Fragmentation of Self and Discourse in the Nineteenth Century

May 7, 2015 (Thursday), 4:30-6:00 pm
CPD-2.37, Centennial Campus, HKU
English and Putonghua
Poetry as Evidence:
Fragmentation of Self and Discourse in the Nineteenth Century
Speaker: Professor Xiaofei Tian 田曉菲 (Harvard University)
Moderator: Professor Shu-mei Shih 史書美
Late imperial Chinese culture was a theater culture, and the metaphor of theater had a large intellectual significance for social life.  This talk argues that poetry writing became part of the cultural role-playing in the nineteenth century, and that the multiplicity of roles assumed by a member of the cultural elite, roles carefully kept apart from one another, demonstrates a strange self-dismemberment and the failure of the neo-Confucian vision of a unified self. How was this fragmentation manifested, and what did it mean for our understanding of Chinese literature?
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Translation, Chineseness, & World Literature in Chinese Poetry

May 8, 2015 (Friday), 4:00-5:30 pm
Room 730, Run Run Shaw Tower, Centennial Campus, HKU
Foreign Echoes & Discerning the Soil:
Translation, Chineseness, & World Literature in Chinese Poetry
Presenter: Lucas Klein; Commentator: Xiaofei Tian 田曉菲
What constitutes the relationship between world literature and Chineseness? How has translation shaped Chinese poetry, and can translation be understood as at the foundation not only of world literature, but of Chineseness, as well? This talk will begin to answer these questions by demonstrating how Chineseness as an aspect of the Chinese poetic tradition is itself a result of translation. Looking at Chinese poetry’s negotiation with concepts central to translation—nativization and foreignization, or the work’s engagement with the Chinese historical heritage or foreign literary texts and contexts, respectively—I argue not only that Chinese poetry can be understood as translation, but for an understanding of the role of such translation in the constitution of both Chineseness and world literature. After contextualizing recent debates in the field of Sinology and translation studies, I will examine the work of Bian Zhilin 卞之琳 (1910 – 2000) and his implicit vision for a world literature able to merge the Chinese literary heritage with Western influence. Since debates around world literature, especially in Chinese literary studies, focus on the modern era, however, I shift focus with a discussion of the Tang dynasty (618 – 907), when China had earlier become highly international, even cosmopolitan, in a detailed look at the history of regulated verse (lüshi 律詩), describing not only its origins in Sanskrit but how it maintained associations with Buddhism. Following this, I consider the work of Du Fu 杜甫 (712 – 770) to understand how the canonization of his work nativized regulated verse through its historiography. I conclude with a reconsideration of the ethics of world literature and translation in determining our understanding of the local.
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