John Crespi

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John Crespi

Professor of East Asian Languages and Asian Studies; Director of Asian Studies

Department/Office Information

East Asian Languages and Literatures, Asian Studies
9D Lawrence Hall
  • M 1:00pm - 2:30pm (9D Lawrence Hall)
  • F 10:30am - 12:00pm (9D Lawrence Hall)

BA Brown University 1986; MA, PhD University of Chicago 1993, 2001

Part-time lecturer, Department of History, Valparaiso University, 2000-01; visiting assistant professor Chinese, Swarthmore College, 2001-02

Republican- and Socialist-era Chinese illustrated satire magazines
Chinese modern and contemporary poetry
Chinese literature and film
Literary translation

Bluegrass/folk guitar, harmonica, ocarina, tin whistle, gardening


Manhua Modernity book cover

Manhua Modernity: Chinese Culture and the Pictorial Turn. California, University of California Press, 2020.

Voices in Revolution: Poetry and the Auditory Imagination in Modern China. Honolulu: University of Hawai'i Press, 2009.

Online Publications/Digital Scholarship

Resistance Sketch (抗戰漫畫) no. 3 (1 February 1938). English scanlation of Chinese pictorial magazine. With Fanyi Zhang.Published on ISSUU, October 2017.

Shanghai Sketch (上海漫畫) no. 10 (23 June 1928).  English scanlation of Chinese pictorial magazine. With Carmen Kong. Published on ISSUU, September 2017.

"The Pictorial Turn and China's Manhua Modernity, 1925-1960." Association for Chinese Animation Studies website, 2017. [A summary of my current book project] (

Manhua Semi-monthly (漫畫半月刊) no. 92 (8 July 1957). English scanlation of Chinese pictorial magazine. With Li Jiang. Published on ISSUU, October 2015.

“Picturing the Purge: Chinese Cartoon Imagery from the 1930s to the 1950s.” Online lecture posted by MITVideo. (Based on April 25, 2012 lecture at MIT). 2012.

“China’s Modern Sketch: The Golden Era of Cartoon Art, 1934-1937.” Visualizing Cultures website, MIT. ( 2011. Includes three-chapter illustrated essay (~12,000 words), nine visual narratives, and image gallery linked to Case Library Special Collections online digital archive of Modern Sketch (Shidai manhua).

"The Poetry of Slogans and Native Sons Observations on the First China Poetry Festival." Modern Chinese Literature and Culture Resource Center. November 2005. 


“No Laughing Matter?: Cartoon (Manhua yuekan) and the Satire Pictorial in 1950s China.” Maoist Laughter, ed. Jason McGrath, Zhuoyi Wang, Ping Zhu. University of Hong Kong Press. Forthcoming.

 "A Chinese Poet's Wartime Dream." In David Der-wei Wang ed., Harvard New Literary History of Modern China. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2017, 443-449.

"Beyond Satire: The Pictorial Imagination of Zhang Guangyu’s 1945 Journey to the West in Cartoons." In Carlos Rojas and Andrea Bachner ed., Oxford Handbook on Modern Chinese Literatures. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2016, 215-244.

“Living Beijing: Encountering the Asian City through Digital Storytelling.” ASIANetwork Exchange: A Journal for Asian Studies in the Liberal Arts 18 (2) (Spring 2011): 62-78.

《一个汉学家看中国当代诗歌中什么有意义》(What matters in contemporary Chinese poetry: the view of one sinologist). Translated by Zhao Fan. Dangdai shi (Contemporary poetry) 2 (June 2011): 139-148.

“The Treasure-seekers: Poetry of Social Function in a Beijing Recitation Club.” Modern Chinese Literature and Culture (22)  2 (Fall 2010): 1-38. 

"Poetic Memory: Recalling the Cultural Revolution in the Poetry of Yu Jian and Sun Wenbo." In Christopher Lupke, ed. New Perspectives on Contemporary Chinese Poetry. New York: Palgrave MacMillan, 2007, 165-183.

《从运动到活动:诗歌朗诵在当前中国的价值》 (From Yundong to Huodong: The Value of Poetry Recitation in Today's China). Trans. Wu Hongyi. 《新诗评论》 (New poetry review) 6 (November 2007), 3-19.

"Calculated Passions: The Lyric and the Theatric in Mao-era Poetry Recitation." Modern Chinese Literature and Culture 13 (2). (Fall 2001): 72-110.

Encyclopedia, dictionary, and other reference work entries

"Bai Hua." In  David Pong, ed., Encyclopedia of Modern China. New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons. August 2009.

"Jiang Guangci." In Thomas Moran, ed. Dictionary of Literary Biography, Volume 328: Chinese Fiction Writers1900-1949. Detroit: Thomson Gale, 2007, 66-72.

"Form and Reform: New Poetry and the Crescent Moon Society." In Joshua Mostow ed., The Columbia Companion to Modern East Asian Literature. New York: Columbia UP, 2003, 364-370.


“Traveling Poetry and the Presence of Soul: An Interview with Wang Jiaxin,” Chinese Literature in Translation(Summer/Fall 2011): 78-82; with five poems (“In Upstate New York,” “First Snow,” etc.), co-translated with John Cavanagh (Colgate Class of 2008): 83-85.


Sun Wenbo, “Torture” and Yu Jian, “He is a Poet.” In From The Obscure Lives of Poets. Edited by Dong Li. Berlin: Verlag Matthes & Seitz. Forthcoming, 2018.

Chen Fangming, “Preface,” and “Grassroots Manifesto”; Huan Fu, “The Evolution of Taiwan’s Modernist Poetry” and “Poetry Snippets: A Digression on the “Highbrow’”; Lin Hengtai, “A Message from the Editors.” In The Columbia Sourcebook of Literary Taiwan. Edited by Yvonne Song-Sheng Chang, Michelle Yeh, and Ming-ju Fan. New York: Columbia University Press, 2014.

Three poems by Yan Wo: “The Gift of Another Big Bowl,” “To My Husband, Mai Xiaoke,”  and “Is It Love that Makes Me Sad.” In Push Open the Window: Contemporary Poetry from China, edited by Qingping Wang with translation co-editors Howard Goldblatt and Sylvia Li-Chun Li. Port Townsend, WA: Copper Canyon Press, 2011.

Duo Duo, Snow Plain. Translated by John A. Crespi (with contributions from Harriet Evans, Jiang Hong, Gregory B. Lee, Larry McCaffery and Danny Wang). Brookline, MA: Zephyr Press, 2010.

"Pastoral" (Tianyuan shi), "Simple Autobiography" (Jiandande zizhuan), "The Last Days of Octavio Paz" (Wanniande Pasi), "A Darkening Mirror" (Bianande jingzi), Wang Jiaxin. Co-translated with George O'Connell and Diana Shi. Atlanta Review China issue (Spring/Summer 2008), 43-47. 

"Two poems by Yu Jian, 'fat man with a kind face' and 'crows in black robes...'." basalt 2 (1) (Spring 2007), 29.

"Pastoral" (Tianyuan shi), Wang Jiaxin. Co-translated with George O'Connell and Diana Shi. Circumference 3 (1) (Autumn/Winter 2006-2007), 48-49. 

"The Afternoon Call" (Wuhou dianhua), Hao Yu-hsiang. Taiwan Literature in Translation, 12 (December 2002), 109-114.

"The Miraculous Antler Tree" (Lujiao shenmu), Cheng Ch'ing-wen. Taiwan Literature: English Translation Series 10 (December 2001), 25-28. 

"Seven Strange Brothers" (Guai xiongdi), Chiang Hsiao-mei. Taiwan Literature: English Translation Series 9, (June 2001), 15-19. 

"Mount Morrison Journeys" (Yushan laiqu), Chen Lie. Taiwan Literature: English Translation Series 7 (June 2000), 91-101. 

"Sea Sleeve, Mustard Grass, Butterfly Orchid" (Huazhi, mocao, hudielan), Zheng Qingwen (Cheng Ch'ing-wen). Taiwan Literature: English Translation Series 6 (December 2000), 13-27.

"Vacation." Duoduo. Abandoned Wine: Chinese Writing Today, 2. Henry Y. H. Zhao and John Cayley ed. London: Wellsweep, 1996, 271-282. 

"The Day I Got to Xi'an." Duoduo. Chairman Mao Would Not Be Amused: Fiction from Today's China. Howard Goldblatt ed. New York: Grove Press, 1995, 99-111.

Book Reviews

Sean Macdonald. Animation in China: History, Aesthetics, Media. London and New York: Routledge, 2016. Association for Chinese Animation Studies website. (November 2016)

Christopher Rea. The Age of Irreverence: A New History of Laughter in China. University of California Press, 2015. Frontiers of Literary Study in China 10 (2) (June 2016): 343-345.

Paul Bevan, A Modern Miscellany: Shanghai Cartoon Artists, Shao Xunmei’s Circle, and the Travels of Jack Chen, 1926-1938. Leiden and Boston: Brill, 2015. MCLC Resource Center.

Yunxiang Gao. Sporting Gender: Women Athletes and Celebrity-Making During China’s National Crisis, 1931-1945. Vancouver: UBC Press, 2014. American Journal of Chinese Studies 21 (2): 249-250.

Paul Manfredi, Modern Poetry in China: A Visual-Verbal Dynamic. Amherst, NY: Cambria Press, 2014. C.L.E.A.R. (Chinese Literature: Essays, Articles, Reviews) 36 (2014): 10-12.

Perry Link, An Anatomy of Chinese: Rhythm, Metaphor, Politics. Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2013. Journal of Asian Studies 74 (1) (February 2015): 200-202.

Nicholas Kaldis, The Chinese Prose Poem: A Study of Lu Xun’s Wild Grass (Yecao). Amherst, NY: Cambria Press, 2014. MCLC Resource Center (2015).

Maghiel van Crevel, Chinese Poetry in Times of Mind, Mayhem, and Money.  International Institute for Asian Studies (IIAS) Newsletter, 50 (Spring 2009): 33.

Charles Laughlin, Chinese Reportage: The Aesthetics of Historical Experience. C.L.E.A.R.(Chinese Literature: Essays, Articles, Reviews), 27. 2005, pp. 171-173.

Graham Russell Gao Hodges, Anna May Wong: From Laundryman's Daughter to Hollywood Legend. Colgate Scene, March 2004, p. 14.

Zhang Xudong, ed., Whither China? Intellectual Politics in Contemporary China. Journal of Asian Studies 62 (1) (February 2003), pp. 263-264.

Translator, Pristine Communications 1989-92