Note to Readers

Wen-hsin Yeh, University of California, Berkeley
Sungtaek Cho, Korea University
Download Note (239.09 KB)

March 2018


Dear Cross-Currents readers,


We are pleased to present you with the twenty-sixth quarterly issue of the open-access e-journal Cross-Currents: East Asian History and Culture Review.


The first research article—“Imagining China’s Children: Lower-Elementary Reading Primers and the Reconstruction of Chinese Childhood, 1945–1951” by Carl Kubler (University of Chicago)—focuses on two issues related to the “remaking” of Chinese childhood following the Second Sino-Japanese War (1937–1945). First, how did lower-elementary reading primers and other textbooks help create for children the idea of a Chinese nation of which they were part and with which they were expected to identify above and beyond the domestic spheres of their natal families? Second, how did such textbooks teach children to think of themselves as laboring contributors to national causes? The article is supplemented by a photo essay featuring images and marginalia from midcentury textbooks that simultaneously sought to bring children into the fold of an imagined national community and extended to society’s youngest members the importance of productivity as the primary condition of their inclusion.


The second article—“Japanese Modernism at a ‘Branch Point’: On the Museum of Modern Art, Hayama’s 1937 Exhibition” by Kevin Michael Smith (University of California, Davis)—views an exhibition on Japanese modernism that took place during the contradictorily vibrant and tumultuous period of the 1930s through the lens of Japan’s uneven capitalist development and wartime mobilization. The author suggests that the exhibition’s unique international scope, rich selection of figurative and abstract modernist works, and emphasis on the year 1937 as a nexus through which the decade’s competing tendencies can be reevaluated readily disclose the constitutive, dialectical relationships between historical difference, total war, and modernist form in imperial Japan and its colonies.


This issue also features four review essays covering nine recent publications on East Asia. In the first essay, Shana J. Brown (University of Hawai‘i, Mānoa) discusses the contributions of three new books—Portraiture and Early Studio Photography in China and Japan, edited by Luke Gartlan and Roberta Wue; The Journey of “A Good Type”: From Artistry to Ethnography in Early Japanese Studies by David Odo; and Photography for Everyone: The Cultural Lives of Cameras and Consumers in Early Twentieth-Century Japan by Kerry Ross—to the study of East Asian photography in colonial contexts, especially pertaining to the “power dimensions that were expressed in the act of taking photographs, their collection and viewing.”


The second review essay, by Kyu Hyun Kim (University of California, Davis), explores the contributions of Hikari Hori’s Promiscuous Media: Film and Visual Culture in Imperial Japan, 1926–1945 and Jennifer Coates’s Making Icons: Repetition and the Female Image in Japanese Cinema 1945–1964 to understanding some of the many “surprising and troubling continuities” between wartime and postwar Japan. In another review essay, Laura C. Nelson (University of California, Berkeley) discusses the ways in which Soyoung Suh’s Naming the Local: Medicine, Language, and Identity in Korea since the Fifteenth Century and Eunjung Kim’s Curative Violence: Rehabilitating Disability, Gender, and Sexuality in Modern Korea illustrate “the productive power of ideas of health and wellness in the generation of Korean culture, society, and institutions.”


In the fourth review essay, Max D. Woodworth (Ohio State University) puts William Schaefer’s Shadow Modernism: Photography, Writing, and Space in Shanghai, 1925–1937 in conversation with Weijie Song’s Mapping Modern Beijing: Space, Emotion, Literary Topography to explore how each author’s respective city “takes shape as a space through which to advance intricate and highly original arguments about images, representation, text, culture, space, history, and, of course, the city.” Woodworth, a geographer, appreciates how each author treats cities as “social-spatial artifacts generated through a host of material and symbolic presences articulated in an array of visual and literary cultural productions, a fair portion of which has been overlooked in the existing literature.”


Finally, this issue features two related essays in its “Readings from Asia” section. The two contributors—Hyowon Lee (Sungkyunkwan University) and Cross-Currents co-editor Wen-hsin Yeh (University of California, Berkeley)—discuss, respectively, contemporary Japanese and Chinese commentaries on the Yŏnhaeng-nok (Ch. Yanxinglu, Journeys to Beijing), a collection of Chosŏn-era travelogues written by Korean envoys to China (specifically, Beijing). Lee examines the fresh method used by Fuma Susumu in Chōsen enkōshi to Chōsen tsūshinshi 朝鮮燕行使と朝鮮通信使 [Korean embassies to Beijing and Korean embassies to Japan], and Yeh reflects on Ge Zhaoguang’s Xiangxiang yiyu: Du Lichao Chaoxian hanwen Yanxing wenxian zhaji 葛兆光,想象异域:李朝朝鲜韩文燕行文献札 [Imagining a foreign place: Notes on Korean Yi-dynasty Beijing journals in classical Chinese].


We hope you enjoy reading this issue. As always, we look forward to receiving your feedback. Be sure to register here on our website in order to leave comments for our contributors and join the conversation.


Wen-hsin Yeh and Sungtaek Cho