Program

Mellon/ACLS Dissertation Completion Fellowships , ACLS Fellowship Program , Henry Luce Foundation/ ACLS Program in China Studies Collaborative Reading-Workshop Grants

Project

After the Copy: China, Dafen Village, and the Hand-Painted Art Product

Project

Barbarian Similitudes: Canton, Trade, Painting, 1700-1842

Project

Urban Space and Social Networks in a Port City: Reading a Cantonese Diary (1819 to 1829)

Department

Rhetoric

After the Copy: China, Dafen Village, and the Hand-Painted Art Product

China's Dafen village has served as a global production center for handmade oil paintings since 1989, supplying transnational markets with paintings sourced from the Western canon. More recently, aided by governmental support for cultural industries, Dafen village's 8,000 painters have begun striving for “originality” and “creativity.” Its growing prominence in global contemporary art markets and as a national model industry raises new questions of skill, mobility, and commodification. Through analysis of hand-made painting production, this study examines the de-skilling and re-skilling of art in the globalizing frame, and shows how new constructs of originality and the copy are formed through transnational economic forces and globalizing artistic cultures.

Barbarian Similitudes: Canton, Trade, Painting, 1700-1842

The eighteenth-century trade between China and Europe reconfigured the global shape of manufacture and luxury, yet in the midst of this intensive exchange, the civilizational differences between the two cultures were made visible by their most interpretable art—painting. This study examines two subcultures situated at the crux of that encounter: European Jesuits who painted for the Qing emperors, and anonymous Chinese painters who worked for European merchants in the port of Guangzhou (Canton). Bringing together objects previously categorized as art, science, craft, or imitation, while engaging with the recent scholarship on the formation of these categories themselves, this study investigates how visual culture mediated the fabulist rhetorics of comparison between Chinese and Western art.

Urban Space and Social Networks in a Port City: Reading a Cantonese Diary (1819 to 1829)

This workshop will use the diary of a Cantonese literatus, Xie Lansheng, to explore issues related to urban space and social networks in late imperial China. Covering the years 1819 to 1829, Xie's diary provides a unique perspective on the port city of Guangzhou (Canton) on the eve of the Opium War. In the pages of the diary, Xie's social networks are constructed by his movements through characteristically urban spaces, from yamen and academies to entertainment quarters, monasteries, and the homes and firms of the city's famous maritime (Cohong) merchants. Because of Xie's deep involvement in official, academic, literary, artistic, and commercial circles, the diary requires a truly interdisciplinary and collaborative reading to be fully understood.