This talk explores the peripatetic life and work of the 1930s Shanghai modernist writer Hei Ying. The formal experimentation and musicality of his writing — and especially his engagement with Hollywood cinema and the globally circulating popular music of Hawai'i — allow us to chart the complex material and media circuits out of which Chinese modernism emerged, displacing narratives that postulate Shanghai as the center of modernist literary production. Yet Hei Ying's tropical origins in Dutch Sumatra, his travels along colonial-era steamship lines, and his postwar fate in new China also have much to tell us about the centripetal lure of the nation-state in an age of colonial displacement.
Andrew F. Jones teaches modern Chinese literature and media culture at the University of California, Berkeley. He has written widely on Chinese music (including his most recent book, Circuit Listening: Chinese Popular Music in the Global 1960s), and on aspects of modern literature and cultural history (Developmental Fairy Tales: Evolutionary Thinking and Modern Chinese Culture). He has also translated literary works by Yu Hua, Eileen Chang, and other Chinese authors into English.