Arts and Culture
This paper provides an examination of the intersecting socialist internationalist and feminist imagination of writers and filmmakers from Shanghai and Berlin. I first examine the collaborative piece “A Little Report from My Workshop” (1932, Rote Fahne), by German writer Anna Seghers and Chinese writer Hu Lanqi, in which two characters have a dialogue about what literary devices and language could create a means of representing and activating a mode of international feminist proletarian solidarity in literature. I then discuss how Hu Lanqi’s In a German Women’s Prison (1936) deploys such a project through an emotionally-laden gift of chocolate between women prisoners. While these two pieces on their own speak to an international sphere of socialist feminist networks, alliances, and projects active in the transnational cultural-political landscape of the 1930s, they are also part of a larger sphere of international leftist representations creating a prolific and widely circulated set of images of socialist and revolutionary womanhood, in which Shanghai had a particularly prominent place. To place these pieces in this wider context, I connect them to the transnational contours of the image of the Shanghai proletarian women, a figure that contests the globally circulating imagery of the bourgeois new woman and modern girl in the 1930s. This figure was both a symbol of a global capitalist modernity while also being a harbinger for a future liberated socialist modernity.