Cohen compares the differences between historians and mythologizers.
He explains how mythology often takes select truths to tell about the past, and uses them to their advantage.
They often use partial and/or distorted facts, but it always contains some sense of truthfulness.
“‘Myth,’ in everyday parlance, often implies something ‘fabricated’ or ‘not true.’ My use of the term here, although not excluding this connotation, is broader, more ambiguous, and focused somewhat on a different set of concerns.” (211-212)
What people believe has a heavy influence on what people think and their behavior, whether or not it is true. (212)
There are many forms of mythologization of the past: “everyday” mythologization, autobiographical mythologization, local boosterism, and mythologization found in poetry, drama, literature, art, and film.
Boxers were mythologized in each of these ways.
Chapter 8- Anti-Imperialism and the Recasting of the Boxer Myth:
There was a major cultural transformation in China in the 1920s. This caused new positive mythologization of the Boxers.
“Not only among conservatives but among reformers and revolutionaries as well there were, from the outset, those who discerned in the Boxer experience at least some redeeming qualities.” (239)
It was easy for patriotic Chinese to draw inspiration from the memory of the Boxer uprising, leading to mythologizing of these memories.
Chen Duxiu wrote an article on the 7 year anniversary of the Boxer Protocol about how he believed that the Boxer uprising “was no less important an event in modern Chinese history than the 1911 revolution.” (241) He argued that there were two major misconceptions. The first was “the tendency to loathe the Boxers for their ‘barbarous antiforeignism.’”(241) The second was the view that “since the Boxer affair was the crime of a minority, the powers should not, on this account, have punished the entire Chinese people with a huge indemnity.” (244)
Chen spent his article explaining why this misconceptions were false, and positively mythologizing the Boxers.
There were people in this time who negatively mythologized the Boxers for their own uses. “Local Chinese authorities were not averse, on occasion, to raising the specter of Boxerism, in the sense of unruly mob behavior (“turmoil”), to justify their suppression of anti-imperialist political activity.” (251-252)
Boxer symbolism was also used to discredit Chinese nationalism.
Efforts to demythologize the Boxers backfired and often added to the myths.
I have been thinking about what themes interest me for the upcoming literature review assignment, and I have a few basic ideas. In general, I am very interested in the history of gender roles in different areas of the world. I don’t know much about China at the time of the Boxer uprising, except for what we are learning in this class, so I would be interested in learning more about how women were seen in Chinese society at this time.
Another idea I have is inspired by the Intro to Theater course I am taking this semester. I have been involved in and studying theater my entire life, so this course is a bit of a refresher for me, but recently we have looked at the history of theater in classical and medieval eras in Greece, Rome, China, Japan, and India. Studying these topics of theater while also reading Cohen’s chapters on Boxer spirit possession has me curious on the influence that the spread of Boxer spirit possession had on theater in China.
These are the thoughts I have had on topics for the upcoming literature review assignment.
Hello! My name is Carolyn Stough and I am a sophomore History major at the University of Mary Washington. I was born and raised in Richmond Virginia. I grew up in a suburb just south of the James River, close enough to be in downtown Richmond in 15 minutes or less. I grew up learning the rich history of my hometown, always visiting museums and historical sights. There are so many interesting parts of Richmond that I still haven’t seen all of them. My love of living in a historic city made my choice to attend the University of Mary Washington much easier.
I grew up in a very musical family. My mom plays guitar and sings, my sister played in marching band in high school, and my brother played guitar in a few bands in the Richmond punk scene. It is easy to see how music and performance became such an important part of my life. I branched out especially into theatre and musical theatre. Ever since the first time I was on a stage in third grade, I have been in love with performance. I have tried all sorts of forms of performance (singing, piano, ukulele, dance, theatre) many of which I am still involved with today. I can’t imagine my life without these creative outlets in it.
I attended public school my entire childhood, all the way up through 10th grade. During my 10th grade year I felt like I wasn’t getting the kind of education that I wanted at my school, and I became tired with the structure of a normal high school. I researched my options and presented my parents with the idea of being homeschooled for my last years of high school. My parents thought it would be worth a shot, so the next two years I took half of my classes at a small homeschool academy, and half at the local community college. This change made my last two years of high school much more beneficial than they would have been had I stayed in public school. Taking charge of my own education was the best decision I have made this far in my life, and I am proud of myself for it.
My life today involves a strong focus on school and gaining my history degree with hopes of attending law school afterword. I am involved in clubs on campus, including being the historian of a club I helped found, as well as being in the honors program. Besides academics, I still love to dance and sing, and spend weekends from time to time back home with my family and cats, whom I miss very much. I especially miss my two Maine Coon cats, Ellie and Thomas O’Malley. They along with the rest of my family are very supportive of my goals and I am thankful for them. I’m excited to see where the rest of my academic career takes me.