Chosen for Washington University’s 2018–19 Common Reading Program, the novel Balzac and the Little Chinese Seamstress by Dai Sijie is a coming-of-age story that takes place during the Chinese Cultural Revolution in the 1960s and ’70s. First-year Wash U students will discuss the novel throughout the year and are invited to delve deeper through this display of artworks and books that speak to the novel’s setting and themes.
In the Kemper Art Museum’s Study Room, several artworks from the Museum’s collection will be on view, including selections from The East Is Red (c. 1966–72), a series of paper-cut prints based on the lyrics of China’s unofficial national anthem during the Cultural Revolution, and contemporary artist Thomas Bayrle’s silkscreened construction Sun Yat-sen (Sign for Moon) (2005), a meditation on the first president of the Republic of China. The Kranzberg Art & Architecture Library will feature examples of the Western novels the main characters read in secret and which inspire their life-changing actions.
Image credit: Anonymous Members of a People’s Commune in Fatshan, China, Propaganda Work in the War of Resistance, from the series The East is Red, 20th century. Paper-cut print, 24 x 34 3/4″. Mildred Lane Kemper Art Museum, Washington Unversity in St. Louis. Gift of David A. Wilson, 1999.