Papers on Modern Literature IV

Poetry
Wednesday
11:00 am – 12:45 pm
Room E

  • Gary Chi Chung Tsang, “A Study on the Hermeneutics and Annotation of ci Poetry in Republican China (1911–1949)”
  • Wai Tsui, “Using Classical Styles for New Experiences: A Study of Liao Entao’s 廖恩燾 (1864–1954) Overseas Poetry”
  • Chin Fung Ng, “Zhang Ruzhao (1900–1969) and Her Buddhist Lifestyle of ‘Agricultural Chan’”
  • Robert Tsaturyan, “A Study on the Question of ‘Trauma’ in Modern Chinese Poetry: Hu Feng and the Birth of Trauma Theory”
  • Yulia Dreyzis, “The Speech/Writing Dichotomy: Contemporary Topolect Poetry in the Sinophone World”

Gary Chi Chung Tsang, “A Study on the Hermeneutics and Annotation of ci Poetry in Republican China (1911–1949)”

Apart from publishing original texts, annotation is an important way for the propagation of classical literature in Republican China. The development of ci annotations had been thriving with a rapid increase in number in Republican China. These ci annotations not only help readers understand the texts through studying semantic, explanation of writing background, and appreciation of writing skills, some annotators may have infiltrated their thoughts of ci in their annotation works, which may have turned annotation into a form of hermeneutics. This may seem as a phenomena of inherence and transformation of theory of jituoshuo 寄託說 from Changzhou School. Jituoshuo is always an important topic in ci study, since it was proposed by the Changzhou School 常州派 in Qing Dynasty. One of the great impacts of jituoshuo in late Qing is encouraging ci writers to project their sadness and resentment towards politics in their ci compositions. However, when ci composition was less prevalent in Republican China (1911–1949), writers and scholars tried to imply their inherence and transformation of theory of jituoshuo in their ci annotation. This is a significance feature of ci study in Republican China that worth further investigation. This paper will examine and explore the relationship between ci annotation and hermeneutics, and the acceptance of the jituoshuo through study of difference ci annotation published in Republican China.

Wai Tsui, “Using Classical Styles for New Experiences: A Study of Liao Entao’s 廖恩燾 (1864–1954) Overseas Poetry”

A common critique of late Qing ci poetry is its “absence” in the so-called “literary revolution” that started in the late 19th century. Among all other genres, ci poetry appears to be particularly conservative in its forms, themes, imageries and language. Leaders of the new literary group, like Hu Shi, often criticised these ci poems being “limited in creativity” and “unrelated to the real world”. These comments continue to influence scholars of Chinese literature, assuming that ci has not evolved in an innovative manner facing the unique pressure of modernisation. The heavy borrowing of masterpieces in ci writing reinforces this general impression. The article will re-evaluate the ci poems involved and challenge this conclusion. The drastic change in political and social conditions from late Qing to the Republican era had inevitably affected the lives and thought of poets. Some poets even had the experience of travelling abroad. When expressing these new experiences, however, they chose a rather traditional form of literature, ci poetry. I focus on Liao Entao, a well-known poet and diplomat of Qing and Republic of China, who travelled extensively around South America, Japan, and Southeast Asia. He spent his final years in Hong Kong. The research argues that the persistence in using a traditional form is a strategy consciously adopted by the poet, in order to express complex feeling he encountered when experiencing something new. It will show how time-honoured tradition continued to influence and shape the modern literary field.

Chin Fung Ng, “Zhang Ruzhao (1900–1969) and Her Buddhist Lifestyle of ‘Agricultural Chan’”

The concept of “agricultural Chan” in Chinese Chan Buddhism can be traced back to medieval China. In premodern eras, many monastics followed the agricultural way of life of settling on mountains and to support themselves by farm labour. During the Republican period, such lifestyle was once again greatly advocated when Buddhism was under reform. Zhang Ruzhao (1900–1969) was one of the female monastics who responded to the reform and observed the practices of agricultural Chan. In the first half of her life, Zhang was not only a prominent poet but also an activist who has engaged in various political and feminist movements. But because of different personal and political disappointments, Zhang later decided to enter the Buddha’s world and eventually ordained as a nun. Not giving up literature even after turning to Buddhism, Zhang recorded her life through many literary writings such as poetry and prose. However, compared to other laywomen and nuns in the same period, far little attention has been paid to Zhang’s life and literature, not to mention her Buddhist practices and thoughts. In the light of this, this paper seeks to look into the idea of agricultural Chan Zhang adopted from the 1930s, the sources which inspired Zhang to put such lifestyle into practice, how she devoted her Buddhist life to the practice of agricultural Chan, and how such way of life was related to the Buddhist reform movement in modern China, by reviewing selected literary works, autobiographical accounts, and correspondence.

Robert Tsaturyan, “A Study on the Question of ‘Trauma’ in Modern Chinese Poetry: Hu Feng and the Birth of Trauma Theory”

In January 1945, Hu Feng 胡風 (1902–1985) published an article in the first issue of the magazine Xiwang 希望 (“Hope”) which he was editing during the War of Resistance Against Japan (1937–1945). The article, entitled Situating Ourselves In the Struggle for Democracy (Zhishen zai wei minzhu de douzheng limian 置身在為民主的鬥爭裡面), would later become a milestone for the discussion of “trauma” (chuangshang 創傷) in Chinese literary circles.
In this paper, I address the birth and discussion of the concept of “trauma” in the scope of Chinese literary-theoretical writings, its cultural, historical, and political manifestations in literary forms—namely poetry. On the examples of Hu’s poetry and poetry translation practices, I show that the symbolic use of poetic texts for national salvation, in line with his views on the centrality of the writer’s subjectivity and individuality, is unique to his practice of literature.
The research aims at establishing a foundation for poetry-based trauma studies in modern Chinese literature, in anticipation of the coming human-made disasters of the second half of the twentieth century, while making distinctions between the apocalyptic war-time poetry of Hu, the later menglong poetry of the generation that experienced the Cultural Revolution, and the ‘poetry of silence,’ as a response to the Tiananmen incident of 1989.
As the title of Hu’s most apocalyptic poem says, “Time has begun!” For the poet, it was the paradoxical time of both victorious resistance and defeat.

Yulia Dreyzis, “The Speech/Writing Dichotomy: Contemporary Topolect Poetry in the Sinophone World”

The focus of the paper is the correlation between the “phonic” and the “graphic” components in contemporary poetic texts, as represented by the case of Chinese dialect/topolect poetry produced in mainland China, Hong Kong and Taiwan. While the earliest poetic oeuvre that make an extensive use of the dialect/topolect matter rely solely on Chinese logographic system, modern and contemporary poetry soon starts probing the possibilities of a combined lexicographic-phonetic writing. The many strategies in use present a projection of the actual practice of voicing the recorded texts, that is directly connected with the traditional recitation (dialect voicing of texts regardless of their original form) and the need to record dialect/ topolect words. Different methods of utilizing Chinese characters and phonetic alphabets reflect important shifts in recording poetry without a written tradition and a high degree of language reflection of its authors.

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Room E
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Poetry