Rhetorical Places: China in the Western Imagination
119 | CCN: 77907
Instructor: Winnie Wong
From mythical Cathay to Xanadu, from the Sick Man of Asia to a Communist dystopia, imaginary Chinas have served as fertile rhetorical space for Western thinkers from the earliest days of contact to the present. This course surveys modern and early modern Chinas through encounters, objects, and visual culture. Lectures will cover the production and reception of "Chinese" facts and things in modern European texts, situating them against the extensive material commerce in products made in southern China for European consumption, including low grade teas, raw silk, and made-to-order porcelain, but also art objects such as paintings, furniture, wallpaper, garden design, and natural history illustrations. Readings will introduce how European ideas of government, language, knowledge, law, bureaucracy, nature, and manufacture were narrativized through Chinese visual and material production, and discussions will explore how distance, translation and artifice enabled the (mis)production of knowledge, images and writing by missionaries, ambassadors, traders, travelers, artists and philosophers.