1st Edition

Sensing China Modern Transformations of Sensory Culture

Edited By Shengqing Wu, Xuelei Huang Copyright 2023
    312 Pages 43 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    312 Pages 43 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    This book presents the first collection of studies of the senses and sensory experiences in China, filling a gap in sensory research while offering new approaches to Chinese Studies.

    Bringing together 12 chapters by literary scholars and historians, this book critically interrogates the deeply rooted meanings that the senses have coded in Chinese culture and society. Built on an exploration of the sensorium in early Chinese thought and late imperial literature, this book reveals the sensory manifestations of societal change and cultural transformation in China from the nineteenth century to the present day. It features in-depth examinations of a variety of concepts, representations, and practices, including aural and visual paradigms in ancient Chinese texts; odours in Ming-Qing literature and Republican Shanghai; the tactility of kissing and the sonic culture of community singing in the Republican era; the socialist sensorium in art, propaganda, memory, and embodied experiences; and contemporary-era multisensory cultural practices.

    Engaging with the exciting "sensory turn," this original work makes a unique contribution to the world history of the senses, and will be a valuable resource to scholars and students of Chinese Literature, History, Cultural Studies, and Media.

    1. Introduction
    Shengqing Wu and Xuelei Huang

    Part 1: Understanding the Senses in Traditional Culture

    2. Aural and Visual Hierarchies in Texts from Early China: Beyond Epistemology of the Senses
    Jane Geaney

    3. The Culture of Smells: Taboo and Sublimation from Huchou to Tianxiang
    Paolo Santangelo

    Part 2: Reconfiguring the Senses and Modern Sensibility

    4. Smellscapes of Nanjing Road: Cognitive and Affective Mapping
    Xuelei Huang

    5. The Kiss as an Art of Love: Touch, Sensuality, and Embodied Experience in Modern Chinese Culture
    Shengqing Wu

    6. Radio, Sound Cinema, and Community Singing: The Making of a New Sonic Culture in Modern China
    Xiaobing Tang

    Part 3: Socialist Corporeality, Sensorium and Memory

    7. Making Sense of Labor: Works of Art and Arts of Work in China’s Great Leap Forward
    Pang Laikwan

    8. Narrating Sweet Bitterness: Tasting and Sensing the Chinese Cultural Revolution
    Lena Henningsen

    9. The Hot Noise of Open-Air Cinema
    Jie Li

    Part 4: Senses, Media and Postmodernity

    10. Touching Father: Sight, Sound, Touch, and Intermedial Intimacies
    Carlos Rojas

    11. The Senses in Recent Exhibitionary Practice in Chinese History Museums
    Kirk Denton

    12. Epilogue: "And suddenly the memory revealed itself…."—Making Sense of the Senses in History
    Barbara Mittler


    Shengqing Wu is Professor of Chinese Literature at the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology, Hong Kong.

    Xuelei Huang is Senior Lecturer in Chinese Studies at the University of Edinburgh, UK.