Three new titles will be published early this summer by the Asia Center Publications Program: Body, Society, and Nation: The Creation of Public Health and Urban Culture in Shanghai by Chieko Nakajima; The Translatability of Revolution: Guo Moruo and Twentieth-Century Chinese Culture by Pu Wang; and Word Embodied: The Jeweled Pagoda Mandalas in Japanese Buddhist Art by Halle O’Neal.
Body, Society, and Nation tells the story of China’s unfolding modernity by exploring the changing ideas, practices, and systems related to health and body in Shanghai from the late nineteenth-century to the present. With the advent of Western powers, Chinese notions about personal hygiene and the body gradually expanded. This transformation was complicated by indigenous medical ideas, preexisting institutions and social groups, Shanghai’s semi-colonial settings, and local cultures and customs. This study explores the many ways that various strata of Shanghai society experienced and understood multiple meanings of health and body within their everyday lives. Chieko Nakajima traces the institutions they established, the regulations they implemented, and the practices they brought to the city as part of efforts to promote health.
The Translatability of Revolution, the first comprehensive study of the lifework of Guo Moruo (1892–1978), explores the dynamics of translation, revolution, and historical imagination in twentieth-century Chinese culture. Guo was a romantic writer who eventually became Mao Zedong’s last poetic interlocutor; a Marxist historian who evolved into the inaugural president of China’s Academy of Sciences; and a leftist politician who devoted almost three decades to translating Goethe’s Faust. His career, embedded in China’s revolutionary century, has generated more controversy than admiration. Leaping between different genres of Guo’s works, and engaging many other writers’ texts, the book confronts two issues of revolutionary cultural politics: translation and historical interpretation.
Word Embodied, a study of the Japanese jeweled pagoda mandalas, reveals the entangled realms of sacred body, beauty, and salvation. O’Neal unpacks the paintings’ revolutionary use of text as picture to show how this visual conflation mirrors important conceptual indivisibilities in medieval Japan. The textual pagoda projects the complex constellation of relics, reliquaries, scripture, and body in religious doctrine, praxis, and art. Word Embodied also expands our thinking about the demands of viewing, recasting the audience as active producers of meaning and offering a novel perspective on disciplinary discussions of word and image that often presuppose an ontological divide between them.