International Symposium: Shen Congwen and Modern China

Sep 25, 2015 | 10:00 AM - Sep 26, 2015 | 5:00 PM

Sponsored by the CCK Foundation for International Scholarly Exchange, the Harvard-Yenching Institute, the Harvard University Department of East Asian Languages and Civilizations, and the Fairbank Center for Chinese Studies

Shen Congwen (December 28, 1902 – May 10, 1988) was one of the greatest modern Chinese writers cum scholars on par with Lu Xun. Yet, for decades, Shen Congwen was overlooked by literary historians in the People’s Republic of China due to his stylistic iconoclasm and ideological nonconformism. It is only in recent years, since his nomination for the Nobel Prize for Literature and passing in 1988, that Shen has won increased attention from readers and researchers. Amidst a growing “craze” for his life, literary works, and scholarship, this symposium seeks to critically reassess Shen Congwen’s contribution to modern Chinese cultural, ethnic, literary and art history. The symposium hopes not only to critique the strengths and limitations of prevailing trends in Shen Congwen Studies, but also to explore the possibilities of reading Shen Congwen in a dialogical light and reposition Shen as an interface between modern Chinese literary and cultural studies capable of enabling fruitful comparisons.
Above all, the symposium hopes to situate Shen Congwen in the tumultuous historical context from the early Republican era to the Cultural Revolution, and rethink the contested process by which a modern Chinese intellectual writer came to terms with his time as well as his own life. The symposium will focus on the following four themes:
  • Shen Congwen and the May Fourth: Nativism, Regional Culture, and The Polemics of Realism
  • Shen Congwen during the Revolutionary Era: Art as a Form of Resistance; Revolutionism vs. Liberalism; The Poetics of Self-Negation
  • Shen Conwen after 1949: the Politics of Esoteric Writing; Shen Congwen as an Art Historian.
  • Shen Congwen and His Legacy: Critical Lyricism in Modern China
The conference will be conducted in English and Chinese.
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