Haun Saussy - "The Making of Barbarians" - Martin Powers

Wednesday, November 16, 2022 - 7:00pm - 8:00pm
Event Presenter/Author: 
Haun Saussy

Haun Saussy will discuss The Making of Barbarians: Chinese Literature and Multilingual Asia.  He will be joined in conversation by Martin Powers.

Presented in partnership with The Center for East Asian Studies at The University of Chicago

Virtual event


About the book: Debates on the canon, multiculturalism, and world literature often take Eurocentrism as the target of their critique. But literature is a universe with many centers, and one of them is China. The Making of Barbarians offers an account of world literature in which China, as center, produces its own margins. Here Sinologist and comparatist Haun Saussy investigates the meanings of literary translation, adaptation, and appropriation on the boundaries of China long before it came into sustained contact with the West. When scholars talk about comparative literature in Asia, they tend to focus on translation between European languages and Chinese, Korean, and Japanese, as practiced since about 1900. In contrast, Saussy focuses on the period before 1850, when the translation of foreign works into Chinese was rare because Chinese literary tradition overshadowed those around it. The Making of Barbarians looks closely at literary works that were translated into Chinese from foreign languages or resulted from contact with alien peoples. The book explores why translation was such an undervalued practice in premodern China, and how this vast and prestigious culture dealt with those outside it before a new group of foreigners—Europeans—appeared on the horizon.

About the author: Haun Saussy is University Professor Department of Comparative Literature Department of East Asian Languages and Civilizations Committee on Social Thought. His primary teaching and research interests include classical Chinese poetry and commentary, literary theory, comparative study of oral traditions, problems of translation, pre-twentieth-century medi history, and ethnography and ethics of medical care.

About the interlocutor: Martin Powers is Professor Emeritus in the History of Art, and formerly Sally Michelson Davidson Professor of Chinese Arts and Cultures at the University of Michigan. He also served previously as Director of the Center for Chinese Studies. His research focuses on the role of the arts in the history of human relations in China, with an emphasis on social justice issues. 

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