Shanghai in the early twentieth century was alive with art and culture. With the proliferation of popular genres such as the martial arts film, the contest among various modernist filmmakers, and the advent of sound, Chinese cinema was transforming urban life. But with the Japanese invasion in 1937, all of this came to a screeching halt. Until recently, the political establishment has discouraged comprehensive studies of the cultural phenomenon of early Chinese film, and this momentous chapter in China's history has remained largely unexamined.
The first sustained historical study of the emergence of cinema in China, An Amorous History of the Silver Screen is a fascinating narrative that illustrates the immense cultural significance of film and its power as a vehicle for social change. Named after a major feature film on the making of Chinese cinema, only part of which survives, An Amorous History of the Silver Screen reveals the intricacies of this cultural movement and explores its connections to other art forms such as photography, architecture, drama, and literature. In light of original archival research, Zhang Zhen examines previously unstudied films and expands the important discussion of how they modeled modern social structures and gender roles in early twentieth-century China.
The first volume in the new and groundbreaking series Cinema and Modernity, An Amorous History of the Silver Screen is an innovative—and well illustrated—look at the cultural history of Chinese modernity through the lens of this seminal moment in Shanghai cinema.
China’s rise as a global power is one of the major economic and political developments of the past fifty years. One seemingly inevitable outcome of industrialization is urbanization, and this definitive study surveys the key aspects of China’s massive wave of urbanization with an emphasis on the changes to the quality of life of urban dewellers. With contributions from authors in a variety of fields, Aspects of Urbanization in China creates a resonant and rich portrait of China’s global ambitions, as well as their culture, architecture, and economy. While the volume deals with disparate aspects of urbanization, the articles included are unified by a deep concern for Chinese citizens.
Paul P. Mariani Harvard University Press, 2011 Library of Congress BX1667.S53M37 2011 | Dewey Decimal 282.5113209045
Paul Mariani tells the story of how Bishop Kung, the Jesuits, and the Catholic Youth resisted the Chinese Communist regime and refused to renounce the Church in Rome. Mirroring tactics used by the previously underground CCP, Shanghai’s Catholics persevered until 1955, when the party was betrayed from within their own ranks.
Early twentieth-century China paired the local community to the worldùa place and time when English dominated urban-centered higher and secondary education and Chinese-edited English-language magazines surfaced as a new form of translingual practice.
Cosmopolitan Publics focuses on China's "cosmopolitans" Western-educated intellectuals who returned to Shanghai in the late 1920s to publish in English and who, ultimately, became both cultural translators and citizens of the wider world. Shuang Shen highlights their work in publications such as The China Critic and T'ien Hsia, providing readers with a broader understanding of the role and function of cultural mixing, translation, and multilingualism in China's cultural modernity.
Decades later, as nationalist biases and political restrictions emerged within China, the influence of the cosmopolitans was neglected and the significance of cosmopolitan practice was underplayed. Shen's encompassing study revisits and presents the experience of Chinese modernity as far more heterogeneous, emergent, and transnational than it has been characterized until now.
In Like Cattle and Horses Steve Smith connects the rise of Chinese nationalism to the growth of a Chinese working class. Moving from the late nineteenth century, when foreign companies first set up factories on Chinese soil, to 1927, when the labor movement created by the Chinese Communist Party was crushed by Chiang Kai-shek, Smith uses a host of documents—journalistic accounts of strikes, memoirs by former activists, police records—to argue that a nationalist movement fueled by the effects of foreign imperialism had a far greater hold on working-class identity than did class consciousness. While the massive wave of labor protest in the 1920s was principally an expression of militant nationalism rather than of class consciousness, Smith argues, elements of a precarious class identity were in turn forged by the very discourse of nationalism. By linking work-related demands to the defense of the nation, anti-imperialist nationalism legitimized participation in strikes and sensitized workers to the fact that they were worthy of better treatment as Chinese citizens. Smith shows how the workers’ refusal to be treated “like cattle and horses” (a phrase frequently used by workers to describe their condition) came from a new but powerfully felt sense of dignity. In short, nationalism enabled workers to interpret the anger they felt at their unjust treatment in the workplace in political terms and to create a link between their position as workers and their position as members of an oppressed nation. By focusing on the role of the working class, Like Cattle and Horses is one of very few studies that examines nationalism “from below,” acknowledging the powerful agency of nonelite forces in promoting national identity. Like Cattle and Horses will interest historians of labor, modern China, and nationalism, as well as those engaged in the study of revolutions and revolt.
The Lius of Shanghai
Sherman Cochran Harvard University Press, 2013 Library of Congress HD62.25.C63 2013 | Dewey Decimal 338.092251132
From the Sino-Japanese War to the Communist Revolution, a cache of letters from one of China’s prominent families, the Lius of Shanghai, sheds light on a tumultuous era. Sherman Cochran and Andrew Hsieh show how the family confronted war, civil unrest, and social upheaval, and how—in the midst of it all—they built a vast business empire.
From teen dating to public displays of affection, from the "fishing girls" and "big moneys" that wander discos in search of romance to the changing shape of sex in the Chinese city, this is a book like no other. James Farrer immerses himself in the vibrant nightlife of Shanghai, draws on individual and group interviews with Chinese youth, as well as recent changes in popular media, and considers how sexual culture has changed in China since its shift to a more market-based economy.
More and more men and women in China these days are having sex before marriage, creating a new youth sex culture based on romance, leisure, and free choice. The Chinese themselves describe these changes as an "opening up" in response to foreign influences and increased Westernization. Farrer explores these changes by tracing the basic elements in talk about sex and sexuality in Shanghai. He then shows how Chinese youth act out the sometimes-contradictory meanings of sex in the new market society. For Farrer, sexuality is a lens through which we can see how China imagines and understands itself in the wake of increased globalization. Through personal storytelling, neighborhood gossip, and games of seduction, young men and women in Shanghai balance pragmatism with romance, lust with love, and seriousness with play, collectively constructing and individually coping with a new culture based on market principles. With its provocative glimpse into the sex lives of young Chinese, then, Opening Up offers something even greater: a thoughtful consideration of China as it continues to develop into an economic superpower.
During the early twentieth century, Shanghai was the center of China's new media culture. Described by the modernist writer Mu Shiying as "transplanted from Europe" and “paved with shadows,” for many of its residents Shanghai was a city without a past paradoxically haunted by the absent past’s traces. In Shadow Modernism William Schaefer traces how photographic practices in Shanghai provided a forum within which to debate culture, ethnicity, history, and the very nature of images. The central modernist form in China, photography was neither understood nor practiced as primarily a medium for realist representation; rather, photo layouts, shadow photography, and photomontage rearranged and recomposed time and space, cutting apart and stitching places, people, and periods together in novel and surreal ways. Analyzing unknown and overlooked photographs, photomontages, cartoons, paintings, and experimental fiction and poetry, Schaefer shows how artists and writers used such fragmentation and juxtaposition to make visible the shadows of modernity in Shanghai: the violence, the past, the ethnic and cultural multiplicity excluded and repressed by the prevailing cultural politics of the era and yet hidden in plain sight.
Shanghai: A Novel by Yokomitsu Riichi
Yokomitsu Riichi; Translated with a Postscript by Dennis Washburn University of Michigan Press, 2001 Library of Congress PL842.O5S513 2001 | Dewey Decimal 895.6344
Even before the romanticized golden era of Shanghai in the 1930s, the famed Asian city was remarkable for its uniqueness and East-meets-West cosmopolitanism. Meng Yue analyzes a century-long shift of urbanity from China’s heartland to its shore. During the period between the decline of Jiangnan cities such as Suzhou and Yangzhou and Shanghai’s early twentieth-century rise, the overlapping cultural edges of a failing Chinese royal order and the encroachment of Western imperialists converged. Simultaneously appropriating and resisting imposing forces, Shanghai opened itself to unruly, subversive practices, becoming a crucible of creativity and modernism.
Calling into question conventional ways of conceptualizing modernity, colonialism, and intercultural relations, Meng Yue examines such cultural practices as the work of the commercial press, street theater, and literary arts, and shows that what appear to be minor cultural changes often signal the presence of larger political and economic developments. Engaging theories of modernity and postcolonial and global cultural studies, Meng Yue reveals the paradoxical interdependence between imperial and imperialist histories and the retranslation of culture that characterized the most notable result of China’s urban relocation—the emergence of the international city of Shanghai.
Meng Yue is assistant professor of East Asian languages and literature at the University of California, Irvine.
This book draws on a wide range of methods-including approaches from literary studies, cultural studies, and urban sociology-to analyse the transformation of Shanghai through rapid growth and widespread urban renewal. Lena Scheen explores the literary imaginings of the city, its past, present, and future, in order to understand the effects of that urban transformation on both the psychological state of Shanghai's citizens and their perception of the spaces they inhabit.
The pulsing beat of its nightlife has long drawn travelers to the streets of Shanghai, where the night scene is a crucial component of the city’s image as a global metropolis. In Shanghai Nightscapes, sociologist James Farrer and historian Andrew David Field examine the cosmopolitan nightlife culture that first arose in Shanghai in the 1920s and that has been experiencing a revival since the 1980s. Drawing on over twenty years of fieldwork and hundreds of interviews, the authors spotlight a largely hidden world of nighttime pleasures—the dancing, drinking, and socializing going on in dance clubs and bars that have flourished in Shanghai over the last century.
The book begins by examining the history of the jazz-age dance scenes that arose in the ballrooms and nightclubs of Shanghai’s foreign settlements. During its heyday in the 1930s, Shanghai was known worldwide for its jazz cabarets that fused Chinese and Western cultures. The 1990s have seen the proliferation of a drinking, music, and sexual culture collectively constructed to create new contact zones between the local and tourist populations. Today’s Shanghai night scenes are simultaneously spaces of inequality and friction, where men and women from many different walks of life compete for status and attention, and spaces of sociability, in which intercultural communities are formed. Shanghai Nightscapes highlights the continuities in the city’s nightlife across a turbulent century, as well as the importance of the multicultural agents of nightlife in shaping cosmopolitan urban culture in China’s greatest global city.
To listen to an audio diary of a night out in Shanghai with Farrer and Field, click here: http://n.pr/1VsIKAw.
In the wake of Kristallnacht, November 9, 1938, Sigmund Tobias and his parents fled their home in Germany and relocated to one of the few cities in the world that offered shelter without requiring a visa: the notorious pleasure capital, Shanghai. Seventeen thousand Jewish refugees flocked to Hongkew, a section of Shanghai ruled by the Japanese, and they created an active community that continued to exist through the end of the war.
Tobias's coming-of-age story unfolds within his descriptions of Jewish life in the exotic sanctuary of Shanghai. Depleted by disease and hunger, constantly struggling with primitive and crowded conditions, the refugees faced shortages of food, clothing, and medicine. Tobias also observes the underlife of Shanghai: the prostitution and black market profiteering, the brutal lives of the Chinese workers, the tensions between Chinese and Japanese during the war, and the paralyzing inflation and the approach of the communist "liberators" afterward.
Richly detailed, Strange Haven opens a little-documented chapter of the Holocaust and provides a fascinating glimpse of life for these foreigners in a foreign land. An epilogue describes the changes Tobias observed when he returned to Shanghai forty years later as a visiting professor.
When Hitler came to power and the German army began to sweep through Europe, almost 20,000 Jewish refugees fled to Shanghai. A remarkable collection of the letters, diary entries, poems, and short stories composed by these refugees in the years after they landed in China, Voices from Shanghai fills a gap in our historical understanding of what happened to so many Jews who were forced to board the first ship bound for anywhere.
Once they arrived, the refugees learned to navigate the various languages, belief systems, and ethnic traditions they encountered in an already booming international city, and faced challenges within their own community based on disparities in socioeconomic status, levels of religious observance, urban or rural origin, and philosophical differences. Recovered from archives, private collections, and now-defunct newspapers, these fascinating accounts make their English-languge debut in this volume. A rich new take on Holocaust literature, Voices from Shanghai reveals how refugees attempted to pursue a life of creativity despite the hardships of exile.