“I too am afraid” 「我也怕」

Last night, a Taiwanese friend messaged me  about the US presidential election. My succinct response: 「我也怕」 ("I too am afraid.") Maybe this goes without saying, but I didn't sleep much. I began the morning with a email from a distressed student, unable to attend class because of their emotional state after the results of the…Read more “I too am afraid” 「我也怕」

Salty olives and sweet wine

This semester, my first on the other side of the table when it comes to graduate students, I've found myself returning to comfortable old favorites in the Early Modern [Chinese] Fiction course I've been assigned to teach. Lacking any restrictions other than the loose ones posed by the title of the course, I've elected to…Read more Salty olives and sweet wine

Outlandish fables and Taiwanese curriculum reform

In the late 19th century, the period I focus on in my dissertation, one way of responding to the many crises that China was undergoing involved trying to morally realign society in such a way as to prevent such crises from ever happening again. This was on one level cosmic: heaven will no longer send…Read more Outlandish fables and Taiwanese curriculum reform

Ten Thousand Treasures of 1895

Printed in 1895, the Newly Expanded Druggist's Ten Thousand Treasures Encyclopedia (新增懸壺萬寶全書) contains far more than medical advice. Even if you can't read a word of Chinese, the charming illustrations alone lead me to recommend that you take a couple minutes to browse through the work anyway. There's a lot more going on in it…Read more Ten Thousand Treasures of 1895

Didactic literature that no longer seems edifying: what’s the point?

Lienü zhuan is a collective biography of exemplary Chinese women compiled at the end of the 1st century BCE. It was, according to Ban Gu, a 1st century CE historian, intended to counteract the influence of lower-class, immoral women who destabilized the dynasty and to provide the emperor with positive examples of female virtue so…Read more Didactic literature that no longer seems edifying: what’s the point?

A Novel of China: The Mandarin’s Daughter, 1876

While traveling to DC and back last week, I read The Mandarin's Daughter by Samuel Mossman, 1876, which is another 19th century novel about China that I read so you don't have to. (Previously: Out in China by Mrs. Archibald Little, 1902) Mossman's introduction states that the amount of fiction in his novel, The Mandarin's…Read more A Novel of China: The Mandarin’s Daughter, 1876

Recommended Reading: Against My Fear, I See That You Hope

As students in Hong Kong lead the territory in protesting against Chinese efforts to block direct elections in 2017, I find myself trying very hard not to get pulled into watching, waiting, and weeping from afar as I did during the Sunflower Movement in Taiwan during March and April earlier this year. For those of…Read more Recommended Reading: Against My Fear, I See That You Hope

Contextualizing heterodox sects in China

Has anyone else been following this story? NY Times: 5 Sect Members Go on Trial in Killing at McDonald’s in China I first heard about this sect, Eastern Lightning or the Church of Almighty God, when I was in Taiwan last year. Since this murder in May earlier this year, they have been getting far…Read more Contextualizing heterodox sects in China

Divinity and Femininity

Last week, I received word from my department that a course I proposed, called "Divinity and Femininity: Women’s Religious Lives in Pre-modern China" has been accepted and I get to teach it next year. This is particularly exciting news! The course abstract: This course focuses on the religious lives of women in pre-modern China, beginning…Read more Divinity and Femininity

The end of Chinese religion?

After two weeks in Beijing in 2012, I finally realized why I felt the city seemed so lifeless, even as it teemed with millions of people and their very real, full lives. Where were the temples? Where were the markers of a neighborhood like Tudi Gong shrines? Where were the folding tables full of offerings…Read more The end of Chinese religion?