The Forschungskolleg Humanwissenschaften: Events
Thursday, 24 November 2022, 18:00
Forschungskolleg Humanwissenschaften of Goethe University Frankfurt am Main
Lecture series »Sinophone Classicism« | hybrid format
Howard Chiang (University of California, Davis)»Castration Redux: A Genealogy of Sinophone Transtopia«
Registration and participation
Participation on spot
Venue: Forschungskolleg Humanwissenschaften, Am Wingertsberg 4, 61348 Bad Homburg
Please register before 21 November:
Participation via Zoom
For the Zoom registration link, please click
About the lecture
This lecture treats castration as a historical problem that holds promise for bridging scholarly fields and paradigms. Rather than an insistence on the struggle over language, sound, and script as chief concerns, I coin the notion of intercorporeal governance to refer to an apparatus in which the grounds of tactical convergence and contestation assume urgency across scales of bodily signification. The body thus emerges as a vector in mediating the work of history in contemporary visual culture. A transpacific database—ranging from Tsui Hark’s martial arts films to David Cronenberg’s M. Butterfly (1993)—helps to conceptualize transtopia as a new analytic. In Sinophone cinema, martial arts prowess often denotes a crucial marker of the resulting embodiment of castration, a specific typological technique employed to distinguish the gender liminality of eunuchs from China’s dynastic past. A medium- and corporeal-based reading of these otherwise unrelated films loosens representational claims about China from earnest ties to Sinitic languages, scripts, or texts; makes room for multi- and extra-linguistic comparisons across shifting parameters of translation; and strategically aligns Chinese culture with the fulcrum of transnational Sinophone critique.
About the speaker
Howard Chiang is Associate Professor of History at the University of California, Davis. He is the author of After Eunuchs: Science, Medicine, and the Transformation of Sex in Modern China (Columbia, 2018), which received the International Convention of Asia Scholas Humanities Book Prize, and Transtopia in the Sinophone Pacific (Columbia, 2021), a Lambda Literary Award Finalist. Both books won the Bonnie and Vern L. Bullough Book Award from the Society for the Scientific Study of Sexuality. He is the Editor-in-Chief of The Global Encyclopedia of LGBTQ History (Gale, 2019), which was awarded the 2020 Dartmouth Medal by the American Library Association. Between 2019 and 2022, he served as the Founding Chair of the Society of Sinophone Studies.
About the lecture series
In recent years, literary and cultural works that evoke the cultural memories of classical Chinese traditions are gaining popularity in the global Sinitic-languages space and cyberspace. From literary to visual culture, from pop music to fashion, from state policies to daily rituals, these classicist articulations present Chineseness as complicated, multifaceted, multilingual, and cross-cultural. They raise important questions on the relevance of Chinese traditions today to China, to global Chinese communities, and to a future of »world literature«—as Goethe envisioned it nearly two centuries ago. In this multiannual lecture series, prominent scholars, writers, and artists will present fascinating case studies from their research or draw upon their aesthetic practices to elaborate on their understanding on these important questions. Such investigations demonstrate the abundant aesthetic and intellectual resources that the vast repertoire of Chinese cultural memories may provide to engage in a dialogue on the present and future of a global culture.
Concept of the lecture series: Zhiyi Yang, Professor of Sinology, Goethe University Frankfurt am Main and Goethe Fellow at the Forschungskolleg Humanwissenschaften