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Fragments of the Trans-Pacific Cultural Front: Agnes Smedley and Lu Xun in Shanghai, 1930-1934

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Abstract:

This paper explores the intellectual collaboration between Agnes Smedley, major US proletarian author, and Lu Xun, arguably the most significant Chinese author of the 20th century, in the 1930s in China. In 1930, Smedley left New York City for war-torn Shanghai and immersed herself in its leftist political community, quickly befriending a number of major Chinese intellectuals. She developed her closest bonds to the writer Lu Xun, leading Shanghai political agitator and writer, whereby the two initiated a short-lived but energetic period of intellectual collaboration. This paper examines the outcome of this trans-Pacific friendship: a series of bilingual essays, co-written stories, and translations. These writings, which sought to transcend cultural, national, and linguistic differences, enabled powerful links between leftist politics in the US and China; the NYC-based Cultural Front and the Shanghai League of Leftist Writers, in particular. I argue that this collaboration staged a brief yet important form of a global, distinctly East-West, leftist politics that powerfully challenges current conceptions of the “radical 1930s” in the West. This paper offers a close analysis of the imagined terms of such “trans-Pacific” writing, and moreover, asks the question: why has the field of American Studies so egregiously overlooked this vital cultural history? And how can it be used to conceptualize a future “trans-Pacific” cultural studies in the US?
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Name: American Studies Association Annual Meeting
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http://www.theasa.net


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URL: http://citation.allacademic.com/meta/p243595_index.html
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MLA Citation:

Richard, So. "Fragments of the Trans-Pacific Cultural Front: Agnes Smedley and Lu Xun in Shanghai, 1930-1934" Paper presented at the annual meeting of the American Studies Association Annual Meeting, Hyatt Regency, Albuquerque, New Mexico, <Not Available>. 2014-11-30 <http://citation.allacademic.com/meta/p243595_index.html>

APA Citation:

Richard, S. J. "Fragments of the Trans-Pacific Cultural Front: Agnes Smedley and Lu Xun in Shanghai, 1930-1934" Paper presented at the annual meeting of the American Studies Association Annual Meeting, Hyatt Regency, Albuquerque, New Mexico <Not Available>. 2014-11-30 from http://citation.allacademic.com/meta/p243595_index.html

Publication Type: Internal Paper
Abstract: This paper explores the intellectual collaboration between Agnes Smedley, major US proletarian author, and Lu Xun, arguably the most significant Chinese author of the 20th century, in the 1930s in China. In 1930, Smedley left New York City for war-torn Shanghai and immersed herself in its leftist political community, quickly befriending a number of major Chinese intellectuals. She developed her closest bonds to the writer Lu Xun, leading Shanghai political agitator and writer, whereby the two initiated a short-lived but energetic period of intellectual collaboration. This paper examines the outcome of this trans-Pacific friendship: a series of bilingual essays, co-written stories, and translations. These writings, which sought to transcend cultural, national, and linguistic differences, enabled powerful links between leftist politics in the US and China; the NYC-based Cultural Front and the Shanghai League of Leftist Writers, in particular. I argue that this collaboration staged a brief yet important form of a global, distinctly East-West, leftist politics that powerfully challenges current conceptions of the “radical 1930s” in the West. This paper offers a close analysis of the imagined terms of such “trans-Pacific” writing, and moreover, asks the question: why has the field of American Studies so egregiously overlooked this vital cultural history? And how can it be used to conceptualize a future “trans-Pacific” cultural studies in the US?


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