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Collecting Objects / Excluding People
Chinese Subjects and American Visual Culture, 1830-1900
Collecting Objects / Excluding People
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Lenore Metrick-Chen - Author
Price: $95.00 
Hardcover - 294 pages
Release Date: September 2012
ISBN13: 978-1-4384-4325-6

Price: $33.95 
Paperback - 294 pages
Release Date: July 2013
ISBN13: 978-1-4384-4326-3

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Summary Read First Chapter image missing

Combining aesthetic and political history, explores the influence of Chinese people and objects on American visual culture.

In Collecting Objects / Excluding People, Lenore Metrick-Chen demonstrates an unknown impact of Chinese immigration upon nineteenth-century American art and visual culture. The American ideas of “Chineseness” ranged from a negative portrayal to an admiring one and these varied images had an effect on museum art collections and advertising images. They brought new ideas into American art theory, anticipating twentieth-century Modernism. Metrick-Chen shows that efforts to construct a cultural democracy led to the creation of unforeseen new categories for visual objects and unanticipated social changes. Collecting Objects / Excluding People reveals the power of images upon culture, the influence of media representation upon the lives of Chinese immigrants, and the impact of political ideology upon the definition of art itself.

Lenore Metrick-Chen is Associate Professor of Art History at Drake University.

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Table of Contents

Illustrations and Credits

1. The Politics of Chinoiserie: The Disappearance of Chinese Objects

Section I. The Early Nineteenth Century

The Presence of Chinese Objects in the United States
Opium, Politics, and American Perceptions of the Chinese
The Chinese in the United States
Americans Assess China’s Artistic Ability
The Influence of the Chinese Aesthetic on American Art

Section II. The Late Nineteenth Century

Regarding “Oriental”: Whose Aesthetic Is It
American Confusion of Japanese and Chinese Objects
Politicized Perceptions of the Chinese
Politics Become Aesthetic Criteria

2. The Power of Inaction: Chinese Objects and the Transformation of the American Definition of Art

Section I. Chinese Objects and the Aesthetics of Museums

Aesthetic Morality and Nationalism, America’s Ruskin-Based Art
The Education Premise: Inaugurating Two American Art Museums
Expanding the Canon of Art; Plaster Casts as an Art Form

Section II. Chinese Objects and the Business of Museums

Art Museums Founders and the Issues of the Public
Museums, Art, and Commodities
Merchandising Art
The Change of Paradigm

3. From Class to Race: The New York Times Reconstructs “Chinese”

Section I. A Brief Historical Contextualization

Newspaper History and The New York Times
A Glance at History of Labor, Politicians, and Anti-Chinese Agitation

Section II. Creating a “Them”: The Strategies of Demonization

Part Becomes the Whole: Turning Chinese into Coolies
Barbarity and Contamination
Sex and Drugs
Effeminizing the Chinese Men
Chinese into Coolies into Demonized Race

Section III. Defining the “Us”: The Exclusion Debate: Four Voices Struggle Over Imaging Chinese

The Exclusion Debate: Four Voices Struggle Over Imaging Chinese
The Opposing Race Arguments form the Congressional Debates
The Times Doublespeak: Blame California, Profess Fatigue
The Chinese View through Word and Action

4. The Chinese of American Imagination: Nineteenth-Century Trade Card Images

Section I: Trade Card Images

Section II: The Politics of Chromolithography

Power Struggles Over Definitions of Art
Between Two Worlds: The Dual Role of Trade Cars
An Addition to Visual Language: Floating Signifiers

Section III. The Chinese Figure as Outsider

Dislodged Objects as a New Art
Paper Nations
The Safety of Exotic Distance

Section IV. The Chinese Figure and American Self-Definition

American, Un-American
Disjunctions, and Collisions: The Iconography of Displacement
Hybridity, Cultural Margins, and Incorporation

Name Index
Subject Index

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