If Chairman Mao came back to life today, what would he think of Nanjing's bookstore, the Librairie Avant-Garde, where it is easier to find primers on Michel Foucault's philosophy than copies of the Little Red Book? What does it really mean to order a latte at Starbucks in Beijing? Is it possible that Aldous Huxley wrote a novel even more useful than Orwell's 1984 for making sense of post-Tiananmen China - or post-9/11 America?
Jeffrey N. Wasserstrom is Professor of History at the University of California, Irvine. His books include Student Protests in Twentieth-Century China: The View from Shanghai. He lives in Irvine, California. In these often playful, always enlightening "tales," Jeffrey N. Wasserstrom poses these and other questions as he journeys from 19th-century China into the future, and from Shanghai to Chicago, St. Louis, and Budapest. He argues that simplistic views of China and Americanization found in most soundbite-driven media reports serve us poorly as we try to understand China's place in the current world order - or our own.
(c) 2007 The University of Chicago. Recorded as a part of The World Beyond the Headlines series, a collaborative project of the Center for International Studies, the International House Global Voices Program, and the Seminary Co-op Bookstores. The series aims to bring scholars and journalists together to consider major international issues and how they are covered in the media.
Recorded Thursday, November 15, 2007 at University of Chicago.