Cambria Press Author Carolyn T. Brown Speaks at the Library of Congress

Lu Xun

Dr. Carolyn T. Brown, former director of the John W. Kluge Center at the Library of Congress, recently gave a talk about her latest book Reading Lu Xun Through Carl Jung (Cambria Press, 2018) at the Library of Congress. Below are excerpts of her speech and here is the link to the video of the entire speech.

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

How the book started

“This study began when I was a college sophomore in a course in modern Chinese literature in translation. I think we probably read his most iconic stories, certainly true story of Ah Q. Undoubtedly “Regret for the Past,” I don’t remember. But I do know that when I read one of his stories, “The New Year Sacrifice,” it was as if someone had like hit me in the stomach and I thought, “What has happened here?” I had never been to China and I don’t think I really knew anyone who was Chinese or certainly not well. But I do answer that question, but I’m not going to answer it here today. I do answer it in the book. But the question, my own reaction asked me to think both about my reaction and in a psychological sense and then to begin to wonder about what might be the psychological dimensions within the stories. Thus I was moved to ask about the psychological model by personal experience and I admit, as a former director of the Kluge Center, it wasn’t driven by intellectual curiosity, essentially, but by my experience.”

How this book is different

“unlike most studies, it’s not primarily about the man himself, it’s a study of text. Of course we know the man wrote the text, so they obviously trace back to the author himself, but that’s not the central concern. Similarly the work decent is the content and focuses on the structures. That is, I look at the patterns that repeat in foremost of the stories. … I’m using Jung’s concepts of the psyche as a model to explain what I was finding in the text.”

On Scapegoating

“The dog, who cannot defend himself becomes the scapegoat for the fact that the child was negligent and failed to do the assignment. More seriously this image can be projected onto entire groups. Where the community contributes some evil that has befallen it, to a group usually with insufficient power to fight back and tries to contain it. The internment of Japanese Americans during World War II is one very clear example of political scapegoating of an entire group. And I’m sure it doesn’t take much imagination for you to look around our current world and see it still happening. But although a part of the self can be forgotten and rendered unconscious, it cannot be destroyed, because it is part of the self.”

On the spiritual or psychological illness that Lu Xun defined as undermining China

“My book argues that one way of viewing the spiritual or psychological illness that Lu Xun defined as undermining China, is to view his analysis as the split of the shadow from the ego within the whole self. And healing as the reintegration of these two parts. He investigates this, this idea in multiple domains, that of the nation, the community, the family and the individual self and imagines different outcomes in each domain. So one way to understand the psycho dynamics in the true story of Ah Q, is to view the story as an investigation into what happens when the ego splits off and expels the unwanted, unacknowledged, despised shadow side of the self and then tries to destroy it?”

On union concepts and national character in “The True Story of Ah Q”

“Analyzing ‘The True Story of Ah Q’ as a meditation on scapegoating, defined in terms of these union concepts, reveals dimensions of the stories, the story not previously noted. … I want to provide a few examples that reveal how viewing the true story of Ah Q as a meditation on scapegoating furthers our understanding of the story. … Ah Q’s signature feature, the one he’s know for as a character, is his stunning capacity to turn physical defeat into spiritual victory. That is, when he’s defeated in some kind of brawl he redefines the experience, such that he perceives himself as having achieved the upper hand morally and psychologically. At the time of its composition Ah Q’s capacity to turn defeat into victory was read allegorically.  It was read as a representation of China’s failures to respond to the challenges brought by the west. The notion that a nation had a particular character, a national character was very current at the time, and there was considerable discussion about China’s national character, what made it unique. And then given the problems, what deficiencies were in its — in this character. Because if it was getting beaten up by the West, at least in its perception, it must have been deficient in some way. Lu Xun, viewing himself as a doctor rendering a diagnosis, looked at what was wrong with the patient, china, in order to move the body politic towards health and a better future. He himself declared a few years later that in creating the stories he had attempted to — he had attempted to describe the souls of the Chinese people. So, from the beginning Ah Q was viewed as typical, not just a literary character, but typical of the Chinese national character. And what was considered his essential feature, was this capacity to turn defeat into victory. So, we should take a look at what that actually means.”

On sexual desire and power in “Soap”

“Lu Xun made the same argument in another story, which is much overlooked, “Soap.” That is he also showed there that society has encouraged men to disown their sexuality, project their desires onto women and then accuse women of having incited it. Certainly he viewed this as an issue of power as well, but also in psychological terms.”

On Lu Xun’s implicit model

“In the book I show that interpreting this structure through Jung’s conceptual framework shows that indeed Lu Xun had an implicit model of psychological illnesses and its causes. … the union approach, combined with a focus on the structure, gives new meaning to Lu Xun’s decision to take up the profession of literature in his hope of healing the spirits of the Chinese people.”

Reading Lu Xun Through Carl Jung is available directly from Cambria Press, on Amazon,
and Barnes and Noble.

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Celebrating Taiwan, home to some of the richest Sinophone literature in the world

Today on Taiwan’s National Day, we celebrate this important, vibrant island, which has given us—as Jonathan Stalling aptly puts it in Contemporary Taiwanese Women Writers—”some of the richest Sinophone literature in the world.” Stalling elaborates that “unfixed, vibrant, and deeply engaged with a sense of place, Taiwanese writers—from the experimental poetry pioneer Hsia Yu to younger multimedia poets like Ye Mimi to powerhouse authors like Li Ang and Chu T’ien-wen—are continually pushing the boundaries of the possible and unlocking new directions for Sinophone literature in the twenty-first century.”

Stalling

Taiwan’s literary history is just as unique, as seen in Chia-rong Wu’s fascinating study, Supernatural Sinophone Taiwan and Beyond, which explores “the discourse of the supernatural and beyond in response to the historical overview of Sinophone Taiwan.” Wu explores the zhiguai 志怪 genre and shows us how “ghost haunting may be allegorically associated with the historical, political, cultural, and even sexual dimensions of the world of the living.”

Supernatural Sinophone Taiwan

In showcasing the world of the living in Taiwan, Hou Hsiao-hsien is “considered by many cinema aficionados to be one of the most innovative, provocative, and enthralling directors,” as Christopher Lupke notes in The Sinophone Cinema of Hou Hsiao-hsien and further remarks that “linguistically and culturally speaking Hou Hsiao-hsien necessarily dwells in contested terrain, in the political penumbra between state and region, between national culture and transnational identity.”

Hou Hsiao-hsien

Supernatural Sinophone Taiwan and Beyond and The Sinophone Cinema of Hou Hsiao-hsien are part of the Cambria Sinophone World Series, headed by Professor Victor Mair (University of Pennsylvania).

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Cambria Press Publication Review: The Borderlands of Asia

Congratulations to Professor Mark Bender (The Ohio State University) on the outstanding review of his book, The Borderlands of Asia: Culture, Place, Poetry, in the journal Modern Chinese Literature and Culture (MCLC).

Sinophone

The review states:

In translating these poems into English, the global ‘language of interaction’ (p. xxi), the voices of poets from the borderlands of Asia can be heard by a wider audience. Bender’s informative introduction gives his readers a broad context for understanding the complicated histories and cultures of the areas and the poets included in the volume. ….

In addition to highlighting the ecocritical aspects of the poems in the volume (p. 14), Bender’s introduction contributes to a growing awareness of the peoples and cultures of Zomia and Sinophone communities of the margins. People transform space into place through the process of inhabiting an environment; the cultural adaptability and knowledge they obtain through human interactions help them shape and conceptualize that environment. The different conceptualizations of place in this collection are associated with various histories and ethnic identities. …

In the borderlands of Asia, people suffer from war, economic inequality, and environmental degradation because of modern development and nation-state building. In this collection of poems, we also encounter the anxiety, rage, and trauma felt by the poets and their peoples as they confront the daunting challenges of the nation-state system, modernity, globalization, and the Anthropocene. …

The editor has done impressive work to offer background knowledge for understanding most of the poems, especially the ones from Southwest China. …

Taken together, this work is a timely publication in dialogue with many scholarly trends, including the Sinophone, Zomia, and the Anthropocene, as understood through the medium of poetry. Although the contributors of this collection hail from a variety of nationalities and cultures, they share common difficulties and concerns in their lives. This volume is a crucial contribution to the fields of literary anthropology, literary studies, and Asian studies and is destined to become required reading for students in anthropology and comparative literature.

The Borderlands of Asia is part of the Cambria Sinophone World Series, headed by Victor Mair (University of Pennsylvania).

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Meet Mabel Lee, Shen Jiawei, and Victor Mair at the double book launch

Victor Mair Mabel Lee Shen Jiawei

The double book launch for Mabel Lee and Shen Jiawei just got even more exciting! Attendees will also get to meet world-renowned Sinologist Victor H. Mair (University of Pennsylvania), general editor of the Cambria Sinophone World Series. Register now for the event!

The double book launch for Painting History: China’s Revolution in a Global Context
and Gao Xingjian and Transmedia Aesthetics will be held on July 14, 2018 (Saturday) at 2–5 p.m. at iPreciation, Singapore’s premier gallery that showcases the best of modern and contemporary Asian Art, including the works of Nobel laureate Gao Xingjian.

Celebrity Artist Shen Jiawei is not only known for his commissioned portraits of dignitaries such as Pope Francis, Princess Mary of Denmark, and Australian Governor-General Sir Peter Cosgrove but also his famous history paintings, which are held at the National Museum, Art Museum, and Military Museum in Beijing, as well as in public and private collections around the world. Mr Shen’s unique experiences and innovative techniques are documented in his new book Painting History: China’s Revolution in a Global Context (edited by Dr. Mabel Lee), which he will discuss at the event.

Dr. Mabel Lee is an honorary professor at the Open University of Hong Kong and an adjunct professor at the University of Sydney, where she taught 20th-century Chinese history and literature for more than 30 years. She is best known for her translations of Gao Xingjian’s writings, including his eponymous book Gao Xingjian: Aesthetics and Creation (Cambria Press, 2012). Dr Lee will also be speaking about her latest book Gao Xingjian and Transmedia Aesthetics, coedited with Dr Liu Jianmei, a professor at Hong Kong University of Science and Technology. Both Gao Xingjian and Transmedia Aesthetics  and Gao Xingjian: Aesthetics and Creation are in the Cambria Sinophone World Series, headed by Professor Victor Mair (University of Pennsylvania).

Painting History and Gao Xingjian and Transmedia Aesthetics were published in March 2018  and made their debut at the Association of Asian Studies conference in Washington, DC.

Books will be available for purchase at the event during the book signing.

To register for the event or to receive more information about the book launch, please contact either Cambria Press at bgoodman<AT>cambriapress.com, or iPreciation at  enquiry<AT>ipreciation.com or +65 6339 0678.

Cambria Press thanks iPreciation for being the venue sponsor for this event.

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Haun Saussy Presents Victor Mair with Surprise Festschrift at Cambria Press AAS 2018 Reception

Cambria Press Publication Author Haun Saussy Victor Mair

What took place on the evening of March 24, 2018, in Washington, DC, was one of the most unforgettable events in AAS history, and probably any academic conference.

The evening began with short speeches about new books by Shen Jiawei and Mabel Lee, Albert Welter, Jonathan Stalling, Megan M. Ferry, Christopher Rea, Liu Jianmei (and Mabel Lee), and Carolyn T. Brown.

Then Professor Haun Saussy was asked by Toni Tan, director of Cambria Press, to come up to speak. While Professor Mair was aware that Professor Saussy was working on an edited volume, he had no idea that this was a festschrift being put together in his honor and that it would be unveiled that very night. So when Toni Tan asked Professor Saussy to take the stage, Professor Mair was under the impression that Professor Saussy was coming up just to say a few words about the forthcoming book. Little did he know that he would be presented with the highly anticipated top-secret volume that was the talk of the AAS.

After Professor Saussy gave his speech and presented the festschrift, Texts and Transformations: Essays in Honor of the 75th Birthday of Victor H. Mair, the birthday surprises did not end there. Toni Tan gave a speech about Professor Mair and then announced that a surprise mystery guest had come all the way specially to Washington, DC, to present Professor Mair with his birthday cake and lead the crowd in singing “Happy Birthday” (in Chinese and English). It was a wonderful night celebrating Cambria authors and honoring Professor Victor Mair, a most beloved scholar who has helped so many in and outside the field.

Watch the video of the astonishing and incredibly heartwarming event, including speeches by Haun Saussy and Toni Tan, the surprise mystery guest who wheeled in the huge birthday cake, and finally by Victor Mair (whose reaction was wonderful and priceless)!

More photos of the event will be posted on Facebook and Twitter soon.

Victor Mair

Order your copy of Texts and Transformations: 
Essays in Honor of the 75th Birthday of Victor H. Mair today!

Editor: Haun Saussy
Publisher: Cambria Press
ISBN: 9781604979565
486 pp.  |   2018   |   Hardback & E-book
Book Webpage: http://www.cambriapress.com/books/9781604979565.cfm

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Cambria Press Author Carolyn T. Brown – Speech at AAS 2018 Reception

Cambria Press author Dr. Carolyn T. Brown, retired Director of the Office of Scholarly Programs and the John W. Kluge Center of the Library of Congress, gave a speech about her book, Reading Lu Xun Through Carl Jung, at the Cambria Press reception at the AAS 2018 conference in Washington, DC.

Watch Dr. Carolyn Brown’s speech and/or read the transcript below.

 

Cambria Press Publication Author Carolyn Brown

“I always seem to do things a little bit differently from other people, so my questions are questions that I’ve asked myself over many years, and they are embedded in my comments.

My first encounter Lu Xun’s short stories occurred during my sophomore year at Cornell University in a survey course in modern Chinese literature in translation. We must have read several of his iconic stories, undoubtedly “A Madman’s Diary” and “The True Story of Ah Q”. One particular story sent me reeling. When I reached the conclusion of “The New Year’s Sacrifice,” my whole being recoiled in a physiological grimace. I knew something had happened to make me almost double over in pain, but I did not know what. No short story I had ever read had ever delivered such a visceral punch before.

In the decades that followed, I asked myself multiple times why I, a black woman from Queens, New York, would have found Lu Xun’s stories so compelling, why I would have returned to them repeatedly through the years, why their importance increased to the point of consuming hours of my attention through the hard times of my life, why during my career as an academic I would write about them, and why in my post-academic career I would still find the need to close the circle and write this book.

My presence in that Cornell classroom was, in the first place, a bit unlikely. When I entered college, I knew virtually nothing about China. I had never met anyone who came from China or who had lived there, as best I can recall; nor had I felt a particular urge to visit China myself, not that I could have because at that time Americans were barred from travel to “Red China” as it was called. But I had received a rigorous high school training in the “history of civilization,” which as it was then taught was the heroic history of the great white men of Western Europe and the United States. My immature intellect knew enough from my family’s history to know that black people were a full part of the American story even though the textbooks omitted that fact. From my mother’s chinoiserie home décor and a few books in our family library, I also knew that “civilization” included China, which had as much (or more) history and culture—art, literature, philosophy, and so forth—as Europe, and the quality was as good or better. Out of revenge for “the lies” I had been taught, once in college I turned to China, being too young and inexperienced to know that all nations lie to some degree about their histories. I wanted truth!

So there I was, studying Chinese history, language, and literature and reading stories by the man who, for much of the twentieth century, was considered modern China’s greatest writer. He was a central figure in the tumultuous decades of that century, both a product of his time and an agent giving it shape. He is still appreciated for his profound insights into the nature of Chinese society, his dedication to ending the suffering of his nation’s populace, his deep moral integrity, and his unrelenting commitment to self-scrutiny. He never relented in his struggle against the forces that stood in the way of a more humane China, even though he despaired of success. Whatever my initial motivation, there I was, sitting in that classroom, deeply moved by these stories from a different time and place. Why?

Lu Xun’s stories stories are clear-eyed critiques of the social norms and conditions of Chinese society that were, in his eyes and those of many of his reform-minded contemporaries, essential causes of China’s insufficient response to the calamities visited upon it by the forced encounter with Western imperial powers. Lu Xun took what was known, familiar, and accepted and exposed it to be cruel and inhumane, and so opened his readers’ eyes to seeing and understanding in new ways. I had felt the impact of that wrenching reversal of perspective without quite knowing what was acting upon me.

In later years, during my own hard times, I probed my own psyche in an attempt to understand unfortunate patterns of my own creation that were shaping my life and causing me considerable suffering. At the same time in my professional life as an academic I was also living with these short stories, searching below their surfaces for patterns that shaped them. As I was rethinking the narrative patterns of my life, I found myself drawn more fully into Lu Xun’s rewriting of the narrative of his contemporary Chinese reality, looking for the internally generated cultural patterns which had been bequeathed by that tradition and which, to his mind, accounted for dysfunctional dimensions of China’s interaction with external forces and events. In interrogating his texts, I found myself searching for embedded structures that were generating these manifestations, a process analogous to the tasks I was performing in my own life. Somewhere along the way, I encountered the work of Carl Jung and over time began to see the connections between his work, Lu Xun’s analyses, and my life’s journey. This book is the result of that process of inquiry and the best answer I can give to my wonderment about the capacity of these short stories to touch me so profoundly.

My thanks to Cambria Press and all the wonderful friends who have helped me over the decades to bring this book to fruition. Thank you.”

* * * * *

About the book

Scholars who study Lu Xun’s modern short stories have usually focused on the content and used the stories to understand Lu Xun the writer or to sheds light on his times; they have attended to the structure only to the degree that it illuminates these concerns. This study executes a reversal, decentering the content and focusing on the structure as a primary means to understand the texts, and it seeks to understand the Lu Xun who presents himself through his work, not Lu Xun the full human being. The structure that emerges from a close reading of the stories does indeed present an implicit therapeutic model. Carl Jung’s theories of the normative human self articulate with some precision Lu Xun’s implicit vision of spiritual cure. Jung, one of three key founders of modern Western psychology, grounded his understanding of the human psyche in personal self-scrutiny and extensive clinical practice, and so his theories offer a validated psychological model for interpreting the textual evidence.

Reading Lu Xun Through Carl Jung thus deploys a new methodology and proposes a new model for interpreting Lu Xun’s two collections of modern short stories. Perhaps more important is that understanding Lu Xun’s psychological model opens new ways of imagining the relevance of his stories to timeless human concerns. Contemporary scholars increasingly ask about Lu Xun’s value now that the overt subjects of his concerns have receded into the past, and they have also looked to understand his role in the context of the international intellectual currents of his time. Although not primarily concerned with the sources of Lu Xun’s creativity, this study does suggest resonances between the structure of his thought as revealed in the stories and that of key nineteenth-century European philosophers and writers. Even while being firmly grounded in his own times, Lu Xun evoked universal themes and archetypes of the human condition. This book will appeal to scholars in Asian studies, comparative literature, and psychology.

Title: Reading Lu Xun Through Carl Jung
Author: Carolyn T. Brown
Publisher: Cambria Press
ISBN: 9781604979374
312 pp.  |   2018   |   Hardback & E-book
Book Webpage: http://www.cambriapress.com/books/9781604979374.cfm

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Cambria Press Author Liu Jianmei – Speech at AAS 2018 Reception

Cambria Press author Professor Liu Jianmei, Professor of Chinese Literature at Hong Kong University of Science and Technology, gave a speech about her book, Gao Xingjian and Transmedia Aesthetics, coedited with Mabel Lee, at the Cambria Press reception at the AAS 2018 conference in Washington, DC.

Watch Professor Liu Jianmei’s speech and/or read the transcript below.

Cambria Press Publication Author Liu Jianmei

“I will jump right to the first question people ask about our book, which is what does your book bring that is new to Gao Xingjian studies? Previous studies on Gao Xingjian usually focus on particular areas of his fiction, plays, painting, film or poetry, or used his essays to explore his ideas on literature and creative aesthetics. This new book, which I have coedited with Mabel Lee, aims to cross the boundaries of these media, and to provide a comprehensive investigation of Gao Xingjian’s creations and ideas. The purpose of this is to showcase his transcultural, transdisciplinary, and transmedia explorations, and examine how he has persistently projected the struggles and agonies of the individual’s inner landscape into vivid images on stage, in films, in black-and-white paintings, and in the multilayered narrative expressions in fiction and poetry, and even in dance and music.

The second question people ask is what is different in your approach to this volume? Well, this volume crosses the boundaries of traditional academic writing and takes the reader to the in-between spaces of different styles of writing, research, and commentary, which help us better understand Gao’s endeavors in literary, theatrical, and pictorial creation and their accompanying philosophical insights. The chapters in this book transgress the boundaries of different media and genres—fiction, drama, poetry, painting, film—in their deliberations, and these diverse approaches serve to broaden the scope of Gao Xingjian research through what can be described as a dimension of heightened freedom, that is suggestive of Chan Buddhist comprehension. Gao Xingjian often states that for him creative innovations emerge at boundaries and in-between space. The aim of this collection thus seeks to explore such boundaries and in-between spaces in academic research on Gao Xingjian.

Finally, I want to thank Toni Tan and Victor Mair for their strong support of our new book. I also want to thank our contributors for their excellent essays and David Armstrong for his patience and help through the whole process of publication. We are really grateful to Cambria Press.

* * * * *

About the book

Since Gao Xingjian’s Nobel win in 2000 he has demonstrated his profound erudition across cultures in his creative explorations in literature and the visual arts. His intense intellectual curiosity can seldom be matched by his contemporaries, and his creative achievements in literature, the dramatic arts, painting, and film have been extraordinary, and have been reflected in his aesthetic treatises on art and literature. English-language publications have been in the forefront of Gao Xingjian research since the 1980s, and this book fills a Gao Xingjian research hiatus simply because it is hard to keep abreast of his stridently innovative creations. This volume brings readers up to date on Gao Xingjian, who is probably in this age of uncertainties, one of the foremost aesthetes in literature and the visual arts.

Gao Xingjian and Transmedia Aesthetics demonstrates the extensive reach of Gao Xingjian’s transcultural, transdisciplinary and transmedia explorations. Showcased here is the panoramic aesthetics of a polymath who has successfully personified modern-time renaissance by projecting the struggles of the individual’s inner landscape into vivid images on stage, film, black-and-white paintings, and in the multilayered narrative expressions of fiction and poetry, even dance and music, to evoke a sense of sincerity and authenticity that penetrates a viewer/reader’s heart. The volume is divided into four parts: philosophical inquiry; transdiscipline, transgenre, transculture; cine-poems with paintings, dance and music; and identifying and defining the self. The chapters probe different aspects of Gao Xingjian’s work, bearing testimony to their diverse specializations.

This book will appeal to Chinese literature scholars, undergraduate and graduate students, and general readers with an interest in the broad subjects of contemporary Chinese literature, high arts, avant-garde culture, women’s and gender studies, Sinophone film and transmedia culture, comparative literature, and cultural studies.

Title: Gao Xingjian and Transmedia Aesthetics
Editors: Mabel Lee and Liu Jianmei
Publisher: Cambria Press
ISBN: 9781604979466
362 pp.  |   2018   |   Hardback & E-book
Book Webpage: http://www.cambriapress.com/books/9781604979466.cfm

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