Prof Ban Wang: “Where have all the villages gone?” 4 June

The fourth scholar in our Distinguished Lecture Series is Ban Wang, the William Haas Professor in Chinese Studies and a board member of the Confucius Institute at Stanford University.

Wang BanProfessor Wang is also the Yangtze River Chair Professor at East China Normal University. In addition to his research on Chinese and comparative literature, he has written on English and French literatures, psychoanalysis, international politics, and cinema.

He received his Ph.D. in comparative literature from the University of California at Los Angeles in 1993. He was a research fellow with the National Endowment for the Humanities and the Institute for Advanced Studies at Princeton University. He taught at Beijing Foreign Studies University, SUNY-Stony Brook, Harvard University, and Rutgers University before he came to Stanford.  He has been a recipient of fellowships and awards from the National Endowment for the Humanities and was also a research fellow with the Institute for Advanced Study at Princeton in 2007.


Where Have All The Villages Gone? –
The Life and Death of Rural Culture in Chinese Literature and Film

In China, “home sweet home” would refer to a village rather than a city. This talk shows that the Chinese village, a source of nostalgia and memory, undergoes decline and rebirth in the midst of China’s pursuit of modernization and urbanization. Whether as a retreat or a depository of traditional values, the village home epitomizes a series of responses to uprooting and destruction.Walking through literary scenarios and film clips, Professor Wang will discuss changing stances and sentiment toward village culture and rural landscape. In literature, nostalgia for home is mixed with a rejection of tradition. On the other hand, depictions of the desolate village are tinged with utopian yearnings for the harmonious home of the Peach Blossom Spring.

While Zhang Yimou’s Road Home elevates communal bonds and Confucian values to a sublime height, Postmen in the Mountain (dir. Huo Jianqi) raises concerns about the village caught up between urbanization and the preservation of rural culture.


His major works include The Sublime Figure of History: Aesthetics and Politics in Twentieth Century China (Stanford UP, 1997) and Illuminations from the Past: Trauma, Memory and History (Stanford, 2004); and History and Memory (Oxford University 2004). He co-edited Trauma and Cinema: Cross-Cultural Explorations (Hong Kong UP, 2004), The Image of China in the American Classroom (Nanjing UP, 2006), China and New Left Visions (Lexington, 2012), and Debating Socialist Legacy and Capitalist Globalization (Palgrave, 2014). He edited Words and Their Stories: Essays on the Languages of the Chinese Revolution (Brill 2012). His edited volume Rethinking Chinese Perceptions of World Order is forthcoming from Duke University Press. He was a recipient of fellowships and awards from the National Endowment for the Humanities and a research fellow with the Institute for Advanced Study at Princeton in 2007.

For further information please visit his page at Stanford University.

Thurs 4 June 5.30pm-7pm
Lecture Theatre 2
University of Edinburgh Business School
29 Buccleuch Place

All welcome. No registration required. Networking drinks reception follows