MRI Forum 53

"Global Modernity and Linguistic Universality:
Invention of the Modern Chinese Language"


by Tong Qing Sheng

and the book launch of
Belief, History and the Individual in Modern Chinese Literary Culture
by Artur Wardega

12 October 2009


Summary of the Presentation

What constitutes the historical experience of modernity in the domain of knowledge production? Is it possible to conceive Chinese modernity as independent of global modernity? Why is linguistic modernity understood to be a necessary condition of social modernity in China? With these questions in mind, this paper reviews the universal language movement in early modern Europe, discusses the historical and discursive continuities between it and China’s efforts to reform its language, and argues that the May Fourth language reform movement should be understood as the practice of a historical understanding of intellectual modernity that first emerged in Europe in the early modern period.

More on the Book

A value system in constant change; a longing for stability amid uncertainties about the future; a new consciousness about the unlimited challenges and aspirations in modern life: these are themes in modern Chinese literature that attract the attention of overseas readers as well as its domestic audience. They also provide Chinese and foreign literary researchers with complex questions about human life and achievements that search beyond national identities for global interaction and exchange. This volume presents ten outstanding essays by Chinese and European scholars who have undertaken such exchange for the purpose of examining the individual and society in modern Chinese literature.

Profile of the Speaker

童庆生 Tong Qing Sheng teaches in the School of English at University of Hong Kong. His research interests include critical theory, world literature, and theories of modernity. His current research is focused on the British reception of China as a country and cultural phenomenon. He is the founding co-editor of Critical Zone: A Forum of Chinese and Western Knowledge and an editorial member of several international journals.

Profile of the Editor

Artur K. Wardega, S.J. 万德化 is Director of the Macau Ricci Institute in Macau, China and specializes in 20th century Chinese and French literatures. He has written several articles published in 神州交流 Chinese Cross Currents and in scholarly journals in China and abroad. His recent publications in Chinese include a trilingual book entitled The technique of mise en abyme as employed in André Gide’s The Counterfeiters (Central Compilation & Translation Press, Beijing, 2007) and French translation of the novel 笠山农场 Li Shan Nongchang by 钟理和 Zhong Lihe (1915-1960), under the title La Ferme du Mont Li (Artois Presses Université, Arras, 2009).