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Society for Intercultural Studies

Call for Papers

Authenticities East and West
March 30 - April 1, 2001


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The Society for Intercultural Comparative Studies is a newly formed organization that seeks to foster the growing community of scholars in the field of cultural criticism by providing an on-going and open forum for discussion. One of the Society’s first projects is the graduate symposium "Authencities East and West," to take place March 30 — April 1, 2001, at Princeton University. At this conference, Rey Chow, Karatani Kôjin, and Robert Wardy will conduct workshops in their areas of expertise. Brown’s Rey Chow, a cultural theorist on modern China, the author most recently of Ethics After Idealism, will be giving a workshop titled "Asymmetry, Appropriation, Authenticity: Persistent Problematics in East-West Comparative Studies." The complementary event, "Inauthenticity: Some Examples," will be conducted by Robert Wardy, a Cambridge Hellenist who recently published Aristotle in China: Language, Categories and Translation. Finally, Karatani Kôjin, arguably the most influential literary critic in Japan in the past twenty years whose latest work in English is Architecture as Metaphor, will lead a workshop on "Transcritique: Kant and Marx."

Common to much critical practice, notions of authenticity underlie various units of study such as events, texts, and identities. To compare cultures with no benefit of historical influence, the scholar must examine assumptions of what is authentic from various angles: from its root meaning of authority to representations of origins and authorship through metaphysical ideas of truth. What constitutes an authentic text, event, genre, subject, or author in disparate traditions? To whom is this authenticity important? Are authenticities important at all? What do authenticities mean in relation to accounts of historical moments across cultures? How do authenticities relate to the material and ideological implications of "different" cultural products? What practical and theoretical difficulties for the comparatist arise in writing and reading authenticities? These important issues are at the heart of our conference.

We invite papers from both graduate students and recent post-doctoral scholars from all fields of humanities, ancient or modern. Papers may engage with literary, cultural, political, and historical topics and issues. The first restriction, however, is that they must address one Western culture (of European tradition) and one East Asian culture (of Chinese, Japanese, or Korean traditions). Second, we will exclude problems of reception or influence (that is, direct connections between two cultures).  

Papers submitted should deal EITHER (1) with theoretical issues of comparison, OR (2) with a comparative study of specific works that will provide insight to such theoretical issues.

Some examples of potential areas of inquiry include, but are not limited to:

        What constitutes authenticity in differing traditions at different moments? What constitutes authenticity for the comparatist?

        What, if any, are viable units of comparison? Genre, period, media, socio-political events, technology? Can one apply the problematics of one literary tradition or one culture to analyze another?

        Why is such comparison necessary? What does comparison achieve, with respect to, for instance, the politics of comparison, or the relation of subject to object?

        Does the nature of historically and culturally unconnected comparison differ from other kinds of comparison? If so, how and what are the implications? What is the role of the comparatist in creating this comparison?

        How will East-West comparison not based on historical connections be useful to other comparative and non-comparative studies?

Each paper will be allocated 20 minutes for delivery with generous time for discussion, which designated respondents will initiate. We will offer a travel fellowship to encourage international papers or papers from distant institutions from the West Coast or Hawaii.

Abstracts of 500 words or two pages may be submitted by January 31, online at:

or  or by mail to:

Society for Intercultural Comparative Studies
Attn: Authenticities East and West
318 East Pyne
Princeton University
Princeton, NJ  08544

All comparison-minded scholars and students are invited to join the Society for Intercultural Comparative Studies. Please consult the website in progress for more information:

All questions and comments to the organizers of the Society, Jonathan Abel, Shion Kono, and Kevin Tsai at

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