An Archive of Comparison: Between Adab, Wenxue and Literature

Start date: Thursday, 14 October, 17:00
End date: Thursday, 14 October, 18:30
Venue: Online

China Studies Seminar  Series

An Archive of Comparison: Between Adab, Wenxue and Literature

To attend this event (via Zoom), please register here

This talk draws from ongoing research on parallels and points of intersection between Chinese and Arabic literatures from the late nineteenth through mid-twentieth centuries. Professor Hill takes up a portion of the writings and translations of a group of Muslim intellectuals from the Republic of China who studied at Al-Azhar University in Cairo in the 1930s and 1940s. These intellectuals left behind an extensive archive of writings that worked to think through the connections between China, Islam, the Arab world and, in some cases, literatures in Chinese and Arabic. Examples of these efforts include the Book of the Sayings of Confucius (Kitāb al-Hiwār li-Kūnfūshīyūs, 1935), an Arabic version of the Analects translated by Ma Jian (1906–1978) and Recollections of Childhood (Tongniande huiyi), a version of Taha Husayn’s The Days (al-Ayyām, 1947) translated by Ma Junwu (1918–1971). These works make surprising connections between texts and traditions and, on a methodological level, provide a valuable resource for scholarship work that attempts to go beyond East/West approaches to cultural exchange and encounter.

Michael Gibbs Hill is associate professor in the Department of Modern Languages and Literatures at William & Mary and a current National Endowment for the Humanities Fellow. He is the author of Lin Shu, Inc.: Translation and the Making of Modern Chinese Culture (Oxford, 2013) and the translator of China from Empire to Nation-State by Wang Hui (Harvard, 2014) and What is China? Territory, Ethnicity, Culture, and History by Ge Zhaoguang (Harvard, 2018).

(Image: Arabic advertisement for Ma Jian’s translation of the Analects.)