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John P. Birkelund Lecture

Another World Literature: New Approaches to a Literary History of East Asia

There are many challenges to creating an account of the literary interactions among China and its neighbors in the precolonial period: the multilingual, often-untranslated sources; the distorting effects of largely Chinese-language documentation; and the vast expanses of time and space. Moreover, the modern definition of “literature”—understood as imaginative writing—is not a good guide to this enterprise. In this talk, Haun Saussy notes that traditional Chinese definitions of literature include historical, philosophical, essayistic, and policy-oriented genres, and that much of the cultural traffic in and out of China over the centuries happened through religious activity. Saussy proposes a new starting point for scholars of Chinese literary history: focus on literature as “letters,” which should permit an enlargement of the entire sphere of “world literature” as regards China, its multicultural inhabitants, and its neighbors.

11 Dec 18
19:30 - 21:00
American Academy in Berlin
Am Sandwerder 17-19
14109 Berlin-Wannsee
Speaker: Haun Saussy

This event took place on December 11, 2018.

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