History in Images

History in Images

Pictures and Public Space in Modern China (CRM 66)

Christian Henriot, ed., Wen-hsin Yeh, ed.

Publication date: 2012
ISBN-13 (print): 978-1-55729-101-1
ISBN-10 (print): 1-55729-101-2
ISBN-13 (e-book): 978-1-55729-155-4

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The contributors to this volume take up the issue of “images in history” within the context of Republican and more recent Chinese urban history. They do so in response both to the availability of a massive amount of visual data from the Republican period and to a perceived lack of sustained effort, on the part of historians as opposed to cultural critics and students in other disciplines, to consider the mining of such materials for historical insight.

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Title information

The essays in this volume are organized into two groups: those that consider the use of historical photographs and those that examine the practices of Chinese cinema. They represent a preliminary effort to examine pictorial products and public communications of China’s modern period. Drawing on a considerable range of empirical sources, the authors of these essays take up the methodological challenge of pictorial materials for the study of history. The diverse approaches offer a spectrum of methodological possibilities with regard to the use of images in history. 

Shana J. Brown is associate professor in the Department of History at the University of Hawai’i at Manoa.
Feng Yi is a researcher at the Lyon Institute of East Asian Studies.
Kristine Harris is associate professor in the Department of History at the State University of New York at New Paltz.
Christian Henriot is professor of modern Chinese history at the University of Lyon.
Anne Kerlan is a researcher at the French National Centre for Scientific Research, Institut d’histoire du temps présent.
Sheldon H. Lu is professor of comparative literature at the University of California, Davis.
Paul G. Pickowicz is Distinguished Professor of History and Chinese Studies at the University of California, San Diego.
Catherine Yeh is associate professor of Chinese and comparative literature at Boston University.
Wen-hsin Yeh is professor of history at the University of California, Berkeley.


Pages: 277
Language: English
Publisher: Institute of East Asian Studies, University of California, Berkeley
OCLC: 783520785

Christian Henriot, ed.

Christian Henriot is professor of modern Chinese history at the University of Lyon. He specializes in the urban and social history of China, as well as the history of Sino-Japanese conflict. He is the co-founder of the European Journal of East Asian Studies and co-editor of History in Images: Pictures and Public Space in Modern China (IEAS, 2012). 


M.A., History, Stanford University; Ph.D., New Sorbonne University; State Doctorate, École des hautes études en sciences sociales (EHESS)

Wen-hsin Yeh, ed.

Wen-hsin Yeh is professor of history at the University of California, Berkeley. She has served as the director of the Institute of East Asian Studies and the chair of the Center for Chinese Studies at Berkeley. She has edited and contributed to many IEAS publications, including Mobile Subjects; Mobile Horizons; History in Images; Cities in Motion; Empire, Nation, and Beyond; Cross-Cultural Readings of Chineseness; Landscape, Culture, and Space in Chinese Society; and Shanghai Sojourners.


B.A., History, National Taiwan University; M.A., History, University of Southern California; Ph.D., History, University of California, Berkeley

History in Images

  1. 1. Introduction – 1
  2.     Christian Henriot and Wen-hsin Yeh
  3. 2. Wartime Shanghai Refugees: Chaos, Exclusion, and Indignity. Do Images Make up for the Absence of Memory? – 12
  4.     Christian Henriot
  5. 3. Sha Fei, the Jin-Cha-Ji Pictorial, and the Documentary Style of Chinese Wartime Photojournalism – 55
  6.     Shana J. Brown
  7. 4. China, a Man in the Guise of an Upright Female: Photography, the Art of the Hands, and Mei Lanfang's 1930 Visit to the United States – 81
  8.     Catherine Yeh
  9. 5. The Sound of Images: Peddlers’ Calls and Tunes in Republican Peking – 111
  10.     Feng Yi
  11. 6. Never-Ending Controversies: The Case of Chun jiang yi hen and Occupation-Era Chinese Filmmaking – 143
  12.     Paul G. Pickowicz
  13. 7. "The Enemy Is Coming": The 28 January 1932 Attack on Shanghai in Chinese Cinema – 163
  14.     Anne Kerlan
  15. 8. Two Stars on the Silver Screen: The Metafilm as Chinese Modern – 191
  16.     Kristine Harris
  17. 9. Alternative History, Alternative Memory: Cinematic Representation of the Three Gorges in the Shadow of the Dam – 245
  18.     Sheldon H. Lu
  19. Index – 259


"This is an extremely interesting and useful collection of essays presenting totally new interpretations of images in photography and cinema in twentieth-century China. Essays herein demonstrate how, with proper analysis, significant information about material culture can be obtained from visual images. These essays in particular validate the notion that visual images are discrete sources of information and should not be relegated to mere illustrations to a written text." ~Ellen Johnston Laing, University of Michigan

"As I read the manuscript, I thought, 'If a picture is worth a thousand words, these words about pictures are also highly illuminating. Bringing attention to the visual within history and as a means of thinking about history adds a fresh and artful dimension to the study of Republican China.' Indeed, there is much to learn and to think with in the chapters that make up this volume." ~Timothy B. Weston, University of Colorado at Boulder

"This volume raises an important question that has not been addressed systematically be scholars: how can historians utilize more productively visual images produced through modern technologies, specifically, photographs and movies? Many chapters in this volume make laudable efforts to examine the nature of such materials and their benefits and limitations for historical research; their reflections on the methodologies historians can adopt to utilize such materials will be helpful to many in the field." ~Madeleine Yue Dong, University of Washington