A Rare Glimpse into Chinese National Memory

Social Sciences4 MIN READ

Seven decades of magazine covers offer window into Chinese culture

By Jasper Lowe
March 29, 2021

In Hong Zhang’s growing database of Chinese magazine cover images, every picture tells a story.

Associate Professor Hong Zhang, chair of the East Asian Studies Department, is building a database of more than 70 years of cover images from Chinese periodicals. Assembled with the help of student research assistants on campus and abroad, the covers range from the Mao era to contemporary publications and feature an array of culturally significant imagery not often observed by Western scholars.

These primary sources of “national memory” provide a compelling entry point for students, both Chinese and English speaking, interested in East Asian history, Zhang said. She has constructed two different class curricula (with more in the works) around the analysis of the cover images and how they depict shifts in party policy as well as changes in the presentation of, in particular, women and ethnic minorities.





China Pictorial magazine covers

Top Image:

China Pictorial, 1950 (no. 12), 1953 (no. 8), 1960 (no. 2), 1950 (no. 7), 1951 (no. 12)
1951 (no. 6), 1961 (no. 2), 1961 (no. 110), 1950 (no. 9), 1968 (no. 9), 1964 (no. 3)
1952 (no. 1), 1953 (no. 6), 1956 (no. 11), 1957 (no. 1), 1957 (no. 2), 1957 (no. 3)