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A narrative of my cultural perspective between eastern european and american women

Mellon Professor of the Humanities at Brown University, where she teaches in the Department of Comparative Literature and in the Department of Modern Culture and Media argued that Area Studies — a mode of producing and circulating knowledge about the East allegedly prevalent in the U. By studying non-Western languages, one acquires some indispensable tools for grasping and conveying the truth about non-Western cultures.

Language is envisioned as an authentic form of unmediated expression in non-Western contexts. These range from the effect of multiple pressures on any student or any scholar expected to satisfy multiple requirements of expertise, to being subjected to sneaking accusations of dilettantism because of a lack of specialization in one field, to a sense of impending crisis and diffused uncertainty peculiar to the very field of Comparative Literature.

As I believe and shall argue, Comparative Literature is nowadays a discipline that attempts — employing very heterogeneous strategies — to come to terms with cultural difference as value.

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While cultural difference may well be a fact and a value and richness in itself, it is nonetheless its deployment as cultural capital, I believe, that ultimately determines its tremendous appeal in both Western and Eastern universities nowadays.

In the global age, cultural difference has increased in value; yet it must be continuously re-invested, as well as continuously re-cast into new forms, in order to re-produce itself as plus-value. I would argue that this valorization of cultural difference makes Comparative Literature a highly charged space of strategic economic confrontation as well as a disciplinary space for the deployment of the most heterogeneous — the most radical as well as the most conservative — patterns of cross-cultural encounter.

Conceiving of cultural difference as value and capital can perhaps contribute to explain why the stakes of Comparative Literature seem to grow higher and higher in the new century. In spite of its history of Eurocentrism, Comparative Literature is increasingly making efforts to open itself to cultural dimensions beyond the West and to accommodate non-Western languages, literatures, and cultures in its scope. This opening is fraught with old and new questions: I do not in the least claim to be exhaustive or to encompass all the huge scope of the issues revolving around the possibility of East-West comparison and mutual communication in literary studies.

Gradually, I became more and more interested in Chinese American literature and Chinese Diaspora literature as controversial and inherently a narrative of my cultural perspective between eastern european and american women bodies of texts that cannot but be situated in the space between different cultures, where they negotiate different versions of Chineseness according to different translational strategies.

While attempts at East-West Comparative Literature are still fairly recent and new in the Italian academic context, I hope that my tentative effort might perhaps contribute to enlarge the stage of East-West comparison in a European country that is still new at it.

In this sense, my ongoing period as a visiting scholar at UC Berkeley has offered new interesting and exciting perspectives: Here, at the crossroads of different perspectives, I am stricken by some of the different ways in which Comparative Literature as a problem has been approached from Chinese and Western perspectives. It seems to me that, on the one hand, differences in perspective and approach can possibly converge on mutual interests; and that, on the other hand, a perhaps apparent commonality of perspective or approach can serve different projects or different cultural a narrative of my cultural perspective between eastern european and american women.

In what follows, I shall attempt at offering a few instances of this. Berheimer goes on tracking his imaginary graduate student in the field: So is this field constantly in crisis?

How does this jibe with comparative literature being, by all accounts, an elite discipline? Is one of the qualifications of this elite the ability to sustain the anxiety of an academic field whose identity is perpetually precarious?

While some scholars — and Bernheimer among them — acknowledge the possible benefits of an exchange between Comparative Literature and other disciplines that have come of age in the past twenty years postcolonial studies, ethnic studies, diaspora studies, transnational studies, and so forthComparative Literature seems constantly to live out of an attempt to define the locus of its field as essentially separated from those.

One of the big issues generating a heated debate is, of course, whether Comparative Literature should define its borders by re-assessing the literariness of its object of study — namely, literature in its various and transnational manifestations. Spivak and Emily Apter, and needs to be resuscitated. Zhang himself and Zhang Longxi, East-West Comparative Literature in the Western academia here the aforementioned scholars are referring to Chinese-Western Comparative Literature as their main concern is still struggling to come out of marginality within a field that is traditionally dedicated to comparing the literatures of the Western world.

Yet such possible overcoming of marginality is a chance for the discipline itself that is too precious to be missed. Given the marginality of East-West comparative studies today in the eyes of many Western scholars of comparative literature, the most effective response to the challenge is not a call to form a particular school, but the solidity of the scholarship, the significant result of intellectual pursuit from Chinese comparatists that cannot be ignored in any responsible consideration of comparative literature in general.

In China, the discipline has experienced an unprecedented growth during the past twenty years. Significant guidelines for the future of Chinese Comparative Literature were formulated in October 1985 in when the first conference marking the foundation of the Chinese Comparative Literature Association, and its first international symposium, was convened at the newly established Shenzhen University in South China. On this occasion 120 Chinese scholars met 14 distinguished comparatists from Europe, North America, Japan, Taiwan […] and Hong Kong […] This conference, which reviewed the current situation of Chinese comparative literature, was also an occasion for academic interaction between Chinese and foreign scholars.

If East-West Comparative Literature, although tentatively gaining momentum, is nonetheless perceived as still marginal in Comparative Literature departments in the West, Chinese Comparative Literature in all its forms is growing steadily in Mainland China as well as in Taiwan. Yet I would like to draw attention to something different: The two aforementioned discourses — healing Comparative Literature in the West and making space for a healthy Comparative Literature in the East, articulated from different geopolitical as well as institutional position, appear to me as blurring into a larger discourse — one that is fundamentally palingenetic in its thrust.

  1. I do not in the least claim to be exhaustive or to encompass all the huge scope of the issues revolving around the possibility of East-West comparison and mutual communication in literary studies. Fokkema attempt to situate themselves in a space in-between an orientalist fetishizing of Chineseness as embodied in a relic-text on the one hand and an indiscriminate application of Western theories and poetics on the other.
  2. Language is envisioned as an authentic form of unmediated expression in non-Western contexts.
  3. On this occasion 120 Chinese scholars met 14 distinguished comparatists from Europe, North America, Japan, Taiwan […] and Hong Kong […] This conference, which reviewed the current situation of Chinese comparative literature, was also an occasion for academic interaction between Chinese and foreign scholars.

Yue Daiyun openly links Chinese Comparative Literature to the future of Comparative Literature as a global discipline: Chinese comparatists are actively engaged in, and looking forward to, furthering the development of comparative literature in China and to significantly contribute to the development of the discipline worldwide.

The strong and continuous development of comparative literature in China may have further international implications of importance.

  • Conceiving of cultural difference as value and capital can perhaps contribute to explain why the stakes of Comparative Literature seem to grow higher and higher in the new century;
  • The stakes are simply too high;
  • Yet I would like to draw attention to something different;
  • Yet such possible overcoming of marginality is a chance for the discipline itself that is too precious to be missed.

The discipline is apparently under considerable pressure in countries where it has been traditionally prominent United States and Europe. Perhaps it may turn out that the strength of Chinese comparative literature will result in a diverse development and that there will be a new renaissance of the discipline in the West.

If it is so, which different cultural politics or interests could this palingenesis serve? I think the question is worth serious inquiry. Many of these scholars consistently argue that Chinese literary texts are uniquely embedded within Chinese culture and should be exclusively approached through Chinese literary tools in order to be fully grasped, understood, and appreciated. The very effort to identify certain points or degrees of comparability between Chinese and Western literatures and cultures is likely on the one hand to arouse the suspicion and contempt of some sinologists or Chinese traditionalists who insist on the unique and incomparable nature of things Chinese, and in the other meet with doubt and indifference from those theoreticians and critics who thrive on the discourse of difference and cultural relativism.

Comparative Literature and the Chinese Traditi. Theory, Politics and the Study of Chinese Literatur. In its most radical forms, this perception of alterity results into a forceful acknowledgement of the impossibility of any comparison and the futileness of any attempt at it. Ng, Review of Chinese Narrative: Fokkema attempt to situate themselves in a space in-between an orientalist fetishizing of Chineseness as embodied in a relic-text on the one hand and an indiscriminate application of Western theories and poetics on the other.

In terms of material attempts and results at East-West comparison, this group has perhaps been the most productive, although critical efforts such as Chinese Narrative: On the Impossibility of Chinese Comparative Literatu.

The stakes are simply too high. It seems to me that we can remark a very interesting epistemological shift in this attempt. This reappropriation of Chineseness exposes the Western cultural bias at work in Comparative Literature as a putatively ideology-free practice: Accordingly, this debate contributes to expose some disciplinary issues emerging in the ideologically charged spaces where these transnational encounters take place. As I have attempted to demonstrate, this debate illuminates, on the one hand, several attempts mostly on the part of Western-based scholars at drawing Comparative Literature out of its perceived Western crisis and self-confinement as advocated across almost two decades by, among others, John Deeney and Zhang Longxi.

Having acknowledged a number of flows from the West to the East, Wang heartily advocates for an opening to such flows on the Chinese part, for the sake of Chinese culture and Comparative Literature: The strong mechanism of Chinese culture is more and more affected.

China in the Age of Multicultur. Some Tentative Reflections in Lieu of a Conclusion: On the other hand, Comparative Literature has been spreading constantly in East Asian university — in China, Taiwan, and Japan among else — in the past two decades. East-West Comparative Literature is emerging at the intersection between the alleged crisis of Comparative Literature in the West and its new palingenesis in the East.

  • These range from the effect of multiple pressures on any student or any scholar expected to satisfy multiple requirements of expertise, to being subjected to sneaking accusations of dilettantism because of a lack of specialization in one field, to a sense of impending crisis and diffused uncertainty peculiar to the very field of Comparative Literature;
  • The relationship of a non-Western intellectual to theory is inherently ambiguous, but not necessarily passive;
  • And, if theory travels in that direction, why should we overlook another travel — namely, that performed by non-Western intellectuals that relocate in the West with their own unique burden of multiple cultural allegiances?
  • Many of these scholars consistently argue that Chinese literary texts are uniquely embedded within Chinese culture and should be exclusively approached through Chinese literary tools in order to be fully grasped, understood, and appreciated.

At this intersection, cultural difference can be re-produced according to very different cultural politics — sometimes overlapping, sometimes opposing each other. I have attempted to draw attention to the fact that this apparent dichotomy between text and theory is in itself highly unstable and constructed according to different strategies of East-West negotiation. Minh-ha, and Naoki Sakai, to name but a few.

The relationship of a non-Western intellectual to theory is inherently ambiguous, but not necessarily passive: And, if theory travels in that direction, why should we overlook another travel — namely, that performed by non-Western intellectuals that relocate in the West with their own unique burden of multiple cultural allegiances? Yet these ironies, I am arguing, are themselves a cross-cultural space worth exploring. Literature, National Culture, and Translated Modernity, China 1900-1937, Stanford, Stanford University Press, 1995, for an approach that pays due attention to the manifold aspects of cross-cultural translation between China and the West at that pivotal historical moment.

Reimagining a Field, boundary 2, Vol. I shall return to this issue in the last part of this essay. Here Palumbo-Liu is referring especially — but not exclusively — to pre-modern Chinese literature.