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Shewit S.

Zerai

Journal Review

April 20th, 2015

I studied three journals, Korean Studies, The Journal of Japanese Studies and The China
Quarterly, focusing specifically on issues published between 1977 and 1979. I chose these
journals and this time period because I wanted a more diverse representation of East Asian
journals, but also some thread of commonality. While all the journals have a somewhat similar
format and writing style, each journal brought a unique presentation of historical analysis,
quantitative data and visibility of author bias. Korean Studies was the most strictly formatted of
the three, while also being the newest and shortest journal. Some of the articles contained header
formatting for each new section which helped the piece flow, and at the end of one article the
author included an appendix that included words that were specific to the authors discipline and
more detailed explanations of Korean words and phrases.1 A stylistic mechanism Korean Studies
used was taking large excerpts of primary source text and then contextualizing and analyzing the
text directly under the excerpt. The use of the quoted primary source as opposed to summary
allowed the reader to follow the specifics of the analysis as well as allowing the author to not
only present their analysis on the content of the text, but also the specific language and
construction.
The China Quarterly did an excellent job of relaying both history and theory to the reader in a
way that showed a clear connection between the contemporary theoretical framework and the
historical event that was being analyzed. Many of the articles in the journal used questions within
the article as a way to frame the argument and systematically work through the why? This
step-by-step method allowed the reader to follow the historical timeline clearly and ensured that
the author never made any leaps in timeline or logic. The China Quarterly used quantitative data,
1 Wayne Patterson, Upward Social Mobility of the Koreans in Hawaii, Korean
Studies, no. 3 (1979): 89-92.

Shewit S. Zerai

Journal Review

April 20th, 2015

such as graphs and charts, within the articles in order to support their arguments; however, the
data was used more vaguely to show magnitude of situation as opposed to representing exact
findings.2 In the discussion and analysis of data, several articles spent time exploring the
different ways this data could be and is flawed, which gave the reader a sense of flexibility in the
authors argument. The authors often used first-person pronouns and personal experience in
terms of discussing collecting data, which afforded the journal the feeling of author
accountability and transparency of bias opposed to presenting the articles as purely objective
academic work.
The Journal of Japanese Studies articles approached a lot of their subject matter through
comparison to the Western world, which can be partially attributed to many of the authors being
white, Western men. This journal is organized similarly to the previous journals in terms of the
section header format, however instead of explaining the history and then following up with
analysis, many of the authors choose to write their analysis into their telling of the history. This
has the effect of presenting the history as objective, when in fact it is incredibly biased by the
author. Upon closer reading, one can see clearly where historical fact meets the authors
interpretation of historical fact, but since both analysis and summary are often in the same
paragraph, it is harder to parse out. There is an emphasis within the pieces on defining
terminology and vocabulary, which is helpful when trying to understand the definitions within
context. Many of the articles in the journal also seem to focus on specific events or controversies
and extrapolate the history through the lens of these events as opposed to the previous journals,
which extrapolated the events from the larger historical context. The graphs and charts in the

2 Judith Banister, Mortality, Fertility and Contraceptive Use in Shanghai, The China
Quarterly, no. 70 (1977): 255.

Shewit S. Zerai

Journal Review

April 20th, 2015

journal have less disclaimers and analysis attached to them and seem to serve only their explicit
purpose, whereas the previous journal actively interrogated the circumstance of the data and how
it was collected.
The article I choose to closely analyze as a model is Ch'u Ch'iu-pai and the Chinese
Marxist Conception of Revolutionary Popular Literature and Art by Paul G. Pickowicz,
published in June 1977 in No. 70 of The China Quarterly. In this article, Pickowicz writes about
Chinese revolutionary popular literature and art through the lens of Chus criticism of the
literary elite and his celebration of the more colloquial products of art and literature in China.
Pickowiczs article serves a dual importance, firstly by examining a significant Chinese figure
whose political and social beliefs can be used as a lens to examine the increasing influence of
Western Marxist thought at the time in China, as well as Chus influence on Maos ideas and
speeches. Secondly, Pickowiczs piece brings light to the importance of popular and colloquial
art and literature and carves out a space in academia for these cultural products. Many of the
sources Pickowicz uses are from Chus direct writings and speeches, which are taken from Ting
Ching-t'ang and Wen Ts'aos Ch'i Ch'iu-pai chu-i hsi-nien mu-lu (A Chronological Bibliography
of Ch'u Ch'iu-pai's Writings and Translations) and Chus May 4th, 1932 publication of his
collected literary writings, Ch'u Ch'iu-pai wen-chi, as well as citing other Western scholars
within the field.3 In the endnotes he gives references for further readings for tangential topics a
reader might be interested in, which allows the reader the opportunity to have a more nuanced
understanding of the historical context, if they choose to. He includes disclaimers and
explanations for his own language and translation of the Chinese terminology in the endnotes,
3 Paul Pickowicz, Chu Chiu-pai and the Chinese Marxist Conception of
Revolutionary Popular Literature and Art, The China Quarterly, no. 70 (1977): 297298.

Shewit S. Zerai

Journal Review

April 20th, 2015

which gives the reader better context for the language and creates an author bias transparency
that makes it clear it is his interpretation of the text and he offers alternative translations for the
reader as well.4
Structurally, Pickowicz organizes the paper by introducing the three main players in the article,
Chu Chiu-pai, the literary elite and the colloquial art and literature of the time period, and
contextualizing them within their own history and theory. He then goes on to use Chus critique
of the literary elite as a foundation from which he builds his own argument for the significance of
colloquial art and literature in the revolutionary movement. Pickowicz utilizes rhetorical
questions in order to structure the rest of his argument by initially asking vague questions about
the revolutionary art and literature movement and developing increasingly specific questions
about the intention and impact of the literary elite on the illiterate Chinese population.5 The piece
culminates in Pickowicz describing Chus large influence on Maos writing and his rejection of
European forms and techniques, which stood in stark contrast to the styles of the revolutionary
May Fourth writers.6 Pickowicz uses a lot of comparison and dichotomy of political and social
views, such as when he discusses the elite and lower Chinese classes, as well as the urban versus
the rural, and so forth; however, in order to keep his argument from becoming too simplified into
just opposites, Pickowicz also creates divisions within the dichotomies and provides a nuanced
perspective on all of the views that he describes.

4 Pickowicz, 300.
5 Pickowicz, 298.
6 Pickowicz, 313-314.

Shewit S. Zerai

Journal Review

April 20th, 2015

Pickowicz uses somewhat colloquial language throughout the piece and does not bog down his
descriptions of history and theory with large academic terms; however, when he does indulge in
specific terminology, he always provides immediate definitions of the words or phrases. He
consistently ties back every single piece of evidence to his main point about highlighting the
importance of popular art and literature, but does so in a way that is not repetitive or
summarizing, but rather strengthens his argument as it shows the reader that it is carefully
constructed. He builds a strong foundation for his argument in Chus writing, seamlessly tying
in the primary source with his own analysis so the reader doesnt feel as though they are jumping
between two separate arguments.
Throughout all of the journals, there are common things they do well, such as formatting,
clearly showing the author bias and steeping their arguments in their primary source; however,
Pickowicz article goes farther than the rest in that he delves more deeply into his specific topic.
Whereas other articles in all the journals tackled much larger topics that required more
description than was given, Pickowicz picked a specific five-year time period, person and subject
matter which allowed him to delve deeply into all three without spreading any of the information
thin or depriving the reader of essential facts. The structure of Pickowiczs piece allows him to
give brief, but detailed, historical context without bogging down the reader with dates and events
and thus he is able to jump into the theory and critique more smoothly. By sticking with a
specific niche topic and using that as a lens to explore a larger historical event, Pickowicz was
able to give his reader a full understanding of the niche topic and the tools and base to explore
the larger historical event further.

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