intercultural comparison we seek to explore is at the moment nowhere
to be seen, yet ubiquitous. On the one hand, the recent impetus to
read a text in historical and cultural contexts has resulted in declining
interest in comparison of texts originating from different times and
spaces. On the other hand, when a reader encounters a text from a
culture “different” from his or her own, the reader tries to understand
the text through familiar interpretive paradigms. After
all, reading any texts—
works by two authors writing from the “same” time in the “same” culture,
or even works by the “same” author but from “different” moments— is
always a comparative act. While
comparison lurks behind all modes of reading, intercultural comparison
foregrounds this dynamic of reading as comparison.
texts from Western and Eastern traditions in the postmodern condition
where the new dominant paradigm is that there are no dominant paradigms
increases our awareness of the difficulty of the task of comparison.
Though we are conscious
of the Orientalist traps of imposing literary concepts and assumptions
rooted in one tradition onto foreign texts, we find this comparative
enterprise all the more worthwhile and even necessary precisely because
it is difficult. The awareness of these issues highlights the virtual
absence of intercultural comparison in current academic dialogue.
Princeton Graduate Symposium “Authenticities East and West” and the
Society for Intercultural Comparative Studies seek to promote the
formation of a community of interested comparatists by providing an
on-going and open forum for discussion.
The conference itself will aim to promote dialogue among scholars
with vastly different views, training, and backgrounds, who nevertheless
share the same belief in the necessity of intercultural comparative
studies. We will allot a generous amount of time for paper delivery
and for discussion. Rather than the usual lectures, our conference
prefers to promote interdisciplinary debate among scholars from different
areas through workshops led by specialists.
order to maintain the community which may begin to take shape at the
conference, the Society for Intercultural Comparative Studies website
will provide on-going services for members and interested scholars.
As a resource, the interactive East West Bibliography will allow scholars
to join in the creation and annotation of an extended list of scholarship
relevant to our interests. As a dynamic forum, the electronic discussion
lists will provide a platform for questions, comments, and theorizing.
Lastly, in addition to producing a newsletter to keep our members
informed, the Society also aims to publish select papers on the topic
of East West comparison in the future.