Monthly Archives: November 2019

27 Nov China Seminar: Maghiel van Crevel, Marc Gilbert: Launch of the Unofficial Poetry Journals from China online collection

Launch of the Unofficial Poetry Journals from China online collection

All are welcome. The event will be followed by drinks. Please register here.

The Leiden University library holds a unique collection of “unofficial” poetry journals from China. Just about everybody who is anybody in Chinese poetry today made their debut in such journals (Bei Dao, China’s best-known poet, is a case in point) and their emergence in the late 1970s marked the end of the state’s monopoly on cultural production. Comparable to Soviet-Russian samizdat publications and to the “little magazines” associated with modernism in the West, they have been hugely influential.

The Leiden collection has been built by Maghiel van Crevel during research trips since the early 1990s and continues to grow today. Different from similar collections elsewhere, it is unique in that the goods have been extensively documented online and are accessible to visitors from all over the world (click here or here if you have the time and here if you don’t). Now, seed funding from the library has made it possible to digitize an outpost of twelve famous items, as a first step toward making the journals full-text available online for use by students, scholars, translators, and other readers everywhere. None of this could have happened without the unstinting support of Chinese poets and poetry activists, and the slogan “From China with Love” is an (admittedly corny) attempt to convey something of the passion and energy that drive the Chinese poetry scene.

At the launch of the online collection, Maghiel will speak on key moments in the history of the journals and their significance over time, including a recent surge in interest on the part of libraries in China. Marc Gilbert, subject librarian for Chinese and curator of the Chinese Special Collections, will curate a pop-up exhibition of some of the most important items held in Leiden: Today (今天), the ur-journal triggered by the advent of the Reform Era in China in 1978, Wings (翼), a key channel for women’s poetry and feminist writing established in 1997, Workers Poetry (工人诗歌), published in 2009 as part of the new subaltern stream in Chinese poetry, and two dozen others.


Date: Wednesday 27 November 2019

Time: 16:15 – 17:15  hrs

Explanation followed by drinks

Series China Seminar


University Library
Witte Singel 26-27
2311 BG Leiden

Room: Vossius and Heinsius rooms

14 Nov China Seminar: Sarah E. Fraser: Chinese, Russian and German 20th c. Expeditions in Central Asia

Chinese, Russian, and German 20th c. Expeditions in Central Asia: Politics, War, and Archaeology

Sarah E. Fraser (Heidelberg University)

14 November, Thursday, 15.15-17.00       Venue: Lipsius 228


 Abstract: In 1899 an International Congress of European and British explorers convened in Rome to discuss plans for Central Asian expeditions to the vast territory between Russia, western China, Tibet, and British-ruled India. Colonial archaeological aspirations were intertwined with political agendas; acquisition of geographic and cartographic knowledge was mission critical in German, Russian, British, and French expeditions. What remains unexplored, and will be the subject of this paper, are the links between archaeological goals, copying activities at Buddhist monuments, the cultural nationalism that engendered the projects, and the ways these issues impacted similar Chinese efforts in the late 1930s and 1940s. During the Second Sino-Japanese War (1937-1945), a period of retreat to the Inner Asian frontier, the location of Han-Tang ruins was as fundamental in determining their appeal as the antiquity of the sites. Government teams and private artists descended on archaeological sites throughout western China; I will argue that, in effect, albeit somewhat unwittingly, Chinese urban artists used Russian and German methods for archaeological site analysis developed in the late nineteenth century.


Perceived as untouched by American, European, and Japanese modernization on the coast, the north- and southwest frontiers were largely unknown (to the Chinese public) and newly unearthed artistic finds discovered in these remote regions were thought to preserve critical features of a long-lost Han civilization.  As western multicultural, former imperial frontier zones were fashioned into new provinces by the Republican Government, traditions were claimed and invented for the Han.



Bio: Prof. Dr. Sarah E. Fraser is chair professor of Chinese Art History and director of the Institute for East Asian Art History at Heidelberg University, Germany. Her current book project on Buddhist archaeology concerns national identity formation through archaeological and ethnographic projects during the Republican period (1912-1949). Her other studies include Performing the Visual (2004); Merit, Opulence, and the Buddhist Network of Wealth, ed. (2003); Women Cross Media, ed. (2019, forthcoming); Xu Bing: Beyond the Book from the Sky, ed. (2019, forthcoming).



Future Events:


Speaker Affiliation Date Venue
Maghiel van Crevel


Leiden University 27 November, Wednesday, 16.00 onwards Vossius Room, University Library
Wilt Idema Harvard University and Leiden University 10 December, Tuesday, 15.15-17.00 + drinks Vossius Room, University Library