Cambria Press Author Megan M. Ferry – Speech at AAS 2018 Reception

Cambria Press author Professor Megan Ferry, Associate Professor of Chinese and Asian Studies and Chair of the Modern Languages and Literatures Department at Union College, gave a speech about her book, Chinese Women Writers and Modern Print Culture, at the Cambria Press reception at the AAS 2018 conference in Washington, DC.

Watch Professor Megan Ferry’s speech and/or read the transcript below.

Cambria Press Publication Author Megan Ferry

“My story about this book begins when I was about twelve years old. I read about land reform and I just saw individual role models that got me excited and I just had to go to China and find out more.

So the first question I’ll give you is how I did get started on writing this book? The books we write represent important stories of our selves. They are life questions that nag us until we are able to bring them to expression. This book took about 20 years to write. I rewrote it at least six times, completely, and the stories were not ready to come out, and I was ready to shelve it just as many times, if not more. And yet, it is a book that is appropriate for this time of the #MeToo movement, the crackdown on the “feminist five” because it evokes a lot of questions about social justice, liberation, and universal human rights, as we certainly saw today at the Mall here in Washington, DC, and the dominant ideologies that construct the filters that determine how we think and feel.

So, my story begins with seeing in the Chinese women writers of the early 20th century as role models who were wanting to effect change in their culture and were also passionate about contributing to China. And as I read about the critics, the friends, and the lovers, I was constantly surprised by them saying they would qualify the women by saying “Oh, but Xiaohong, she wears her hair in pigtails” or “Ding Ling is a little bit short and stocky” and I’m thinking what does that have to do with her being a woman writer. Or they say that women writers only write about love, but when we read we see that there’s much more going on, much more than what meets the eye.

And what I realized is that women writers are qualified not by what they are writing, but the whole system of the publishing industry, which qualifies how we are supposed to read and understand them. So I went to China and was in the archives, looking through the journals for two years and went to interview scholars on Ding Ling. In particular, I encountered male scholars who, when I would ask them about women writers, they would seem to tell me to veer the conversation toward why did their female students look better–had better hair, better dress, better clothes–because they were kept women of many overseas businessmen. So there was some lamentation in there, and perhaps some jealousy. Another male scholar, a prominent male scholar on modern Chinese literature and Ding Ling–when I went to interview him about Ding Ling, he proceeded to show me nude photos of himself and asked me what I thought, to my surprise. What I realized was that these scholars had encountered a Western female scholar coming to asking about women writers, and what I also realized was that this was another story that was ready to be told as well.

So here I was, a young Western female scholar in China, encountering many different things but certainly understanding about the gender-culture encounters that we have through our mediated world.

The second question we ask is why did discussions of Ding Ling lead seamlessly to male scholars’ discussion of their gendered contemporary milieu and sexuality? In this media-driven world, this very heterogeneous society that we live in, is often very narrowly defined by the power of the few who own those media. Being familiar with media and how it operates in the West, I was looking into and seeing what was happening in China. I laid my hands on as many stories as I could find within China, and what I have seen is how deeply entrenched the gender norms are, equally in China as they are here in the U.S., how they are also reiterated in the media and that’s how we also learn how to construct our world and see our world as common sense. So, what I’m looking at is the structures, what we call the paratexts, for constructing how we understand those women writers–not just the pigtails, not just the stories that they write.

I would like to thank Toni Tan tremendously for the many years that she has been supportive as I hemmed and hawed about whether this book should come to print. I would also like to thank Professor Victor Mair for allowing my book to appear in the Cambria Sinophone World Series. It’s an honor. You’ve created an excellent series for Sinological studies, and it’s an honor to be with so many wonderful colleagues. So I thank you very much.”

* * * * *

About the book

The widespread public exposure of modern Chinese women writers in the 1920s and 1930s generated interest in women’s creative output. The publishing field was the chief cultural forum within which other women looking for role models assessed their experiences in modernity. At the same time, however, this forum was limited by parameters that defined the labor of “women writers” (nüzuojia) as largely sentimental, unstructured, politically disengaged or naively subjective and unable to see the “larger picture” of humanity. Therefore, the value of women’s creative output was classified alongside the dominant narrative that conditioned readers’ responses to women’s literary output as evidence of women’s incomplete emancipation. The liberation of the newly styled women occurred in an industry whose power was the basis of the nation’s new cultural construction, yet despite there being exemplary women within the industry, there is no evidence of women as drivers of culture or in sustained cultural leadership roles to the same extent or with the same cultural weight as their male peers.

Women intellectual’s status as cultural producers, as it was codified in print media, has yet to be more fully explored so that we can better understand the relationship between gender ideologies and media. By deconstructing the hidden visual and linguistic signs of modernity’s promise for women’s equality and freedom one can begin to understand why, a century later, contemporary female authors confront obstacles similar to their pre-1949 predecessors. The social category of “women writers” is one among many that lets us examine how media’s visual and linguistic signs of difference express cultural identity norms and codify the modern individual.

Employing media analysis to examine the way paratexts create and reproduce gendered norms, especially through persistent material and discursive mechanisms that framed women authors and their textual production, Chinese Women Writers and Modern Print Culture is the first study to analyze the gendered ideologies of Chinese print media and political culture in a single work. It is thus  an important book for scholars in the fields of Asian studies, media studies, and women and gender studies.

Title: Chinese Women Writers and Modern Print Culture
Author: Megan M. Ferry
Publisher: Cambria Press
ISBN: 9781604979381
290 pp.  |   2018   |   Hardback & E-book
Book Webpage: http://www.cambriapress.com/books/9781604979381.cfm

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Cambria Press Publication Review: Fearless Femininity by Women in American Theatre (1910s to 2010s)

Congratulations to Professor Lynne Greeley (University of Vermont) on the outstanding review of her book Fearless Femininity by Women in American Theatre (1910s to 2010s) in the journal Women’s History Review.

women-in-theatre

The book review praises Fearless Femininity because:

Greeley has assembled a very large ‘cast’ of female artists: their ranks include the ‘first feminists’ (p. 215) Megan Terry and Bobbi Ausubel; Martha Boesing, cofounder of the feminist Minneapolis theatre company, At the Foot of the Mountain; Spiderwoman Theater, the Indigenous all-female (and all family) company; and commercially successful representatives of ‘third-wave’ feminism, such as playwrights Eve Ensler, Rivka Solomon, and Sarah Ruhl. Greeley also discusses the work of playwrights and performers who challenge not just the masculinity of American theatre but confront its whiteness and hetero-normativity: Latina playwright Caridad Svich; African American playwright Lynn Nottage; and artists Adelina Anthony, Young Jean Lee, and Najla Said, who (respectively) work from the perspectives of Ch/Xicana, queer, Asian American,and Arab/Palestinian American theatre and performance. Greeley brings to her research a deep-rooted knowledge of both American theatre history and feminist work’s place within it. Throughout the book she stresses women’s choices, their agency and activism, in crafting female or female-identified characters, ones made in the face of an art form and profession that has historically been dominated by men.

The journal review further recommends the book because “students of American theatre history, American women’s and gender history, and the histories of American feminism will have much to learn from Greeley’s own fearless approach to her subject.”

Fearless Femininity is part of the Cambria Contemporary Global Performing Arts Series headed by Professor John Clum (Duke University).

Order this book on Amazon.

  • Hardcover: 588 pages
  • Publisher: Cambria Press (February 6, 2015)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 160497883X
  • ISBN-13: 978-1604978834

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Cambria Press Publication Review: The Construction of Femininity in a Postcolonial State

Cambria Press Review

Congratulations to Dr. Kho Ee Moi of the National Institute of Education (Singapore) on the outstanding review of her book, The Construction of Femininity in a Postcolonial State: Girls’ Education in Singapore, by the journal Discourse: Studies in the Cultural Politics of Education.

The book review states: “Kho examines issues of gender equality with a penetrating and critical eye. In this study, she explores the contradictions over time of the goevernment’s socialization goals and in the messages they sought to send about what it means to be a female in Singapore. … Readers interested in the role of schools in constructing ideology, as well as those interested in the development of Singapore, will find this an engaging and well-written book.”

 

 

Ida B. Wells Birthday Tribute: Black Women as Custodians of History

Ida B. Wells

Black Women as Custodians of History: Birthday Tribute to Ida B. Wells

Cambria Press Book Highlight in honor of Ida B. Wells’s Birthday

“Like W. E. B. Du Bois, black activist and journalist Ida B. Wells also chose to become an interpreter of facts in her writings about lynching at the turn of the twentieth century [… and] called African Americans to write and distribute accurate histories that would counteract the false depictions created by white-owned presses, dispersing this message through her work in the antilynching movement.”   – Paula Sanmartín, Black Women as Custodians of History: Unsung Rebel (M)Others in African American and Afro-Cuban Women’s Writing

*This book is part of the Cambria Studies in Slavery Series headed by Ana Lucia Araujo (Howard University).

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Cambria Press New Book! Fearless Femininity by Women in American Theatre (1910s to 2010s) by Lynne Greeley

Women Theatre

Fearless Femininity by Women in American Theatre (1910s to 2010s) by Lynne Greeley is now available!

Excerpts from Fearless Femininity by Women in American Theatre (1910s to 2010s) by Lynne Greeley; this book is in the Cambria Contemporary Global Performing Arts by John Clum (Duke University):

On the performance of the feminine no longer belonging to men:
“From the beginning of the twentieth century, when women were claiming the right to be in a public space while keeping their private reputations intact, to the beginning of the twenty-first century, when female artists claim and display their own bodies by choice, artists in American theatre have proved that the performance of the feminine no longer belongs to a mystique created by men but to the women who choose to be and do and sell as they please.”

On the idea of femininity:
“Whether contemporary females, transgender, or queer people love, hate, or are indifferent to the idea of femininity, their cultural conditioning creates personal responses to it that are rarely neutral. What is new about this writing is the demonstration of the intimate relationship between femininity and feminism, a combination that has created a century of powerful—and not always feminine—feminists.”

Browse the book by clicking here. Order by April 30 and take 35% off the hardcover list price–use coupon code CAMBRIA188 at www.cambriapress.com).

Visit the Cambria Press website. Download the Cambria Press catalog.

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#WomensStudies #Theatre #PerformingArts

Monumenta Nipponica Praises Ooku, The Secret World of the Shogun’s Women for having “much to recommend it” – Read the Outstanding Book Review

AAS, Asian Studies, Cambria Press, Ooku, Japan, Japanese, Shogun, Cecilia Segawa Seigle, Linda Chance, University of Pennsylvania

Ooku, The Secret World of the Shogun’s Women
by Cecilia Segawa Seigle and Linda H. Chance has “much to recommend it”

 

Cambria Press congratulates Professors Cecilia Segawa Seigle and Linda H. Chance (University of Pennsylvania) on the outstanding review of their book Ooku, The Secret World of the Shogun’s Women in the journal Monumenta Nipponica, which states that “a useful and essential supplement to [Conrad Totman’s] Politics in the Tokugawa Bakufu and demonstrates that at least by the second half of the Tokugawa period, the ‘occasional pressures’ […] had become a routine part of the process by which men advanced in office; moreover, office seekers, whether male or female, had to pull strings in the Ooku (female space), the Omote (male space), or both. Seigle is to be commended for having dug through so many diverse sources, many in manuscript form, during the course of her research and for having brought to light what is known of the women who lived and worked in the Ooku in exhaustive detail […] this book has much to recommend it.”

Dr. Linda Chance will be at the AAS as the discussant for the roundtable “Book Studies: Materiality and Method in Asian Studies” on Friday at 10:45 a.m.

Ooku, The Secret World of the Shogun’s Women will be on display at the Cambria Press booth at 2015 AAS annual conference. The Cambria Press booth (601) will be right in the front, near the exhibit hall entrance. Our ad is on the outside back cover of the AAS program.  See also other outstanding titles in Japan Studies, such as:

If you won’t be at the conference, you can still use the AAS discount (from now until April 30, a conference discount of 35% off the hardcover list price is available–use coupon code AAS2015 at www.cambriapress.com).

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#Humanities Scholarship – Important and Growing

Cambria Press humanities

#Humanities Scholarship is Important

An excellent article from Inside Higher Ed regarding scholarship in the humanities, in which William (Bro) Adams, the head of the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH), said on Thursday that he wants to push humanities scholarship to become more directly connected to helping address the nation’s contemporary problems. There are also encouraging numbers from today’s Inside Higher Ed article showing that from 1987 to 2013 the average annual growth rate for liberal arts or liberal studies degrees at community colleges was 4.3 percent.

To reinforce the importance of the humanities, we highlight three very different books which illuminate the value of humanities scholarship in the present and for the future.

African Heritage and Memories of Slavery in Brazil and the South Atlantic World shows how slave legacies shape the identity and culture of a nation

The Works of Arthur Laurents showcases how gender politics and the dynamics of marriage across recent decades were mirrored in the performing arts.

Modern Poetry in China illustrates how turning away from centuries of Chinese literati tradition seemed necessary in the context of a political, social, and cultural reform movement.

Books like these provide critical insights into the layers that make up the different cultures which will inevitably and increasingly converge, clash, and influence one another as the world grapples with nationalism and globalism. Guiding Cambria Press’s commitment to scholarship in humanities are leading scholars such as:

Stay posted on important scholarship in the humanities!

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#humanities #scholarship