I am joined for my interview with Edward Tyerman by Ed Pulford, another host on our channel. Together, we discuss Edward’s new book, Internationalist Aesthetics: China and Early Soviet Culture (Columbia University Press, 2021). Internationalist Aesthetics examines how knowledge of China is produced in the early Soviet period through the aesthetic idiom of internationalism. Tyerman shows how artist intellectuals, especially Sergei Tretyakov, the book’s protagonist, make China affectively sensible for Russian audiences. Each chapter takes on a separate medium: travelogue, stage, film, and “bio-narrative,” to think through how Soviet aesthetes negotiate old and new forms to demystify China, a nation that even in the revolutionary environment of 1920s Russia, was still understood through recourse to orientalist tropes. The book ultimately spans a very short period, a slither of the 1920s, a moment of opportunity before the Guomindang’s persecution of the communists in China in 1927 and a moment of aesthetic possibility before the purges of the 1930s in Russia. Join us in our conversation about how a certain mode of “Chinese studies” emerges in the media aesthetics of this turbulent period.
Julia Keblinska is a Post-Doctoral Researcher at the Center for Historical Research at the Ohio State University specializing in Chinese media history and comparative socialisms.