One aspect of the basic set that immediately caught my attention this week was the piece of the Tintin comic. When I was much younger (around 7 or 8 years old) I used to read Tintin comics all of the time! I was fascinated by his over the top adventures (I believe he met the abominable snowman at one point) and the quirky cast of characters that accompanied him (including captain Haddock and the detective twins Thompson and Thompson). However, I never realized that Herge included current events in his comics. It was a bit surreal to reread the section of the Tintin comic that Dr. D’Haeseleer posted with fresh eyes, aware of the context and deeper meaning behind what Herge was portraying. Although this information is not exactly deep or scholarly, I still got quite a bit of enjoyment out of reading something from my childhood!
For the packet reading this week, I focused on the information in packet 3, which covered the city of Shanghai during and a bit after the time period we are focused on now. Something that stood out to me was from the book “The End of Old Shanghai”, specifically chapter 6. In this chapter, the author touches on the remodeling of Shanghai that Chiang Kai Shek ordered take place. His vision for the city was one that incorporated both the tradition of ancient China with the newness and perceived legitimacy of the West. Thus, he obtained Dayu Doon, an architect who was proficient in “Chinese Renaissance” style and specialized in combing American and Chinese influences into his work. What interested me most about this portion of the reading was the cultural blending that Chiang Kai Shek wished to have in his ‘modern’ version of Shanghai. Before his reforms, Shanghai was considered to be quite a modern city. However, people would complain that Shanghai was not Chinese anymore and that only the walled portion of the city showed its true features. This reminded me of our ongoing look at modernity and how there can be such a thing as too much ‘modernness’. After all, although Shanghai was technologically impressive, it had lost almost all of its cultural identity, since Shanghai was not defined by the modern or cutting edge. Rather, it was steeped in the rich tradition of the past and the vast cultural footprint of China. Therefore, Shek’s wish to restore that element of Shanghai while also retaining its modern reputation was (although daunting) quite admirable
Hergé. Tintin: The Blue Lotus.
Carter, James. Champions Day : The End of Old Shanghai. New York, NY: W.W. Norton & Company, 2020.