The Cloak of Dreams: Chinese Fairy Tales

Balázs, Béla. The Cloak of Dreams: Chinese Fairy Tales. Trans. Jack Zipes. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2010. Pp. ix+177. Illus., two appendices, bibliography. $24.95 hardcover.

Brittany Warman
The Ohio State University

The Cloak of Dreams: Chinese Fairy Tales is a collection of literary fairy tales penned by the Hungarian author, film critic, filmmaker, and political activist Béla Balázs in the early 20th century. A complex man who experienced great suffering and isolation, Balázs was able to find comfort and beauty in the fairy tale form and often turned to it throughout his life. These particular tales were written in response to a collection of odd and often unsettling illustrations done in a Chinese style by the artist Mariette Lydis – Balázs produced what would become Der Mantel der Träume: Chinesische Novellen (The Cloak of Dreams: Chinese Fairy Tales) in 1922. This new translation is by prominent fairy tale scholar Jack Zipes and part of his new series entitled “Oddly Modern Fairy Tales.” As such, this edition includes introductions to both the author and the illustrator, two appendices – one an early and very positive review by Thomas Mann and the other an additional, earlier Taoist-inspired fairy tale by Balázs – and a bibliography. Continue reading “The Cloak of Dreams: Chinese Fairy Tales”


Japanese Folklore Studies and History: Pre-War and Post-War Inflections

Japanese Folklore Studies and History: Pre-War and Post-War Inflections


Adam Bronson
Columbia University

By exploring the relationship of Yanagita Kunio and folklore studies (minzokugaku) in reverse chronology, I argue that latent political and disciplinary concerns undergird minzokugaku’s reputation as a marginalized social science distinct from anthropology and history. The intellectual boundaries among these disciplines were founded on Yanagita’s rejection of anthropology’s Euro-centric comparative framework and history’s concern for elites. Yanagita’s double-rejection partially explains minzokugaku’s marginality within the academy and its appropriation by activists and intellectuals in the post-war era. Continue reading “Japanese Folklore Studies and History: Pre-War and Post-War Inflections”

“Neither Fish nor Fowl”: Constructing Peranakan Identity in Colonial and Post-Colonial Singapore

“Neither Fish nor Fowl”: Constructing Peranakan Identity in Colonial and Post-Colonial Singapore

Patricia Ann Hardwick
Indiana University

This article traces the way in which political processes influence the creation and presentation of Peranakan ethnic identity during the colonial and post-colonial period in Singapore. Peranakan culture combines southern Chinese and Malay traditions and is unique to the nations of Singapore, Malaysia, and Indonesia. Peranakan identity began to emerge in the seventeenth century and flourished under the British administration of the Straits Settlements and British Malaya in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Associated with the British colonial system, Peranakan identity was suppressed by early Singaporean nationalists. Aspects of Peranakan identity including women’s costume and Peranakan material culture are currently celebrated by the Singaporean nation as emblems of its unique past, as individuals claiming to be Peranakan are encouraged to assimilate to majority Chinese culture. Continue reading ““Neither Fish nor Fowl”: Constructing Peranakan Identity in Colonial and Post-Colonial Singapore”

Performing the ‘Traditional’ in the South Korean Musical World

Performing the ‘Traditional’ in the South Korean Musical World


Hilary Finchum-Sung
University of San Francisco
University of California at Berkeley

This article examines contemporary, traditional music culture in South Korea through a close look at one South Korean musician, Yi Ji-young. Yi Ji-young, a kayagǔm (12-string zither) performer known for her work with composers of experimental music, has become, for many, a muse through which the emerging genre of new ‘traditional’ or ‘national’ music is finding its voice. Through interviews and a brief examination of her musical lineage, this article highlights the complexities of transforming a musical tradition. The artist’s activities are entwined with discourse regarding tradition in South Korea. While the discourse regarding ‘tradition’ provides an interpretive lens through which music performance can be viewed, the construction of a new traditional music incorporates an artist’s personal experiences, notions of aesthetic validity, and competence. A focus on factors such as these makes possible a more nuanced analysis of the musician’s role in, as well as an appreciation of the contingent nature of, the construction of a contemporary Korean music. Continue reading “Performing the ‘Traditional’ in the South Korean Musical World”

Liminal States: Life as an Indie Musician on Taiwan

Liminal States: Life as an Indie Musician on Taiwan


Mack Hagood
Indiana University

In this paper, I examine the liminal states of Taiwanese guitarist/composer Huang Wan-ting, particularly as these states articulate with similar liminal states of “indie music” and the island of Taiwan. I use the term ‘liminal’ in a non-ritual sense to refer to a structural position on the interstices of recognized roles and identities. In addition, I propose a second type of liminality: a position of choice assumed by subjects for some advantage—in Wan-ting’s case, artistic. As an indie musician, Wan-ting attempts to maintain a position on the edge of the music mainstream, bringing new sounds into popular music. While she has tried to find a Taiwanese political identity through her song lyrics, Wan-ting does not consider herself to be a “Taiwanese musician” and creates music for a transnational indie audience. Wan-ting claims her music is more popular with foreigners than Taiwanese. Like an independent Taiwanese state, her career may need foreign recognition to exist. Continue reading “Liminal States: Life as an Indie Musician on Taiwan”

Huang Sui-chi. Essentials of Neo-Confucianism: Eight Major Philosophers of the Song and Ming Periods.


Huang Sui-chi. Essentials of Neo-Confucianism: Eight Major Philosophers of the Song and Ming Periods. London: Greenwood, 1999. Pp. 280, glossary, bibliography, index.

Lanlan (Diane) Kuang
Indiana University

Huang Sui-chi’s book on Chinese Neo-Confucianism is an impressive and well-organized work. Prior to her presentation of the eight major philosophers: Zhou Dun-yi 周敦頤 (1017-1073), Shao Yong 邵雍 (1011-1077), Zhang Zai 张载 (1020-1077), Cheng Hao 程顥 (1032-1085), Cheng Yi 程頤 (1033-1107), Zhu Xi 朱熹 (1130-1200), Lu Xiang-shan 陸九淵 (1139-1193), and Wang Yang-ming 王阳明 (1472-1529), Huang lays out the historical context in which Neo-Confucianism arose and the sociopolitical influences on its formation. Most importantly, Huang points out the main differences between Confucianism and Neo-Confucianism, thus her reader can trace and compare the two schools of thought. Continue reading “Huang Sui-chi. Essentials of Neo-Confucianism: Eight Major Philosophers of the Song and Ming Periods.”