ANNUAL REPORT 2013–14
We talk a lot, in universities, about the importance of breaking through barriers: between academic disciplines; between institutions; between cultures; between theory and practice. CRASSH exists to do it, and Humanitas makes it possible.
Pierre Rosenberg Poussin in England 24–31 October 2013
Through its uncompromising commitment to the highest standards of intellectual engagement, the Humanitas Programme has continued, this year, to enlighten, provoke, disturb and uplift us. This report aims to give an impression of the past year’s remarkable events.
Gretchen Daily Nature’s Competing Values 31 October–5 November 2013
Simon Goldhill Professor in Greek Literature and Culture Director, CRASSH
Humanitas is a series of Visiting Professorships at Oxford and Cambridge designed to bring leading academics, practitioners and scholars to both Universities to address major themes in the arts, social sciences and humanities. Created by Lord Weidenfeld, the programme is managed and funded by the Institute for Strategic Dialogue, and co-ordinated in Cambridge by the Centre for Research in the Arts, Social Sciences and Humanities (CRASSH). Appointed for a given academic year, each Humanitas Visiting Professor delivers a series of events ranging from lectures to workshops, masterclasses and recitals, and participates in a related symposium. This year saw the inauguration of a new series in Sustainability Studies. Humanitas is funded by generous benefactors, who are gratefully acknowledged in these pages. Through high-quality videos of these events, their support is benefitting a still wider audience of anyone, anywhere with a thirst for knowledge and an internet connection. Through this globally accessible dissemination of the Humanitas programme, we are overcoming one more barrier: access to the highest level of academic and artistic achievement. Front cover photo of Angela Hewitt © Maria Teresa De Luca
Alastair Campbell A Life at the Nexus of Media and Politics 13–20 November 2013
Margaret MacMillan The Changing Nature of European War, 1815–1914 3–7 February 2014
Mona Siddiqui Feminism, Religion and Women’s Rights 10–13 March 2014
Angela Hewitt The Art of Bach 24–29 April 2014
David Der-wei Wang The Chineseness of Chinese Literature 3–21 May 2014
Humanitas Visiting Professors University of Cambridge 2013–14
“I thought about entitling my third lecture ‘Poussin, English Painter’,” wrote Pierre Rosenberg, “as he was, and still is, loved and admired so much in the United Kingdom.” Why? These memorable lectures illuminated Poussin: his paintings, his reception, and his enduring hold over the English imagination.
The History of Art
“At his touch, words start up into images, thoughts become things.” William Hazlitt on Poussin (1821)
Pierre Rosenberg Humanitas Visiting Professor in the History of Art, 2013/14 Poussin in England Lecture 1: Eliezer and Rebecca, 24 October 2013 Poussin treated the theme of Eliezer and Rebecca three times. In this lecture, Pierre Rosenberg describes the paintings, their reception, and the controversies they ignited. www.youtube.com/watch?v=AamgWVeoDiM
Lecture 2: Les Sacraments, 28 October 2013 Poussin painted two series of Sacrements: seven canvases on the major episodes of the life of Christ (Le Baptême, La Pénitence, L’Eucharistie and L’Ordre), and of the life of the Virgin Mary (Le Mariage). It takes time to discover their beauty: beyond a scrupulous respect for archaeological truth, Poussin wanted to educate and move his viewers. When Bernini saw Les Sacrements he said of them: “Non mi posso levar del pensamento questi suoi quadri.” Rosenberg shows us why. www.youtube.com/watch?v=zSNrbA64d7g
Lecture 3: Poussin and England, 30 October 2013 After his death in 1665, Poussin’s works were collected in abundance in England. In 1981, Anthony Blunt counted 47 Poussins in the UK. Still today, the UK owns as many Poussins as France. In this lecture, Rosenberg evokes the main personalities involved, and illuminates the enduring importance of Poussin for the English. www.youtube.com/watch?v=K7Hqs9Bug7c
After gaining a degree in Law at the Lycée Charlemagne in Paris, Pierre Rosenberg joined the Department of Paintings at the Louvre in 1962. This is where he made his career: in 1994, he was appointed Chief Executive of the Louvre, a position he held until 2001. From 1981 to 1993, he was also the curator of the National Museum of Franco-American Friendship at Blérancourt. His work as an art historian has focussed on 17th- and 18th-century French and Italian drawing and painting, as well as on the history of collecting. He has written over two hundred articles in major journals, and contributed to a publication dedicated to art historians of our time. Pierre Rosenberg is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, American Philosophical Society, Accademia Nazionale dei Lincei, Accademia Nazionale di San Luca, Accademia del Disegno, Accademia Pietro Vanucci, Ateneo Veneto, Istituto Veneto di Scienze, Lettere ed Arti and Accademia Clementina; and an honorary fellow of the Royal Academy and the French Academy.
Symposium: Poussin in England, 31 October 2013 Pierre Rosenberg was joined by Professors Henry Keazor (Universität Heidelberg), Elena Fumagalli (Université de Modène et Reggio Emilia), Mickaël Szanto (Centre André Chastel, Galerie Colbert), Marianne Cojannot-Le Blanc (Université Paris Ouest Nanterre La Défense) and Nicolas Milovanovic (Musée du Louvre). The Symposium concluded with a private view of art by Poussin at the Fitzwilliam Museum and a drinks reception.
Pierre Rosenberg gave a masterly insight into Poussin’s art, focussing on the taste of the artist in England and, more specifically, on the Eliezer and Rebecca and the Extreme Unction in the Fitzwilliam Museum. This was a wonderful and timely celebration of the acquisition of the latter, one of the Seven Sacraments, by the Fitzwilliam Museum in 2012. Professor Jean MIchel Massing Head of the Department of History of Art Humanitas History of Art Committee
www.youtube.com/watch?v=uk33jejZ7eA Previous page: Poussin, Extreme Unction © Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge
The Humanitas Chair in the History of Art is made possible by the generous support of J E Safra.
Even in the face of intensifying pressures and risks on the global environmental front, Gretchen Daily perceives a sense of “renaissance in the movement to harmonize people and Nature. This flows in part from the promise in reaching – together with much more diverse and powerful leaders than in the past – for new understanding and approaches”. “Gretchen Daily is a master of bringing people together across disciplines ... We hope she will be back.” Dr Mike Rands
Gretchen Daily Humanitas Visiting Professor in Sustainability Studies, 2013/14 Mainstreaming Natural Capital into Decision-Making Lecture 1: Frontiers in Research and Policy, 31 October 2013 Over the past decade, efforts to recognize ecosystems as vital capital assets have been promoted by many as the last, best hope to secure Earth’s life-support systems. Recognition of this is now dawning worldwide. The challenge is to turn it into incentives and institutions that will guide wise investments in natural capital on a large scale. Gretchen Daily discusses a strategy for meeting this challenge. www.youtube.com/watch?v=XvqLRHTlXNQ
Lecture 2: Nature’s Competing Values, 1 November 2013 Communities, corporations, governments and NGOs are starting to work together, as never before. Looking at a few of the most breathtaking efforts currently underway – including the world’s first national systems in Costa Rica and China – and at first steps by the business world, Gretchen Daily explores the promises and perils ahead in forging a deep and lasting transformation to sustainability. www.youtube.com/watch?v=25Kyk1Sz4Qk
Lecture 3: Feeding the World and Security Biodiversity, 4 November 2013 No human activity has a greater environmental impact than producing food. This lecture considers the implications for biodiversity, ecosystem services and human well-being of alternative production systems, from the deep past to the present. www.youtube.com/watch?v=ApoNgOS8iKQ
Symposium: 5 November 2013 Dr Bhaskar Vira (Geography), Dr Toby Gardner (Zoology), Professor Partha Dasgupta (Economics) and a public audience joined Professor Daily for an engaged discussion focussing particularly on the role of interdisciplinarity in mainstreaming natural capital into decision-making. www.youtube.com/watch?v=nd6vjjK53KU
Gretchen Daily is Bing Professor of Environmental Science at Stanford, Director of the Center for Conservation Biology, and co-founder of The Natural Capital Project, an international partnership to improve the well-being of people and the environment by mainstreaming the values of nature into major resource decisions globally. Daily’s work spans research, teaching, public education, and working with leaders to create innovative practical approaches to environmental challenges. Her scientific research is on biodiversity change; harmonizing biodiversity conservation and agriculture; quantifying the production and value of ecosystem services; and policy and finance mechanisms for integrating conservation and human development. Widely published, her most recent books are The Power of Trees, and Natural Capital: Theory and Practice of Mapping Ecosystem Services. A Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, US National Academy of Sciences and the American Philosophical Society, her transformative work has been recognized through the Sophie Prize, the Cosmos Prize, the Heinz Award, the Midori Prize, the Biodiversity Award and, in 2012, the Volvo Environment Prize.
Gretchen Daily’s lectures provided an inspirational example of the ways in which a breadth of disciplinary pespectives can be deployed to address some of the most pressing issues that confront humanity. Her ability to combine scientific rigour with a pragmatic, results-oriented approach demonstrates how we can develop a clearer understanding of the global challenges of sustainability, as well as possible solutions to these planetary problems. Dr Bhaskar Vira, Director of the Cambridge Conservation Research Institute, Humanitas Sustainability Studies Committee
Previous page: Great Day of His Wrath by John Martin, 1853
The Humanitas Chair in Sustainability Studies is made possible by the generous support of the Tellus Mater Foundation.
â€œThe only communication that works in the modern age is authenticity.â€? Alastair Campbell In these gripping lectures, Alastair Campbell gave us an extraordinary insight, from the frontline, into the changing practices of journalism, the challenges the profession faces, the relationship between government and media, and the vital role of journalism in democracy. The media took note.
Alastair Campbell Humanitas Visiting Professor in Media, 2013/14 A Life at the Nexus of Journalism and Politics It was, perhaps, not surprising that an event about the media, by a media and communciations strategist who is a household name, should have attracted media coverage. The remarkable extent of this coverage, however, was an indication of the excitement that this Humanitas series transmitted – that, and its timing in terms of the Leveson enquiry report. The lectures themselves were published, with due attribution to the Humanitas Programme, in the Guardian and Huffington Post. Substantial coverage of the lectures before and after they took place also appeared in newspapers including – to name a few – the Financial Times, Daily Telegraph, Independent, Observer, Jerusalem Post, and on websites including BBC Politics. Here’s why. Lecture 1: Why Journalism, and Why it Matters in a World in Flux, 13 November 2013 In this incisive critique, Campbell discusses the importance, power and allure of journalism. He gives a personal and authoritative account of the impact of the ‘celebratisation’ of news (and of politics) and the demands of a 24-hour news cycle, and argues for the professionalisation of journalism. www.youtube.com/watch?v=kHZwk0fFuXs
Lecture 2: Journalism and Democracy: Grounds for Optimism in the Face of the Future?, 14 November 2013 Campbell addresses media ownership and regulation, and the place of Snowden and Wikileaks in a democracy. He discusses the impact – and democratising potential – of social media: one of the factors that he believes gives cause for optimism about the state of public debate. www.youtube.com/watch?v=Zsf7DSxtwO4
Alastair Campbell is a writer, communicator and strategist best known for his role as former British Prime Minister Tony Blair’s spokesman, press secretary and, from 1997 to 2003, Director of Communications and Strategy. He now splits his time between writing, charitable fundraising, politics and campaigns, and is a sought-after speaker at events around the world, specialising in strategic communications. In July 2007 he published his first book on his time with Tony Blair, The Blair Years, extracts from his diaries from 1994 to 2003. It was an instant Sunday Times Number 1 bestseller. He is now in the process of publishing four volumes of the full diaries. His first novel, All In The Mind, appeared in 2008 to enthusiastic reviews for its frank examination of mental illness. His second novel Maya, a gripping analysis of fame and the obsession it attracts, was published in 2010. His most recent books are My Name Is..., a novel about alcholism, and The Irish Diaries: an insider account of Anglo-Irish relations from 1994 to 2003.
Alastair Campbell gave two riveting lectures on journalism and the press post-Leveson, and a fiery defence of his views in response to some challenging questions. Even if you weren’t always persuaded by what he said, it was hard not to see the world a little differently after listening to his account of the shifting and conflict-ridden relations between politics and the press. Professor John Thompson, Humanitas Media Committee
Symposium: Media and Politics in a Changing World, 20 November 2013 Alastair Campbell was joined by the following speakers who, together with a very lively public audience, put his arguments to the test: Natalie Fenton, Aeron Davis and Angela Phillips (Goldsmiths, University of London), and Charlie Beckett (LSE). www.youtube.com/watch?v=xjXhtFbloY8
We knew that Alastair Campbell would be an effective lecturer. What we didn’t know was how good he would be at Q&A with the audience. He was sharp, attentive, combative (of course) and compelling in argument. Professor John Naughton, Vice-President of Wolfson College, Humanitas Media Committee
The Humanitas Chair in Media is made possible by the generous support of the Blavatnik Family Foundation.
MARGARET MACMILLAN “War is not an accident. It is an outcome. One cannot look back too far to ask, of what?” Margaret MacMillan prefaces her latest book, The War That Ended Peace, with this quotation from Bowen’s Court. In an outstanding series of lectures she looked back over a century at the changing nature of European society, and the forces that gave rise to world war.
“Woe to him who sets Europe alight, who first puts the fuse to the powder keg.” Field Marshal Helmuth von Moltke in a speech to the Reichstag, 1890
Margaret MacMillan Humanitas Visiting Professor in War Studies, 2013/14 The Changing Nature of European War, 1815–1914 We thought Margaret MacMillan would be used to being greeted by full lecture theatres. But we could tell she was delighted with the reception she had at Cambridge – and Cambridge is still talking about her superb lectures. Lecture 1: European Society and War, 3 February 2014 This lecture looks at the changing relationship between war and European society after the French Revolution, and of war itself. It covers changes in the organization and training of the military, taking into account the impact of technology and the political trend towards total war. www.youtube.com/watch?v=hJVe0KLONJU
Lecture 2: Thinking About War Before 1914, 4 February 2014 Margaret MacMillan discusses how military planners tried to deal with the great changes that European society was undergoing before 1914. She examines the European officer corps, and considers the impact of the rise of nationalism and militarism; and she offers reasons for the pronounced bias towards the offensive. www.crassh.cam.ac.uk/video/margaret-macmillan-thinking-about-war-before-1914
Margaret MacMillan is the Warden of St Antony’s College and Professor of International History at the University of Oxford. Her books include Women of the Raj; Peacemakers: The Paris Conference of 1919 and its Attempt to End War; Seize the Hour: When Nixon Met Mao, and The Uses and Abuses of History. Her most recent book is The War That Ended Peace. She is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature, and sits on the Boards of organisations including the Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism and the Institute for Historical Justice and Reconciliation. In 2006, Professor MacMillan was invested as an Officer of the Order of Canada.
Lecture 3: Planning War Before 1914, 6 February 2014 This lecture shows how the issues dealt with in the previous lectures affected the thinking of the military and its critics about future war, and addresses the plans with which the great powers went to war in 1914 and the underlying assumptions. www.crassh.cam.ac.uk/gallery/video/margaret-macmillan-planning-war-before-1914
Symposium: The Changing Nature of European War 1815–1914, 7 February 2014 “You have here a star-studded gallery of 1914 knowledge,” said Professor Christopher Clark in his introductory remarks. This distinguished group of speakers comprised Professors Holger Afflerbach (Leeds), Dominic Lieven (Cambridge), David Stevenson (LSE) and Dr Annika Mombauer (Open University). www.youtube.com/watch?v=cs9SpKKu-y0 Previous page: Gassed by John Singer Sargent © Imperial War Museum
Margaret MacMillan gave us a panoramic view of the changes in European society and the nature of the war it waged that was magisterial in its scope and depth. Her rigorous analysis of the large political and technological forces that brought Europe to war in 1914 was animated by vivid accounts of the personalities and events that, together, ignited the First World War. The lecture series closed with an excellent podium discussion and seminar on the outbreak of the First World War.
Professor Christopher Clark Humanitas War Studies Committee
Margaret MacMillan’s lectures, delivered in a compelling yet relaxed and conversational style, were an outstanding and illuminating contribution to the debate on the origins of the First World War. She demonstrated to packed and spellbound audiences how it is essential to set the dramatic events of 1914 in a broad social, political and historical context if we are to understand them. Professor Sir Richard Evans FBA Regius Professor of History President, Wolfson College
The Humanitas Chair in War Studies is made possible by the generous support of Sir Ronald Grierson.
Public debate about women and their rights in Islam is often clouded by controversy and over-simplified. Mona Siddiqui’s reflections on women in Islamic law, thought and literature, and the wider place of women in society, were subtle, nuanced and captivating.
“...the struggle for justice, whether it’s between men and women or state and society ... brings out the best in us as human beings.” Mona Siddiqui
Mona Siddiqui Humanitas Visiting Professor in Women’s Rights, 2013/14 Feminism, Religion and Women’s Rights Lecture 1: Can You Text A Divorce? Negotiating Women’s Rights in Law and Society, 10 March 2014 In classical Islamic jurisprudence, marriage and divorce laws are essentially seen as performative utterances. Intention, wording and finality are fundamental to the validity – and end – of the marriage contract. Mona Siddiqui addressed, as a starting-point for an exploration of women’s rights in Islam, recent cases in some Islamic countries in which judges are allowing Muslim men to divorce via texting. www.youtube.com/watch?v=QToe4M_Rsmo
Lecture 2: Mary in Christian-Muslim Relations, 11 March 2014 Mary or Mariam is mentioned more times in the Qur’an than in the entire New Testament. Some consider her role to be a bridge between the two faiths, an icon of purity and piety. But there is no cult of Mary in Islam and, as some have pointed out, her virginal status does not represent the ideal of the feminine in Islamic cultures. Yet Mary enjoys a distinct position in Islamic thought. www.youtube.com/watch?v=ArAa8W-i99Y
Lecture 3: From the Feminine to Feminism: Women in Islamic Thought and Literature, 12 March 2014 Feminist perspectives on women and Islam either critique patriarchal structures or explain Qur’anic verses according to 7th-century contexts. Yet this sociohistorical emphasis has almost eclipsed the variety of images of the feminine to be found in Islamic thought, literature and poetry. Is the reality of women’s lives somewhere between both struggle and ideals, the feminine and the feminist? www.youtube.com/watch?v=f3xnxo9iVF8
Symposium: Feminism, Religion and Women’s Rights, 13 March 2014 The following speakers, chaired by Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Institutional Affairs Professor Jeremy Sanders, examined women’s rights as a litmus test for democracy, and explored the role of art and literature in redefining women’s rights: Haifa Zangana (author); Elif Shafak (novelist); Razia Iqbal (BBC World Service); Professors Ash Amin and Jude Browne (Cambridge). www.youtube.com/watch?v=6HxQrX0DZCM Previous page: A Hopeful Prayer on the Night of Power © Senna Ahmad
Mona Siddiqui joined the University of Edinburgh’s Divinity school in 2011 as the first Muslim chair in Islamic and Interreligious Studies. Her research is primarily in the field of Islamic jurisprudence and Christian-Muslim relations. Amongst her many publications are Christians, Muslims and Jesus; The Good Muslim: Reflections on Classical Islamic Law and Theology; The Routledge Reader in Christian-Muslim Relations, and How to read the Qur’an. She has just completed a book recounting her own personal theological journey. In her public work, recognised in 2011 by the award of an OBE, Professor Siddiqui engages on issues of faith and ethics in society as a well known public intellectual. She is a regular commentator in print and broadcasting, a frequent contributor to Radio 4’s Thought for the Day , and she chairs the BBC’s Religious Advisory Committee.
Professor Siddiqui’s eloquent series of lectures generated a remarkable conversation about Islamic feminism that took this topic far beyond the often hackneyed and xenophobic debates about the veil. Indeed what was proven to have been obscured by the relentless focus on Muslim women’s clothing are the brilliant insights of contemporary Islamic feminists and their interlocutors in both Muslim and non-Muslim communities around the globe. Professor Sarah Franklin Humanitas Women’s Rights Committee
The Humanitas Chair in Women’s Rights is made possible by the generous support of Mrs Carol Saper.
In this unforgettable series, culminating in an extraordinary performance of Bach’s The Art of Fugue, Angela Hewitt demonstrated why Glenn Gould said, of the final fugue in this work: “There’s nothing more beautiful in all of music.”
Angela Hewitt Humanitas Visiting Professor in Chamber Music, 2013/14 The Art of Bach Lecture-Recital: Interpreting Bach on the Piano, 24 April 2014 Even accomplished performers can struggle to fathom the meaning of notation. Bach’s poses special challenges, not only as some of it is no longer comprehensible but because many of the performance conventions of the day were omitted, as they were simply assumed. In this illustrated lecture, Angela Hewitt explored the possibilities and pitfalls when playing Bach on the modern piano. Masterclass, 25 April 2014 In this animated four-hour session, Angela Hewitt worked with talented student musicians on solo and ensemble repertoire. Cellist Joel Sanderson and pianist Naomi Woo played Franck’s Sonata in A major for Violin and Piano (arranged for the cello). Cameron Richardson-Eames performed Liszt’s Dante Sonata. Katherine Lee, Ghislaine McMullin and Johnson Hok Kiu performed Ravel’s Piano Trio in A minor, and the first movement of Beethoven’s ‘Ghost’ trio. www.crassh.cam.ac.uk/events/25461
Symposium: The Art of Fugue, J S Bach, 28 April 2014 Angela Hewitt’s discussion with eminent Bach expert, Professor John Butt of the University of Glasgow, illuminated this work and made it more accessible. Demonstrations at the keyboarded helped to reveal the inner beauties of a work composed with systematic rigour.
One of the world’s leading pianists, Angela Hewitt OBE regularly appears in recital and with major orchestras internationally. Her performances and recordings of Bach have drawn particular praise, marking her out as one of the composer’s foremost interpreters of our time. Ms Hewitt has recently performed with orchestras including the Cleveland, Toronto Symphony, Philharmonia, Oslo Philharmonic and Orpheus Chamber Orchestra at Carnegie Hall. She has appeared with the Finnish Radio Symphony, London Philharmonic, the BBC National Orchestra of Wales, Brussels Philharmonic, Sydney Symphony, RAI Torino, Orquestra Sinfônica Brasileira, and BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra at the BBC Proms. Ms Hewitt has also returned to the Verbier Festival. Her award-winning recordings for Hyperion have garnered praise from around the world. Her ten-year project to record all the major keyboard works of Bach has been described as “one of the record glories of our age” (Sunday Times) and has won her a huge following. She has been hailed as “the pre-eminent Bach pianist of our time” (Guardian) and “the pianist who will define Bach performance on the piano for years to come” (Stereophile).
Concert: The Art of Fugue, J S Bach, 29 April 2014 Composed during the last years of his life, Bach’s The Art of Fugue is rarely performed, deemed too demanding or austere. Many musicologists maintain that this work was composed purely as a theoretical exercise. Angela Hewitt dispelled this view, and at the end of her thoughtful performance, the audience sat in deep silence after the final notes had sounded. It ends on an abruptly interrupted cadence: Bach never completed the work. After an extended pause, Ms Hewitt played a chorale-prelude thought to have been dictated by Bach on his deathbed, transcribed by his son Carl Philipp Emmanuel. Ms Hewitt thanked the audience after the performance and via Twitter for its profound attentiveness.
Angela Hewitt’s teaching of Liszt’s Dante Sonata – complete with superb demonstrations at the keyboard and a blow-by-blow explanation of her own performance approach – was one of the most inspired and artistically well-reasoned displays I have ever witnessed. It shows so well not only what lies behind musical performance but how complex matters to do with making music can be clearly and elegantly articulated. John Rink, Professor of Musical Performance Studies Humanitas Chamber Music Committee
Previous page: Angela Hewitt © Lorenzo Dogana
The Humanitas Chair in Chamber Music is made possible by the generous support of Mr Lawrence Saper.
How has Chinese literature adapted to and reflected the massive changes that China has undergone over the 20th and 21st centuries – and yet remained, essentially, Chinese? In May, Cambridge welcomed one of the world’s best-placed people to address this question.
DAVID DER-WEI WANG
“The unpredictable power of literature is what I am fighting for, and what I am trying to define.” David Der-wei Wang
David Der-wei Wang Humanitas Visiting Professor in Chinese Studies, 2013/14 The Chineseness of Chinese Literature Lecture 1: From Mara Poet to Nobel Laureate: On Modern Chinese Literary Culture, 13 May 2014 In 1908, Lu Xun introduced the figure of the Mara Poet as a modern agent to ‘pluck’ one’s heart and transform China. This Mara Poet then underwent many incarnations, from romantic iconoclast to revolutionary fighter to Maoist Cadre. Meanwhile, since the 1920s, Chinese literary culture has been preoccupied by another figure, Alfred Nobel, as the country strived to catch up with world literature. But when Gao Xingjian and Mo Yan were awarded Nobel Prizes in the new millennium, it produced more questions than answers as to the meaning and function of Chinese literature. www.youtube.com/watch?v=NtgYJnj-XWI
Lecture 2: The Lyrical in Epic Time: On Modern Chinese Literary Thought, 15 May 2014 The talk introduces the lyrical in epic time as an exemplary case of modern Chinese literary thought. In particular, it features the engagements undertaken by intellectuals such as Shen Congwen, Chen Shixiang and Jaroslav Prušek in the mid-20th century, a time often regarded as the ‘epic’. www.youtube.com/watch?v=wwvBoBdLUzk
Lecture 3: Sailing to the Sinphone World: On Modern Chinese Literary Cartography, 20 May 2014 Sinophone Studies—the study of Sinitic-language cultures born of postcolonial and postsocialist influences—has represented a forceful intervention with Chinese Studies since the turn of the millennium. This talk seeks to examine recent developments in Sinphone Studies, and its geopolitical implications. www.youtube.com/watch?v=2F5ZdEyMgA8
Symposium: The Chineseness of Chinese Litereature, 21 May 2014 With Professors Qian Jun (Newcastle), Michel Hockx (SOAS), Hans van de Ven (Cambridge), and Drs Julia Lovell (Birkbeck) and Susan Daruvala (Cambridge). Previous page: Xu Bing’s ‘Magic Carpet’ installation at Taipei Fine Arts Museum 2014 © Xu Bing and Taipei Fine Arts Museum
David Der-wei Wang is Edward C Henderson Professor in Chinese Literature at Harvard University, Director of CCK Foundation Inter-University Center for Sinological Studies, and Academician, Academia Senica. He specialises in contemporary and modern Chinese literature, late Qing literature and comparative literary theory. Wang’s English books include Fin-de-siècle Splendor: Repressed Mondernities of Late Qing Fiction, 1849-1911, and The Monster That Is History: Violence, History, and Fictional Writing in 20th Century China. His Chinese books include From Liu E to Wang Zhenhe: Modern Chinese Realist Fiction; Heteroglossia: Chinese Fiction of the 30s and the 80s; Reading Contemporary Chinese Fiction; Narrating China; The Making of the Modern, the Making of A Literature; Methods of Imagining China; Into the Millennium: 20 Contemporary Chinese Fiction Writers; The Monster That Is History ; Post-Loyalist Writing; Mao Dun, Lao She, Shen Congwen: Fictional Realism in 20th Century China; and Modern Chinese Lyrical Tradition: Four Essays.
David showed that Chinese authors have struggled with three great dilemmas: in the first third of the 20th century the question of how to create a modern vernacular fit for the tasks they set for it: the destruction of a despised old order and the creation of something better; then how to live with the rise of an overwhelmingly powerful revolutionary party and yet remain true to a sense of literary value; and finally, after China’s re-opening to the West, the creation of a literature whose value was recognised around the world. David demonstrated that despite the many changes and foreign influences, what made Chinese literature Chinese was its continuing connections with China’s literary and culture traditions: a post-revolutionary view for the China of today. Hans van de Ven, Professor of Modern Chinese History Humanitas Chinese Studies Committee
The Humanitas Chair in Chinese Studies is made possible by the generous support of Sir Ronald Tang.
We look forward to a superb Humanitas series in 2014/15. www.crassh.cam.ac.uk