Chinese Magazines: alternative modernisms
Michel: thank you for this fascinating presentation. Once again, it strikes me how concurrent the debates over modern ideals, values and aesthetics were, in the print cultures of different countries. Nudity, as a marker of the new emancipated modernity, is a signature element of German interwar magazines, in particular - but the modern ideals it invokes are contested: on one hand, we have nudity as a signifier of modern sexual liberation; on the other, an ideal of the de-eroticised naked (sporting) body. I had a sense, from your talk, that the female nudes in Red Leaves and other magazines are perhaps similarly conflicted? That they are site for the playing out of contested ideals of Chinese modernity?
Yes, very much so. That's what makes the role of left-wing intellectuals like Lu Xun so interesting. On the one hand they would argue in favour of nudity in art, considering it "modern" and progressive and a welcome shock to bourgeois values, and so on. On the other hand, they would be extremely sceptical of magazines and other publications that gave them the appearance of targeting some sort of commercial benefit. Somehow, this means there is no contradiction between Lu Xun actively censoring on type of nudity while supporting another type.