Translating Vitalities: A Website

New website ahoy! Translating Vitalities is a collective of artists, anthropologists, medical and healing practitioners, historians, and other humanists and non-humanists who regularly come together in the service of making collaborative work to understand lifeworlds and their translations and transformations. We now have a website that will archive and share work that grows from the project, and you can find us here: Continue reading Translating Vitalities: A Website

The Art of Being Governed: An Interview

At the heart of Michael Szonyi’s new book are two questions: 1) How did ordinary people in the Ming deal with their obligations to provide manpower to the army?, and 2) What were the broader consequences of their behavior?” The Art of Being Governed: Everyday Politics in Late Imperial China (Princeton University Press, 2017) considers how military institutions shaped the lives of ordinary people on China’s southeast coast … Continue reading The Art of Being Governed: An Interview

Imagining History/Writing Late Imperial China

There’s a very cool section in the latest issue of Late Imperial China devoted to engaging the arts as late imperial (or early modern) historians. I have a little piece in the issue on fictioning with late imperial Chinese history and it’s a sneak peek of the monograph I’m finishing. The essay is sisters with the recent PMLA piece on fictioning with history, and the two contain … Continue reading Imagining History/Writing Late Imperial China

The Social Life of Inkstones: An Interview

Dorothy Ko’s new book is a must-read. Troubling the hierarchy of head over hands and the propensity to denigrate craftsmen in Chinese history, The Social Life of Inkstones: Artisans and Scholars in Early Qing China (University of Washington Press, 2017) explores the place of inkstones in the early Qing political project in a story that places ink-grinding stones and their craftspersons at the center. Ko’s book … Continue reading The Social Life of Inkstones: An Interview

Face/On: An Interview

Sharrona Pearl’s new book is an absolute pleasure to read. Face/On: Face Transplants and the Ethics of the Other (The University of Chicago Press, 2017) looks closely at facial allotransplantations, commonly known as face transplants, in order to offer a careful and fascinating study of the stakes for changing the face, and the changing stakes for the face. Troubling the indexical relationship between the face and … Continue reading Face/On: An Interview

A World Trimmed with Fur: An Interview

Jonathan Schlesinger’s new book makes a compelling case for the significance of Manchu and Mongolian sources and archival sources in particular in telling the story of the Qing empire and the invention of nature in its borderlands. A World Trimmed with Fur: Wild Things, Pristine Places, and the Natural Fringes of Qing Rule (Stanford University Press, 2017) traces the history of Qing nature and its environments … Continue reading A World Trimmed with Fur: An Interview

The Intellectual in Modern Chinese History: An Interview

In The Intellectual in Modern Chinese History (Cambridge University Press, 2015), Timothy Cheek offers a magisterial intellectual history of modern China that maps the changing terrain of intellectual life over a century so that the reader can place a particular figure, idea, or debate sensibly, helping the reader track different times, social worlds, and key concepts. It’s a wonderful book for readers of all sorts, and you … Continue reading The Intellectual in Modern Chinese History: An Interview


Dominic Pettman and I have spent the last year and a half (or so) conducting an experiment born out of a series of related questions: As a writer, what can it look like to meaningfully engage theory? As we respond to a work of cultural theory, what might fiction writing help us understand, see, and make that straight-up academic theory writing might not offer? Thus was … Continue reading Metagestures

The Problem of Women in Early Modern Japan: An Interview

Were women a problem in early modern Japan? If they were, what was the nature of the problem they posed? For whom, and why? Marcia Yonemoto‘s new book explores these questions in a compelling study that brings together the public discourse on women in the Tokugawa period (including prescriptive literature, instruction manuals for women, representations of women in fiction and drama, woodblock prints, and book illustrations) … Continue reading The Problem of Women in Early Modern Japan: An Interview