Cambria Press author Wendy Larson (AAS 2017 speech)

Cambria Press author Wendy Larson (University of Oregon) spoke about her new book Zhang Yimou: Globalization and the Subject of Culture at the Cambria Press reception. This book is in the Cambria Press Sinophone World Series headed by Professor Victor Mair (University of Pennsylvania) and the Cambria Press Contemporary Global Performing Arts Series headed by Professor John Clum (Duke University).

Watch Professor Wendy Larson’s speech
at the Cambria Press reception

Cambria Press author Wendy Larson publication Zhang Yimou

Below is a transcript of Professor Wendy Larson’s speech:

“I have been working on this book for ten years. When I first thinking about writing on Zhang Yimou, it was because of the film Hero. As you probably know, the film was extremely controversial. It came out and was widely criticized as being an apology for an authoritarian government as well as many other bad things. As I watched the film, I felt that it was more complicated than that, and I thought that wasn’t quite fair. So that got me into thinking about Zhang Yimou. I had done a little writing on him in the past. So I wrote an article about Hero with a different kind of argument and got a bit of a reaction–Nick Kaldis wrote a response–and I wrote a counter-response. But my idea at the time was to look at the way in which literature and film theorized the position of culture in China–not Chinese culture; that is not to say Chinese culture versus Western culture, or something like that, but rather how culture is structurally working at a time of transformation and crisis in China when there is a lot of pressures from globalization, from consumerism and capitalism, and there’s just rapid change in the information society going on. So, originally, at first I thought I would put Zhang Yimou in there as one person that I will look at. And then I thought I was so tired from doing the book before that, where I looked at so many filmmakers and authors. So I thought maybe I’ll just focus on one, and that will make it easier. [Hahaha] So I did focus on one, but it didn’t make it easier. The choice wasn’t that easy, but I looked at Zhang Yimou’s films and I felt that about half of them, maybe three-quarters of them, could work within my argument. So what I did really is not an auteur-type of study; it is not a study of Zhang Yimou that is going to give you his whole history, his biographical information, his every single film–it is not a survey. It’s really an argument about the way that the films are in themselves a kind of investigation into the way culture is working in China.

There are two questions I often get, so I’ll answer them now. Number 1: Have you met Zhang Yimou? The answer is no. I have not met Zhang Yimou, and that’s on purpose because I feel compromised when I personally know the subjects of my study and I think it is an unconscious thing that I slightly back away from perhaps some of the things I want to say. And that may just be me; it’s not every single person that falls into that kind of trap.

And the second question is: Do you like all of Zhang Yimou’s films? The answer is no. But I like enough of his films, which I think are interesting and I think sometimes they have gotten a bad rap. I’ve had many arguments about this, and that has of course brought out the contrarian in me, and I’m happy to argue about what the films are doing.

So, finally, I just want to say that I am really to be pleased to be able to publish with an independent academic press, and I want to thank Toni Tan and Victor Mair and everyone else who has worked who has worked on this. A lot of people worked very hard on this. I’m very impressed with the speed and quality of the work, and I’m really happy to have published with Cambria Press. Thank you.”

* * * * *

Zhang Yimou has the reputation for being one of the most famous filmmakers of China, as well as one of the most controversial. Despite his stature among Chinese film directors, Zhang Yimou has not yet been the subject of a book-length treatment in English. Film professors who teach his films only have access to a relatively small corpus of articles and book chapters published over some twenty-five years. This book is the first attempt to remedy that situation by laying out not simply a biographical or empirical study, but a polemical argument that counters some of the critical trends in the interpretation of Zhang’s films. In this first critical study of films by Zhang Yimou in English, Wendy Larson plumbs the larger field of debate to suggest thought-provoking ways of thinking about the films and their relationship to Chinese culture. This is an important book for film scholars and for scholars of Chinese culture and history.

Title: Zhang Yimou: Globalization and the Subject of Culture
Author: Wendy Larson
Publisher: Cambria Press
ISBN: 9781604979756
440 pp.  |   2017   |   Hardback & E-book
Book Webpage: http://www.cambriapress.com/books/9781604979756.cfm

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Cambria Press author Charlotte Furth (AAS 2017 speech)

Cambria Press author Charlotte Furth (University of Southern California) spoke about her new book Opening to China: A Memoir of Normalization, 1981–1982 at the Cambria Press  reception.

Watch Professor Charlotte Furth’s speech
at the Cambria Press reception

Cambria Press author Charlotte Furth publication Opening to China

Below is a transcript of Professor Charlotte Furth’s speech:

“Many of you here may not even remember what it was like to study China during the Cold War, when we could not go there.  But I began my teaching career in the mid-1960s, at its height.  PRC was hidden behind the Bamboo Curtain.  Taiwan and Hong Kong didn’t really count… You then can imagine  how we responded to Nixon’s visit to China in 1972.  Thrilled!  The decade that followed was one of  very tentative rapprochement and  limited travel, via delegations approved by PRC authorities.  Think  “socialist tourism”  two week guided tours, itineraries chosen by our hosts. .   Nonetheless, we all schemed to get a place on a delegation—and then we wondered what on earth we had seen (1970s were  the height of the cultural revolution as it turned out).

Then in 1979  President Carter negotiated full diplomatic relations.  Among the changes: a full  American diplomatic mission in Beijing, some Western journalists could be posted there, a few big banks set up shop, and the Fulbright program  of  international exchange of scholars and  teachers, suspended since 1950, was resumed.

And I wangled a year in Beijing as a Fulbright teacher.  Why and how the Chinese authorities choose a historian of China to teach young Chinese scholars about America is a curious story. The details are in the memoir, but it is one of many that show how uncertain PCR leaders were  about the new relationship between  us Americans and the Chinese—and also about the future direction of their own country.  My students weren’t ordinary university students: they were mostly young and a few middle-aged scholars— products of education in Mao’s China.  All one way or another had assignments to teach college-level English.  They came to Beijing from all over the nation.  Of course they were woefully unprepared: torn between curiosity about the outside world and anxiety about their own futures.  But their lives were an amazing window into the revolutions history.

So the memoir is the story of our mutual encounter.  I’d left my husband and daughter to embark on this adventure alone—and I wrote in detail about daily life in letters home—so  much detail that my husband complained that I didn’t seem to miss him. It was true…I knew the letters would be a record of an unusual experience..and I also knew when I came home in 1982 that I wasn’t ready to write about it all.  Thirty five years later, you have it. I am glad I  lived long enough to do this!”

* * * * *

Based on Professor Furth’s detailed notes and letters home at the time, this book evokes the unique atmosphere of expectation and frustration that characterized the first years of normalization. This book is a valuable account for specialists on Sino-American relations and on the formative years of the generation of Chinese who lead the People’s Republic of China today. It is also a fascinating read for anyone who wants to explore the pleasures and perils of Chinese and American struggles to understand one another.

Title: Opening to China: A Memoir of Normalization, 1981–1982
Author: Charlotte Furth
Publisher: Cambria Press
ISBN: 9781604979848
158 pp.  |   2017   |   Paper & E-book
Book Webpage: http://www.cambriapress.com/books/9781604979848.cfm

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Cambria Press author Mark Bender (AAS 2017 speech)

Cambria Press author Professor Mark Bender (The Ohio State University) spoke about his new book The Borderlands of Asia: Culture, Place, Poetry at the Cambria Press reception. This book is in the Cambria Press Sinophone World Series headed by Professor Victor Mair (University of Pennsylvania).

Watch Professor Mark Bender’s speech
at the Cambria Press reception

Cambria Press author Mark Bender publication Borderlands of Asia

Below is a transcript of Professor Mark Bender’s speech:

“Firstly, I’d like to say a big thank-you to Toni Tan, Michelle Wright—and, of course, Victor Mair—of Cambria Press for helping me with this project.  I am endlessly grateful for their vision and hard work.

This project began as a side interest to my study of oral traditions in China.  It has grown organically from the translation of a few poems concerning cultural and environmental change written in Nuosu language by Yi poet and academic Aku Wuwu of Southwest University for Nationalities in Chengdu. The  present volume includes the works of 48 poets from Northeast India, Myanmar, Southwest China, Inner Mongolia, and Mongolia.

It has been my great pleasure to work with a number of onsite collaborators who helped in many ways to put me in touch with local poets.  These include Desmond Kharmawthlang from the Northeast Hill University in Shillong, Meghalaya in Northeast India; the poet ko ko thett, a former Burmese ex-pat, now living in Mandalay, Myanmar; poets Aku Wuwu and Burao Yilu, of Sichuan and Yunnan provinces, China; Prof. Chen Ganglong of Peking University who connected me to poets of Inner Mongolia; and the inimitable Delgermaa Ganbat of the Union of Mongolian Writers in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia.

The theme of the volume is the experiences of cultural and environmental change as channeled through the voices of poets from among the many ethnic groups within and without of the border areas of China and India. As I note in the Preface the array of poets included in this volume would have been different if I had met different people and if my travels had taken me to other places.  That said I feel strongly that the themes of cultural and environmental change treated in the volume have a sharp relevancy in many areas Asia and elsewhere on the planet.  One theme that I raise in the Introduction is that of “place-competency” – the deep familiarity with local environments and how to live in a place – knowledge threatened by new styles of living that require new competencies for survival.  Many of the poets in this volume have written poems that reflect their own adjustments to changing circumstances, and often speak for their local communities. To quote from page 15:

“Many of the poets in this volume reflect perceptual and experiential attitudes towards the lands and waters of specific places that belie deep place-competency—whether the environment they evoke is a humid jhum field in Northeast India, the sublime spaces of the northern steppes, the disorienting streets of an urban megalopolis in Southwest China, or a somehow familiar myth-world inhabited by speaking animals. Some of the poets stress the de-linkage from these familiar relationships with the environment, exhibiting nostalgia for an imagined world of harmony in contrast to the traumatic changes of the present. From another angle, poems such as Desmond Kharmawphlang’s “Thaiang Buried Roots,” reflect an attitude adopted by poets who seek to renew aspects of tradition amidst the chaos of cultural upheaval and environmental destruction and heal intimate ties between community and place (Syiem 2011, 129–130).”

Other themes, such as the imagery of ritual and material culture in relation to imagery are prominent in the poems, but as my three minutes are rapidly coming to a close, I will end here with an entreaty that we pay take advantage of the opportunity to listen to these voices from the borderlands of Asia and see what they have to teach us.”

* * * * *

The Borderlands of Asia is a rare collection that brings together the works of poets of diverse cultural backgrounds located in places that are only beginning to be recognized globally as sites of intense poetic work. This book contributes to raising global awareness of this poetry of land, waters, and cultures in less-highlighted parts of Asia. The subjects of environmental and cultural change are inescapable in the poetry represented in this volume, and many ethnic communities are on the front lines of development, affected in various ways by resource extraction (especially mining and logging), damming of rivers (a severe international issue), loss of wildlife and habitat, population displacement, and the effects of climate change. Likewise, the local cultures have variously experienced the effects of invasion, colonization, revolution, social engineering, insurgency, multi-spectrum development, and globalization contributing to often challenging (or worse) cultural changes. The intense contemporary poetry being produced is an index of the magnitude of these changes. An important book for Asian studies, Indigenous literature studies, and literature of the environment studies, this volume offers a substantial glimpse into contemporary poetry from exciting but under-represented poetic voices speaking out in the border areas of eastern Asia.

Title: The Borderlands of Asia: Culture, Place, Poetry
Author: Mark Bender
Publisher: Cambria Press
ISBN: 9781604979763
396 pp.  |   2017   |   Hardback & E-book

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Cambria Press author & series editor Victor Mair (AAS 2017 speech)

Cambria Press author & series editor Professor Victor Mair spoke at the 2017 AAS (Association of Asian Studies) Cambria Press reception about how he first learned about Cambria Press at the 2008 conference and eventually came to head the Cambria Sinophone World Series, which he is pleased to note has “exploded” in such a short time. Thanks to Professor Mair’s leadership, the Cambria Sinophone World Series has grown with outstanding works from established, renowned scholars and rising academic stars.

Watch Professor Victor Mair’s speech
at the Cambria Press reception.

Victor Mair

Professor Mair also spoke about his new book Buddhist Transformations and Interactions: Essays in Honor of Antonino Forte, which was released at the AAS conference. The book is testimony to Forte’s reputation as an important scholar for his contributions, including the publication of his research and his generous assistance to many scholars. The authors in the volume are some of these scholars, and they include Tansen Sen (Baruch College), Victor Mair (University of Pennsylvania), Antonino Forte, Timothy Barrett (SOAS, University of London), Jinhua Chen (University of British Columbia), Hubert Durt (International College for Advanced Buddhist Studies Tokyo), Phyllis Granoff (Yale University), Paul Groner (University of Virginia), John R. McRae (Indiana and Cornell Universities), Michael Radich (Victoria University of Wellington), James Robson (Harvard University), Koichi Shinohara (Yale University), Albert Welter (University of Arizona), and Mimi Yiengpruksawan (Yale University). This is an important book for scholars in the fields of Buddhist studies and Sinology.

Title: Buddhist Transformations and Interactions: Essays in Honor of Antonino Forte
Editor: Victor H. Mair
Publisher: Cambria Press
ISBN: 9781604979718
598 pp.  |   2017   |   Paperback & E-book

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Cambria Press Publication Excerpt from “Buddhist Transformations and Interactions”

The following is an excerpt from Buddhist Transformations and Interactions edited by Professor Victor Mair. This new book was released by Cambria Press at the 2017 AAS conference a week ago. According to Tansen Sen (professor at Baruch College), Antonino Forte had the well-earned reputation of being “a valued mentor, a comforting friend, and a great host.” In the book, Sen notes:

“Nino, as we called him, was always ready to share his insights into the cosmopolitan world of the Tang dynasty; he eagerly imparted his knowledge about the Buddhist connections between Tang China and other parts of Asia; and he graciously offered to us his publications, including those that were forthcoming or still at the formative stage. His advice and suggestions invariably improved our research skills and knowledge of Chinese history. His kindness and generosity also helped us better navigate the world of scholarship as well as daily life in Kyoto. Nino Forte was one of the leading global scholars of Tang China.”

We will be posting more chapter excerpts soon. This new book from Cambria Press is also available on Amazon.

Cambria Press publisher reputation Forte

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AAS 2017 Toronto: Books and Scholars in Asian Studies to Watch

AAS 2017 Cambria Press Authors

Check out the new books by these Asianists at the Cambria Press booth 109 at the Association for Asian Studies, Inc. (AAS) #AAS2017 conference in Toronto.

Top (left to right): Wilt Idema (Harvard University), Victor Mair (University of Pennsylvania), Wendy Larson (University of Oregon), Mark Bender (The Ohio State University), and Charlotte Furth (University of Southern California).

Bottom (left to right): Zhansui Yu (Nazareth College), Christopher Lupke (University of Alberta), Takayoshi Yamamura (Hokkaido University), I-Hsien Wu (City College of New York), and Philip Seaton (Hokkaido University).

Professor Victor Mair (University of Pennsylvania) will make a special appearance at the Cambria Press booth (109) on Friday (March 17) at 11 a.m. to discuss the Cambria Sinophone World Series and his latest book Buddhist Transformations and Interactions. In addition, six other new books are being launched just in time for the AAS conference. These are:

  • Zhang Yimou by Wendy Larson (University of Oregon)

    “Larson’s book is important for any reader interested in how the political sphere and visual culture redefine each other.” —Yomi Braester, University of Washington; and Coeditor, Journal of Chinese Cinemas

  • The Borderlands of Asia by Mark Bender (The Ohio State University) 

    “When it comes to other books on the market, there is nothing close to this book in terms of quality or range of material. This is a unique and valuable addition to the field of literature and Asian studies.”—Jonathan Stalling, University of Oklahoma; and Editor, Chinese Literature Today

  • Eroticism and Other Literary Conventions in Chinese Literature by I-Hsien Wu (CUNY) 

    “I-Hsien Wu has done brilliant work in teasing out the intertextual threads of The Story of the Stone. In a very astute manner, she examines sources drawn from performing arts and erotic fiction, identifies ideological and affective contestations, and ponders the consequences of the novel as a text in flux.” —David Der-wei Wang, Harvard University

  • Chinese Avant-garde Fiction by Zhansui Yu (Nazareth College) 

    “This thoughtful book offers fresh insights into avant-garde fiction in the early decades of China’s reform. Engaging Chinese and Western traditions, Yu Zhansui argues forcefully that the Chinese avant-garde carries on the probe into the darkness of history in a quest for transcendent truths about human conditions.” —Ban Wang, Stanford University

  • Opening to China by Charlotte Furth (Univerity of Southern California) 

    “Few Americans today have any sense of how far China has come since its opening in the early 1980s. Charlotte Furth was there to see the start of the defrost with the country’s opening and her lively account of her experiences in China then provides a unique and invaluable record. It is useful in these days of rising tensions between China and the U.S. to be reminded of China’s social reality not very long ago.” —Gordon H. Chang, Stanford University

  • Contents Tourism in Japan by Philip Seaton, Takayoshi Yamamura, Akiko Sugawa-Shimada, and Kyungjae Jang

    “This may be the best book ever written on tourism in Japan! This work is on one of the most important subjects in contemporary tourism studies and Japan studies, perhaps a forerunner of things that are also happening in the Korean and Chinese worlds and elsewhere, which makes it doubly important.” —Nelson Graburn, UC Berkeley

Taika square sneak peek

Take a sneak peek at the Cambria Press Asian studies catalog

Taika square book sales

Use coupon code AAS2017 at http://www.cambriapress.com to save 30% on all hardcover titles. Offer ends May 15, 2017.

Taika square book

Forthcoming book in the Cambria Rapid Communications in Conflict and Security Studies (RCCS) Series headed by Dr. Geoffrey R. H. Burn

Taika square BAG

Come to booth 109 to get a complimentary Cambria Sinophone World Series tote bag

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Taika square dessert

Sheraton Toronto Churchill Room

Cambria Press Publication Review: The Chinese Prose Poem

Congratulations to to Dr. Nicholas A. Kaldis, Associate Professor of Asian and Asian American Studies at SUNY Binghamton, on another excellent review of his book, The Chinese Prose Poem: A Study of Lu Xun’s Wild Grass (Yecao), in the journal Frontiers of Literary Studies in China.

lu-xun

The book review notes that “The Chinese Prose Poem is a well-crafted, critical, and interpretive analysis of Lu Xun’s Wild Grass (Yecao ). In addition to standing as its own critical interpretation, The Chinese Prose Poem is also a well annotated bibliographical reference for interpretations of Lu Xun’s prose poem collection. Nicholas A. Kaldis draws convincingly on the literary interpretive strategy of Walter A. Davis and is informed by Freudian psychology and Nietzschean symbolism (an interest of Lu Xun’s), which the author weaves into his close readings of Lu Xun’s prose poems themselves.”

The review further praises the book because “Kaldis’ close readings of Yecao works use ample quotations with accompanying Chinese characters (which will be appreciated by Chinese-literate readers), discussions of Lu Xun’s linguistic expressions, and his psychological and emotional states. The readings are well considered and complex, and Kaldis’ analyses and interpretive perspectives are clear and solid, engaging productively with Lu Xun’s intentionally difficult embrace of a language of paradox in Yecao.”

Read more outstanding reviews for The Chinese Prose Poem.

This book is part of the Cambria Sinophone World Series, headed by Victor H. Mair (University of Pennsylvania).

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