chapter  1
15 Pages

Introduction

WithJeffrey Mather

This introductory chapter situates this study in relation to a larger discussion about China’s representation in Western literature and travel writing, arguing that the early twentieth century served as a point of transition in terms of how China-West relations were imagined: from old worlds to new worlds, from empires to a global network of reciprocal exchange. The chapter outlines the book’s organization in terms of three main themes – borderlands, cosmopolitan performances, and mobile poetics – which are intended to allow for a rethinking of cultural modernity outside of nation-based frames and in relation to new material realities, affects, and spatial proximities. The chapter also outlines the book’s methodology which focuses on travel and embodied experience, as opposed to discussions of China’s translation or imagining within discourse, in order to highlight a place-based and materialist approach to understandings of global modernity.