Shengqing Wu, "The Topography of Desire: Classical Poetry, Photography, and Male Bonding in the 1910s China"


Friday, April 8, 2011, 4:15pm

The Topography of Desire: Classical Poetry, Photography and Male Bonding in 1910s China
Shengqing Wu,
Wesleyan University
Discussant: Catherine Yeh, Associate Professor of Chinese, Boston University
Shengqing Wu investigates the relationship between image and text, specifically photographic images vis-à-vis classical-style poetry. She will address the critical question of how photography as a modern visual medium led to subtle changes in traditional poetic writing, as well as to an entirely new artistic admixture, namely the practice of inscribing photographs with poems. Next, she analyzes the function of heterosexual desire in male bonding that involved the circulation and exchange of poems inscribed on photographs of gendered images. Primary examples include the artistic life of Su Manshu and the compositions of members of the Southern Society written on photos of Feng Chunhang and Lu Zimei, two Beijing opera dan actors. By tracing the circulation and consumption of “female” images by male intellectuals and revolutionaries, Professor Wu reveals the significance of qing as a social practice and compelling force for cultural transformation in China at the beginning of the twentieth century.

Shengqing Wu is assistant professor of Chinese literature at Wesleyan University. She was an An Wang postdoctoral fellow at the Fairbank Center in 2005-06. She is finishing a book manuscript titled “Modern Archaics: Perspectives in Classical Chinese Poetry 1900-1937.”

Location: CGIS South, Room S153
1730 Cambridge Street, Cambridge, MA