Movements—of people and groups, through travel, migration, exile, and diaspora—are central to understanding both local and global power relationships. But what of more literary moves: textual techniques such as distinct patterns of narrative flow, abrupt leaps between genres, and poetic figures that flatten geographical distance? This book examines what happens when both types of tropes—literal traversals and literary shifts—coexist.
Itineraries of Power examines prose narratives and poetry of the mid-Heian to medieval eras (900–1400) that conspicuously feature tropes of movement. Terry Kawashima argues that the appearance of a character’s physical motion, alongside literary techniques identified with motion, is a textual signpost in a story, urging readers to focus on how the work conceptualizes relations of power and claims to authority. From the gendered intersection of register shifts in narrative and physical displacement in the Heian period, to a dizzying tale of travel retold multiple times in a single medieval text, the motion in these works gestures toward internal conflicts and alternatives to existing structures of power. The book concludes that texts crucially concerned with such tropes of movement suggest that power is always simultaneously manufactured and dismantled from within.
Translation’s Forgotten History investigates the meanings and functions that translation generated for modern national literatures during their formative period and reconsiders literature as part of a dynamic translational process of negotiating foreign values. By examining the triadic literary and cultural relations among Russia, Japan, and colonial Korea and revealing a shared sensibility and literary experience in East Asia (which referred to Russia as a significant other in the formation of its own modern literatures), this book highlights translation as a radical and ineradicable part—not merely a catalyst or complement—of the formation of modern national literature. Translation’s Forgotten History thus rethinks the way modern literature developed in Korea and East Asia. While national canons are founded on amnesia regarding their process of formation, framing literature from the beginning as a process rather than an entity allows a more complex and accurate understanding of national literature formation in East Asia and may also provide a model for world literature today.
Struggling Upward reconsiders the rise and maturation of the modern novel in Japan by connecting the genre to new discourses on ambition and social mobility. Collectively called risshin shusse, these discourses accompanied the spread of industrial capitalism and the emergence of a new nation-state in the archipelago. Drawing primarily on historicist strategies of literary criticism, the book situates the Meiji novel in relation to a range of texts from different culturally demarcated zones: the visual arts, scandal journalism, self-help books, and materials on immigration to the colonies, among others. Timothy J. Van Compernolle connects these Japanese materials to topics of broad theoretical interest within literary and cultural studies, including imperialism, gender, modernity, novel studies, print media, and the public sphere. As the first monograph to link the novel to risshin shusse, Struggling Upward argues that social mobility is the privileged lens through which Meiji novelists explored abstract concepts of national belonging, social hierarchy, and the new space of an industrializing nation.
“Autumn wind, autumn rain, fill my heart with sorrow”—these were the last words of Qiu Jin (1875–1907), written before she was beheaded for plotting to overthrow the Qing empire. Eventually, she would be celebrated as a Republican martyr and China’s first feminist, her last words committed to memory by schoolchildren. Yet during her lifetime she was often seen as eccentric, even deviant; in her death, and still more in the forced abandonment of her remains, the authorities had wanted her to disappear into historical oblivion.
Burying Autumn tells the story of the enduring friendship between Qiu Jin and her sworn-sisters Wu Zhiying and Xu Zihua, who braved political persecution to give her a proper burial. Formed amidst social upheaval, their bond found its most poignant expression in Wu and Xu’s mourning for Qiu. The archives of this friendship—letters, poems, biographical sketches, steles, and hand-copied sutra—vividly display how these women understood the concrete experiences of modernity, how they articulated those experiences through traditional art forms, and how their artworks transformed the cultural traditions they invoked even while maintaining deep cultural roots. In enabling Qiu Jin to acquire historical significance, their friendship fulfilled its ultimate socially transformative potential.
Plucking Chrysanthemums is a critical study of the life and works of Narushima Ryūhoku (1837–1884): Confucian scholar, world traveler, pioneering journalist, and irrepressible satirist. A major figure on the nineteenth-century Japanese cultural scene, Ryūhoku wrote works that were deeply rooted in classical Sinitic literary traditions. Sinitic poetry and prose enjoyed a central and prestigious place in Japan for nearly all of its history, and the act of composing it continued to offer modern Japanese literary figures the chance to incorporate themselves into a written tradition that transcended national borders. Adopting Ryūhoku’s multifarious invocations of Six Dynasties poet Tao Yuanming as an organizing motif, Matthew Fraleigh traces the disparate ways in which Ryūhoku drew upon the Sinitic textual heritage over the course of his career. The classical figure of this famed Chinese poet and the Sinitic tradition as a whole constituted a referential repository to be shaped, shifted, and variously spun to meet the emerging circumstances of the writer as well as his expressive aims. Plucking Chrysanthemums is the first book-length study of Ryūhoku in a Western language and also one of the first Western-language monographs to examine Sinitic poetry and prose (kanshibun) composition in modern Japan.
Mark E. Byington explores the formation, history, and legacy of the ancient state of Puyŏ, which existed in central Manchuria from the third century BCE until the late fifth century CE. As the earliest archaeologically attested state to arise in northeastern Asia, Puyŏ occupies an important place in the history of that region. Nevertheless, until now its history and culture have been rarely touched upon in scholarly works in any language. The present volume, utilizing recently discovered archaeological materials from Northeast China as well as a wide variety of historical records, explores the social and political processes associated with the formation and development of the Puyŏ state, and discusses how the historical legacy of Puyŏ—its historical memory—contributed to modes of statecraft of later northeast Asian states and provided a basis for a developing historiographical tradition on the Korean peninsula. Byington focuses on two major aspects of state formation: as a social process leading to the formation of a state-level polity called Puyŏ, and as a political process associated with a variety of devices intended to assure the stability and perpetuation of the inegalitarian social structures of several early states in the Korea–Manchuria region.
Huang Xiangjian, a mid-seventeenth-century member of the Suzhou local elite, journeyed on foot to southwest China and recorded its sublime scenery in site-specific paintings. Elizabeth Kindall’s innovative analysis of the visual experiences and social functions Huang conveyed through his oeuvre reveals an unrecognized tradition of site paintings, here labeled geo-narratives, that recount specific journeys and create meaning in the paintings. Kindall shows how Huang created these geo-narratives by drawing upon the Suzhou place-painting tradition, as well as the encoded experiences of southwestern sites discussed in historical gazetteers and personal travel records, and the geography of the sites themselves. Ultimately these works were intended to create personas and fulfill specific social purposes among the educated class during the Ming-Qing transition. Some of Huang’s paintings of the southwest, together with his travel records, became part of a campaign to attain the socially generated title of Filial Son, whereas others served private functions. This definitive study elucidates the context for Huang Xiangjian’s painting and identifies geo-narrative as a distinct landscape-painting tradition lauded for its naturalistic immediacy, experiential topography, and dramatic narratives of moral persuasion, class identification, and biographical commemoration.
The occupation of the northern half of the Chinese territories in the 1120s brought about a transformation in political communication in the south that had lasting implications for imperial Chinese history. By the late eleventh century, the Song court no longer dominated the production of information about itself and its territories. Song literati gradually consolidated their position as producers, users, and discussants of court gazettes, official records, archival compilations, dynastic histories, military geographies, and maps. This development altered the relationship between court and literati in political communication for the remainder of the imperial period. Based on a close reading of reader responses to official records and derivatives and on a mapping of literati networks, the author further proposes that the twelfth-century geopolitical crisis resulted in a lasting literati preference for imperial restoration and unified rule.
Hilde De Weerdt makes an important intervention in cultural and intellectual history by examining censorship and publicity together. In addition, she reorients the debate about the social transformation and local turn of imperial Chinese elites by treating the formation of localist strategies and empire-focused political identities as parallel rather than opposite trends.
Visit Hilde De Weerdt’s website for Information, Territory, and Networks to access and explore an interactive database containing the core data on which the arguments of the final chapters of her book are based.
Under the Ancestors’ Eyes presents a new approach to Korean social history by focusing on the origin and development of the indigenous descent group. Martina Deuchler maintains that the surprising continuity of the descent-group model gave the ruling elite cohesion and stability and enabled it to retain power from the early Silla (fifth century) to the late nineteenth century. This argument, underpinned by a fresh interpretation of the late-fourteenth-century Koryŏ-Chosŏn transition, illuminates the role of Neo-Confucianism as an ideological and political device through which the elite regained and maintained dominance during the Chosŏn period. Neo-Confucianism as espoused in Korea did not level the social hierarchy but instead tended to sustain the status system. In the late Chosŏn, it also provided ritual models for the lineage-building with which local elites sustained their preeminence vis-à-vis an intrusive state. Though Neo-Confucianism has often been blamed for the rigidity of late Chosŏn society, it was actually the enduring native kinship ideology that preserved the strict social-status system. By utilizing historical and social anthropological methodology and analyzing a wealth of diverse materials, Deuchler highlights Korea’s distinctive elevation of the social over the political.
This book is the definitive study of imperial Chinese local gazetteers, one of the most important sources for premodern Chinese studies. Methodologically innovative, it represents a major contribution to the history of books, publishing, reading, and society.
By examining how gazetteers were read, Joseph R. Dennis illustrates their significance in local societies and national discourses. His analysis of how gazetteers were initiated and produced reconceptualizes the geography of imperial Chinese publishing. Whereas previous studies argued that publishing, and thus cultural and intellectual power, were concentrated in the southeast, Dennis shows that publishing and book ownership were widely dispersed throughout China and books were found even in isolated locales. Adding a dynamic element to our earlier understanding of the publishing industry, Dennis tracks the movements of manuscripts to printers and print labor to production sites. By reconstructing printer business zones, he demonstrates that publishers operated across long distances in trans-regional markets. He also creates the first substantial data set on publishing costs in early modern China—a foundational breakthrough in understanding the world of Chinese books. Dennis’s work reveals areas for future research on newly-identified regional publishing centers and the economics of book production.
The political novel, which enjoyed a steep yet short rise to international renown between the 1830s and the 1910s, is primarily concerned with the nation’s political future. It offers a characterization of the present, a blueprint of the future, and the image of the heroes needed to get there. With the standing it gained during its meteoric rise, the political novel helped elevate the novel altogether to become the leading literary genre of the twentieth century worldwide.
Focusing on its adaptation in the Chinese context, Catherine Vance Yeh traces the genre from Disraeli’s England through Europe and the United States to East Asia. Her study goes beyond comparative approaches and nation-state- and language-centered histories of literature to examine the intrinsic connections among literary works. Through detailed studies, especially of the Chinese exemplars, Yeh explores the tensions characteristic of transcultural processes: the dynamics through which a particular, and seemingly local, literary genre goes global; the ways in which such a globalized literary genre maintains its core features while assuming local identity and interacting with local audiences and political authorities; and the relationship between the politics of form and the role of politics in literary innovation.
Defensive Positions focuses on the role of regional domains in early modern Japan’s coastal defense, shedding new light on this system’s development. This examination, in turn, has significant long-term political implications for the involvement of those domains in Tokugawa state formation. Noell Wilson argues that domainal autonomy in executing maritime defense slowly escalated over the course of the Tokugawa period to the point where the daimyo ultimately challenged Tokugawa authorities as the primary military interface with the outside world. By first exploring localized maritime defense at Nagasaki and then comparing its organization with those of the Yokohama and Hakodate harbors during the treaty port era, Wilson identifies new, core systemic sources for the collapse of the shogunate’s control of the monopoly on violence. Her insightful analysis reveals how the previously unexamined system of domain-managed coastal defense comprised a critical third element—in addition to trade and diplomacy—of Tokugawa external relations. Domainal control of coastal defense exacerbated the shogunate’s inability to respond to important military and political challenges as Japan transitioned from an early modern system of parcelized, local maritime defense to one of centralized, national security as embraced by world powers in the nineteenth century.
Monstrous Bodies is a cultural and literary history of ambiguous bodies in imperial Japan. It focuses on what the book calls modern monsters—doppelgangers, robots, twins, hybrid creations—bodily metaphors that became ubiquitous in the literary landscape from the Meiji era (1868–1912) up until the outbreak of the Second Sino–Japanese War in 1937. Such monsters have often been understood as representations of the premodern past or of “stigmatized others”—figures subversive to national ideologies. Miri Nakamura contends instead that these monsters were products of modernity, informed by the newly imported scientific discourses on the body, and that they can be read as being complicit in the ideologies of the empire, for they are uncanny bodies that ignite a sense of terror by blurring the binary of “normal” and “abnormal” that modern sciences like eugenics and psychology created. Reading these literary bodies against the historical rise of the Japanese empire and its colonial wars in Asia, Nakamura argues that they must be understood in relation to the most “monstrous” body of all in modern Japan: the carefully constructed image of the empire itself.
The Chinese Communist welfare state was established with the goal of eradicating income inequality. But paradoxically, it actually widened the income gap, undermining one of the most important objectives of Mao Zedong’s revolution. Nara Dillon traces the origins of the Chinese welfare state from the 1940s through the 1960s, when such inequalities emerged and were institutionalized, to uncover the reasons why the state failed to achieve this goal.
Using newly available archival sources, Dillon focuses on the contradictory role played by labor in the development of the Chinese welfare state. At first, the mobilization of labor helped found a welfare state, but soon labor’s privileges turned into obstacles to the expansion of welfare to cover more of the poor. Under the tight economic constraints of the time, small, temporary differences evolved into large, entrenched inequalities. Placing these developments in the context of the globalization of the welfare state, Dillon focuses on the mismatch between welfare policies originally designed for European economies and the very different conditions found in revolutionary China. Because most developing countries faced similar constraints, the Chinese case provides insight into the development of narrow, unequal welfare states across much of the developing world in the postwar period.
From 1937 to 1949, Beijing was in a state of crisis. The combined forces of Japanese occupation, civil war, runaway inflation, and reformist campaigns and revolutionary efforts wreaked havoc on the city’s economy, upset the political order, and threatened the social and moral fabric as well. Women, especially lower-class women living in Beijing’s tenement neighborhoods, were among those most affected by these upheavals. Delving into testimonies from criminal case files, Zhao Ma explores intimate accounts of lower-class women’s struggles with poverty, deprivation, and marital strife. By uncovering the set of everyday tactics that women devised and utilized in their personal efforts to cope with predatory policies and crushing poverty, this book reveals an urban underworld that was built on an informal economy and conducted primarily through neighborhood networks. Where necessary, women relied on customary practices, hierarchical patterns of household authority, illegitimate relationships, and criminal entrepreneurship to get by. Women’s survival tactics, embedded in and reproduced by their everyday experience, opened possibilities for them to modify the male-dominated city and, more importantly, allowed women to subtly deflect, subvert, and “escape without leaving” powerful forces such as the surveillance state, reformist discourse, and revolutionary politics during and beyond wartime Beijing.
The rise of youth is among the most dramatic stories of modern China. Since the last years of the Qing dynasty, youth has been made a new agent of history in Chinese intellectuals’ visions of national rejuvenation through such tremendously popular notions as “young China” and “new youth.” The characterization of a young protagonist with a developmental story has also shaped the modern Chinese novel. Young China takes youth as a central literary motif that was profoundly related to the ideas of nationhood and modernity in twentieth-century China. A synthesis of narrative theory and cultural history, it combines historical investigations of the origin and development of the modern Chinese youth discourse with close analyses of the novelistic construction of the Chinese Bildungsroman, which depicts the psychological growth of youth with a symbolic allusion to national rejuvenation. Negotiating between self and society, ideal and action, and form and reality, such a narrative manifests as well as complicates the various political and cultural symbolisms invested in youth through different periods of modern Chinese history. In this story of young China, the restless, elusive, and protean image of youth both perpetuates and problematizes the ideals of national rejuvenation.
The Burakumin. Stigmatized throughout Japanese history as an outcaste group, their identity is still “risky,” their social presence mostly silent, and their experience marginalized in public discourse. They are contemporary Japan’s largest minority group—between 1.5 and 3 million people. How do young people today learn about being burakumin? How do they struggle with silence and search for an authentic voice for their complex experience?
Voice, Silence, and Self examines how the mechanisms of silence surrounding burakumin issues are reproduced and challenged in Japanese society. It explores the ways in which schools and social relationships shape people’s identity as burakumin within a “protective cocoon” where risk is minimized. Based on extensive ethnographic research and interviews, this longitudinal work explores the experience of burakumin youth from two different communities and with different social movement organizations.
Christopher Bondy explores how individuals navigate their social world, demonstrating the ways in which people make conscious decisions about the disclosure of a stigmatized identity. This compelling study is relevant to scholars and students of Japan studies and beyond. It provides crucial examples for all those interested in issues of identity, social movements, stigma, and education in a comparative setting.
Writing Technology in Meiji Japan boldly rethinks the origins of modern Japanese language, literature, and visual culture from the perspective of media history. Drawing upon methodological insights by Friedrich Kittler and extensive archival research, Seth Jacobowitz investigates a range of epistemic transformations in the Meiji era (1868–1912), from the rise of communication networks such as telegraph and post to debates over national language and script reform. He documents the changing discursive practices and conceptual constellations that reshaped the verbal, visual, and literary regimes from the Tokugawa era. These changes culminate in the discovery of a new vernacular literary style from the shorthand transcriptions of theatrical storytelling (rakugo) that was subsequently championed by major writers such as Masaoka Shiki and Natsume Sōseki as the basis for a new mode of transparently objective, “transcriptive” realism. The birth of modern Japanese literature is thus located not only in shorthand alone, but within the emergent, multimedia channels that were arriving from the West. This book represents the first systematic study of the ways in which media and inscriptive technologies available in Japan at its threshold of modernization in the late nineteenth to early twentieth century shaped and brought into being modern Japanese literature.
Socialist doctrines had an important influence on Korean writers and intellectuals of the early twentieth century. From the 1910s through the 1940s, a veritable wave of anarchist, Marxist, nationalist, and feminist leftist groups swept the cultural scene with differing agendas as well as shared demands for equality and social justice. In The Proletarian Wave, Sunyoung Park reconstructs the complex mosaic of colonial leftist culture by focusing on literature as its most fertile and enduring expression. The book combines a general overview of the literary left with the intellectual portraits of four writers whose works exemplify the stylistic range and colonial inflection of socialist culture in a rapidly modernizing Korea. Bridging Marxist theory and postcolonial studies, Park confronts Western preconceptions about third-world socialist cultures while interrogating modern cultural history from a post-Cold War global perspective.
The Proletarian Wave provides the first historical account in English of the complex interrelations of literature and socialist ideology in colonial Korea. It details the origins, development, and influence of a movement that has shaped twentieth-century Korean politics and aesthetics alike through an analysis that simultaneously engages some of the most debated and pressing issues of literary historiography, Marxist criticism, and postcolonial cultural studies.
South Korea has been held out as an economic miracle—as a country that successfully completed the transition from underdeveloped to developed country status—and as an example of how a middle-income country can continue to move up the technology ladder into the production and export of more sophisticated goods and services. But with these successes have come challenges, among them poverty, inequality, long work hours, financial instability, and complaints about the economic and political power of the country’s large corporate conglomerates, or chaebol.
The Korean Economy provides an overview of Korean economic experience since the 1950s, with a focus on the period since democratization in 1987. Successive chapters analyze the Korean experience from the perspectives of political economy, the growth record, industrial organization and corporate governance, financial development and instability, labor and employment, inequality and social policy, and Korea’s place in the world economy. A concluding chapter describes the country’s economic challenges going forward and how they can best be met.
The volume also serves to summarize the findings of companion volumes in the Harvard–Korean Development Institute series on the Korean economy, also published by the Harvard University Asia Center.