Monthly Archives: March 2015

Zhang Longxi
Distinguished Lecture 28 April

The third distinguished scholar in our 2015 lecture series on China will be Professor Zhang Longxi, currently Chair Professor of Comparative Literature and Translation at City University of Hong Kong.

Prof Zhang Longxi

Prof Zhang Longxi

ZHANG Longxi is a leading scholar in East-West cross-cultural studies. He holds an MA from Peking University and a Ph.D. from Harvard. He has taught at Harvard and the University of California, Riverside and is an elected foreign member of the Royal Swedish Academy of Letters, History and Antiquities, a foreign member of Academia Europaea, a member of the Executive Council of the International Comparative Literature Association, and an Advisory Editor of New Literary History.

His talk entitled Re-conceptualizing China in our Time:From a Chinese Perspective will take place on Tuesday 28 April from 17.30 in the first floor Project Room 1.06, 50 George Square, EH8 9JY.


China, as a concept, has not been put under much scrutiny and challenge until the recent post-modern and post-colonial theoretical discourse on nation and nationhood, and the radical scepticism about tradition and homogeneity. Some scholars have questioned whether China could have been a nation state before there was any nation state in Europe, and others have challenged the very notions of China and Chinese-ness.

How do the Chinese themselves respond to such scepticism and challenge? How does one re-conceptualize China at the present time? By drawing on recent debates on such important issues, this lecture tries to find some answers and offers some views from a Chinese perspective, while fully engaging Western theoretical discourses to attempt at an international dialogue and meaningful exchange.

Major publications

His major book publications include The Tao and the Logos: Literary Hermeneutics, East and West (Durham: Duke University Press, 1992); Mighty Opposites: From Dichotomies to Differences in the Comparative Study of China (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1998); Out of the Cultural Ghetto (Hong Kong: Commercial Press, 2000; Beijing: Joint Publishing Co., 2004, in Chinese); Allegoresis: Reading Canonical Literature East and West (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 2005); Unexpected Affinities: Reading across Cultures (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2007); An Introduction to Comparative Literature (Shanghai: Fudan University Press, 2009, in Chinese); A Spiritual Epic: Paradise Lost (Taipei: Net and Books, 2010, in Chinese); A Collection of Thirty Essays (Shanghai: Fudan University Press, 2011, in Chinese); Hermeneutics and Cross-Cultural Studies (Shanghai: Fudan University Press, 2014, in Chinese); and most recently, From Comparison to World Literature (Albany: SUNY Press, 2015).

“Chinese Capitalism?” Lecture 01 April CANCELLED

Due to travel disruption our speaker is unable to get to Edinburgh to give this evening’s planned talk.  We hope to be able to reschedule this talk when Professor Dominic Sachsenmaier, University of Bremen will investigate some debates on East Asian forms of capitalism, particularly during the past twenty years.

Details of the talk which will now have to be rescheduled is below along with a biography.

His talk, entitled “Chinese Capitalism? Recent Debates and Their Intellectual Contexts” will discuss the ways in which different opinion camps, ranging from academic groups to political currents, envisioned, defined and constructed the notion of a supposedly unique East Asian form of capitalism.His lecture will  mainly focus on materials in Chinese and English, and will juxtapose the debates on regional, i.e. East Asian forms of capitalism with discourses on nationally specific paths and patterns. Additionally, he will briefly compare the more recent debates with positions formulated earlier in the twentieth century, such as visions of a Confucian economy or, under Mao, adaptations of the concept of an “Asiatic Mode of Production.”

This talk will take place at 17.15 in G.15, William Robertson Wing, George Square, Edinburgh.  A drinks reception will follow.  All welcome.


Dominic Sachsenmaier is Professor of Modern Asian History at Bremen University. He holds a regular honorary chair professorship at the Global History Centre in Beijing. Before returning to Germany, his country of origin, he held active faculty positions at Duke University as well as the University of California, Santa Barbara.

His main current research interests are Chinese and Western approaches to global history as well as transnational connections of political and intellectual cultures in China. Furthermore he has published in fields such as 17th-century Sino-Western cultural relations, overseas Chinese communities in Southeast Asia, and multiple modernities.

Prof. Sachsenmaier serves on several editorial and advisory boards in Asia, Europe and the United States. His most recent monograph is Global Perspectives on Global History. Theories and Approaches in a Connected World (Cambridge UP, 2011).

This is last lecture in the Asian Studies Research Seminar Series.

Chinese Bridge winner – Beijing bound

Congratulations to University of Edinburgh student Riona Lesslar who secured a place in the 14th global Chinese Bridge language competition taking place in Beijing in July this year.  Riona follows in a long line of Edinburgh students who have previously secured a place in the global final which is a national televised event with viewers voting for their favourite contestant.   Apart from her oratorical skills in Chinese, Riona also performed a dance piece demonstrating a dance from the Xin Jiang minority ethnic group.

From the 30 candidates who took part in the UK final at the British Library, Riona was awarded 2nd prize and is one of four UK finalists who will spend up to two weeks in Beijing taking part in this language event.  We wish her well in the global competition which since 2011 has has seen a clutch of prizes awarded to our Edinburgh students including three first prizes, one third prize, two public speaking prizes, one performance prize and two best tutor prizes.

Click here for more information on Chinese Bridge

‘Magical Metropolises’ 30 March:
Chris Berry, King’s College

A special guest lecture will take place from 5.30pm on Mon 30 March when Chris Berry, Professor of Film Studies at King’s College London and a world-leading scholar on Chinese and East Asian cinema will visit and give a lecture entitled “Cao Fei’s ‘Magical Metropolises’ : Chinese Video Art and the City”.

MagicalMetropolisesThe urban sprawl of the Pearl River Delta inspired star architect Rem Koolhaas’s writings on the ‘generic city’, which he celebrates precisely for its blandness. Cao Fei herself is from Guangzhou. Yet, in works like RMB City, Haze and Fog, Whose Utopia and Hip Hop Guangzhou, Cao Fei creates what she calls ‘magical metropolises’. What kind of responses are Cao’s ‘magical’ works to contemporary Chinese urbanisation? This talk proposes four hermeneutic frameworks to analyse the works themselves:

  • heterotopic imaginations that encourage viewers to crystallize the city’s woes and at the same time hope for its future;
  • participatory art, enlisting the subjects of the artwork as collaborators to rehearse alternative urban possibilities;
  • the use of dance and rhythm to re-enchant these disenchanted spaces and make them magical;
  • gestural cinema understood as itself an ethical as well as aesthetic practice, in so far as it calls upon collaborators and audiences to imagine a transformed Chinese city.

Taken together, these frameworks demonstrate that Cao’s work does not only reflect current Chinese urban condition, but also participates and intervenes in it.


Professor Berry’s research fields include Chinese and East Asian cinema and screen cultures; gender, sexuality and cinema; documentary film; and theories of national and transnational cinema. He has held several international visiting professorships and published several widely influential books on Chinese cinema culture.