NüVoices Podcast Episode #103: Julia Lovell on China’s Hidden Century, an exhibit at The British Museum

We’re flying into fall with new episodes for two weeks in a row! Scholar and author Julia Lovell is in conversation with host Lijia Zhang about her role as chief organizer of The Hidden Century, an exhibition currently on display at the British Museum until October 8th. The exhibition is the first of its kind to pay tribute to the creative expression and individuality of the Qing dynasty – an era usually more associated with foreign aggression, violence, and turmoil than culture or artistic expression. Lijia talks to Julia about how she curated the exhibit, specific artifacts on display, and changing perceptions of the Qing dynasty. The episode also touches on Julia’s academic career. 

(This past summer, translator Yilin Wang prepared file a legal claim against the British Museum for quoting her translations without permission, credit, or compensation. In August, both parties reached a settlement. Yilin’s translations are now credited in the British Museum exhibition with proper compensation. Julia responds to this incident in the podcast episode. You can read the British Museum’s public statement here.)


Read more about The Hidden Century exhibition here

Julia Lovell’s book on China’s Quest to win a Nobel Prize in literature is called The Politics of Cultural Capital: China’s Quest for a Nobel Prize in Literature

Julia’s recommendations:

A History of Water by Edward Wilson-Lee

不明白播客 (Bumingbai Podcast) by Li Yuan

Lijia’s recommendations:

Sparks by Ian Johnson

About Julia Lovell: 

Growing up in a family that had a love for languages, Julia Lovell first learned about China through the book Wild Swans by Jung Chang. This memoir, unlike anything she had ever read, covered three generations in 20th-century China. Lovell was captivated and immediately asked her college tutor how she could switch from studying History at her university to studying Chinese studies. Since then, she completed her PhD on China’s efforts to win a Nobel Prize in literature.

Lovell is professor of Modern Chinese History and Literature at Birkbeck, University of London. She is a translator of Chinese literature, and has also written books such as The Politics of Cultural CapitalChina’s Quest for a Nobel Prize in Literature and The Great Wall: China Against the World 1000 BC – AD 2000. Lovell has also written articles on the topic of China for the likes of The GuardianThe Times, and The Economist.