China Studies – 10 Important Books

Today on China’s National Day, we highlight books that have made important contributions to China studies. Below are ten books that have earned stellar reviews and should be in all China-studies library collections. Check to see if these titles are in your library. If not, please let your librarian know that there is a 25% discount on publisher-direct orders of all hardcoversuntil October 31. The coupon code is SAVE25 and can be used by individuals too (*does not apply to display copies)

China Books

Ten Important Books for China Studies

  1. The Poetics and Politics of Sensuality in China
    by Xiaorong Li
  2. Spatial Imaginaries in Mid-Tang China by Ao Wang
  3. Insects in Chinese Literature by Wilt L. Idema
  4. Imperfect Understanding by Christopher Rea
  5. The Administration of Buddhism in China
    by Albert Welter
  6. Cosmopolitanism in China, 1600–1950
    by Minghui Hu and Johan Elverskog, eds.
  7. China and Beyond in the Mediaeval Period
    by Dorothy C. Wong and Gustav Heldt, eds.
  8. Eroticism and Other Literary Conventions in Chinese Literature by I-Hsien Wu
  9. Modern Poetry in China by Paul Manfredi
  10. Gao Xingjian by Gao Xingjian (trans. Mabel Lee)
    *See also titles in the Cambria Sinophone World Series.

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NYCAS 2019 Panel Chairs – Megan Ferry and Nicholas Kaldis

Two Cambria Press authors–Professor Megan Ferry and Professor Nicholas Kaldis–will be at the 2019 New York Conference on Asian Studies (NYCAS) at SUNY New Paltz. 

Cambria Press Publication Author Megan Ferry

Professor Megan Ferry (Union College), author of Chinese Women Writers and Modern Print Culture will be chairing the panel “Between State And Populace, Chasing The China Dream” at the 2019 NYCAS conference on October 4, 2019.

Cambria Press Nicholas Kaldis Suny Binghamton Lu Xun Yecao Wild Grass Modern Chinese Literature and Culture MCLC
Cambria Press author Nicholas Kaldis (SUNY Binghamton), author of The Chinese Prose Poem: A Study of Lu Xun’s Wild Grass (Yecao)

Professor Nicholas Kaldis (Binghamton University SUNY), author of The Chinese Prose Poem: A Study of Lu Xun’s Wild Grass (Yecao) will be chairing the panel “Unsettling Perspectives in Chinese & Japanese Film & Fiction”on October 4, 2019.

Both Professors Ferry’s and Kaldis’ books are in the Cambria Sinophone World Series, headed by Professor Victor Mair (University of Pennsylvania).

Please see our ad in the NYCAS conference program and browse our books and pick up a flyer in the NYCAS book exhibit hall.

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Wendy Larson Keynote Speaker for 2019 MCAA Conference

Professor Wendy Larson (University of Oregon; author of Zhang Yimou: Globalization and the Subject of Culture) be the keynote speaker at the 68th Annual Meeting of the Midwest Conference on Asian Affairs at Michigan State University. The title of her keynote speech is “Revolutionary Optimism in 1950s Chinese Culture.”

Cambria Press author Wendy Larson publication Zhang Yimou

A description from the program about Professor Larson’s speech :

When Chinese revolutionary culture reached its zenith in the 1950s and 1960s, revolutionary optimism became a strongly encouraged emotional perspective, attitude, and expression. It was touted through literature, film, images, and virtually every aspect of daily life. However, the valorizing of happiness took place with equal fervency in the United States. Socialism and capitalism both embodied the modern ideals of progress and improvement characteristic of scientific rationalism, which drove their embrace of happiness and an optimistic attitude.

For more information on the 2019 MCAA conference, please see the MCAA program.

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ISSS-IS 2019 Annual Conference, Denver

Cambria Press is proud to be a silver sponsor for the 2019 ISSS-IS Annual Conference, which will be held at the Sié Center at the Josef Korbel School of International Studies, University of Denver, in Denver, Colorado, October 18–19.

Be sure to browse the Cambria Press table for new and noteworthy books in the Rapid Communications in Conflict and Security Series, headed by Dr. Geoffrey R. H. Burn.




Titles in the series include:

For more information on the Cambria Rapid Communications in Conflict and Security Series, please see

To submit a proposal, please use the Cambria proposal form.

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Cambria Press Publication Review: Imperfect Understanding


Congratulations to Professor Christopher Rea (University of British Columbia) on the outstanding review of his book Imperfect Understanding: Intimate Portraits of Modern Chinese Celebrities in the journal MCLC, which praises it for providing readers with “a rich contribution to our growing understanding of how the multilingual media sources and a culturally and linguistically diverse readers’ community influenced the public space of Republican China.”

The review further commends Imperfect Understanding: Intimate Portraits of Modern Chinese Celebrities for being

an important contribution to the fields of modern Chinese history, biographical studies, literary aesthetics, philosophy and cosmopolitan non-fiction writing in early twentieth century China. Its attractive layout and richly informative content make the volume ideal course material for graduate seminars or advanced undergraduate courses on modern Chinese literature or history studies. Historical figures familiar to specialists become animated and approachable in the individual sketches, and the appended thumbnail biographies provide details for non-specialist readers.

This book is available from Cambria Press both in print and e-book formats.

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Cambria Press Publication Review: Krausism and the Spanish Avant-Garde

Rubio Front Cover.jpg

Congratulations to Professor Christian Rubio (Bentley University) on the outstanding review of his book Krausism and the Spanish Avant-Garde: The Impact of Philosophy on National Culture in the journal Rocky Mountain Review of Language and Literature, which praises it for providing readers with “a groundbreaking understanding of the artistic and social movements of this era.”

The review further commends Krausism and the Spanish Avant-Garde for being

an innovative study that confronts the traditional understanding of culture in Spain during the turn of twentieth century. Rubio´s new approach to Spanish cultural studies fits better within the European context because the author places Spain on the same level as other countries, rather than separating it from the rest of the continent. Rubio demonstrates that Krausism and its evolution within the Spanish cultural landscape effectively invigorated and reshaped national culture. … Rubio’s work provides a new thread of discussion in Spanish cultural studies and illustrates the need to revisit traditional understandings of the field.”

This book is available from Cambria Press both in print and e-book formats.

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Cambria Press Publication Review: Autobiographical Writing in Latin America

Franco Front Cover.jpg

Congratulations to Professor Sergio Franco (Temple University) on the excellent review of his book Autobiographical Writing in Latin America: Folds of the Self in the journal Hispania, which praises the book for being “superb” and noting that

For its variety of authors and types of autobiographical writing, its theoretical rigor and methodological approaches, and its impressive bibliography, this is a most valuable publication. This book should be included as mandatory bibliography to read in all graduate seminars.

The book is also commended by experts like Professor Gerald Martin, (University of Pittsburgh) and author of Gabriel García Márquez: A Life and The Cambridge Introduction to Gabriel García Márquez, who states that

Meticulous yet provocative; original yet firmly and scrupulously grounded in a wide and impressive array of carefully selected bibliographical sources; challenging on each and every page; illuminating both about autobiographical writing in Latin America and about the complexities and processes of self-writing in general: Sergio R. Franco’s new book is all of this and more.

Professor Raúl Bueno (Dartmouth College) also commends the book:

Sergio R. Franco’s book advances with brilliance his project on Spanish American narratives of the self exploring the major manifestations of the genre. Latin American autobiographies and memoirs are thriving at the end of the twentieth century, nurtured by contemporary individualism, narcissism, photography, ekphrastic narrative, and procedural analogies. Exhaustiveness and a shrewd theoretical pluralism characterize the volume. Expansive and incisive, this book can and should reach general theoretical attention

This book is part of the Cambria Latin American Literatures and Cultures Series, headed by Román de la Campa, the Edwin B. and Lenore R. Williams Professor of Romance Languages at the University of Pennsylvania and is available from Cambria Press both in print and e-book formats.

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Interview with Professor Wilt Idema on Insects in Chinese Literature

Wilt Idema

Insects in Chinese Literature: A Study and Anthology by Wilt L. Idema was just published and launched at the 2019 AAS conference in Denver two weeks ago. There was much interest in this unusual book, and so we have conducted the following interview with Professor Idema.

Cambria Press: In the introduction to your book, you mention that that insects, especially “anthropomorphized insects that talk to each other,” are quite rare in animal tales. What sparked your interest in this rare subset of animal tales?
Wilt Idema: I have always been interested in animal tales, animal fables, and beast epics, likely because Van den vos Reynaerde (Reynard the fox) is one of the most famous and enjoyable works of Dutch medieval literature. Perhaps because I was frustrated by the near-absence of texts involving talking animals in Chinese literature, I have been keeping track of those tales I did encounter. Once I thought I might have enough for a book on the topic, I only intensified my search. When looking for insect tales, I was quite surprised to find a considerable number of tales about the weddings of insects, the funerals of insects, their battles and wars, their disputes and court cases in Chinese popular literature, and once I had found those materials I wanted to compare the depiction of insects in popular tales to those in classical poetry and in vernacular prose. The result in my Insects in Chinese Literature.

CP: You note in your epilogue that “insects are still used as the embodiments of evil and destruction in science-fiction horror movies in the East and West.” Why do you think that is? And why do you think the texts you chose to include in your book treat them differently?
Insects rarely are cuddly. The bee may be useful, but still has a sting. Perhaps the only insects that immediately draw our attention by their beauty are butterflies and dragon flies. Not only have people felt an aversion to many insects since times immemorial, the invention of the microscope has revealed the insects as truly “other,” creatures with different heads, fearsome maws, curiously shaped body parts, etcetera. The film has of course been the perfect medium to confront us with enlarged, moving, close-up images of these strange creatures, making them even more fearsome and horrible. The texts I deal with basically date from the pre-modern period before the insects had been disclosed in their full horrible ugliness, so authors treat insects as the small animals they are.

CP:  The insects in the passages in your book have been anthropomorphized (i.e., assigned human characteristics). But the reverse is often also true: an insect’s traits are laid over a human personality, albeit in an insect’s body. How do you think writers balanced human and insect characteristics in their characters?
WI: It is one of the great attractions of animal literature to see how authors handle the combination of beastly and human characteristics in their texts. Portraying a  character as an animal immediately calls up a host of associations, so fable characters rarely need any further description. But at the same time the character cannot be reduced to only a few fixed animal characteristics, it also has to be given a human rationality that operates from its specific position in the animal kingdom. This requires skill and talent. Some authors in this collection limit themselves distributing human roles over a large number of different insects, others bring flies and mosquitoes, or lice and fleas together in extended dialogues. In classical poetry authors may borrow the voice of despised insects such as locusts or bed bugs to satirize human society.

CP: Although your book deals with insects in Chinese literature, you also discuss the differences and similarities between the treatment of insects in Eastern and Western literature. What attitudes in each of these cultures do you think made their respective treatment of insects so different, and what attitudes do you think dictate our treatment of insects today?
WI: Many of the attitudes towards insects in China and the West are actually quite similar, but practical issues account for some major differences. The Chinese kept bees, but the economic importance of bees was minimal in comparison with the importance of sericulture. Europe rarely suffered from locusts, but many regions of China did so quite often.  People in pre-modern Europe apparently did not keep crickets as pet, and they also did not bet on cricket fights, so the “insect cultures” of pre-modern China and pre-modern Europe were quite different. This is reflected in the texts devoted to insects. In China there Is no trace of the metaphor of the hive, and ants are praised rather for their military than their economic organization.  What is changing our attitude towards insects nowadays is most of all the growing awareness of the destruction wrought by decades of unlimited use of insecticides worldwide on  insect life and the possible consequences for sustainable food production. The insect that in the West would seem to have most benefitted from that development would appear so far to be the bee.

CP: To what extent do you think the West’s treatment of insects influenced the East’s, and vice versa?
WI: The West learned sericulture from China—if we believe the old tales, by stealing silk worms from China. The early twentieth century witnessed the introduction of modern entomology to China. A title that has to be mentioned in this connection are the many volumes of Jean Fabre’s Souvenirs entomologiques. This work with its many detailed descriptions of insect behavior is still widely available throughout East Asia in various adaptations and translations. At an early date it had a clear impact on Lu Xun who had hoped to produce a Chinese translation in cooperation with his biologist younger brother. Lu Xun also was fascinated by the descriptions of the encounters between the title hero and insects in De kleine Johannes (Little Johannes), a fairy-tale novel by the Dutch author Frederik van Eeden, which he rendered into Chinese as Xiao Yuehan.

CP: What was your favorite insect tale, and why?
I like everything I translate, but in this volume my favorite items are Wang Ling’s dream encounter with a locust, Ding Yaokang’s overheard conversation between a fly and a mosquito, and the anonymous account of the underworld court case of the louse against the flea and the bed bug.

Order Insects in Chinese Literature by April 30, 2019, to save 30% by using the coupon code AAS2019 at the Cambria Press website  (libraries can enjoy this discount too, so please forward this to them). And don’t forget that if your library orders the platinum e-book edition of any title because of a professor’s recommendation, students will have free digital access to the purchased titles and the professor will receive a complimentary hardcopy of the purchased titles—a perfect solution for chapter reading assignments. See the Asian studies catalog.

About the author: Wilt L. Idema is Professor Emeritus of Chinese Literature at Harvard University. A recipient of the prestigious Special Book Award of China, Dr. Idema’s many publications include The Red Brush: Writing Women of Imperial ChinaPersonal Salvation and Filial Piety: Two Precious Scroll Narratives of Guanyin and Her AcolytesMeng Jiangnü Brings Down the Great Wall: Ten Versions of a Chinese LegendHeroines of Jiangyong: Chinese Narrative Ballads in Women’s ScriptThe White Snake and her SonJudge Bao and the Rule of Law: Eight Ballad-Stories from the Period 1250–1450Monks, Bandits, Lovers and Immortals: Eleven Early Chinese PlaysThe Butterfly Lovers: The Legend of Liang Shanbo and Zhu YingtaiEscape from Blood Pond Hell: The Tales of Mulian and Woman HuangBattles, Betrayals, and Brotherhood: Early Chinese Plays on the Three KingdomsThe Generals of the Yang Family: Four Early PlaysThe Resurrected Skeleton: From Zhuangzi to Lu Xun; and ”The Immortal Maiden Equal to Heaven” and Other Precious Scrolls from Western Gansu.

Insects in Chinese Literature is part of the Cambria Sinophone World Series, headed by Victor Mair (University of Pennsylvania).

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#ISA2019 Toronto Highlights

#ISA 2019 Toronto

Visit the Cambria Press booth (112) to browse our books, chat with an editor, and learn about some frequently asked questions on topics such as the fast publication turnaround after passing peer review and complimentary index-page generation for authors.

New and noteworthy titles will be sold at a special conference price of US$25/CAD$30 (usual list price US$35-$39), while supplies last, so do get to the booth quickly to get your copies.

JUST PUBLISHED! Ensuring National Government Stability After US Counterinsurgency Operations
by Dallas Shaw

ISA 2019 Shaw

The newest book to be released at the ISA conference is Ensuring National Government Stability After US Counterinsurgency Operations: The Critical Measure of Success by Dallas Shaw, and it has been lauded by General Anthony Zinni for being “a brilliant and insightful work” and “a must read for all who want to truly understand what it takes to implement a very complex doctrine and theory in real-world conflicts.”

This book is part of the in the Cambria Rapid Communications in Conflict and Security (RCCS) Series, headed by Dr. Geoffrey R. H. Burn. Watch the videowhich already has nearly 8,000 views, to see the growth of this exciting new series.

NEW! The Gathering Pacific Storm
by Tai Ming Cheung and
Thomas G. Mahnken

“This is a timely, thought provoking book on the state of the increasingly heated military-technological competition between the United States and its great power rivals, China and Russia. Coming on the heels of new National Security and Defense strategies that emphasize the return of great power competition, The Gathering Pacific Storm: Emerging US-China Strategic Competition in Defense Technological and Industrial Development is essential reading for those concerned about the erosion of U.S. military-technical advantage. Dr Cheung and Dr. Mahnken’s book is sure to provide an important intellectual foundation for debate over this important issue. Highly recommended!” 

–Robert Work, 32nd Deputy Secretary of Defense 
and CEO of the Center for a New American Security (CNAS)

ISA 2019 Cheung Mahnken

Dr. Thomas Mahnken’s ISA 2019 Sessions:

TC55: Thursday 1:45 PM – 3:30 PM
Makers of Global Strategy: Asian Experiences 

SA52: Saturday 8:15 AM – 10:00 AM
Emerging Technologies, the Rise of China and the International Order

NEW! Military Strategy in the 21st Century
by Charles Cleveland, Benjamin Jensen, Susan Bryant, and Arnel David

“In Military Strategy for the 21st Century: People, Connectivity, and Influence, four authors who have devoted their careers to the security of the United States share their thoughts about the evolving character of war in an increasingly interconnected, networked world—and suggest innovations that will make us safer and more capable. Highly recommended.” 

—John Nagl, author of Learning to Eat Soup with a Knife and
Knife Fights: A Memoir of Modern War

ISA 2019 Jensen.jpg

Dr. Benjamin Jensen’s ISA 2019 Sessions:

WA06: Wednesday 8:15 AM – 10:00 AM
Crisis Dynamics and Cyber Statecraft: Simulating Cross National Perspectives 

WB28: Wednesday 10:30 AM – 12:15 PM
Trust and the Cyber Security Dilemma

WD28: Wednesday 4:00 PM – 5:45 PM
War Gaming and Simulations in International Security



The RCCS Series is headed by general editor Dr. Geoffrey R. H. Burn, a former army officer with a doctorate in organization theory and strategy as well as thirty years of experience as the chief executive of book and journal publishing companies. He is a fellow of the Inter University Seminar on Armed Forces and Society, a member of the Association of Former Intelligence Officers, a member of the Royal Canadian Military Institute, and a fellow of the Royal Society for the Arts.

ISA 2019 Book Discount – SAVE 30%

If you’re not headed to the ISA, you and your library can still enjoy a 30% discount on all hardcover titles. Please use coupon code ISA2019 upon checkout. This special discount ends on April 30, 2019. Please forward this e-mail to your librarian so that they can use this discount. Visit for the full list of our titles.

AAS 2019 Highlight: Wendy Larson, author of Zhang Yimou

Professor Wendy Larson, author of the highly acclaimed Zhang Yimou: Globalization and the Subject of Culture, will be the discussant for the panel “Literature from China’s Borderlands: Conforming and Resisting the State” in the Colorado room, Tower Building, on Friday (March 22) at 11:15AM-1:00PM.


Come to the Cambria Press booth (403) to take a look at her book, which has earned much praise.

Larson’s wide-ranging theoretical knowledge and the ambitious articulation of the often slippery idea of culture will attract a large academic readership in cultural studies, Chinese studies, film studies, and history. Her detailed, concrete, and brilliant close readings of the nine films also serve as a rich and useful pedagogical resource for a Chinese film course or a Chinese culture course.”

Journal of Asian Studies

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

See also The Sinophone Cinema of Hou Hsiao-hsien: Culture, Style, Voice, and Motion by Christopher Lupke.

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