Through the examination of a select body of classical-style poems that are inscribed on or written about photographs of the self in the modern era, this article delves into the intertwined issues of the self, affect, and autobiographical writing. It first explores the ethical implications of “poems on photographs of the self” (ziti xiaozhao 自題小照) and the issue of temporality involved in the confrontation with a self-image and subsequent writing about the image. Second, it focuses on the issue of the self as other, as well as fractures and the instability of modern subjectivity as amplified in visual self-encounters. In so doing, the article attempts to offer a new understanding of the self/image and text/image dynamic, with insight into the cultural and affective articulations of the self in the context of a new visual culture in modern China.

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