Zhang Longxi Lecture: The Relevance of Marco Polo

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The Yenching Academy of Peking University is hosting a China Studies Lecture Series. Zhang Longxi, elected foreign member of the Royal Swedish Academy of Letters, History, and Antiquities and also of Academia Europaea; Chair Professor of Comparative Literature and Translation at City University of Hong Kong, will give a public lecture at Peking University on April 13th, 2016. This is the inaugural edition of the Lecture Series, hosted by the Yenching Academy, School of Foreign Languages, and the History Department at Peking University. Zhang Longxi is a prominent figure in academia and his publications on cultural studies have made great contributions to China's academic circle. Qian Zhongshu, one of the Chinese authors best known to the Western world, gave high praise to Zhang Longxi as “remarkable and incomparable”.

Lecture Theme: The Relevance of Marco Polo

Time: 19:00 - 21:00, 13 April (Wednesday)

Location: Peking University, Second Gymnasium Room B101

Language: English

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Abstract:

Did Marco Polo come to China? Why do some people question the veracity of his narrative? What can we learn from him as a predecessor of East-West encounter? Long before the 19th-century expansion of European colonialism, Marco Polo offered an account of China and the East from a perspective very different from that of European explorers several centuries later, and his narration was motivated by the desire to know and understand, not to conquer and colonize. Thus his book offers an alternative model of East-West encounter to European colonialism. Because Marco associated himself mostly with the Mongolian nobility at Kublai Khan’s court, he did not come to know the majority of Han Chinese and their culture. Had he known the Chinese cultural tradition, he might have found it compatible with his desire to integrate into a different culture and society, for in the Chinese tradition, the idea of Chineseness, was culturally defined and potentially all-embracing. It is this concept of a cultural identity that may go beyond ethnocentrism and, like Marco’s book, offer the possibility of an alternative model of East-West encounter for better understanding between China and the West.

Zhang Longxi:

ZHANG Longxi holds an MA in English from Peking University and a Ph. D. in Comparative Literature from Harvard University. He had taught at Peking, Harvard, and the University of California, Riverside, and is currently Chair Professor of Chinese and Comparative Literature at the City University of Hong Kong. He was elected a foreign member of the Royal Swedish Academy of Letters, History and Antiquities in 2009 and a foreign member of Academia Europaea in 2013. He was appointed a Cheung Kong Chair Professor at the Beijing Foreign Studies University in 2007-09. He serves as an Advisory Editor of New Literary History, and an Editor-in-Chief of the Journal of World Literature. He has published more than 20 books and numerous articles in both English and Chinese in East-West comparative studies. His major book publications include 《二十世纪西方文论述评》 (Beijing: Sanlian, 1986); The Tao and the Logos: Literary Hermeneutics, East and West (Durham: Duke UP, 1992); Mighty Opposites: From Dichotomies to Differences in the Comparative Study of China (Stanford: Stanford UP, 1998); 《走出文化的封闭圈》(Beijing: Sanlian, 2004);《中西文化研究十论》(Shanghai: Fudan UP, 2005); Allegoresis: Reading Canonical Literature East and West (Ithaca: Cornell UP, 2005); Unexpected Affinities: Reading across Cultures (Toronto: Toronto UP, 2007); 《比较文学研究入门》(Shanghai: Fudan UP, 2009); 《灵魂的史诗﹕失乐园》(Taipei: Net and Books, 2010); 《一毂集》(Shanghai: Fudan UP, 2011); 《文学、历史、思想﹕中西比较研究》(Hong Kong: Sanlian, 2012) and most recently, From Comparison to World Literature (SUNY Press, 2015).

To register for the lecture:

Please send an email to ycasxm@pku.edu.cn and include your name and date of lecture in the theme. Student number, name, school and date of lecture should be listed in email content. (Note: the registration is on first come first served basis; live video will be provided in Second Gymnasium Room B102 if seats are full)

The lecture is free and open to the campus. Well welcome!

Lecture Schedule of China Studies Lecture Series:

April 13: ZHANG Longxi, Elected foreign member of the Royal Swedish Academy of Letters, History and Antiquities and also of Academia Europaea; Chair Professor of Comparative Literature and Translation at City University of Hong Kong

April 20: CHANG Hsin Kang, Foreign fellow of the Royal Academy of Engineering in the UK; former President of the City University of Hong Kong; Honorary Professor at Peking University

April 27: Justin Yifu LIN, Honorary Dean of the National School of Development at Peking University; Director of the Center for New Structural Economics at PKU

May 10: TIAN Gang, Fellow at the Chinese Academy of Sciences; Dean of School of Mathematical Sciences at Peking University; Director of the Beijing International Center for Mathematical Research

May 11: KE Yang, Foreign Fellow at the Institute of Medicine of the National Academies, Executive Vice President of Peking University, Executive Vice President of Peking University Health Science Center

May 17: MA Rong, Professor of Department of Sociology at Peking University

May 18: ZHA Daojiong, Professor of School of International Studies at Peking University

June 1: LV Zhi, Professor of School of Life Sciences at Peking University; Deputy Director of Peking University Center for Nature and Society

June 8: RAO Yi, Professor of School of Life Sciences at Peking University

June14: QIAN Chengdan, Professor of History Department at Peking University

June15: HE Yafei

(Lecture arrangements are subject to change)

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