Reading Revolution: Then and Now

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Thursday, March 23rd, 2017

Thursday, March 23, 20174:00PM - 6:00PM208N, North House, 1 Devonshire Place
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Borrowing the name of the recent Thomas Fisher Rare Book Library exhibit, , I will consider the visual imagery of the Cultural Revolution (1966-1976) over a longer period than the “Ten Years of Chaos.” I will look back at some of the earlier, non-revolutionary sources, at the dissemination of those images during the Cultural Revolution, and show some of them in a more recent context. In particular, I will look at some of the most ubiquitous items of the time – for example, the red, bright and shiny Mao badges and the more restrained designs on coins and banknotes. These items were some of the smallest in everyday use, and the imagery on these items can be understood immediately – if you know the visual and political vocabulary.

Helen Wang is Curator of East Asian Money at the British Museum. She is the author of The Chairman Mao Badges: Symbols and Slogans of the Cultural Revolution (based on the British Museum collection of Mao badges). She is also the translator of Cao Wenxuan’s Bronze and Sunflower, a children’s novel set in a rural area during the Cultural Revolution.


Rachel Ostep


Helen Wang
Curator, East Asian Money, British Museum

Jenny Purtle
Acting Director, Dr. David Chu Program in Asia-Pacific Studies; Associate Professor, Graduate Department of Art

Main Sponsor

Dr. David Chu Program in Asia Pacific Studies


Asian Institute


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