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Premodern Chinese Texts in Western Translation
Volume Editors: Leo Tak-hung Chan and Zong-qi Cai
This collected volume focuses on the history of Western translation of premodern Chinese texts from the seventeenth to the twentieth century. Divided into three parts, individual chapters feature close readings of translated texts, micro-studies of how three translations came into being, and broad-based surveys that inquire into the causes of historical change. Among the specific questions addressed are: What stylistic, generic, and discursive permutations were undergone by Chinese texts as they crossed linguistic borders? Who were the main agents in this centuries-long effort to transmit Chinese culture? How did readership considerations affect the form that particular translations take? More generally, there is a concern with the relevance of current research paradigms, like those of World Literature, transcultural reception, and the rewriting of translation history.
Volume Editors: Zong-qi Cai and Stephen Roddy
During much of China’s tumultuous 20th century, May 4th and Maoist iconoclasts regarded their classical literary heritage as a burden to be dislodged in the quest for modernization. This volume demonstrates how the traditions that had deeply impressed earlier generations of Western writers like Goethe and Voltaire did not lose their lustre; to the contrary, a fascination with these past riches sprouted with renewed vigour among Euro-American poets, novelists, and other cultural figures after the fall of imperial China in 1911. From Petrograd to Paris, and from São Paolo to San Francisco, China’s premodern poetry, theatre, essays, and fiction inspired numerous prominent writers and intellectuals. The contributors survey the fruits of this engagement in multiple Western languages and nations.
Translation, Reception, and Comparison
Volume Editors: Thomas J. Sienkewicz and Jinyu Liu
Ovid in China offers a fresh look at an ancient Roman author in a Chinese context and often from a Chinese perspective. The seventeen essays in this volume, by a group of international scholars, examine Ovid’s interaction with China in a broad historical context, including the arrival of Christian missionaries in 1294, the depiction of Ovidian scenes on 18th-century Chinese porcelain, the growing Chinese interest in Ovid in the early 20th century, a 21st-century collaborative project to translate Ovid’s poetry into Chinese with commentary, and comparative studies on such themes as conceptualization of time, consolation, laughter, filicide, and revenge.
Rupture and Continuity in Modern Chinese Detective Fiction (1896–1949)
Author: Yan Wei
In Detecting Chinese Modernities: Rupture and Continuity in Modern Chinese Detective Fiction (1896–1949), Yan Wei historicizes the two stages in the development of Chinese detective fiction and discusses the rupture and continuity in the cultural transactions, mediation, and appropriation that occurred when the genre of detective fiction traveled to China during the first half of the twentieth century. Wei identifies two divergent, or even opposite strategies for appropriating Western detective fiction during the late Qing and the Republican periods. She further argues that these two periods in the domestication of detective fiction were also connected by shared emotions. Both periods expressed ambivalent and sometimes contradictory views regarding Chinese tradition and Western modernity.
Read an interview with Karen Thornber.

In Global Healing: Literature, Advocacy, Care, Karen Laura Thornber analyzes how narratives from diverse communities globally engage with a broad variety of diseases and other serious health conditions and advocate for empathic, compassionate, and respectful care that facilitates healing and enables wellbeing.

The three parts of this book discuss writings from Africa, the Americas, Asia, Europe, the Middle East, and Oceania that implore societies to shatter the devastating social stigmas which prevent billions from accessing effective care; to increase the availability of quality person-focused healthcare; and to prioritize partnerships that facilitate healing and enable wellbeing for both patients and loved ones.

Thornber’s Global Healing remaps the contours of comparative literature, world literature, the medical humanities, and the health humanities.

Watch a video interview with Thornber by the Mahindra Humanities Center, part of their conversations on Covid-19.

Read an interview with Thornber on Brill's Humanities Matter blog.
Poetry, Translation, Chineseness
Author: Lucas Klein
What makes a Chinese poem “Chinese”? Some call modern Chinese poetry insufficiently Chinese, saying it is so influenced by foreign texts that it has lost the essence of Chinese culture as known in premodern poetry. Yet that argument overlooks how premodern regulated verse was itself created in imitation of foreign poetics. Looking at Bian Zhilin and Yang Lian in the twentieth century alongside medieval Chinese poets such as Wang Wei, Du Fu, and Li Shangyin, The Organization of Distance applies the notions of foreignization and nativization to Chinese poetry to argue that the impression of poetic Chineseness has long been a product of translation, from forces both abroad and in the past.

Perspectives on Contemporary Chinese-language Film Remakes
Author: Sarah Woodland
In Remaking Gender and the Family, Sarah Woodland examines the complexities of Chinese-language cinematic remakes. With a particular focus on how changes in representations of gender and the family between two versions of the same film connect with perceived socio-cultural, political and cinematic values within Chinese society, Woodland explores how source texts are reshaped for their new audiences. In this book, she conducts a comparative analysis of two pairs of intercultural and two pairs of intracultural films, each chapter highlighting a different dimension of remakes, and illustrating how changes in gender representations can highlight not just differences in attitudes towards gender across cultures, but also broader concerns relating to culture, genre, auteurism, politics and temporality.
In Narratives of Kingship in Eurasian Empires, 1300-1800 Richard van Leeuwen analyses representations and constructions of the idea of kingship in fictional texts of various genres, especially belonging to the intermediate layer between popular and official literature. The analysis shows how ideologies of power are embedded in the literary and cultural imagination of societies, their cultural values and conceptualizations of authority. By referring to examples from various empires (Chinese, Indian, Persian, Arabic, Turkish, European) the parallels between literary traditions are laid bare, revealing remarkable common concerns. The process of interaction and transmission are highlighted to illustrate how literature served as a repository for ideological and cultural values transforming power into authority in various imperial environments.
Author: David J. Gundry
The first monograph published in English on Ihara Saikaku’s fiction, David J. Gundry’s lucid, compelling study examines the tension reflected in key works by Edo-period Japan’s leading writer of ‘floating world’ literature between the official societal hierarchy dictated by the Tokugawa shogunate’s hereditary status-group system and the era’s de facto, fluid, wealth-based social hierarchy. The book’s nuanced, theoretically engaged explorations of Saikaku’s narratives’ uses of irony and parody demonstrate how these often function to undermine their own narrators' intermittent moralizing. Gundry also analyzes these texts’ depiction of the fleeting pleasures of love, sex, wealth and consumerism as Buddhistic object lessons in the illusory nature of phenomenal reality, the mastery of which leads to a sort of enlightenment.
Negotiating Identities and Modernity through Literature
Author: Pei-yin Lin
This book offers a thorough and thought-provoking study on the impact of Japanese colonialism on Taiwan’s literary production from the 1920s to 1945. It redresses the previous nationalist and Japan-centric interpretations of works from Taiwan’s Japanese period, and eschews a colonizer/colonized dichotomy. Through a highly sensitive textual analysis and contextual reading, this chronologically structured book paints a multi-layered picture of colonial Taiwan’s literature, particularly its multi-styled articulations of identities and diverse visions of modernity. By engaging critically with current scholarship, Lin has written with great sentiment the most complete history of the colonial Taiwanese literary development in English.