1. The Cultural Construction
of Modernity in Urban Shanghai
Some Preliminary Explorations
Leo Oufan Lee
The issue of Western modernity has been thoroughly treated—and critiqued—in recent scholarship; however, that of Chinese modernity remains to be examined. This essay represents an initial attempt to look at Chinese modernity from the perspective of cultural history by situating it in the emergent urban culture of Shanghai in the 1930s.
Modernity in China, as I have argued elsewhere, was closely associated with a new linear consciousness of time and history, which was itself derived from the Chinese reception of a social Darwinist concept of evolution made popular by the translations of Yan Fu and Liang Qichao at the turn of the century. In this new temporal scheme, present (jin) and past (gu) became polarized as contrasting values, and a new emphasis was placed on the present moment "as the pivotal point marking a rupture with the past and forming a progressive continuum toward a glorious future." This new mode of time consciousness was, of course, a "derivative" discourse stemming from the Western post-Enlightenment tradition of modernity—an intellectual package now being severely criticized by postmodern theorists for the positivistic and inherently monological tendencies embedded in its faith in human reason and progress. One could further argue that the very same post-Enlightenment legacy has infused the expansionist projects of the colonial empires, particularly those of England, and that one of its political by-products is the modern nation-state. However, once transplanted into China, the legacy served to add a new dimension to Chinese semantics: in fact, the very word new (xin) became the crucial component of a cluster of new word compounds denoting a qualitative change in all spheres of life: from the late Qing reform movement (Weixin yundong), with its institutional designations such as new policies (xinzheng), to new schools (xinxue) to Liang Qichao's celebrated notion of new people (xinmin) and the May Fourth slogans such as new culture (xin wenhua) and new literature (xin wenxue). Two terms that gained wide popularity in the 1920s were
Schwartz's pioneering study of Yan Fu has not covered the rapid spread of these new categories of value and thought in the Chinese popular press. In newspapers like Shenbao (Shanghai news) and magazines like Dongfang zazhi (Eastern miscellany) published by the Commercial Press, such new vocabulary terms became a regular feature of most articles. Thus by the 1920s, it came to be generally acknowledged that "modernity" was equated with the new Western civilization in all its spiritual and material manifestations. Whereas conservative or moderate commentators in Dongfang zazhi and other journals voiced concern with the possible bankruptcy of Western civilization as a result of World War I, all radical intellectuals continued to be firm believers in modernity as formulated above.
The center of cultural production of such ideas of modernity was indisputably Shanghai, in which the large majority of newspapers and publishing houses were located—in fact, congregated in one small area around Foochow Road. It is also worth noting that the earliest use of the Western calendar was found in Shenbao— a newspaper originally owned by a Westerner—which began to place both Chinese and Western calendar dates side by side on its front page in 1872. But it was not until Liang Qichao proclaimed his own use of the Western calendar (in his 1899 diary of his trip to America, which he published) that a paradigmatic change in time-consciousness was effected. Typical of his elitist aspirations, Liang simply announced that, as he declared his own transformation from provincial person to "man of the world," his use of the Western calendar was in keeping with the general trend toward unifying the measurements of time. By coincidence, Liang announced his adoption on December 19, 1899, as he departed from Tokyo for Hawaii, on the very eve of a new century! By the 1920s, if not earlier, the commercial calendar poster had become a popular advertisement item for Shanghai's tobacco companies and a fixture in urban daily life. (See section 3.)
It was against such a "timely" background that a Chinese nationhood came to be "imagined." Benedict Anderson's widely cited book has led us to believe that a nation was first an "imagined community" before it became a political reality. This new community was itself based on a conception of simultaneity "marked by temporal coincidence and measured by clock and calendar." The technical means for representing this "imagined community," according to Anderson, were
Thus I argue that the nation as an imagined community in China was made possible not only by elite intellectuals like Liang Qichao, who proclaimed new concepts and values, but, more important, by the popular press. It is interesting to note that the rise of commercial publishing—particularly the large companies such as the Commercial Press (Shangwu yinshu guan, or literally the shop that printed books for commercial purposes) and China Bookstore (Zhonghua shuju)— also predated the establishment of the Republican nation-state in 1912. (In this regard we might give Homi Bhabha's term about nationalism another twist in meaning: "dissemi-Nation" indicated, thus more literally and less ironically, that the knowledge about the new nation must first be disseminated.) As this chapter will show in detail, these commercial ventures in publishing were all in the name of introducing the textual sources of modernity, of which the general journals such as Dongfang zazhi and Xiaoshuo yuebao (Short story monthly) served as showcases. In a way, they are comparable to the eighteenth-century French "business of Enlightenment" as described by Robert Darnton, in which the ideas of the philosophes were popularized and vigorously disseminated by a network of printers and booksellers. However, in the name of promoting new culture and education, books in China were sold quite cheaply as something of a study aid for students in new-style schools and for other readers who were deprived of schooling. In short, from its beginning Chinese modernity was envisioned and produced as a cultural enterprise of enlightenment—qimeng, a term taken from the traditional educational
In this essay, for obvious reasons I cannot survey the whole "enlightenment industry"; I will instead focus on the textbook production of the Commercial Press, as seen in the advertisements of the press's leading journal, Dongfang zazhi, in order to throw some new light on this little-studied terrain of China's modern print culture. Before I do so, perhaps a few words about the journal are in order.
The Business of Enlightenment: Journals and Textbooks
Dongfang zazhi may be considered a middlebrow publication under the aegis of the Commercial Press for the urban readership. Begun in 1904 as a monthly, it was changed into a fortnightly, and it continued publication until 1948. Sales for each issue could be as high as fifteen thousand copies. Its table of contents shows its eclectic quality, combining journalistic reports, political commentary, and cultural criticism with translations and learned articles. The journal's "miscellaneous" contents may have lacked a distinct character, but herein lies its purpose and appeal. The lead article in the July 1919 issue of the journal spells out clearly the functions of this general magazine. Whereas on a lofty level the magazine is supposed to live up to three purposes—scholarly pursuit (yanjiu xueli), enlightenment (qifa sixiang), and correction of customs and mores (jiaozheng xisu)—its real function, on a mundane level, is like that of a grocery store (zahuo dian): the goods are diverse and trivial, seldom precious and valuable, but they are nevertheless daily necessities. The article also sets three more goals for the magazine of the future: to stay abreast of world trends, to be adaptable to present conditions, and above all to be suitable for practical life. As an indication of its "world trends" orientation, the journal devoted considerable attention to the European war—with photos, a chronology of events, articles, and translations. The writings of Du Yaquan, its editor, and other authors reveal an obvious disillusionment with the West in general, which led them to caution against excessive Westernization. At the same time, however, the journal contained extensive coverage and discussion of postwar European political, intellectual, and cultural trends and focused rather excessively on discussions of nationalism and socialism (the latter especially after 1919). Conscious of the continued impact of knowledge from the West, the journal's editors and leading authors groped toward a moderate position by seeking compromises between Western modernity and Chinese tradition, which they considered to be still relevant.
During the period 1915–20, the journal had voluminous coverage of subjects related to science and technology. A large number of articles described new weaponry used in the European war, in particular the submarine and the dirigible (thus feeding the fascination with underwater and air gadgetry in late Qing fiction).
Although Dongfang zazhi was the flagship of the periodicals published by the Commercial Press, it still vied for attention with at least eight others by the same company. An advertisement lists the nine in the following order: Dongfang zazhi, Jiaoyu zazhi (Education magazine), Xuesheng zazhi (Student magazine), Shaonian zazhi (Young magazine), Funü zazhi (Women's magazine), Yingwen zazhi (English magazine), Yingyu zhoukan (English language weekly), Xiaoshuo yuebao (Short story monthly), and Nongxue zazhi (Agricultural study magazine). Short Story Monthly, in particular, has been widely described in post–May Fourth accounts as having been a bastion of the old-fashioned Butterfly school of popular fiction until Mao Dun assumed editorship in 1920 and turned it overnight into a journal of New Literature. Still, the imposition of a May Fourth interpretation has certainly not done full justice to this and other journals of the Commercial Press. Even a reading of the advertisement can reveal a common purpose: simply put, it is to provide readers with a certain practical knowledge for their everyday lives. Publication of the nine magazines also represented a new way of categorizing this practical knowledge; whereas Dongfang zazhi had the most comprehensive coverage—from politics, literature, science, business, and news to encyclopedic learning (baike zhi xue), according to the attached explanation in the advertisement—each of the other journals clearly catered to a specific readership: teachers, college and high school students in the new school system, youths, women, students enrolled in agricultural schools, and, most interestingly, self-taught readers. As the Commercial Press's only literary journal, the Short Story Monthly was intended originally for such self-taught learners. Another full-page advertisement for the journal mentioned not only its increasing sales (six thousand copies per issue), its inclusion of color
In accordance with the stated purpose of the Commercial Press magazines, the women's publication, Women's Magazine, was designed as an aid to women's education (nüxue). The history of women's education in this transitional period deserves a long monograph and is too important to be summarized here. However, it is noteworthy that a distinctly modern quality is underscored by the ads and articles in the magazine. In an ad for the "big improvement" of Women's Magazine, published in 1916, the name of the new editor is prominently mentioned: a certain Mrs. Zhu Hu Binxia from Wuxi, a modern woman who had been educated in a women's school in Tokyo and who then went to America for an additional seven years of education, gaining a B.A. from Wellesley and research experience at Cornell. An American degree (printed in block characters) thus added prestige to the journal, which May Fourth leaders like Hu Shi also played to their maximum advantage. The magazine's ads marked a transition of cultural capital: whereas the prime movers of the late Qing reform movement were scholars and officials who knew no foreign language and had to rely on translations, mostly from Japanese, the new generation of elite intellectuals were largely Western educated— some in fact had contributed articles to Dongfang zazhi from abroad—and the countries and educational institutions where they studied were also prominently attached to their names (an editorial practice continued to the present day in some journals in Hong Kong and Taiwan).
Dongfang zazhi carried a number of articles about Western universities, particularly those in the United States; it also featured or reprinted from other newspapers and journals accounts of Chinese universities, including the curriculum of Beijing University. But the main goal and market of the educational enterprise of the Commercial Press, insofar as we can gather from its advertisements, was primary and secondary education. From the magazine's founding in 1904 until its closing some forty years later, almost every issue of Dongfang zazhi is filled with advertised lists of textbooks of various sorts, revealing a feverish publishing activity
The Commercial Press was not the first to publish textbooks; two smaller companies—called Wenming (Civilization) and Guangzhi (Expanding wisdom)—had published a set of textbooks by four Wuxi schoolteachers sometime before 1903. Their textbooks were called mengxue duben, or texts for "primary studies"; the term refers to the traditional notion of tongmeng, or children whose "beclouded" minds need to be cleared by the instruction of moral texts (according to the Confucian injunction), which in turn leads to the notion of qimeng, that is, qifa mengmei, or open up the children's state of ignorance, hence "enlightenment." By 1903, the Commercial Press, together with its chief rival, the China Bookstore, began to dominate the textbook market when it started its own textbook enterprise in a big way by setting up a new printing plant, hiring three Japanese advisors, and appointing an editorial board headed by Jiang Weiqiao, of which Wang Yaquan was also a member in charge of science textbooks.
The founding of the Republic was enthusiastically advertised by the Commercial Press: it capitalized on the big event of the Wuchang Uprising in 1911 with a detailed account in Dongfang zazhi and the publication of thirteen volumes of photos and other illustrations, as well as more than three hundred postcards! Not surprisingly, the press also began to issue in 1912 a new set of textbooks, a series appropriately titled Textbooks of the Republic (Gongheguo jiaokeshu). The advertisement in Dongfang zazhi was headed by the following solemn announcement: "With the founding of the Republic, the political polity has been changed to that of a republic. The educational policy is consequently changed…. In view of the present changing circumstances, [this press] respectfully observes Decree No. 7 of the Ministry of Education, and has revised the various textbooks of the primary school level. All knowledge necessary to a national citizen of the Republic, as well as the origins of this Revolution, has been given in detail in them, so as to cultivate the complete Republican citizen."
The subject of the national citizen—the Chinese word is guomin—thus formally entered the new textbooks. A special Primer for a National Citizen of the Republic (Gonghe guomin duben) was issued, clearly a revision of the original Primer for the National Citizen of the Constitutional Era (Lixian guomin duben, referring to the late Qing constitutional period of 1910–11). It also became a topic in the brandnew primary-school textbooks on xiushen, or cultivation—a term preserved from premodern primers on Confucian teaching. The new textbooks for the primary levels included not only the major subjects of Chinese (guowen), arithmetic (bisuan), history (lishi), geography (dili), and English but also quite a number of other subjects, including use of the abacus, singing, physical exercise, brush drawing, sewing, science, agriculture, commerce, and handicraft. Under the history category we find Chinese history, East Asian history, and Western history; and under geography,
I do not intend to discuss the pedagogic contents of the textbooks and curriculum. Rather, I would like to reveal how a publishing company, through concerted effort, succeeded in its self-assigned task of enlightening the public and, in so doing, aided in the nation-building effort of the Republican government. The compilation of textbooks for the education of its new guomin was definitely a priority in the government agenda, since the Ministry of Education publicized, as early as 1912, a set of provisional guidelines for general education. The old term for schools, xuetang, was changed to xuexiao. In the schools, coeducation was allowed for the primary level; reading the classics was abolished, as were some of the Qing dynasty legal codes. In particular, the agency established two bureaux for compiling and censoring textbooks. To be sure, the practice had already started in the Qing period, but the new guidelines made some specific points about how textbooks' approach and contents should be handled, together with procedures for examination and approval by the agency. The Commercial Press turned this new government policy to its own advantage by quoting in its textbook ads the seal of approval of the Ministry of Education (jiaoyu bu shending) together with the ministry's comments on particular texts. Most of the quoted comments are of a practical nature: for instance, "the choice of materials is excellent, the divisions clear; [the textbook] can be used for the physical sciences in higher primary schools." But occasionally a vaguely ideological phrase or sentence enters: "The wording is clear and succinct, and contains rather lively interest; extremely well equipped with the knowledge and morality necessary for the national citizen" (in reference to Jianming guowen jiaokeshu [The concise textbook for Chinese literature]; emphasis mine). All these endeavors pointed to the overriding objective of training the nation's people to be good citizens.
How should the people of a new nation be trained properly? The decrees issued by the Ministry of Education reflected many changes in approach. Whereas the 1912 decrees seemed to focus on practical education (primary-school curriculum must include handicraft, physical exercise, use of the abacus, etc.), the 1914 decrees—reflecting the power of the then president, the conservative warlord Yuan Shikai—restored the classics and honored the words of Confucius, with the special injunction that the curriculum in education must "emphasize the special national character of the people of this nation." In 1919, two years after the Literary Revolution, the ministry formally decreed the use of the modern vernacular and new punctuation in all textbooks for the beginning two grades of primary schools.
Given the turmoil of the period, we cannot be sure whether these changes in policy were strictly followed by the publishing companies. The Commercial Press,
The Business of Enlightenment: Repositories
How does one provide basic knowledge in a way that makes it accessible to everyone in society? In addition to school textbooks, the Commercial Press launched two well-known repositories (wenku): Dongfang wenku (Eastern repository [1923–34]) and Wanyou wenku (Comprehensive repository [1929–34]). The Dongfang wenku, in which some of the major articles printed in Dongfang zazhi were collected (together with other treatises and translations that did not appear), totaled more than 120 pamphlet-sized volumes—a device clearly intended for the task of inculcating new knowledge. The roster of its authors is distinguished and includes both academic and nonacademic intellectuals representing a wide spectrum of backgrounds and positions. The subjects and titles (mostly translations) are even more impressive, as they cover an immensely wide range. I can give only a rough classification of the subjects covered, as follows: literature (19 titles), philosophy (17), sciences (13), society (9), economy (7), politics (6), foreign countries (6), diplomacy (6), history (5), geography (5), art (5), women (5), culture (4), psychology (3), law (3), scholarship (3), education (3), military affairs (2), migration (2), and journalism, language, archeology, religion, and medicine (1 each). This rundown serves to give us merely a general impression, and it does not reveal the specific contents of the volumes. It seems to disclose a fairly heavy concentration on the humanities (literature and philosophy), which is followed by natural and social sciences. A considerable number of titles are concerned with diplomacy and foreign countries (12). Among the titles in literature, six are collections of stories from foreign countries: Anglo-American, French, Russian, European, Japanese, and Indian (the works of Tagore). But a more intriguing feature is the diversity of some of the other titles. To give one small example, a book written by Du Yaquan titled Chushi zhexue (A philosophy
Still, Dongfang wenku is dwarfed by comparison with its sister repository, Wanyou wenku, whose conception was even more ambitious, for it was designed to fill up nothing less than a modern library. This is clearly what its chief editor Wang Yunwu had in mind when he embarked upon the two gigantic series comprising Wanyou wenku, each containing more than a thousand volumes. By purchasing the two series, a newly established library acquired a basic collection in the most economical and systematic fashion—economical as a result of modern printing, and systematic because of the new index system based on Mr. Wang's own four-corner system. This may have been the most ambitious effort in the categorization and dissemination of knowledge for the general public during the Republican period.
From his own preface about the origin of the repository project, we see that Wang's basic design derives from the traditional congshu (collectanea) formula, and that he had seen fit to add a considerable number of new collections to the series Basic Collectanea of National Learning (Guoxue jiben congshu). We find such collections as Baike xiaocongshu (Mini collection of encyclopedic knowledge) and Xinshidai shidi congshu (History and geography of the new era), as well as separate congshu for agriculture, industry, commerce, normal school education, arithmetic, medicine, and athletics, all of which were meant to be "disciplinary tools." By the time Wang edited the second series, he had further enlarged the collections of both Western translations and "national learning," and, instead of the disciplinary texts, had included two new collections: a collection on natural sciences (Kexue xiaocongsu) and a collection on "modern problems" (Xiandai wenti congshu); the most complex task, he admitted, was the compilation of the latter, because "there were few precedents in the publications in the nation and abroad."
A glance through the catalogue of the two series is sufficient for some revelations. The editorial board for the first series lists Wang Yunwu as chief editor and a dozen other editors. At the end of the preface Wang also acknowledges the help of such "friends" —all intellectuals of great renown—as Cai Yuanpei, Hu Shi, Li Shizeng, Wu Zhihui, Yang Xingfo, and others. The editorial guidelines list the following four basic purposes: (1) the repository is intended to "inculcate in the general reading public the knowledge that is necessary for human life"; (2) "the standard of collection is based on necessity"; (3) "the whole collection is clearly systematic and complete in all categories; the categories have the effect of mutual enlightenment and do not have the blemish of duplication"; and (4) "what is deemed most necessary for all categories [of knowledge] is provided for the library or individual collector at the lowest price; students of the middle school or below, or teachers of primary schools, can establish a rudimentary library when they purchase
In its own way the project is certainly comparable to that of the French Encyclopedists and their disseminators. The crucial difference, however, lies in the systems and contents of categorization. Let us leave aside the 400 titles of "Chinese learning" in the two series (100 in the first series and 300 in the second) and look into the 250 titles of translations of "world classics" (100 in the first series, 150 in the second), as well as the 200 titles of "natural science" and 50 titles of "modern problems" —a total of 500 titles of what might be called "Western learning." Even at a glance, the catalogues are most impressive. The following is a selective listing of the categories and the significant Western authors and titles contained therein.
There are fifteen categories of translations in the first series.
Philosophy: Descartes's Discourse on Method, Spinoza's Ethics, Hume, Kant's Critique of Pure Reason, Schopenhauer, William James, Kropotkin, Nietzsche's Thus Spoke Zarathustra, Eucken, Bergson, Dewey, and Westaway's Scientific Method
Psychology: W. James's Psychology: Brief Course, Freud's Psychoanalysis, J. B. Watson's Psychology from the Standpoint of Behaviorism, K. Koffka's The Growth of the Mind
Sociology: H. Spencer, Kropotkin, Durkheim
Political science: Plato's The Republic, Aristotle's Politics, Hobbes's Leviathan, Bentham's Introduction to the Principles of Morals and Legislation, J. S. Mill's On Liberty, W. Bagehot's Physics and Politics, E. Jenks's History of Politics, Harold Laski's Grammar of Politics
Economics: Adam Smith's The Wealth of Nations, List, Proudhon, Marx's Value, Price, and Profit, Ingram, Hobson's Modern Capitalism, Webbs's History of Trade Unionism, D. S. Kimball's Principles of Industrial Organization, A. L. Bowley's Elements of Statistics
Law: Gropius, Montesquieu, Maine, Dicey, Lombroso, Duguit
Education: Rousseau's Emile, Herbart, Spencer, Dewey's Democracy and Education
Natural sciences: Newton, Lamarck, Faraday, Darwin, Huxley, Pasteur, Russell, Einstein
Anglo-American literature: Shakespeare's Hamlet, Milton's Paradise Lost, Defoe's Robinson Crusoe, Swift's Gulliver's Travels, Benjamin Franklin's Autobiography, Goldsmith's The Vicar of Wakefield, Walter Scott's Ivanhoe, Dickens's David Copperfield, Washington Irving's Tales of Alhambra (most of the preceding Anglo-American literature was translated by Lin Shu), G. B. Shaw
French literature: Rousseau's Confessions, Molière's The Miser, Hugo's Les Miserables, Dumas père's The Three Musketeers, Dumas fils' La Dame aux Camelias (translated by Lin Shu), Maupassant's The Heritage
German literature: Goethe's Egmont, Schiller's Wallenstein, Hauptmann's Der rote Hahn
Russian literature: Gogol's The Reviser or Inspector General, Turgenev's Fathers and Sons, A. Ostrovsky's Poverty No Vice, Tolstoy's Childhood, Boyhood, and Youth
Literature of other countries: Homer's Odyssey, Cicero's Orations, The Arabian Nights, Dante's Divine Comedy, Cervantes's Don Quixote, Ibsen's plays, Bj⊘rnson's In God's Way, Maeterlinck's The Blue Bird, Tagore's The Crescent Moon, a collection of Japanese stories translated by Zhou Zuoren
History: Robinson's New History, Wells's Outline of History
Geography: Huntington and Cushing's Principles of Human Geography, Bowmen's The New World
In the second series, the translations of Western titles are divided into the following categories (italics indicate new or added categories): culture and cultural history, philosophy (Bacon, Leibnitz, Comte, Nietzsche), psychology, logic (Aristotle's Logic), ethics, sociology (Durkheim, Morgan, Malthus), statistics, political science (Rousseau's Social Contract, Moore's Utopia), world diplomacy, economics and finance, law, military affairs, education, industry, family and marriage, general science, mathematics, biological sciences, physics, applied sciences (more specialized than in the first series), geography and travel, biographies (of Napoleon, Bismarck, von Hindenburg, Tolstoy, and Edison, and including the autobiographies of J. M. Mill and Andrew Carnegie), historiography, history of Europe and America, history of Asia, general literature, and national literatures, with the latter including collections of works from countries including Japan, India, the United States, England, Germany, France, Italy, Spain, Russia, Poland, Denmark, Hungary, Norway, Sweden, and Romania, and the works of individual authors, such as Carlyle, Thackeray, Charlotte Bronte, J. M. Barrie, Drinkwater, Hardy, Galsworthy, Hawthorne, O. Henry, Frank Wedenkind, J. Freytag, Theodor Storm, Zola, Romain Rolland, Balzac, Octave Mirabeau, Paul Geraldy, Anatole France, Andreyev, Dostoevsky, Gorky, Dante, Euripides, Sophocles, Aeschylus, Knut Hamsum, Sienkiewicz, Ibanez, and K. Palamas.
To the above we may add the 200 titles of the natural sciences collection in the second series, which comprise the following ten categories: general discourses on science; astronomy; physics; chemistry; biology; zoology and anthropology; botany; geology, mining, and geography; biographies of famous scientists; and other. Almost all of the titles are translations (with Zhou Jianren, Lu Xun's younger brother, and Zhang Ziping, otherwise known as a popular novelist, taking a conspicuous share). These titles alone would earn the collection a particularly prominent position in the repository. Then, we must also add the 70 titles in the natural sciences section and the 30 titles in the applied sciences section of the
What ultimately seems most relevant are the 50 titles in the second series in the category "modern problems." What can be categorized as modern problems (which is itself problematic)? In the second series catalogue we find the category divided into two parts: China (24 problems) and the world (26 problems). A mere listing of the titles already tells a story of nationalism as conceived and categorized in a popular imagination. Given the background of the Commercial Press, one cannot expect such a story to have a radical revolutionary projection. Rather, the problems in the section on China clearly focus on the recently established nation-state: namely, constitution, local self-government, village reconstruction, land, water conservancy (shuili), transportation, finance, taxation, international trade, cotton, silk, tea, compulsory education, adult education, women, labor, consular jurisdiction, recovery of the Northeast, development of the Northwest, Mongolia, Tibet, Sino-Japanese relations, Sino-Soviet relations, and overseas Chinese. The problems represent a preoccupation with issues of social and economic development; territorial and diplomatic issues also seem to demand attention. The latter is clearly reflected in the second section, whose titles address problems of the "world," with Japan, Soviet Russia, America, India, and the Philippines (its independence) occupying the center of attention. But an overwhelming amount of attention is focused on international issues, above all the reform of the League of Nations, international jurisdiction, and national self-determination, but also military weapons, food, fuel, unemployment, migration, monetary regulations, eugenics, sale of narcotic drugs, and rationalization (helihua). Together they give a political context that realistically reflects the situation of the world between the two world wars, in which the new Republic of China emerged as a new nation concerned with its territorial sovereignty and domestic development.
However, if we compare the titles in the category above with the revolutionary programs of the Chinese Communist Party, whose activities during the same period (1929–34) marked a transition from the urban to the rural phases, it is clear that some of the basic revolutionary premises are missing from the "fifty modern problems" covered in the series: problems of the urban proletariat, workers' strikes, theories of socialism, revolutionary literature, and above all peasantry and its revolutionary potential. The discrepancy reveals not only a difference between political orientations (Wang Yunwu's editorial board consisted of moderates and conservatives) but also a gap between the urban and rural imaginations. In other words, the entire repository enterprise was both urban based and addressed to an
I hope that my narrative centered on the Commercial Press has also conveyed a sense of how its commercial enterprise evolved—from an educational enterprise based on textbook production to a cultural enterprise based on its journals and repositories. Together they forged a modern trajectory in terms of both time and space: the press's introduction of new knowledge was definitely animated by a desire to bring China abreast of what was going on around it, at the same time that it sought to support the effort of nation-building by providing intellectual resources for both the state and its "people." However, its definitions of the guomin remained vague, reflecting a nationalist echo of Liang Qichao's earlier slogan— and unfinished intellectual project—to have a "people made new" (xinmin) by renovating their collective mind and spirit. Whereas elitist intellectuals from Liang to Chen Duxiu and Lu Xun, perhaps following a Confucian precedent, continued to emphasize the issue of how to cultivate the intellectual and spiritual "essence" of a people, the less elitist intellectuals were perhaps less driven by such a moral impulse; they may have been more interested in the task of popularization—to make knowledge more general and accessible to the "new people" (who were "created" after all by their textbooks and newspapers), thus infusing urban society with the "temper" of a new era.
My strategy in my search for urban modernity is based on the assumption that, contrary to the elitist approach of conventional intellectual history, which tends to discuss only the essential ideas of individual thinkers, the task of a cultural historian is to explore what may be called the "cultural imaginary." Since a cultural imaginary may be defined as itself a contour of collective sensibilities and significations resulting from cultural production, we must also wrestle with both ends of this interpretive strategy—namely, both the social and institutional context of this cultural production and the forms in which such an imaginary is constructed and communicated. In other words, we must not neglect the "surfaces" —images and styles that do not necessarily enter into the depth of thought but nevertheless conjure up a collective imaginary. In my view, modernity is both idea and imaginary, both essence and surface. I shall leave the idea part to other scholars—or to another book—and direct my energies to the surface, by boldly attempting to "read" a large number of pictures and advertisements in the journals and newspapers. For such purposes, I will base my analysis on data provided in another journal, a pictorial magazine called Liangyou huabao (The young companion [1926–45]), which was the longest-running large-sized pictorial journal in modern China. Before I get into the pictorials themselves, I must give a brief background of this cultural
The "Good Companion"
Liangyou tushu yinshua gongsi (literally, the Good friend books and printing company), established in Shanghai in 1925, clearly followed in the footsteps of the Commercial Press. Its founder, Wu Liande, an enterprising businessman who had once worked for the Commercial Press, was able to enlist such literary luminaries as Zhao Jiabi, Zheng Boqi, Ma Guoliang, and Zhou Shoujuan as editors. With its flagship journal, Liangyou huabao, the company quickly carved out a market for pictorial journals and other popular magazines. Following the example of the Commercial Press, it also sponsored the publication of collectanea and repositories, of which the most famous were Liangyou wenxue congshu (Liangyou's collectanea of literature), Liangyou wenku (Liangyou repository), and Zhongguo xinwenxue daxi (Compendium of new Chinese literature)—the last item has remained a useful compendium for all students of modern Chinese literature. In an advertisement announcing the expansion of the company, it boasted about "the creation of a new era in the field of printing," since it was the first publishing company to specialize in photography. It also sponsored publication of half a dozen journals: in addition to Liangyou huabao, we find a cinema monthly—among the first of its kind—Silver Star (Yinxing); a journal entitled Modern Woman (Jindai funü); a weekly on the arts (Yishu jie), edited by the four "decadent" aesthetes Zhu Yingpeng, Zhang Ruogu, Fu Yanchang, and Xu Weinan; and a quarterly devoted to the world of athletics (Tiyu shijie). These magazine titles suggest the company's chief commercial direction: arts and entertainment. That such magazines satisfied an urban demand seems self-evident, but it is also likely that the demand was created by the magazines themselves.
At first glance, Liangyou huabao immediately impresses the reader with its large size—it is larger than Dongfang zazhi. For a pictorial, it contains a fairly heavy dose of written material, but its attraction obviously lies in its visual features. On the cover of each issue is a photograph or portrait of a moderately modern woman, with her name printed underneath. This may have been a continuation of a convention established by late Qing courtesan newspapers, in which a number of "famous flowers" (mostly courtesans who were acquaintances of the editors) appeared on the covers. But instead of courtesans Liangyou huabao covers featured "new-style" women of considerable renown. For instance, Lu Xiaoman, the coveted paramour and later wife of the famous poet Xu Zhimo, appears on the September 1927 issue. A photograph of the famous actress Anna May Wong (Huang Liushuang) appears on the cover of the June 1927 issue—a personal gift from her to the editor Wu Liande (her inscriptions are in English). This public display brings a sense of both realism and glamour. However, beginning in 1927, the
I am not prepared to argue that the women on the front covers served no other purpose than as commodified "objects" intended to arouse male desire. Rather, I think the magazine's intended readership may have consisted of more women and school-age youths than adult men. Self-identified as a good companion (liangyou) to the reading public, the journal could not flaunt prurient interests but had to maintain a good reputation in order to maintain its large circulation. This good reputation was established, however, not through any intellectual clout or scholarly depth, but through good-natured gestures of friendliness. The editor's words in the front pages of the beginning issues certainly give us such an impression—that the journal serves as a good and constant companion in the daily lives of its readers. In the third issue (April 15, 1926), the editor, assuming the guise of a spirit (Liangyou zhi shen), greets the readers on the front page:
Good morning, dear good friends:
As you open the first page this morning and meet me, I am really a little abashed, and I don't know what to say. So I'll just say good morning and wish you good health. I was an ignorant youth, but thanks to your loving care I have been on friendly terms with you for about two months. I am even more grateful to you for not forsaking me due to my ignorance, and from now on I vow to be a good person, a reliable person, and your trusting and loyal friend.
In another issue the "Words from the Editor" column brings the "friend" even closer to the quotidian lifestyle of the intended reader: "When you are tired from work, pick up a copy of Liangyou and read through it; you can be assured that your energy will revive and you'll work better. When you're in a movie theater before the music begins and the curtain is drawn up, pick up a copy of Liangyou and read
To attribute the above merely to the ingenuity of the editor would be too easy, since behind such words lurk both a conscious intention and a cultural context. Just as the editors of Dongfang zazhi and Wanyou wenku capitalized on the obvious need for new knowledge, the editors of Liangyou huabao sensed and exploited the public need for a new urban lifestyle on the quotidian level. Naturally this need was better served by a pictorial magazine. A useful comparison can be made between the journal and its late Qing predecessor, Dianshizhai huabao (Pictorial from the stone-tablet studio), which revealed the popularity of such a medium. In the late Qing intellectual context, the Dianshizhai pictorial, which consists entirely of drawings in the traditional style (with no photography), is more "fantastic" in content but nevertheless aimed to inform and enlighten the reader with new knowledge by illustrating the wonders of the world. By the time Liangyou huabao was published, that intellectual task was being accomplished by the Commercial Press. At least in Shanghai, modernity, as evidenced by the transliterated term modeng, could be seen as an emergent urban style of life. Thus Liangyou huabao ushered in a second phase of pictorial journalism, one that reflected this urban taste for the modern life—which, beginning in the early 1930s, became further glamourized by the numerous movie magazines. It is in this context that I wish to pay more attention to its coverage of women and youth, for I believe that from this coverage unfolds another story of Chinese modernity.
Not only do women grace the front covers of Liangyou huabao, they also occupy a central position in the magazine's contents, of which the first and last few pages are entirely devoted to photographs; other photos and illustrations, including comic sketches (manhua), are interlaced with written articles. We can only imagine how an issue of the magazine was read by readers of the time, but the reading process would inevitably involve an experience of both visual and written "pleasures." The reader, if reading in sequence, would first look at the front cover and then the photos on the first few pages of the magazine before reading the articles. Or a reader might look at all the pictures and then choose a few articles to read. In either case, a chain of visual links is formed, with or without the written contents. It is highly unlikely that a reader of a pictorial magazine would read only the written and ignore all the visual materials. Thus I would like to attempt a rudimentary visual reading by focusing on pictures of women.
The woman on the cover may not have much to do with the contents of the issue; still, her look and dress serve to establish an initial surface impression that may be linked to other pictures inside the magazine. In some cases, some of the photos inside are variations (more photos or paintings) of the same cover woman as she models seasonal fashion. For instance, Ms. Yang Aili wears a spring or summer dress on the cover of the May 15, 1926, issue, but inside she wears a winter garment
I argue, however, that fashion-consciousness plays only a small part in these photos and drawings about women's fashion. (There were no fashion models then, as there was no such profession yet.) Rather, they reflect a consciousness of dress itself, which provides an index to a new range of sensibilities in the lives of urban women of the middle and upper classes. For I believe that the photos delineate a set of domestic and public spaces in which these categories of the "well-dressed woman" live and move: from the bedroom to the ballroom, and from the living room to the movie houses and department stores. Thus it is not surprising that by 1930 dress-consciousness had widened to include a consciousness of interior decoration and furniture. In issue No. 50 (1930) we find well-dressed women sitting in different rooms of "a typical modern home": two photos of the parlor with modern furniture; two photos of the bedroom with emphasis on the colors and tones of the wallpaper; and the children's bedroom with a bed, chair, and large drawing of an animal on the wall.
On the basis of these photos, it would seem that woman's place is still at home, albeit in a modern space, together with her children. In fact, this domestic link— women and their children—is repeated in almost all the advertisements. At first glance, this domestic picture seems to contradict the earlier May Fourth discourse, which centered on the image of an emancipated Nora—an independent woman who, like Ibsen's character, leaves her traditional family to lead an independent life. Still, I argue that this does not necessarily indicate a conservative retreat from the radicalism of the previous decade. The narrative that can be derived from reading through the Liangyou huabao is one that revolves around women's new roles in a modern conjugal family into which are woven other aspects of an evolving style of urban bourgeois life. Whereas, as these advertisements suggest, women's new roles are still in the home, it is a home made anew by all the modern conveniences and interior design. The domestic space of the household is now fully "publicized" in the open, and as such has become a public issue. As indicated in the numerous photos and articles in the journal, this public discourse of new domesticity
In a revealing study of the medical ads in the newspaper Shenbao, Huang Kewu has concluded that social life in Shanghai was besmeared by the problems of contagious and sexual diseases, and of opium-smoking and its prohibition; the ads also showed some significant changes in women's lives, of which freedom from foot binding was a major phenomenon. My own preliminary findings, drawn from the ads in Dongfang zazhi and Liangyou huabao, indicate that there were other issues as well. For instance, the advertisements for Dr. Williams' Pink Pills for Pale People invariably contain illustrations of people to show the positive functions of the drug. In the other samples, I have found the recurrent motif of a modern conjugal family of husband and wife, sometimes with one or two children or an occasional grandfather or grandmother. Together these ads, it seems to me, tell an imagined story of a modern couple for whom marital happiness based on good health becomes a central element. If read together with Huang's findings, the ads project an urban lifestyle in which the errant husband is more likely to contract sexual diseases outside but the wife remains healthily at home. (Of course, he will stay healthy so long as he stays at home with his wife.) In contrast to the implied "evil" space outside, home is portrayed as a safe and clean place in which, in one ad, a woman is seen brushing her teeth with Colgate's Ribbon Dental Cream (when she is not using Colgate's Fab, which "Safely Washes Fine Fabrics"), and in another, holding her baby on top of a can of Momilk by American Brewer and Company, beside a long passage describing the dangers of wet nurses who, in a predictable transference, are the transmitters of sexual and other contagious diseases.
Even in the ubiquitous cigarette ads, we find a picture of domestic comfort as an elaborately dressed wife (in the same style as the cover portrait cited earlier) offers a tin of Golden Dragon Cigarettes to her traditionally clothed husband sitting on a modern sofa. The four lines of Chinese words placed into a square form an awkward and blatantly exploitative message: "Beauty is lovely; cigarettes are also lovely. The cigarette that is a national product, it is even more lovely." Perhaps the most revealing is a set of three ads for Quaker Oats, which gives us three variations of the same story: in the first one, a wife wearing an apron is holding a bowl of Quaker Oats to give to her seated husband, who is reading a newspaper (with the heading "Ideal Breakfast"); in the second, a mother is holding her beloved baby and feeding him a spoonful of Quaker Oats; in the third, there is no direct representation of the cereal but the picture of two youngsters, a boy and a girl, carrying their satchels and running to school. The health message reads: "Give the energy, nourish the soul: youngsters in school consume a lot of energy, and the development of their bodies and hearts consumes even more. For nourishment, this
The emphasis on children is further evidenced by the many photos of naked babies in Liangyou huabao's issues. The magazine proceeded in late 1926 to sponsor, together with the Momilk company, a competition for the healthiest babies, with an award totaling four hundred yuan for the top thirty. Hundreds of photos of eager entrants appeared in subsequent issues. The whole enterprise is but a "healthy" echo of an American beauty contest, which the journal also featured in its twentieth issue. The Chinese headings for the beauty contest used three terms: meiren (beautiful person), meinü (beautiful woman), and renti mei (beauty of the human body). The last also became the recurrent theme of a series of photographs displaying the female body with an increasing degree of nudity. The issues of 1926 featured Western sculptures and paintings of nudes and photos of Japanese women in bathing suits. These were accompanied by drawings by contemporary Chinese artists (for instance, issue No. 15  featured the works of Wan Laiming). In issue No. 30 (1928), a number of nude poses appeared together with an ad for a book of Wan Laiming's paintings. This was the first time that photos of a Chinese nude model appeared: four photos showing the contours of a woman's back. In issue No. 40 (1929) a "photographic study" by Chang Chien Wen shows a full-page nude facing a mirror—with the explanatory remarks lauding the naturalness of her body: "a healthy body is the first principle of beauty." In issue No. 50 (1930), another photo of a frontal nude also takes up a whole page, with the English title "Under the shade of a willow tree (a photo by P. C. Chen)"; the Chinese title again lauded "a healthy and beautiful body."
It would take a long treatise to put the public display, artistic or otherwise, of the female body in a modern Chinese cultural context. (It would be relatively easy to see it as an invasion of Western culture and aesthetics that inscribes a long history of the Western human body on the Chinese mind.) As Mark Elvin has shown in a long article, the discourse on the body in traditional Chinese culture is full of complexities. The Chinese word for body, shen, is translated by Elvin as "body-person" as it is often connected with extraphysical attributes of person, self, life, or lifetime. Both Confucianism and Taoism were, of course, much obsessed with the physical side of the human body. But according to Elvin the reason for this was above all to preserve longevity: "Late-traditional Chinese were hypochondriacs, obsessed with diets, medicine, and health generally"—all presumably for such a purpose. One should add that these hypochondriacs were mostly men. Elvin notes that "the body-person is also the heart-mind's most important single resource. It is (obviously) the carrier of physical beauty, both female and male. It is the repository
The relevance of this observation for our purposes is that this last instance may well have been preserved in the cultural memory of readers of Liangyou huabao. As I argued earlier, the journal's effort to maintain a healthy respectability and friendliness may have stemmed from an awareness of the popularity of countless journals, as well as the gossip sheets put out by the "mosquito press," devoted to the pleasure quarters. Catherine Yeh has demonstrated that in the late Qing period, such journals about courtesans also held beauty competitions; each "famous flower" had her own literati following. The vogue faded from the publishing scene after (so Yeh surmised) such journals were replaced by movie magazines. Courtesan literature, in fact, did not fade from modern Chinese literature: only its "public image" was displaced by photographs and paintings of modern, and more respectable, women. Thus to display the female body either as a work of art (Western) or as an embodiment of physical health marked the beginnings of a new discourse that was made problematic precisely because it was derived from the previous courtesan journals, in which female bodies indeed carried a market value. Insofar as it portrayed young ladies, a new pictorial like Liangyou huabao had to reinvest the female body with an entirely new meaning and ethical value. The new women portrayed or photographed are not poor, or at least not from poor families. And when they are placed in a interior setting of a modern family, they are made to embody a totally different style of life. Their bodies, therefore, are placed in new "persons": to follow Elvin, their new house would be where they could anshen (settle down in life), just as their chushen (upbringing) and shen-fen (personal status) are purposefully given a "dressing up" of bourgeois wealth and respectability. Thus fashion—the styles of dressing up—became a modern element in a culture that did not have such a tradition except in a fleeting form (according to Elvin, "chiefly hairdo and makeup, it seems").
To move from the portrait of a fashionable woman to that of a nude female generated further anxiety for readers living in that still transitional age, because the drawings of naked female bodies in traditional Chinese culture were found largely in pornographic books. The invention of photography and its adoption by the modern newspaper and magazine added a mimetic dimension: the nude figure looks like a real person. This new "shock of recognition" could incur all kinds of "misinterpretations" by the average readers of the time—most of all those derived
By the early 1930s, an entire imaginary of urban modernity was constructed in the pages of Liangyou huabao. There appeared more and more photos showcasing the various attractions of the city itself. Issue No. 87 in 1934 includes a two-page photographic extravaganza billed in English as "Outline of Shanghai"; its Chinese title is even more revealing: "So This Is Shanghai: Sound, Light, and Electricity." Other photos show Shanghai's famed department stores, hotels, ballrooms, cinemas (together with movie stars), and women. An issue in 1934 presents a photographic mosaic with headings in both English and Chinese— "Intoxicated [sic] Shanghai" and "Duhui de ciji" (Excitements of the metropolis)—with photos of a jazz band, a new twenty-two-story skyscraper, scenes of horse and dog racing,
It remains for me to discuss one last specimen in this series of commercial advertisements for modernity—perhaps the most significant one, as it provides the crucial temporal scheme of everyday operation—the commercial calendar.
The commercial calendar began as an advertising gimmick introduced by Western capitalism—principally the British and American tobacco, medicine, cosmetic, textile, and oil companies. As early as the second decade of the twentieth century, the American Tobacco Company (Yingmei yancao gongsi) had introduced offset lithographic printing, formed its own advertising department, and set up an art school for the sole purpose of training commercial artists. But its domination was soon challenged by native Chinese entrepreneurs, in particular Huang Chujiu, the owner of the Great Eastern Dispensary and the Great World Amusement Building, who spotted the artistic talent of a Hangzhou painter, Zheng Man-tuo, and promoted him. Thus calendar posters painted by Zheng and his disciples became most sought-after items, thereby establishing a new tradition of commercial art that combined traditional Chinese painting techniques with modern design (sometimes framed with art deco patterns) and utility. In the 1920s and early 1930s, the calendar poster reached a peak of popularity.
The basic composition of the commercial calendars is the same for each: an oblong rectangular frame, like that of a traditional Chinese painting, with the portrait of a woman occupying about two-thirds of the frame, and at the bottom a calendar; on top of either the large frame or the calendar is printed the name of the company advertising its commodity: usually cigarettes or medicine. In some ways this makes for a perfect summation of some of the central elements I have discussed in this chapter: the calendar poster features not only the veneer of modernity as seen through advertisements but also the paraphernalia associated with the women in the pictures. In fact, the cover women in Liangyou huabao and the women in the calendars bear some striking similarities in terms of fashion, posture, and facial expression, and the background landscapes are similar. The calendar portraits also exhibit a painting technique that, while clearly linked to traditional brush styles and popular roots (such as the nianhua, or New Year pictures, in rural households), nevertheless added some innovative touches. This new vogue was popularized by Zheng Mantuo and his friends and disciples. A special technique of Zheng's was to begin drawing the woman's face with charcoal powder and then touch up with colored hues, thus creating a tender, subdued look. This kind of "portrait of a lady in modern dress" (shizuang shinu tu) became a representative fixture of the calendar, and the discerning viewer or collector supposedly could even see "her eyes following people."
Allow me to read one such woman depicted on a calendar that I own (see figure 1.1). This is one of the more traditional varieties of the calendar, and it advertises Hatamen brand cigarettes. It is painted with a special 1930 technique of light-colored brushwork (caibi dancai hua) first used by the artist Zheng Mantuo in the late Qing period. In this particular case, the body of the woman is not lengthened, as sometimes is necessitated by the oblong shape of the frame. She sits sideways by a patch of water where a pair of swans swim together; in the upper and lower right corners are branches and grass painted in the traditional style. The ambiance seems to transport us away from the modern reality. In my view, it also evokes the fictional world of the Butterfly school (also known as the Mandarin Duck and Butterfly school); the pair of swans in particular is a visual reference, metonymically, to mandarin ducks. This common traditional style may serve to tone down the blatantly foreign (English) origin of the cigarettes. However, in order to spotlight the commodity, the cigarette pack in the grass next to her is red.
As we gaze at the picture of the woman, we find that although her clothes are traditional—she wears a simple and tastefully light-colored qipao—there are some very modern touches that distinguish her from the myriad traditional women who graced magazine covers. For one thing, the big flower she wears near her collar is a striking pink, which contrasts with the pale green color of her gown (with slim pink stripes to match), thereby both bringing out and toning down the familiar aesthetic association of prime colors (red and green). The pointed position of the flower of course also serves to point to the woman, thus giving rise to the familiar poetic metaphor for woman: yizhi hua—a solitary flower of (faded) splendor that
Figure 1.1. Calendar poster, 1930.
But the real function of this calendar, hence the real content of this "text," is the calendar itself, which is reduced to the lower half but framed with a striking art deco design. What makes it immediately relevant to my purposes is the fact that the calendar in this case uses two sets of modern year-marks: 1930 of the Western calendar on the left and the nineteenth year of the Republic of China on the right. The rest of this yearly calendar is divided by the months, which are further divided into weeks. At this point the traditional lunar dates also enter into the charts. I have no idea when this calendrical arrangement became the standard, but the cultural significance cannot be overemphasized. Not only does the standard calendar bring two clear time-markers together (Chinese and Western, both notably modern), but the two also combine to inscribe a modern organizational scheme of time on the traditional. The division of months, days, and weeks is manifestly Western and modern, and by this time governed the everyday lives of Chinese urbanites; a few seasonal dates from the lunar calendar are placed on the month column on top—perhaps as a reminder of the important rituals people still needed to perform or, as is still practiced now, as a form of "fortunetelling" to alert the modern citydwellers to equate their modern datekeeping with a tabulation of divine fortune: which day may be auspicious for which ritual? All of these have become common features in the Chinese calendars used today. But the invention of the calendar poster must be duly accredited. For I believe that time—and the system of calendrical dating—is the foundation on which modernity is constructed. This is also the underlying thesis in Anderson's book, that nationalism could be imagined only as a result of a fundamental change in the conception of time: the imagined community of the nation springs from an idea of "homogeneous, empty time, in which simultaneity is, as it were, transverse, cross-time, marked not by prefiguring
In this essay I have surveyed two highly successful journals, Dongfang zazhi and Liangyou huabao, and their related commercial enterprises in order to explore the ways in which an imaginary of modernity was constructed in Shanghai's urban culture. The two also bore institutional linkages: Wu Liande, the founder of Liangyou huabao, once worked for the Commercial Press, and the Liangyou company clearly followed some of the publishing projects of the Commercial Press with its own resounding success. The most impressive and enduring of the Liangyou projects was surely the ten-volume Zhongguo xinwenxue daxi (Compendium of new Chinese literature) edited by Zhao Jiabi, which after its publication in the early 1930s soon attained canon status. Other ambitious projects, such as Liangyou wenku (Liangyou repository) and Yijiao congshu (Tencent series), were cheap editions composed of works by renowned authors of modern Chinese literature and thought. But certainly the major legacy of modern Chinese print culture was its pictorial pages, which literally and figuratively contributed to the making of a modern Chinese imaginary.
Throughout the essay I have used the term imaginary in the sense of a cluster of linked images that collectively represent an imagined ideal (of Chinese modernity). An imaginary is different from a theory because it also concerns the way ordinary people imagine their surroundings; intellectual theory is the creation of a small intellectual elite, whereas social or cultural imaginary can be shared by large groups of people through the circulation of print and visual media. It aims at a common understanding that makes possible common practices and a sense of legitimacy. Throughout this essay I have also emphasized the process of cultural construction rather than consumption, for reasons that should by now be clear. For I believe that this imaginary of modernity was still in the making during the early Republican period. I have further suggested that, following Anderson, such a modern imaginary was also related to the formation of the modern Chinese nation first as an imagined community. That this imagined community was being legitimized with the organization of a social imaginary can be evidenced in Liangyou's weighty pictorial album Zhonghua jingxiang (originally translated as China as She Is: A Comprehensive Album) published in 1934. What lies behind this photographed collection of national scenery (jingxiang) seems to be a clear impulse to define the boundaries of the new nation. Further research is necessary to establish the exact relationship between this cultural and commercial enterprise and the policies of the modern Chinese state, particularly in education. It would not
Likewise, we need to explore further the connection and interplay between editors and readers, producers and consumers. What was the composition of the urban readership? How diverse was it? Would different kinds of readers respond to different content in different journals? So far my evidence is merely textual: I have tried to gauge the range and size of the readerships from the printed articles and advertisements in the journals themselves, though there is danger that the journals are guilty of self-serving exaggeration. However, my purpose in this essay is not to describe empirical research but to explore the possibilities of a new approach, that of cultural history. Some of my interpretations can be taken as hypotheses subject to further proof. However, not all interpretations are based on empirical evidence, and no amount of research can ever establish the final picture. I hope that I have at least blazed a small trail by shifting our scholarly attention from the elitist domain of lofty ideas and grand narratives to a more popular realm of urban print culture.
1. Leo Oufan Lee, "In Search of Modernity: Reflections on a New Mode of Consciousness in Modern Chinese Literature and Thought," in Ideas across Cultures: Essays in Honor of Benjamin Schwartz, ed. Paul A. Cohen and Merle Goldman (Cambridge: Harvard East Asian Monographs, 1990), 110–11.1 [BACK]
2. The term wenming is included in appendix D, "Return Graphic Loans: Kanji Terms Derived from Classical Chinese," in Lydia Liu's Translingual Practice: Literature, National Culture, and Translated Modernity—China, 1900–1937 (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1996), 308. [BACK]
3. Benjamin Schwartz, In Search of Wealth and Power (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1964), 238–39. [BACK]
4. Rengong [Liang Qichao], "Hanman lu," Qingyi bao 35 (1899): 2275–78. [BACK]
5. Benedict Anderson, Imagined Communities: Reflections on the Origin and Spread of Nationalism (New York: Verso, 1983). [BACK]
6. Ibid., 31–36. [BACK]
7. Jurgen Habermas, The Structural Transformation of the Public Sphere (Cambridge: MIT Press, 1989), 40–41, 50–51. [BACK]
8. But this is not the same as Habermas's "public sphere," as China did not share the same preconditions as Europe in the eighteenth century. Thus I differ from those who believe there was a Chinese public sphere or civil society. Still, the concept of a reading "public" does open up notions of the "public space" as well as urban space, which may constitute a "semipublic sphere" within the framework of urban society. But even so, some of the standard manifestations Habermas sees in eighteenth-century French salons or English pubs and journals did not take place in China. [BACK]
9. Homi K. Bhabha, "Dissemination: Time, Narrative, and the Margins of the Modern Nation," in Nation and Narration, ed. Homi K. Bhabha (London: Routledge, 1990). [BACK]
10. Robert Darnton, The Business of Enlightenment: A Publishing History of the Encyclopedie [sic] (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1968). [BACK]
11. There has already been scholarly treatment of both Dongfang zazhi and the Commercial Press in Western languages. Thus, I do not intend to go into their backgrounds. For a comprehensive study of the latter, see Jean-Pierre Drege, La Commercial Press de Shanghai, 1897–1949 (Paris: Institute des hautes etudes chinoises, College de France, 1978). See also the valuable collection of reminiscences Shangwu yinshugan jiushinian (Ninety years of the Commercial Press) (Beijing: Shangwu yinshuguan, 1987). [BACK]
12. Ma Xuexin, Cao Junwei, et al., eds., Shanghai wenhua yuanliu cidian (A dictionary of cultural sources in Shanghai) (Shanghai: Shanghai shehui kexueyuan chubanshe, 1992), 199. [BACK]
13. Jing Cang, "Jinhou zazhi jie zhi zhiwu" (The duty of the magazine world from now on), Dongfang zazhi (hereafter DZ) 16, no. 7 (July 1919): 3–5. [BACK]
14. Lu Lu, "Jiqi yu rensheng" (Machines and life), DZ 16, no. 10 (October 1916): 47–54. [BACK]
15. DZ 8, no. 1 (March 1911): 38. [BACK]
16. Apparently English-Chinese dictionaries were in great demand, and the Commercial Press had to make every effort in order to beat other publishers to the market. Most dictionaries were patchworks stitched together from English and Japanese dictionaries. In the case of publishing Webster's Dictionary, the Commercial Press had to pay a sizable sum as a result of the lawsuit brought by the original company. See Xie Juzeng, Shili yangchang de ciyang (Silhouettes on the Bund) (Guangzhou: Huacheng chubanshe), 50. [BACK]
17. Actually, Mrs. Zhu was editor in name only; the real editor was a man, Zhu Yunzhang, a member of the press's staff, who nominally consulted her and wrote some articles under her name. See Xie Juzeng, Shili yangchang de ciyang, 38. [BACK]
18. See "Jiaokeshu zhi fakan gaikuang" (The general situation of the publication of textbooks), in Zhongguo jindai chuban shiliao chubian, ed. Zhang Jinglu (Shanghai: Zhonghua shuju, 1957), 220. [BACK]
19. Ibid., 228. The Japanese connection proved to be a mixed blessing; the press eventually severed it. This may have been the reason, though an undocumented one, why the Japanese bombarded and destroyed the press's printing plant and other buildings during the air raid on January 28, 1932. [BACK]
20. This announcement and the advertisements for the photo and postcards can be found in DZ 8, no. 11 (November 1911). [BACK]
21. Zhongguo jindai chuban shiliao chubian, 243–44. [BACK]
22. Zhongguo jiaoyu daxi (The grand compendium of Chinese education) 2 (1994): 2221–22. [BACK]
23. Zhongguo jindai chuban shiliao chubian, 242–43. [BACK]
24. Ibid., 246. [BACK]
25. Ibid., 221. [BACK]
26. I am indebted to my student Mr. Chen Jianhua for these statistics and for other research assistance. [BACK]
27. Wang Yunwu, "Wangyou wenku di yierji yinxing yuanqi" (The background for the publication of the first and second series of the Wanyou wenku), in Zhongguo xiandai chuban shiliao yibian (Shanghai: Zhonghua shuju, 1954), 290–91. Drege discusses Wang Yunwu's reorganization efforts (Drege, Commercial Press, 89–94), and in the appendix section of Commercial Press are listings of the periodicals distributed by the press, as well as congshu and dictionaries (185–98), but not textbooks. [BACK]
28. Ibid., 290–91. [BACK]
29. Ibid., 293–94. [BACK]
30. "Wanyou wenku bianyi fanli" (The guidelines for the compilation of Wanyou wenku), Wanyou wenku diyiji yiqianzhong mulu (Catalogue of one thousand titles of Wanyou wenku, 1st ser.) (Shanghai: Shangwu yinshuguan, 1929), 2. [BACK]
31. The relevance was noted by Li Shizeng, a renowned intellectual of the time, who is reported to have remarked that he admired two historical figures: Ji Xiaolan, the Qing dynasty compiler of the Siku quanshu, and Diderot, the French philosophe of the Encyclopedie. See Qian Huafo and Zheng Yimei, Sanshinian lai zhi Shanghai (Shanghai of the past thirty years) (1946; reprint, Shanghai: Shanghai shudian, 1984), 46–47. [BACK]
32. Ma Xuexin et al., Shanghai wenhua yuanliu cidian (Shanghai: Shanghai shehui kexueyuan chubanshe, 1992), 379. For an analysis of the making of the Compendium of New Chinese Literature, see Lydia Liu, Translingual Practice, 214–38. [BACK]
33. Liangyou huabao, 6 (July 15, 1926): 18. [BACK]
34. Huang Kewu, "Cong Shenbao yiyao guanggao kan minchu Shanghai de yiliao wenhua yu shehui shenghuo" (Shanghai's medical culture and social life as seen in Shenbao's medicine advertisements), Zhongyang yanjiu yuan Jindai shi yanjiu suo jikan (Quarterly journal of the Modern History Institute, Academia Sinica), no. 17 (December 1988): 141–94. [BACK]
35. Liangyou huabao 6 (July 15, 1926): 18. [BACK]
36. Liangyou huabao 11 (December 15, 1926). [BACK]
37. Mark Elvin, "Tales of Shen and Xin: Body-Person and Heart-Mind in China during the Last 150 Years," Zone 4: Fragments for a History of the Human Body, pt. 2 (New York: Zone, 1989), 275. [BACK]
38. Ibid., 277. [BACK]
39. Ibid., 295. [BACK]
40. This is from a talk given at the Workshop on Chinese Cultural Studies, Fairbank Center, Harvard University, Cambridge, March 9, 1995. [BACK]
41. Ibid., 268. [BACK]
42. See, for instance, Henri Lefebvre, Everyday Life in the Modern World, trans. Sacha Rabinovitch (New Brunswick and London: Transaction Publishers, 1990). But Lefebvre's interpretive scheme is too contemporary and Western to be relevant to the Chinese materials treated in this essay. [BACK]
43. Liangyou huabao 85 (1934): 14–15. [BACK]
44. Liangyou huabao 103 (1935): 34–35. For sampling these photos I am grateful to my student Ezra Block, whose senior thesis at Harvard (June 1996), "Modeling Modernity: The Liangyou huabao in the 1930s," is also on the journal. [BACK]
45. Zhang Yanfeng, Lao yuefenpai guanggao hua (Advertisement paintings in old calendars), vol. 1 (Taipei: Hansheng zazhi, 1994), 65. [BACK]
46. Cai Zhenghua and Fan Zhenjia, "Yuefen pai" (Calendars), in Bainian Shanghai tan (The Shanghai treatyport during the last one hundred years), ed. Ye Shuping and Zheng Zu'an (Shanghai: Shanghai huabao chubanshe, 1990), 120–22. [BACK]
47. This is a gift from William Tay, who purchased it in Hong Kong. A photo reproduction of it is included in Zhang Yanfeng, Lao yuefenpai guanggao hua, 1:18. Apparently a widespread nostalgia for such old artifacts is now sweeping Hong Kong, Taiwan, and Mainland China. [BACK]
48. Zhang Yanfeng, Lao yuefenpai guanggao hua, 1:10. [BACK]
49. Ibid., 42. [BACK]
50. Francesca Dal Lago, at New York University, has written a master's thesis on the subject. Contrary to my sedate and "conservative" reading, her argument states that the
51. Anderson, Imagined Communities, 30. [BACK]
53. These remarks are indebted to Charles Taylor, who spoke of the "social imaginary" at several conferences that I also attended. [BACK]
54. As advertised in Liangyou huabao 87 (April 1934) in the second printing; the first printing of three thousand copies quickly sold out. [BACK]
55. It would be intriguing to see whether Chiang Kai-shek's conservative "New Life Movement" had a visible impact on the pictorial contents of Liangyou huabao. I have glanced through the issues from 1930 to 1937, but I did not find any definite changes, except that there were no more pictures of nudes after 1934, and the more alluring portraits of the urban pleasures of Shanghai were toned down. [BACK]