Cultural Exchanges and Translations in Modern China

1900–1930
Thursday
11:00 am – 12:45 pm
Room D

  • Organised by Ting-Kit Kevin Yau
  • Man-Chi Lo, Chair
  • Ting-Kit Kevin Yau, “Translating Counter-Enlightenment into China: The Translations by Cai Yuan-pei in 1900–1917”
  • Man-Chi Lo, “The cultural exchange between China and Japan in the 1920s’ Shanghai— Centering the relationship of Tian Han and Uchiyama Kanzō”
  • Meng-Che Tsai, “Liberty, Equality, Homosexuality: Discourses on Sexuality and Transculturality of Anarchism in China between 1910 and 1930”
  • Dong Shao, “The Confession of ‘Self-cleansing’: The Translation Strategies of Liu Ban-nong during Literary Revolution of 1917”

Cultural exchanges and translations, for early 20th-century Chinese intellectuals, became a promising enterprise to rethink and reform their society. Concerning the formation of modern China, recent research continues to investigate the international relations of China. Scholars not only contextualise modern Chinese culture in the ever-changing world but also emphasise Chinese intellectuals’ subjectivity against their historical backgrounds and societal structures. In this spirit, drawing upon extensive research resources from Japan, Germany, America, Russia, among others, this panel explores cultural exchanges and translations from various dimensions, including cosmopolitanism, counter-enlightenment thoughts, anarchism, and homosexuality, as well as the role of modern Chinese intellectuals. The first paper, by LO Man-chi, examines an interrelationship of Tian Han, Uchiyama Kanzō and Shanghai with newly excavated materials, in which an East Asian cosmopolitanism had flourished in the 1920s. Then YAU Ting-kit Kevin discusses how Cai Yuan-pei, through purposeful translations from Japanese and German in 1900-17, brought Counter-Enlightenment Movements to China. Following this is TSAI Meng-che’s paper, which traces the discourses of homosexuality in 1910-30. Tsai analyses how Ba-Jin and Jian-Bo introduced Emma Goldman’s articles from the United States and raised sexuality issues from a perspective of anarchism. Finally, SHAO Dong draws attention to the translation strategies “self-cleansing” proposed by Liu Ban-nong in 1917, showing the tension Liu experienced from a Shanghai journalist-literati to a Beijing literary intellectual and reviewing the issue of paradigm transition with Pierre Bourdieu’s ‘field and habitus”‘framework.

Ting-Kit Kevin Yau, “Translating Counter-Enlightenment into China: The Translations by Cai Yuan-pei in 1900–1917”

Inspired by Peng Hsiao-yen’s latest academic work Dialectics between Affect and Reason: The May-fourth Counter-Enlightenment (2019), the paper contributes in revealing the intention of Cai Yuan-pei in his translations between 1900 to 1917. In this period, he translated various thoughts from Japan to Germany, including Essentials of Philosophy by Russian-German philosopher Raphael von Koeber (1848–1923), Lectures on Mystery Studies by the Japanese “Doctor Specter” Inoue Enryō(1858–1919) and Principles of Ethics by German Neo-Kantian philosopher Friedrich Paulsen (1846–1908). Under the reorganisation of the thoughts in these works, the paper suggests that the dialectics between Affect and Reason, one of the essentials in western enlightenment and counter-enlightenment movement, came into Cai’s vision and participated in the development of Chinese modern culture. By tracing the above works, the presentation also contextualises the formation of Cai’s idea of “Replacing Religion by Aesthetic Education”.

Man-Chi Lo, “The cultural exchange between China and Japan in the 1920s’ Shanghai—Centering the relationship of Tian Han and Uchiyama Kanzō

Throughout modern history, China had frequent cultural exchanges with its immediate neighbour Japan. Previous studies either focused on the impact of Japanese literature on Chinese literature, or on the sojourn of Chinese students studying in Japan, but less attention has been paid to the history of the real cultural exchanges between the two countries taken place in China. This paper focuses on the interrelationship of Tian Han (1898–1968), Uchiyama Kanzō (1885–1959) and Shanghai, as three of them all played the important role of cultural intermediary and embodied the spirit of cosmopolitanism in the East Asia in the 1920s. Tian Han is renowned as the lyricist of the national anthem of the PRC and the founder of modern Chinese drama, while Uchiyama Kanzō is renowned as the closest Japanese friend of Lu Xun. However, their important role in Sino-Nippon cultural exchange and close relationship has been rarely discussed. Apart from the literary works, the discussion of this paper is also supported by newly excavated first-hand historical materials such as diaries, newspapers, and photographs, which have also been relatively neglected in the current study of modern Chinese literature. Not only does this paper supplement important biographical information of Tian Han and Uchiyama Kanzō, but it also opens a new discussion on their cultural contribution, as well as provides a re-understanding of the literary scene and cultural milieu of Shanghai in the 1920s.

Meng-Che Tsai, “Liberty, Equality, Homosexuality: Discourses on Sexuality and Transculturality of Anarchism in China between 1910 and 1930”

Anarchism, one of the modernisation agendas for state transformation and social reorganisation, was introduced by intellectuals in the early twentieth century when China underwent transformation. Intellectuals such as Ba-Jin(1904–2005) and Jian-Bo(1904–1991) translated works on anarchism from Europe, Japan, and Russia. Among these anarchist thoughts, the works of Emma Goldman(1869–1940) were particularly influential. Based on anarchism, they proposed a new imaginary of future: an utopia that eradicates governmental organisations and emphasises individual liberation as well as equality. Beyond the political arenas, they foregrounded the importance of cultural reform and advocated for women and sexual emancipation by criticising the system of private property and power oppression. Their discursive practices and new lifestyle experiments responded to the traditions of intimacy, marriage, and family. By tracing discourses of homosexuality, this article examines how Jian-Bo and other anarchists re-conceptualised gender and sexuality based on the anarchist understanding of freedom and equality.

Dong Shao, “The Confession of ‘Self-cleansing’: The Translation Strategies of Liu Ban-nong during Literary Revolution of 1917

Liu Ban-nong(1891–1934), known as a radical New Literature initiator during the literary revolution of 1917, started his literary career as a popular writer contributing to commercial journals published in Shanghai in the early 1910s. He was a writer with some repute for leisure stories and the translation of Sherlock Holmes until 1916. Once he was invited to be the editor and writer of New Youth in Beijing in the middle of 1917, a tremendous transformation had taken place in his self-identity. In the progress which he called was ‘Self-cleansing’, he severed the ties with the Shanghai scene and criticised the literary style he had just discarded. Given New Literature writers are often seen as a community with solid enlightenment background and radical political position, the case of Liu Ban-nong stood as a unique one for his transition from a Shanghai journalist-literati into a Beijing literary intellectual, which revealed the tension between two competing literary styles. In the progress of the Literary Revolution, like the readers of New Youth, Liu himself underwent great changes and enlightenment by his peers. The translation strategies of him served as one perfect example of his ‘Self-cleansing’. By comparison between his translation works from different periods, this paper intended to illustrate the effacement and reenactment of strategies and agency of his previous Shanghai styles. The paper also situated the paradigm transition on the “Field and habitus”—an analytic framework proposed by Pierre Bourdieu to understand his pursuits of a modern intellectual.

Event Timeslots (1)

Room D
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1900–1930