Prof. Wang Ning (Shanghai Jiao Tong University), Raymond Williams’s Marxist Theory and Its Inspiration to China’s World Literature Studies
In the current international circles of comparative literature and literary theory, the issue of world literature has become a heatedly discussed topic. This is certainly related to the huge influence of globalization on culture and literature. Contemporary Western scholars are usually inspired by Goethe’s conjecture on world literature viewing it as a process of literary production, circulation and translation (Damrosch). Although they recognize the contributions made by Marx and Engels to the formation of world literature as a theoretic concept in their co-authored Communist Manifesto, they seldom, following this line, explore the irreplaceable contribution of Marxism to the study of world literature. As a matter of fact, Marx and Engels have made many insightful comments and criticisms on such classical writers in the history of world literature like Dante, Shakespeare, Goethe, Schiller, Balzac and Tolstoy and their literary achievements. These ideas are certainly foundational in Marxist thought on world literature studies. And their random thoughts have been interpreted and developed by the later Eastern and Western Marxist theorists, of whom British Marxist literary theorists like Raymond Williams and Terry Eagleton have contributed a bit to the development of Marxist literary theory. Frankly speaking, their insightful ideas and critical works on the Marxist literary theory and critical principle have also inspired us Chinese scholars in our world literature studies. On the 100th anniversary of Williams’s birth, we cherish him all the more as a pioneering figure of Marxist literary theory and attach particular importance to his literary and cultural as well as theoretical heritage.
Prof. Xu Delin (Chinese Academy of Social Sciences), Raymond Williams in China: Translation and Reception
This paper is designed to talk about how Raymond Williams was found by the Chinese scholars in the 1980s, and why his role has been changing since then on: with his works selectively translated and appropriated in China, he first appeared as an aesthetician, later changed to be a cultural theorist, and now is accepted and remembered as the founder of cultural materialism. As such, this paper takes as its aim to demonstrate the translation and reception of Raymond Williams in China is always and obviously characterized as a kind of segmentation, which is on the one hand a representation of the Chinese tradition of localization, and on the other hand, an implication of a long journey for the Chinese scholars to go to understand Raymond Williams as a whole.
Prof. Ding Ersu (Lingnan University of Hong Kong), Raymond Williams’ Theory of Tragedy and Chinese Drama of Woe
In his important work Modern Tragedy, Raymond Williams proposes to study tragic drama not as “a single and permanent kind of fact, but a series of experiences and conventions and institutions”. This socio-historical perspective can be further expanded by including in our purview tragic works from non-western cultures. In other words, we can achieve a better understanding of human suffering and its dramatic presentations through comparing tragic dramas from different historical periods as well as diverse cultures.
Dr. Xu Shuli (Qingdao University), Raymond Williams’s Thought on Rural Culture
Compared with other New Left thinkers in his time, Raymond Williams paid more attention to rural culture. He wrote stories happening in countryside and often analysed literary works from rural perspective. By denying the existence of happy pastoral life in Britain, he eliminated people’s bias on rural culture. Then he tried to show his ideas on rural education, ecology and population. All the problems he considered are still popular worldwide. Williams was also concerned about Chinese revolution supported by farmers, and was especially interested in Mao Zedong’s literary theory on how to satisfy the cultural needs of people in city and country. Shifting from rural to urban society, Britain had faced certain problems which China is facing today, so some ideas of Williams f are still inspiring in China. This is one of the reasons why he still has so many readers in China.
Dr. Zhou Mingying (Shenzhen University), Nature and Livelihood in Williams’s Fictional Black Mountains
Every single one of Williams’s fictional productions refers heavily to the Welsh landscape, Welsh people, Welsh community, and to Welsh cultural life. All the protagonists of Williams’s novels are of Welsh origin; despite the fact that they leave (and later come out of) home for study and work outside their native community. Williams’s novels form a major part of his efforts to construct the Welsh identity by writing about its people and more importantly through positing the geographically and economically marginalized areas of Wales (like Black Mountains) at the center of his creative writing. Leaving his Welsh community and settling himself in the British academic world means elevation in social position for Williams, yet he has “a very strong sense… of having my [his] own people behind me [him]” and the childhood experiences in the Welsh border shape his ideas and writings. This paper is devoted especially to exploring how the native land, primarily the Black Mountains and nearby villages, lived and represented in the local people’s minds and bodies.
Prof. Wang Jie (Zhe Jiang University), Aesthetic Anthropology: Constructing a New System of Contemporary Aesthetic and Art Criticism
The pervasiveness of consumerism, Internet plus, globalization, and excessive entertainment is having impact on every discipline, causing steadily growing obstructions with which scholars must cope. Aesthetics is among those disciplines confronting this fourfold complex problem. Consumerism brings beauty and artwork into everyday life in the form of commodities. The ubiquity of cultural object imagery is becoming an important subject for aesthetic research, moving beyond the previous interest in fine art and niche socio-culture. The Internet-based dissemination of knowledge and aesthetic emotions makes it possible for aesthetics, a traditionally philosophical humanistic discipline, to become cross-disciplinary, integrating humanities and social sciences, even natural science in complex ways. Amid the conflicts and reconciliation between globalization and anti-globalization, the latest aesthetic experience belonging to the common people remains the main dynamic power in the generation of aesthetic cognition and emotion. The constant collision between local aesthetic experience and global aesthetic emotional unity highlights the regular inclinations that dominate the aesthetic emotions of earth-dwellers. Excessive entertainment places new fetters of everyday aesthetics on humans, who are deprived of fetter-breaking capacities as they immerse themselves in sensory pleasure. It is therefore urgent for aesthetic scholars all over the world to reiterate the need for free, well-rounded, balanced human development. Correspondingly, studies on the tragic humanism deserve high priority in Chinese aesthetics and art criticism.
The theories and methodologies of aesthetic anthropology may help tackle these four challenges in the new era. Specifically, aesthetic anthropology is grounded in the concepts of philosophical anthropology and the methods of cultural anthropology: it takes local aesthetic experience as the core subject; it studies aesthetic mechanisms in specific historical and cultural circumstances, and seeks a solution to track down problems among the collection of local aesthetic experiences from now into the future.