The Forschungskolleg Humanwissenschaften: Events
Thursday, 27 April 2023, 18:00
Forschungskolleg Humanwissenschaften of Goethe University Frankfurt am Main
Lecture series »Sinophone Classicism« | hybrid format
Mingwei Song (Wellesley College)»Archaeology and Futurology in Contemporary Sinophone Science Fiction«
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
Fei Dao compared the entire new generation of Chinese new wave science fiction writers to a »lonely hidden army«. It was an invisible army. Then, many years in the future, after this army has been lost to oblivion, »people will excavate some mysterious weapons from where the army was once hidden, but they will have no clue who invented the weapons or used them«. Incarnating science fiction as a »lonely hidden army« is a revealing way to characterize the genre’s invisibility in the literary field, and I take away from this allegory several implied meanings that are applicable to studies in Chinese science fiction, particularly regarding the representation of the invisible. What is invisible in contemporary times can only be revealed as the past in the future. Chinese science fiction has a deep temporal pattern that turns futurology into archaeology. But at the same time, the genre also rewrites the past, which is no longer what we can take for granted. This talk will focus on the poetics of classicism and futurism combined in contemporary Chinese science fiction. I will present case studies in Fei Dao’s own »Old Tales Retold« that turn familiar ancient stories into science fiction, Liu Cixin’s appropriation of classical poetry in his space saga concerning the conflict between poetry and physics, and Han Song’s subversion of the historical time in his nightmarish narratives about China’s past, present, and future.
About the speaker
Mingwei Song is the Chair and Professor of East Asian Languages and Cultures at Wellesley College. His research interests include modern Chinese literature, the Bildungsroman, science fiction, posthuman theories, and the Neo-Baroque aesthetics. He is the author of Young China: National Rejuvenation and the Bildungsroman, 1900-1959 (Harvard, 2015) and Fear of Seeing: A Poetics of Chinese Science Fiction (Columbia, 2023). He is the co-editor of The Reincarnated Giant: An Anthology of Twenty-First Century Chinese Science Fiction (Columbia, 2018). He currently serves as the President of the Association of Chinese and Comparative Literature.
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