The Forschungskolleg Humanwissenschaften: Events
Wednesday, 21 June 2023, 18:00
Forschungskolleg Humanwissenschaften of Goethe University
Lecture series »Sinophone Classicism« | hybrid format
Barbara Mittler (Heidelberg University)»›Do You Hear the People Sing?‹ – The Power of Silence, the ›Classic of Songs‹ and Traditions of Protest in China«
Registration and participation
Participation on spot
Venue: Forschungskolleg Humanwissenschaften, Am Wingertsberg 4, 61348 Bad Homburg
Participation via Zoom
For the Zoom registration link, please click
About the lecture
Lu Xun, one of the most important modern Chinese writers, once warned: »As long as you can still hear wailing, sighing, crying and begging, you should not be too worried. But confronted with cold silence, you must be careful: ... it is the harbinger of real anger«.
A composition by Chinese composer Shen Ye – written during the Omicron lockdown in Shanghai in spring of 2022, and entitled 人们，你们可听见? (Leute, könnt Ihr das hören?) – expresses this type of »real anger.« The title obviously plays with »Do you hear the people sing?« or, »À la Volonté du Peuple«, the song from Les Miserables which had become the main protest anthem in Hong Kong in 2019. In tracing the history of this reliance on song which occurs already in the conception of the old Classic of Songs, this lecture deals with the unbroken power of dangerously charged silence(s) and the powers of (silent) music as a means of protest in China's long history.
About the speaker
Barbara Mittler has been Professor of Sinology at Heidelberg University since 2004, where she co-founded the Cluster of Excellence »Asia and Europe in a Global Context« and, building on this, the Centre for Asian and Transcultural Studies (CATS). Her research focuses on Chinese cultural politics; she has worked on Chinese music, the early press, the Cultural Revolution, and image and text in the formation of cultural memory.
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