Vortex|Zhang Chuntian: The Worlds of Sentiments and Imagination in Late-Qing Shanghai

2022.09.17 Saturday 19:00


2F, The Cloister Apartments, 62 West Fuxing Road, Shanghai

Time:9.17 19:00-20:30

The Sing-song Girls of Shanghai, a novel by the late Qing writer Han Bangqing, was held in esteem by Lu Xun, Hu Shih, Liu Bannong, and other giants of the May Fourth Movement, before becoming an important anchorage to Eileen Chang during her diaspora period, who saw the novel as another literary pinnacle after the Dream of the Red Chamber. Praised by Chang for “its unrivaled portrait of affections,” the novel maps the many changes in the world of sentiments in Shanghai towards the end of Imperial China, reflecting the redefinition of public and private spheres, and embodying a complex dialectic between the lyrical tradition and modernity. The New Story of the Stone and New Chitchat of an Old Fellow in the Sun, on the other hand, present the expansive, unbridled, and peculiar imagination of the late-Qing intellectuals in the form of sci-fi literature. While projecting both the possible and the impossible in the future of (post-)humanity, the “civilized world” imagined in these books also reacts to a multitude of issues in China and the world at that time. To understand Shanghai in the late Qing period, it is necessary to enter the worlds of ideas and knowledge as well as the worlds of sentiments and imagination. In that lies the significance of fiction.

About the Speaker

Zhang Chuntian holds a Ph.D. from the Division of Humanities of the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology. He is currently an associate professor in the Department of Chinese at East China Normal University and a researcher at the Chinese Language Teaching and Research Center. He has held research and teaching fellowships at the University of Heidelberg, the Hong Kong Polytechnic University, the University of British Columbia, and the University of Tokyo. With a research focus on ideas and literature in twentieth-century China, Zhang is the author of Revolution and Lyricism, Nora and the May Fourth Movement, and a number of articles published in academic journals in China and abroad. He is the also the editor of What are Emotions, a Reader in Scholarship on Late-Qing Literature, and Another History of Scholarship, as well as the translator of the Distorting Mirror: Visual Modernity in China and the Political Philosophy of Zhang Taiyan.

About the Vortex

Vortex is a long-term project. We will update the content of performance lectures by artists and talks by experts both on- and offline. Following the fundamental approach of connecting local practice, theories, and context, we hope that this nonstandard art venue will become a place of torrents, flux, and confluence.

The Macalline Center of Art (MACA) is a non-profit art institution located in the 798 Art District of Beijing and officially inaugurated its space on January 15, 2022. Occupying a two-story building with a total area of 900 square meters, MACA unites artists, curators, and other art and cultural practitioners from around the world. Through its diverse, ongoing, and collaborative approaches, the Center establishes a new site on the contemporary art scene. Guided by the “work of artists” and backed by interdisciplinary research, the Center aims to bring together a community passionate about art and devoted to the “contemporary” moment so as to respond proactively to our rapidly evolving times.