Current Institutional Affiliation
Doctoral Candidate, Columbia University

Award Information

International Dissertation Research Fellowship 2013
Institutional Affiliation (at time of award):
Area and Cultural Studies, Columbia University
Cover to Cover: Editing, Authorship, and Materiality in the Making of Modern Chinese Literature, 1916-1937

I am applying for the IDRF grant for 2013-2014 to conduct research in China on the hitherto unspecified role of editing in the modern [re]construction of textual authority and literary authorship during the Republican period. By examining the complex cultural enterprise of editing in relation to a flourishing design culture, my project traces the rise of a new literary medium, the paperback monograph, during the 1920s, as part of the progressive reformists' experimentation with media technologies in advancing their claims to literary modernity. I take as my focus a representative group of Shanghai-based writers and editors, whose collective experiences and labors across influential publishing houses, journals, magazines, and compendiums positioned them in the vanguard of literary publishing in China. At the center of this network of interpersonal, professional, and institutional relationships is the iconic writer Lu Xun, whose sustained and rigorous editorial activities have been woefully neglected by the vast body of Chinese and English-language scholarship on early 20th century literature and history. Consequently, an entire stratum of cultural collaboration and intellectual labor remains unnoticed and under-studied, in tandem with the names of some of the most important textual workers of modern Chinese literature: Zhen Zhengduo, Zhao Jiabi, Sun Fuyuan, Zhao Jingshen, to name a few. I take these individuals' publications and organizational affiliations as a point of entry into the rapid diversification and selective consolidation of editing practices across textual, pictorial, and filmic media over a period of roughly two decades. Combining methods of literary criticism, social history, and media studies, I reconstruct the historical moment of rupture and recalibration of literary practice as a critical reconfiguration of symbolic power amongst editors, authors, and publishers, from which literary authorship emerged as adominant form of creative labor.