Politics and the Chinese Language
The awarding of the 2012 Nobel Prize in Literature to the Chinese novelist Mo Yan has given rise to energetic debate, both within China’s borders and beyond. Earlier this month, ChinaFile ran an essay by Chinese literature scholar Charles...
What Mo Yan’s Detractors Get Wrong
When Chinese novelist Mo Yan accepted the Nobel Prize in Literature earlier this week, the relationship between literature and politics attracted much attention. The award is often given to writers who forcefully oppose political...
Heirs of Fairness?
An unusual debate on what may seem an arcane topic—China’s imperial civil service examinations—recently took place on the op-ed page of the The New York Times. The argument centered on the question of whether or not China during the past...
Refresher Course: The Silk Road
The “Silk Road” was a stretch of shifting, unmarked paths across massive expanses of deserts and mountains—not a real road at any point or time. Archeologists have found few ancient Silk Road bridges, gates, or paving stones like those...
The Rehabilitation of Pearl Buck
In the summer of 1934, Pearl Buck boarded a ship in Shanghai that was bound for America. She was forty-two years old, and had lived for thirty-four of those years in China, mostly in cities along the Yangzi River. Pearl and her first...
France’s Baccalauréat Sparks Debate on Chinese Education
What does one gain by working?Are all beliefs contrary to reason?Comment on an excerpt of Spinoza’s Theologico-Political Treatise
Review: “The Revolutionary”
In the Journals: Journal of Asian Studies, February 2012
The February 2012 issue of the Journal of Asian Studies opens with a trio of short articles exploring major trends in China-related publishing over the past decade. The essays, which differ widely in topic, are connected by a concern with...
Re-Reading: The Good Earth
The Good Earth simultaneously manages to be both a classic and not very good. This is not, I trust, a controversial statement: Pearl Buck’s 1931 novel suffered a mixed reputation from the start. While many early readers hailed her work for...
A New China Website Helps Dissertations Find Readers
Dissertations dominate the lives of doctoral students. A PhD candidate spends years researching, writing, and editing his or her dissertation, inching toward the day when the whole process is finished. Finally, he or she can leave behind...
Chinese Law: Using the Past to Escape the Present
Amid the skyscrapers, bullet trains and brio of contemporary China, the Mao era may seem remote. Discussions of Chinese law, for instance, typically consign it to a squib if they acknowledge it at all. But this is a grave mistake. Legal...
The “United States of China,” 100 Years Later
On September 29, 1910, a young Chinese cook in Berkeley named George Fong bought himself a .38 caliber revolver. The next day he hiked up into the hills behind the fraternity house where he worked at the University of California, found a...