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Society for Intercultural Studies


Authenticities East and West
March 30 - April 1, 2001

The Princeton Graduate Symposium, "Authenticities East and West," is privileged to have four noted experts, Rey Chow, Karatani Kôjin, Robert Wardy, and Earl Miner, to speak at the conference. The first three will conduct workshops and participate in roundtable discussions. Their distinctive and diverse interests and specialties promise to bring in different, possibly even contradictory, but certainly exciting views on the practice of comparative literature. Rather than the usual formal presentation of papers, interactive workshops and roundtable discussions will promote the sort of intellectual exchange that a nascent field needs. We hope that these workshops will be the focal points of the conference where together everyone can explore key questions of East-West comparison and can critique the goals of the society. To best contribute their individual insights to the conference, participants are urged to prepare for the workshops by examining the reading list and handouts. At the conclusion of the conference, Earl Miner will give a speech to capture the spirit of East-West comparison and the dynamics of our conference. We hope his observations will help all participants create a vision for future intercultural comparative studies.

Though they will not run workshops at the conference, we are thankful to Professors Sandra Bermann, Thomas Hare, Richard Okada, and Andrew Plaks for taking up key roles in "Authenticities East and West."

The auditorium of Frist 302, formerly a science lecture hall, will be the location of the major events of the conference "Authenticities East and West."

FIRST WORKSHOP. Karatani Kôjin, "Transcritique: Kant and Marx."

Reading List.

Karatani Kôjin will speak on his current project "Transcritique," which stems from a wider inquiry into Marxism in Japan and the West. It forms a space of transcodings between the domains of ethics and political economy, between the Kantian critique and the Marxian critique. This is an attempt to read Kant via Marx and Marx via Kant, and to recover the significance of an intercultural critique common to Kant and Marx. This cross-reading of Kant and Marx allows one to see Kant as a thinker who also sought to suggest the possibility of practice less by a criticism of metaphysics (as is usually thought) than by bravely shedding light on the limit of human reason. Meanwhile, although Marx's Capital is commonly read in relation with Hegelian philosophy, for Karatani, only The Critique of Pure Reason should be read in comparison with Capital. Karatani's reading of Kant and Marx points to a possibility of a global criticism in the post-Cold War era, in which empirical critical projects are no longer sufficient as struggles in the present. The situation Karatani outlines projects the necessity for a new kind of critical engagement in the future.

Karatani Kôjin, arguably the most influential literary critic in Japan in the past twenty years, is currently visiting Columbia University. His latest works in English include Origins of Modern Japanese Literature (Duke, 1993) and Architecture as Metaphor: Language, Number, Money (MIT, 1995). Karatani Forum, which contains samples of his writing, is a website dedicated to discussing his thoughts. Please note that "Karatani" is his last name.

SECOND WORKSHOP. Robert Wardy, "Inauthenticity: Some Examples."

Handout and Reading List

Robert Wardy will attempt to sort out some more and less inauthentic approaches to cultural comparison and contrast through consideration of a series of historical examples.

Robert Wardy, University Lecturer in Classics at the University of Cambridge, is the author of The Chain of Change: A Study of Aristotle's Physics Vll (Cambridge, 1990) and The Birth of Rhetoric: Gorgias, Plato and Their Successors (Routledge, 1996). Spanning both philosophy and literature, his interest in the Greek as well as in the Chinese traditions produced most recently Aristotle in China: Language, Categories and Translation (Cambridge, 2000). This study explores the relation between language and thought by examining linguistic relativism in light of a Chinese translation of Aristotle. His current research is focused on the emotions in the Greco-Roman philosophical and rhetorical traditions.

NOTE. Before the conference at a separate event co-sponsored by the Department of Classics and the Program in Classical Philosophy, Wardy will give a talk entitled "The Unity of Opposites in Plato's Symposium" on Thursday, March 29th, at 4:30 pm in 102 East Pyne.

THIRD WORKSHOP. Rey Chow, "Asymmetry, Appropriation, Authenticity: Persistent Problematics in East-West Comparative Studies."

Reading List

In this workshop, Rey Chow will lead a discussion on the problem of authenticity as it tends to preoccupy readers, viewers, and critics of East Asian literature and film in a comparative cultural context. Authenticity here will be juxtaposed against two other major clusters of issues -- the asymmetrical relations that persist between the study of Europe and the study of Asia in Comp Lit, on the one hand, and the ineluctability of appropriation in critical as well as creative paradigms of cross-cultural work, on the other.

Rey Chow is Professor of Modern Culture and Media, Professor of Comparative Literature, and Andrew Mellon Professor of the Humanities at Brown University. For Primitive Passions: Visuality, Sexuality, Ethnography, and Contemporary Chinese Cinema (Columbia, 1995), she was awarded the James Russell Lowell prize by the Modern Language Association. Regularly translated into Chinese and Japanese, her works include Ethics After Idealism: Theory, Culture, Ethnicity, Reading (Indiana, 1998), and her edited collection, Modern Chinese Literary and Cultural Studies in the Age of Theory: Reimagining a Field (Duke, forthcoming). Her interests include twentieth-century Chinese fiction, interdisciplinary study of film, and critical and cultural theory.

CLOSING REMARKS. As the Society's founding is indebted in great part to his inspiration and guidance, we are honored to have Earl Miner make closing remarks about the history and state of East-West comparative studies.

Earl Miner, one of the most senior leading East-West comparative scholars, has recently retired from his position as the Townsend Martin, Class of 1917, Professor of English and Comparative Literature at Princeton University. His numerous influential studies in English and Japanese poetry include Comparative Poetics: an Intercultural Essay on Theories of Literature (Princeton, 1990) and Naming Properties: Nominal Reference in Travel Writings by Bashô and Sora, Johnson and Boswell (Michigan, 1996). He is currently pursuing a project on Milton.

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