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British Modernism and Chinoiserie

Edited by Anne Witchard

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Explores Chinese artistic and stylistic influences on Modernist practice in early-twentieth century Britain

This volume examines the ways in which an intellectual vogue for a mythic China was a constituent element of British modernism. Traditionally defined as a decorative style that conjured a fanciful and idealized notion of China, chinoiserie was revived in in London’s avant-garde circles, the Bloomsbury group, the Vorticists and others, who like their eighteenth-century forebears, turned to China as a cultural and aesthetic utopia.

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Contents

Acknowledgements
List of Figures
Introduction: ‘the lucid atmosphere of fine Cathay’, Anne Witchard
1. China and the Formation of the Modernist Aesthetic Ideal, David Porter
2. Shared Affinities: Katherine Mansfield, Ling Shuhua and Virginia Woolf, Patricia Laurence
3. Roger Fry, Chinese Art and the Burlington Magazine, Ralph Parfect
4. Chinese Artistic Influences on the Vorticists in London, Michelle Ying-Ling Huang
5. The Idea of the Chinese Garden and British Aesthetic Modernism, Elizabeth Chang
6. ‘Beautiful, baleful absurdity’: Chinoiserie and Modernist Ballet, Anne Witchard
7. Fashion, Chinoiserie and Modernism, Sarah Cheang
8. The Oriental and the Music Hall: Sound and Space in Thomas Burke’s Limehouse Chinatown, Paul Kendall
9. Staging China, Excising the Chinese: Lady Precious Stream and The Darker Side of Chinoiserie, Diana Yeh
10. Chinoiserie: An Unrequited Architectural Affair, Edward Denison

About the Author

Anne Witchard is a Lecturer in Nineteenth- and Twentieth-Century Literature and Culture at the University of Westminster. She is the author of Thomas Burke’s Dark Chinoiserie: Limehouse Nights and the Queer Spell of Chinatown (Ashgate Publishing, 2009) and Lao She in London (Hong Kong University Press, 2012).

Reviews

British Modernism and Chinoiserie has been very well conceived—its topic, period and geography is well focused, but its generic range is broad. The book’s disciplinary ‘home’ is clearly English literature, but it explores connections with art writing, travel writing, garden design, art history, ballet, theatre, fashion and film. 


Rebecca Beasley, University of Oxford

- Rebecca Beasley, University of Oxford

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