Cosmopolitan Publics: Anglophone Print Culture in Semi-Colonial Shanghai

Cosmopolitan Publics: Anglophone Print Culture in Semi-Colonial Shanghai

Cosmopolitan Publics: Anglophone Print Culture in Semi-Colonial Shanghai

Cosmopolitan Publics: Anglophone Print Culture in Semi-Colonial Shanghai

Synopsis

Early twentieth-century China paired the local community to the world- a place and time when English dominated urban-centered higher and secondary education and Chinese-edited English-language magazines surfaced as a new form of translingual practice.

Cosmopolitan Publics focuses on China's "cosmopolitans" Western-educated intellectuals who returned to Shanghai in the late 1920s to publish in English and who, ultimately, became both cultural translators and citizens of the wider world. Shuang Shen highlights their work in publications such as The China Critic and T'ien Hsia, providing readers with a broader understanding of the role and function of cultural mixing, translation, and multilingualism in China's cultural modernity.

Decades later, as nationalist biases and political restrictions emerged within China, the influence of the cosmopolitans was neglected and the significance of cosmopolitan practice was underplayed. Shen's encompassing study revisits and presents the experience of Chinese modernity as far more heterogeneous, emergent, and transnational than it has been characterized until now.

Excerpt

Can english be regarded as a chinese LANGUAGE? What does it mean for English to become a Chinese language? in fact, what is a Chinese language after all? Does “Chinese language” refer to the actual languages spoken by people of Chinese descent, which in many cases are likely to be regional dialects, or does it refer to Mandarin Chinese as the national language? There are many ways of answering these questions. What I intend to highlight by raising them is the tension between addressing China as a nation-state and the history that emerges when one focuses on a linguistic medium that is assumed to be un-Chinese. These difficulties are encountered not just by the contemporary scholar who studies the subject of English periodicals in Shanghai but also by the cosmopolitan subjects who are the main characters of this book—the Chinese intellectuals who had been educated in the West and returned to China in the late 1920s to publish these periodicals. the disjunction of their chosen linguistic medium with the subject of their concern and their immediate environment is intrinsic to the production of meaning in these periodicals, and this tension also inspired the editors’ imagination of the home and the world. the main task of this book is to reveal and examine the significance of their cultural productions by working through this tension.

Conventional Asian studies have not paid enough attention to cultures produced in languages other than the national languages in Asia. Rey Chow, among others, has challenged the dominant status of Mandarin Chinese from a polemical perspective that brings her to examine the disciplinary ideology of area studies. She argues in Writing Diaspora and other works that the assumption that Mandarin Chinese is intrinsic to the notion of “Chineseness” is actually generated extrinsically through a particular kind of cross-cultural referencing that reinforces existing inequality between the East and the West. Yet Chinese studies have evolved a great deal in the past few years, with many new works recently published in the field that go beyond the conventional confines of area studies by engaging in diaspora studies and the circulation of . . .

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