was the characteristic use of the English language which makes this show work so well. I copied down one sentence that was both witty and so touching it almost drew a tear from me, this from the pathetic Baba the Turk:
I'm quite perplexed and a little vexed.
Poor Baba. You were fated to aid in the reinvention of sarcasm and also other, more complex forms of satire.


Yang Jiang: "The First Time I was 'Sent Down'"

Yang Jiang, right around the time I suppose she first wrote this essay

Publishing History: TBA

Basically, this is a really characteristic reminiscence piece that gives short portraits of people Yang Jiang encountered during the year 1958, which she spent laboring in a small mountain village.

Much more to come as I type up my notes. This is going to be one of the central texts of my dissertation, and I will translate it fully after I sketch out the exposition I want to give.

Sketch of the exposition:

Having read some of her other pieces, this piece is a nice display of some of the major themes and motifs that Yang Jiang often works with. It shows that she may not have a very broad range in her elder years, but she thinks through carefully, on a scale that shows the large in the small, about the need for intimacy, family life, stability, and empathy for other people's ways of living. She emphasizes basic respect for the individual that extends to the sick and the poor. And she implies more strongly than ever that the CCPs policies were somewhat problematic, but overall had correct intentions. She is no anti-Communist. She is the kind of craftsman who prefers to look, listen, receive, and then respond with a non-linear combination of the disparate sources of her perceptions.


Woman Warrior

I finished The Woman Warrior this afternoon. To be posted...


Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Writing Class

Ridin' in the Snow -- a snapshot from here.

This is the first exercise from a creative writing class I'm taking this month.

Like all the assignments for the class, this is a "short short" -- story less than 1,000 words long. I found an essay by Diedre Fulton on this subject which reviews a volume of such short shorts.

Picture 10: Ridin' in the Snow


Wilson wouldn't want to make a fool of himself by falling over just as his picture was being taken. The bike he was riding wasn't likely to be steady on a wet sidewalk, much less a snowy lawn, which was just what he found himself riding on, that bright, cold February day.

Foolish...why do you always do things that are so foolish? Ah, it's such a bright day. At least over there, beyond the shadows. What a solid and crisp line where the shade and the sunshine meet. How much more time in the day? Does this day seem longer than yesterday? Yes, now I think of it, it does indeed...

Wilson had a peculiar habit, which was simply that whenever he found himself -- or rather, his thoughts -- at an unbearably embarrassing crossroads, he could not bear to think through the circumstance and the likely scenarios of its resolution, but instead, rather, some escapist remarks to himself about something quite different. He couldn't handle his own troubles, and so he didn't.

Take this consideration of the demarcating line between the sunny part of the campus lawn and the shady part, said shade created by the building looming behind him. None of this was at all material to the concern at hand, namely, get this rickety bike to the sidewalk at the other end of the lawn without becoming bogged in the snow, or worse, to have that dreadful feeling of rubber tires suddenly detached, sliding, slippery down the ice, and then foom! down, onto the snow. Hopefully not head-first. How bad would it be? Relax, and sigh into it. Welcome the ground. Hello, ground. Nice to see you again. Are you nice?

The ground probably wouldn't be nice. That's why he pushed carefully at the handlebars, hoping to soar right around that little patch of ice there -- oh! there's one there! And another one there! Now he's in motion, feeling the wind around the sides of his baseball cap and through the patches of hair above his ears. The pleasant whoosh of winter air around the bends of each ear and onto his ear drums did make him feel somehow alive, somehow justified in riding this ridiculously skinny bike over a campus lawn covered in snow -- it's worth it just to feel the crunch of the aging snow under the sharp tires, along with whoosh.

Jessica would pull up the camera to snap a photo in that moment. She had a way of catching him just when he had decided to do something possibly silly and stupid, possibly exhilarating. Did she think it was pitiful for him to prove himself a man by picking up that old bicycle that had rested on the rack beside the building just moments ago, inviting him with its lack of lock? They had gone on this walk as equals, but now he felt like her dog, set loose to roam about the yard or other certified safe area. Would she use the photograph, developed, with stamped date, as a certain proof of ownership?

And what if she did? Didn't being the playful dog suit his nature? Besides, he was no mere dog, but a human being, perfectly capable of analyzing the situation.

The goal was simple: take up the bike and ride it, crazy-styles, right over to the snow and onto the sidewalk, where, schweeee! he would bring the bike to a jolting but gentle halt on the flat surface of the concrete. The only possible thing that could go wrong was that he should encounter some point at which the two tires of this bicycle should have a center of gravity above them of a wide enough berth such that the angular moment in the direction of ye olde ground should be greater than the force keeping the tire in place, which, we should remember, was directly related to the coefficient of friction for the surface the tires were coming into contact with. In short, the bike might slip and fall out from under him. If. If the ground was slippery. And that's if he encountered a patch of ice. Not a likely thing -- oh, no sir. Not with these navigational skills! Why, see as the handlebars are adjusted first to the right, and then to the left, just so, and proper evasive measures are observed to be taken. Oh yes. 

And now here comes the punch line. Is Jessica still aiming the camera? Oh wait, don't look around now, we're almost there. What about the line between the sunshine-lawn and shaded lawn? Have we reached that yet? Wait, don't think too far. Remember the pain of foom! Steady, she goes now. over the big patch of plowed-up snow like a Tonka truck down piles of rocks set up to film a commercial. Below this pile lies the sidewalk, and victory. Ov-er, and down. Now swerve to the right and stare straight ahead, hopefully generally in Jessica's direction. Do I look noble, dear one? Come, do take a picture. Swerve, swerve. Down, now swing right. Woops! Wait, is that ice on the sidewalk? Sacré blue! No, wait. Hold-on! Oh. Hello, ground. Nice to see you again. Are you nice?


Kenneth Ch'en on the Ricci Map

The Nile, where people are naturally good at astronomy

Ch'en, Kenneth and Matteo Ricci. "Matteo Ricci's Contribution to, and Influence on, Geographical Knowledge in China." Journal of the American Oriental Society, Vol. 59, No. 3 (Sep., 1939), pp. 325-359.

This is a great example of a paper that steps back and, through simple narration of the contents researched, delivers a complete entertainment -- a whole world created, a whole drama acted out.

It may be outlined very briefly as follows:

Reporting on recent research in Peking in 1939, Professor Ch'en tells us that the map he is studying was probably produced eight times in succession by Matteo Ricci, who improved his map with each copy. These eight originals were then copied by those who recognized the map's value. Prof. Ch'en himself identified a certain barkeep who had this interest:
Another copy of the map may be found in Peking, owned by a wine merchant named Nicolai, who operates a wine shop in the Legation Quarters.

Following, Ch'en describes the contents of the map itself, all of the text boxes and general description and evaluation of the maps contents. It provided a tremendous amount of information in Chinese that was never available before: the five continents, the sphericity of the earth, the system of fixing meridians, the names of places outside China. The concept of the globe, and a global people. Of course, the modern global world was still a bit young, 1584-1608. It shouldn't surprise us that Ricci has some queer notions:
England : England has no poisonous snakes or other kinds of insects. Such things may be introduced into the country, but as soon as they reach the place they lose their poisonous nature.

I love that always when he exaggerates about Europeans, he does so in a positive way. Europe is a paradise, for "workers are skillful and clever, while the people are well-
versed in astronomy and philosophy." The Africans too, can be civilized, at least around the Nile:
Ni-lo 泥羅, (Nile River). This river, the longest on earth, empties into the ocean through seven mouths. Throughout the year there are no clouds in this region and so the inhabitants become good astronomers.

Sadly, the drama becomes tragedical when we discover that many Chinese readers couldn't handle the new reality represented in the map. In the end, the map ceased to have any influence over Chinese intellectual history.
The severe and uncompromising attitude expressed against Ricci by the imperial scholars sounded the death knell for Ricci's map. Nowhere do we find any favorable comment. It was no wonder that thereafter the work of the great Jesuit ceased to exercise its
influence over the thinking of the Chinese.

What factors caused this rapid decline of Ricci's influence?

Several may be advanced. In the first place there was the self-complacency of the Chinese. ...

Of course, before we pass judgment, we should think to ourselves whether the current culture could do any better, confronted with new knowledge of such incredible proportions as the very shape and nature of the earth.


Morning at Tretter: We'wha and a Bubbe

Progress is slow but steady at the Tretter collection. People like S., A., and of course Jean himself are all always asking me to do different tasks - hopefully at the same time. I'm trying to learn to simply embrace the chaos and take my focus when I can.

A we'wha and a Bubbe:

Task 1: Prepare Supplemental Materials to a Holocaust Concert at the end of this month

In addition to panels on Nazi persecution of Gays and Lesbians and also Magnus Hirschfeld's Institute for Sexual Research and its downfall at the hands of the Nazis, I'll include foam-board printouts of Hinda Kibort, a boy who apparently was a Holocaust victim at Dachau, and the full chart of all the pink triangles, yellow stars and other symbols the Nazis made the persecuted wear.

It bothers me a little bit that we don't have more to say about lesbian victims of the Holocaust specifically. I hope add to our panel some mention of the new study by someone named Xenia Bussi on this topic. Unfortunately it is German so I can't say much more at the moment.

Task 2: Scanning Two Spirit Image

To be posted...


Reading Group: The Ricci Map

Illustration: "Conception of Heaven and Earth," an inset on the first panel of the map. The three disks described in the passage below are clearly visible here.

Our school has come into possession of a huge, 1602 world map by Matteo Ricci.

UPDATE: Today's New York Times profiles the map in its current exhibition space at the Library of Congress. Thanks to my new friend RAA for the link!

The piece is so large and sprawling that only when you hunker down and stare at it in detail does it start to become clear how staggering an accomplishment it is. What a testament to the Jesuit passion for knowledge and craftsmanship! Surely this adds powerfully, or could have, to the Chinese sense of self?

Below the fold, my in-progress look at the document.

A digital copy of the map is available here.

A simpler, single-file version is on Wikipedia. I'm working on getting a printout of this. The text of the colophon seems to be on Wikipedia as well, juan 75 in a larger document called "Gazetteer of Maps of Seas and States" 海國圖誌.

Ann points out that Prof. Kenneth Ch'en wrote a paper on the subject back in 1939:

Ch'en, Kenneth and Matteo Ricci. "Matteo Ricci's Contribution to, and Influence on, Geographical Knowledge in China." Journal of the American Oriental Society, Vol. 59, No. 3 (Sep., 1939), pp. 325-359. (My notes on that here)

Our little group set to work to translate from the beginning of the colophon. Here's our progress so far:

General Statement on States and Regions (Original, without modern supplement)

From Matteo Ricci, Sayings on Maps 地圖說


Earth and sea originally are round in shape and matched to make one globe which resides in the center of the Heavenly Globe, in form like a chicken's egg, the yellow inside of the clear. Those who call the earth "square" are speaking of its fixed certitude and immobile nature; they are not speaking of the shape of the body. Heaven covers and extends completely over the earth, and so each reflects the other.


Thus it is that Heaven has the two Southern and Northern poles, and Earth also has them. Heaven is divided into 360 degrees, and Earth also shares this. The middle of Heaven has an Equator (chidao). From this Equator 23.5 half degrees south, we have the Southern Road. Twenty-three and a half degrees north of this Equator is called the Northern Road. The placement of China is to the north of the Northern Road.


When then sun progresses at the Equator, day and night are equal. Progress along the Southern Road makes for days that are short; progress along the Northern Road makes for days that are long. Thus the Celestial Globe has a Disk of Equal Day and Night set in its midst, and and two Disks, one for shorter days and one for longer days, set in the south and north, respectively; these mark out the boundaries of the progression of the sun. The Earth also is set up with three disks, which face opposite too and are beneath these (?)

A close up of the "Equator, Line of Days and Nights Being Equal," just above the Southern Road, here labeled as "Line of Shorter Days."


Monday, January 11, 2010

Note on Downloading Books

The Young Guo Moruo. Isn't just 太 Romantic?

I was surprised to discover that a website at the University of Oklahoma allows the general public to download entire books. For example, here's the first book by Leo Ou-fan Lee, The Romantic Generation of Modern Chinese Writers.

Thanks, OKU. But I wonder if Prof. Lee is aware of this...

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Undertaking Research: The Class

The Craft of Research -- my first impression is that its somewhat useful to a teacher, but hardly worth throwing it at the students.

I translated over 6,000 words in the last couple of days, which leaves me feeling a bit proud. This is dampened, though, when I think how I wanted the work done during the week last week, and various errands, goofing off, and other stuff prevented it. No matter, now it's done. More on my translation work soon.

For now, it's on to finishing the syllabus for ALL 4900W, the major project seminar.

I'm trying to write this syllabus very, very carefully, using as my main guide the syllabus to the corresponding course taught in the GSD department. I'm also assigning the students the text How to Read a Book by Mortimer Jerome Adler, and I'll be giving The Craft of Research a thorough reading myself, though I will not assign this book.

My students will build their theses up in stages using assignments I will post to our Moodle site. I will be sure to record my progress in using moodle this term, as it will be the heaviest usage I've given so far.

Adler, Mortimer, and Van Doren, Charles. How to Read a Book. Revised and Updated Edition. New York: Touchstone, 1972.

Booth, Wayne C.; Colomb, Gregory G.; and Williams, Joseph M. The Craft of Research. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1995.


Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Spring Cleaning: History Seminar 2006-7

A. and I re-arranged our apartment, cleaning up and getting rid of many things in the process. I think there's a lot of benefit to be had from cleaning up intellectually as well. For one thing, I'm dumping a lot of old notes and papers. They are practically useless to me the way the are. Along the way, I'll skim my notes one last time and make lists of all the papers I've read so far.

First I'll take a brief accounting of a year-long history seminar I took in '06-'07. We had many interesting discussions in this seminar, and all undertook significant research projects. It will be interesting as I go over these materials to think about what went right, what wrong, and to use the information to improve might upcoming effort to coach undergraduates in their research.

An example of a scholarly debate (polemic exchange, more like):

Yeh, Catherine Vance. "The Life-Style of Four Wenren in Late Qing Shanghai." Harvard Journal of Asiatic Studies 57, no. 2 (1997): 419-470.

Esherick, Joseph W. "Cherishing Sources from Afar." Modern China 24, no. 2, Symposium: Theory and Practice in Modern Chinese History Research. Paradigmatic Issues in Chinese Studies, Part V (1998): 135-161.

Kaplan, Amy. "Manifest Domesticity." American Literature 70, no. 3, No More Separate Spheres! (1998): 581-606.

Hevia, James L. "Postpolemical Historiography: A Response to Joseph W. Esherick." Modern China 24, no. 3 (1998): 319-327.

Huang, Philip C. C. "Theory and the Study of Modern Chinese History: Four Traps and a Question." Modern China 24, no. 2, Symposium: Theory and Practice in Modern Chinese History Research. Paradigmatic Issues in Chinese Studies, Part V (1998): 183-208.

Esherick, Joseph W. "Tradutore, Traditore: A Reply to James Hevia." Modern China 24, no. 3 (1998): 328-332.

Esherick, Joseph W. "Cherishing Sources from Afar." Modern China 24, no. 2, Symposium: Theory and Practice in Modern Chinese History Research. Paradigmatic Issues in Chinese Studies, Part V (1998): 135-161. A complaint about history writing with special attacks on James Hevia. Note the role that translation plays here.

Hevia's reply: Esherick's points are "mere quibbling"

Esherick must have the last word.

Miscellaneous Papers

An old scholar asks what historians are doing.

Kaplan, Amy. "Manifest Domesticity." American Literature 70, no. 3, No More Separate Spheres! (1998): 581-606. Theory-heavy account of "inscribing" and "agency," etc. I have to approach this again -- I must say I don't think I was taught to cover these terms robustly.

Yeh, Catherine Vance. "The Life-Style of Four Wenren in Late Qing Shanghai." Harvard Journal of Asiatic Studies 57, no. 2 (1997): 419-470. Is this essentially a set of portraits? If so I did not appreciate it nearly enough on first reading.

Book Extracts:

Matthew Harvey Sommer. Sex, Law, and Society in Late Imperial China. Palo Alto, CA: Stanford University Press, 2002.

I read chapter three, on rape cases.

A Missed Opportunity

毛澤東 雙影:天安門上 By Yu Youhan

Back in Minnesota, it's time for spring cleaning and preparation for the new semester.

I'm officially committed to more significant readings in Chinese art. When Tang Xiaobing visited the University, I was inspired to order this volume:

Valerie C Doran; Wen Liao. China's new art, post-1989 (Hou ba jiu Zhongguo xin yishu). Hong Kong: Hanhart T Z Gallery, 1993.

However, I was unable to do more than page through it before the end of the semester, and now I must send it back to the libraries of Ohio State. I'll order it again, though, and read it with interest next time.

Wait a sec, it now looks to me like our library owns this item. I suppose multiple entries in the WorldCat allowed me to make the ILL order even though it's right here. Well, shoot, I'll pick it up again at Wilson!


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