The Naked Gaze: Reflections on Chinese Modernity

The Naked Gaze: Reflections on Chinese Modernity

by Carlos Rojas


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This is a study of visuality in early modern and modern China. Its focus, however, is not so much on imagery per se but rather on how vision itself has been conceived, imagined, and deployed in a variety of discursive contexts. Of particular interest is how these discourses of vision have been used to articulate issues of gender and desire, and specifically processes of gendered subject formation. Through detailed readings of narrative works by eight authors of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries—ranging from the canonical to the popular to the esoteric—the study identifies three distinct constellations of visual concerns corresponding to the late imperial, mid-twentieth century, and contemporary periods, respectively. At the same time, however, it argues that those historical periodizations themselves do not reflect a smooth, unidirectional temporal movement; rather, they are the result of a complex process of retrospection and anticipatory projection. The goal of this volume is to use a focus on tropes of visuality and gender to reflect on shifting understandings of the significance of Chineseness, modernity, and Chinese modernity.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780674031746
Publisher: Harvard
Publication date: 01/31/2009
Series: Harvard East Asian Monographs , #308
Pages: 350
Product dimensions: 6.20(w) x 9.10(h) x 1.20(d)

About the Author

Carlos Rojas is Associate Professor of Chinese Cultural Studies, Women’s Studies, and Arts of the Moving Image at Duke University.

Table of Contents

  • Figures
  • Credits
  • Introduction: The Errant Gaze
  • Part I: Specularity

  1. Specularity and the Limits of Vision
  2. Li Ruzhen and Laughing at the Gibbon
  3. Chen Sen and the Coin of Gender
  • Part II: Spectatorship

  1. Wumingshi and Pictorial Fetishism
  2. Jin Yong and Picturing Nationalism
  3. Eileen Chang and Photographic Nostalgia

  • Part III: Screened Projections

  1. Li Yung-p'ing and Spectral Cartography
  2. Gao Xingjian and Maternal Photographs
  3. Wang Shuo and Historical Portraiture
  4. ChuT'ien-wen and Cinematic Shadows

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