About time for a book update I think! I’m making slow, but steady progress. I am now just over halfway through my initial trawl of my thesis, editing, making minor revisions and highlighting sections that require more attention. To my surprise I’m finding it possible to critically analyse my writing with quite a level of objectivity. I can also clearly see how my writing has improved in the intervening years since I submitted my thesis in 2009. Several chapters are in good shape. Others need work. But, so far, I am not too concerned that I won’t get the manuscript to my editor on time. Phew!
For various, which I shan’t detail here, but, I think, solid reasons, I thought it was time to ‘go public’ with the book’s structure, and working chapter titles. So here it is…Museum Representations of Maoist China:
Chapter 1: Introduction
Introduction to the book – broadly delimits and justifies scope of the study, presents its aims and objectives, methodology, theoretical perspectives, and provides a definition of terms used throughout.
Section 1: East-West Encounters
Chapter 2: Imagining China
Chapter 2 provides an overview of the historical Sino-British relationship, the birth and consolidation of perceptual images of China and the reception of Chinese visual culture in Britain – and its interpretation and presentation via display – up to the commencement of the Cultural Revolution in 1965. The chapter will provide a context for twentieth and twenty-first century ideas about and representations of China in Britain.
Section 2: The Cultural Revolution: utopia to dystopia
Chapter 3: East-West Cultural Revolutions, 1966-69
This chapter, along with the next, deals with the period we now know as the Cultural Revolution, 1966-1976. Together they provide an overview of the arts in China during that decade, and discusses the changing contemporaneous response to the Cultural Revolution in Britain, and its impact on the reception of its visual culture.
Chapter 4: East-West Rapprochement, 1970-1976
Chapter 5: Peasant Paintings of Hu County
This chapter comprises the first of a series of major case studies that are analysed for the link between wider perceptions of China in Britain and the display of its visual culture. The Arts Council of Great Britain exhibition Peasant Paintings from Hu County, toured Britain between 1976 and 1977: one of the first and largest exhibitions to present revolutionary art from the PRC to a UK audience and which has not yet been the focus of in-depth, scholarly analysis. The chapter examines the impact of the Peasant Painting exhibition upon the media and wider audience, making use of archival material, contemporaneous reviews and write-ups in the media.
Section 3: Collection, Interpretation, Display
Chapter 6: Revision and Reform: Retrospective Appraisals of the Cultural Revolution
Following the methodology already established, this chapter places the collection, interpretation and display of Chinese revolutionary art within a broader historical narrative. It provides an overview of the principal political events that had a direct influence upon the retrospective appraisal of the Cultural Revolution. This informs a discussion of the shifting images of that decade prevalent in the West during the late 1970s and 1980s, and how these influenced emerging collections of Cultural Revolution material culture in Britain (principally those developed by the V&A and PCL – later the University of Westminster).
Chapter 7: After Tiananmen
This, and the following chapter, focus on the continued collection, interpretation and display of Cultural Revolution-era visual culture in Britain, against the backdrop of British attitudes towards China during a period that witnessed the Tiananmen Square Incident of July 4th 1989, the fall of communism in Europe, the return of Hong Kong from British sovereignty in 1997, and the Beijing Olympic Games of 2008. These chapters bring the narrative up-to-date by critically analysing several permanent and temporary exhibitions and displays (which have featured relevant material and objects) established during the last twenty years (principally organised by the Victoria and Albert Museum, the British Museum, and the University of Westminster, but with reference to several further exhibitions, including those held at the Ashmolean Museum and the National Museum of Scotland.) These chapters make extensive use of interviews with key individuals, media and Web-based sources, and institutional records.
Chapter 8: Human Rights and Bragging Rights: Images of China from the Turn of the Millennium to the Olympic Games
Chapter 9: Conclusion
The final, concluding chapter argues that museums and collecting institutions have a key role to play in the difficult debate which envelopes the West’s historical response to communism and the legacy of the Cultural Revolution, in the light of challenges to the grand narrative.