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Verses of Vengeance: Poetry and the Boxer Crisis of 1900

When May 16, 2018
from 05:00 PM to 06:00 PM
Where Rooms 8 & 9
Contact Name
Contact Phone 01223 338331
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China Research Seminar talk given by Prof. Jeff Wasserstrom, University of California, Irvine.


Chinese Woodblock Print Showing the Recapture of Tianjin During the Boxer Rebellion

This presentation showcases material from a book that the presenter is writing that will place into global perspective the Boxer attacks on Christians, the fifty-five day siege of Beijing, and the international invasion that convulsed the Qing Empire as the nineteenth century came to an end. Different chapters of this book will focus on varied themes and varied types of of texts that were created during or written about the dramatic events of 1900 that engaged the attention of people around the world. This particular presentation will look at what we can learn about the violence of the time from looking at diverse works of poetry, ranging from bits of anti-Christian doggerel that appeared on Boxer proclamations to an ode celebrating the freeing of the hostages in Beijing that was written by one of the most famous American lyricists of the era, and from a meditation on the way the century was ending by an Indian writer who would go on to win a Nobel Prize to a piece of Waka style verse by a Japanese soldier.

Jeffrey Wasserstrom is Chancellor's Professor of History at the University of California, Irvine, where he also holds courtesy positions in Law and Literary Journalism. His most recent books are, as co-author, China in the 21st Century: What Everyone Needs to Know, third edition (2018), as author, Eight Juxtapositions: China through Imperfect Analogies from Mark Twain to Manchukuo (a 2016 Penguin Special), and, as editor, The Oxford Illustrated History of Modern China (2016, with a paperback editing due out in the summer). In addition to writing for academic publications, he is a regular contributor to general interest periodicals such as the TLS, the Financial Times, and the "China Channel" of the Los Angeles Review of Books.

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