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Contemporary Chinese Literature : Literary Practices, Genres and Canons

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Directors : Victor Vuilleumier (UPD), Shuang Xu (UPD)

Permanent Members : Stéphane Feuillas (UPD), Rainier Lanselle (UPD), Florence Zhang (UPD).
Collaborators : Yinde Zhang (Paris 3, Centre for comparative research, CERC).

This programme is concerned with the use of genres and literary canons in 20th century China and will focus on the following issues : relationship between critique, theory and literary practices, canonization of works, and the role of translation. It will be a reflection on the different literary genres and their development in terms of a contract in constant negotiation between the institutional norms and creative individualities. Classical China had its own categories of genres, but in the 20th century, formal categorization of genres is in part imported and westernized. The divisions between genres and the criteria defining them are not always clear-cut and tend to shift. How is the categorization of genres re-devised and how are the new boundaries defined ? Are they imposed and if so, for what reason ? How do the new genres relate to both traditional and imported categories ? Do new literary practices cause tangible interferences ? If so, what are their literary effects ? A related question is that of the appearance of modern, contemporary canons. On what basis is a text or an author recognized as worthy of interest by the critics, or, on the contrary, rejected ?

The project will focus on two main themes : « General Conceptions » (re-examination of established categories and genres) and « On the Boundaries of Genre » (study of the bridges between different genres : xiaoshuo, shige, xiju, sanwen). « Case Studies » (the study of works and authors : overflowing, transgressions, reinventions and the study of sub-genres, such as jishi wenxue, baogao wenxue, dagong wenxue, wangluo wenxue) will be included in both these lines of enquiry. We hope to extend our research to literary developments in Hong Kong (wuxia xiaoshuo for instance), Taiwan and the diaspora.

As part of the preliminary phase : 1) a one-day workshop on the theme of “Links between Imagery and Writing in Modern China” (in the context of genre practices in relation to other, extra-literary domains) was co-organized with Marie Laureillard (Lyon 2, IOA), in March ’12 (publication of the proceedings in 2015) and 2) an international conference on « Mo Yan (Nobel Prize in ’12) : « At the Junction between Local and Universal » held in October ’13 focusing on the emergence of a global literary canon in China, co-organized with Yinde Zhang (CERC) and Noël Dutrait (IrAsia) (publication of the proceedings : 2014)

Upcoming events :

2014-2015 : Workshops.
2016 : International Conference.
2017 : Publication.