The suicide of a female clerk in September 1922, democracy and disenchantment in the Chinese Republic will be the focus of the next program of Cal State San Bernardino’s Modern China Lecture series.
“The Suicide of Miss Xi: A ‘Crime of Economics?’” is the title of the talk to be given by Bryna Goodman, a professor of history from the University of Oregon, beginning at 10:30 a.m. Monday, March 21, on Zoom. It can be accessed from a PC, Mac, Linux, iOS or Android at https://csusb.zoom.us/j/388207496.
The program is free and open to the public.
Goodman’s presentation takes its title from her 2021 book, “The Suicide of Miss Xi: Democracy and Disenchantment in Republican China,” which opens with the death of Xi Shangzhen, whose body was found on Sept. 8, 1922, hanging in the Shanghai newspaper office where she worked. A controversial Chinese court trial found her May Fourth activist employer, Tang Jiezhi, guilty on the charge of defrauding her of money in a financial bubble that had just shaken the city. The case provides a window onto ideas of democracy and economic liberalism at a time when Chinese stock exchanges emerged in a space of colonialism, legal pluralism, and fragmented sovereignty.
According to the book’s website, “Xi Shangzhen became a symbol of the failures of the Chinese Republic as well as the broken promises of citizen’s rights, gender equality, and financial prosperity betokened by liberal democracy and capitalism.”
In addition to “The Suicide of Miss Xi,” Goodman’s work maps globally circulating institutions and categories of knowledge in modern China. She is author of “Native Place, City, and Nation: Regional Networks and Identities in Shanghai,” and co-editor of “Gender in Motion: Divisions of Labor and Cultural Change in Modern China” and “Twentieth Century Colonialism and China.”
Upcoming programs in the Modern China Lecture Series, which will resume virtually after the university’s spring break, include:
- April 11 at 10:30 a.m.: "Disability as Performance: Translating Chinese Crip Poetry, a lecture and discussion with Dr. Hangping Xu," presented by Hangping Xu of the University of California, Santa Barbara;
- April 13 at 10:30 a.m.: “Born with Royal Blood: Manchu Noblemen in Transition in Mid-Qing,” presented by Shuo Wang of Cal State Stanislaus;
- April 21 at 3 p.m.: “Mate Choice and Marriage in the Chinese Communist Border Areas: Three Perspectives from 1941-42,” presented by Allan Barr of Pomona College;
- April 27 at 10:30 a.m.: “Ethnic River: Borderland Ecology and Rice Farming Stories around the Tumen River,” presented by June Hee Kwon of Cal State Sacramento.
Details can be found at the series homepage.
Also, at some of the upcoming events, a copy of the guest lecturers’ most recent book will be given away to a virtual attendee in a free opportunity drawing, available for pick-up after the talk.
The Modern China Lecture Series was initiated to promote awareness of important issues related to China for those on the CSUSB campus and in the community. In the series of more than 60 lectures, workshops, film screenings and roundtable forums since January 2014, China scholars from UC San Diego, UC Riverside, the Claremont Colleges, UCLA, USC, UC Irvine, Columbia, Oxford and other institutions have visited the CSUSB campus to share their expertise and opinions.
Speakers in the series have included specialists in history, economics, political science, philosophy, finance, security studies, literature, anthropology and other fields.
Alexander Serrano, a second-year master of arts candidate in the CSUSB history department has led the organizing efforts in the series this semester, and expects to add several more events to the series. Serrano has been accepted in the East Asian Languages and Cultural Studies Ph.D. program at UC Santa Barbara with the prestigious Kenneth Pai Fellowship for the fall 2022 term.
“I have been a viewer of the Modern China Lecture Series for a few years now,” said Serrano. “In my first time helping organize this series I wanted to bring in a variety of topics. By doing so I selected speakers from various institutions who could bring such strong expertise to CSUSB and help enrich this fantastic program.”
The series cosponsors this year are the CSUSB Department of History, the History Club/Phi Alpha Theta, the College of Social and Behavioral Sciences, the Intellectual Life Fund, and the Jack H. Brown College of Business and Public Administration.
For more information on the Modern China Lecture Series, contact Jeremy Murray, associate professor of history, at email@example.com.