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Society for Intercultural Studies


The 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.

Reading 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.

The 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.

In 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.



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