Activism has existed in all societies and its torchbearers have ranged from common people to social or political activists to writers and artists. In authoritarian societies such as the former Soviet Union and Eastern European countries, as well as in China, where the scope for social and political activism is extremely limited, literature has often served as an ideal tool for expressing concerns of the common people. This presentation will explore the literary activism (文学行动主义, wénxué xíngdòng zhǔyì) of two Chinese writers in the post-Mao period, namely Wang Anyi and Wang Shuo, mainly in two areas, i.e., ‘class’ and ‘gender’. The speaker would also take an overview of their works through the 1980s and 1990s to look for other concerns, such as traditions, social morality and parental authority. These new literary trends signal towards a broadening space of creativity/activism and both writers have explored new concerns within their respective dominant trends, sometimes even with changing parameters. The space and concerns of literary creativity and activism are much more fragmented in nature in the 1980s and 1990s, than in the Mao’s period. Their works highlight the multiplicity of spaces from which Wang Anyi and Wang Shuo are engaging with complex issues of the contemporary Chinese society.
About the Speaker
Manju Rani Hara is an Associate Professor in the Centre for Chinese and South East Asian Studies, School of Language, Literature and Culture Studies, Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi. Her doctoral thesis was on Literary Activism in China in the 1980s and 1990s: A Case Study of Wang Anyi and Wang Shuo. Her research interests are modern and contemporary Chinese literature, Chinese society and culture, gender relations and Chinese media.
About the Chair
Avijit Banerjee is Professor in Chinese and Head of the Department of Chinese Language and Culture (Cheena Bhavana), Visva-Bharati University. Dr. Banerjee completed Ph.D. in Chinese Language and Literature from Visva-Bharati. He studied in China at Beijing Language University during 1996-97 under the India-China Bilateral Cultural Exchange Programme. Dr. Banerjee has authored many articles and chapters in several volumes and co-edited two books titled India in the Eyes of the Chinese Youth in April 2016 and China Through the Eyes of Indian Youths in 2017. Dr. Banerjee’s research interest includes Chinese language and India-China cultural studies. He has attended and presented papers in many national and international conferences. Dr. Banerjee has most recently translated a book, titled Doctor and Internationalist Dwarkanath Kotnis: A Memorial Volume from Bengali into Chinese.
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