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16:00-18:30, May 16 (Saturday)

Session 3. Origins of Modernity

Chunling Peng (Beijing University) “The Division and Merging of Kang Youwei and Liang Qichao’s Thoughts Whether Confucianism Fit for the New Citizen”
Yu Xue (East China Normal University) “From “Qiganyuan” to “Mediation Committee”: Ethics and Governance in Sanliwan
Yu Zhu (East China Normal University) “THE POLITICS OF ‘THE RECTIFICATION OF NAMES’: A Brief Observation on Liu Shi-pei’s Thinking of ‘the Rectification of Names’ and the Relevant Problematic of Chinese Modernity”
Beata Potocki (New York University) “Intractable Present: Two Visions of Modernity in the Algerian Novel”

Moderator: Takahiro Nakajima (UTCP)


“The Division and Merging of Kang Youwei and Liang Qichao’s Thoughts Whether Confucianism Fit for the New Citizen”
Chunling Peng (PhD student, Department of Chinese, Beijing University)

The challenge of republic system is the biggest crisis that the modern transition of Confucianism has been faced with. About after 1904, the composing “Materials Could Save Country” and “On New People • Personal Virtue” as obvious marks, Kang Youwei, the leader of modern Confucianism movement, had sought the shell of new citizen as the system support of Confucianism. On the other hand, his famous student Liang Qichao had filled the basic value of Confucianism into the spiritual world of new citizen. From different perspectives, by different ways, Kang and Liang had respectively identified that Confucianism fit for the new citizen. The track they closed each other, to some extent showed the complex course that people accepted Confucianism under the background of modern national idea’s rising. And it still told us how Confucianism in Late Qing period tried to complete self salvation of modern system transition.
By describing the intense collision of Kang and Liang’s thoughts, and analyzing the divergence and confluence of their opinions from 1898 to about 1912, the paper tries to specifically indicate the two dimensions of the topic that Confucianism fit for the new citizen. First, what kind of purpose and with which way did Confucianism that used to be the universal value in East Asia enter in the area of somewhat narrow modern nationalism? Second, dominated by the history idea of evolution, the thought was very popular that one time owns its unique characteristics in every field such as literature and value. Considering this, whether and how did Confucianism belonging to “the past”, as main stream of the traditional monarchy social ideology stride across the limits of modern time ideas, become the resource of modern people’s faith? In fact, the division and merging of Kang Youwei and Liang Qichao’s thoughts whether Confucianism fit for the new citizen help us to clarify these problems and still refract the multiple cultural changes in Late Qing period.

“From “Qiganyuan” to “Mediation Committee”: Ethics and Governance in Sanliwan
Yu Xue (Department of Chinese Language and Literature, East China Normal University)

If we take the Chinese revolution of 20th century as a unique practice which on the communist revolution and governance in modern China, it is not only a transition of one state to another, but also a large-scale social structure transformation. And the main reform movement involved series forms of power which are different from “traditional” with Chinese characteristics, attitudes and words. The revolution in rural areas occupied an important theoretical/practical position before 1949, and then became a part of Chinese “continuing revolution.” Zhao shu-li’s Sanliwan was the first full-length novel to represent the agricultural cooperative—a new revolutionary process after 1949. In this paper, I attempt to analysis the “family”, and the relation between agricultural cooperative and the transformation of families in the novel. Zhao shu-li tried to create a new connection and imagination between Chinese revolution and the village world which is made up of families. By his writing, the “family” was used as a focus for narration, even became a kind of important literary “form”. In Sanliwan, the discourse-history contradiction between “revolution” and “production” was transformed into inherent problem of organizations of political power at the grass-roots level and ethical world. As a new way for the governance of the community, from “Qiganyuan” to “Mediation Committee” restructured the ethical order in village world, also left some uncertainty and anxiety in the Chinese modernity.

“THE POLITICS OF ‘THE RECTIFICATION OF NAMES’: A Brief Observation on Liu Shi-pei’s Thinking of ‘the Rectification of Names’ and the Relevant Problematic of Chinese Modernity”
Yu Zhu (Department of Chinese, East China Normal University)

Liu Shi-pei had the background of classic studying and was very familiar with Chinese traditional culture. However, when he was a young man, Liu took part in the radical movement against Qing Empire and advocated the democratic revolution enthusiastically. Moreover, he picked up anarchism in Japan. Nevertheless, it is incredible that he betrayed the revolution when his most ardently radical imagination of revolution was put forth. In this article, I don’t tend to summarize Liu Shi-pei’s thoughts at large. What I focus is that the problem of “the rectification of names” in his thoughts, and I attempt to provide an intellectual and theoretical lines for his changeable thinking by this category. On the one hand, Liu captured the matter of fact that the system of Chinese nomination should be modified to respond the challenge of the west, especially the evolution theory—the “universal” law, on the other hand, he also grasped with his own acuity that the conflict between the universal law from the west and Chinese reality, which gave rise to a paradoxical situation and the impulse to overcome the western law. However, what is beneath these biographical facts is the search for the origin of Modern China, which has its philosophical implication and has not yet exhausted its potentiality. In this context, Liu’s aspiration of “the rectification of names” reflects one of the singular approaches by which the intellectuals in Late-Qing Dynasty responded to the great clashes between the traditional and the modern, the west and the east. In addition, this aspiration corresponded to the change of his thoughts. Especially, it would not perish with Liu Shi-pei himself giving up this gesture. What is most illuminating for us is that China’s “Modern” would conjure this aspiration again and again.

“Intractable Present: Two Visions of Modernity in the Algerian Novel”
Beata Potocki (Comparative Literature, New York University)

In “Literary History and Literary Modernity” Paul de Man writes: “Modernity invests its trust in the power of the present moment as an origin, but discovers that, in severing itself from the past, it has at the same time severed itself from the present.” In this description of the constitutive paradox of modernity, modernity saves history from sheer regression and paralysis; yet at the very moment when modernity asserts itself, it is swallowed up by a regressive historical process, for without history there would be no modernity. To think of literary modernity, de Man proposes, is to think of it not only diachronically, but also synchronically, the latter movement being embodied in the triangulating desire of literature to break away from itself “toward the reality of the moment”. What is most suggestive in de Man’s essay is its departure from the genetic model of the relationship between literary history and literary modernity. In this presentation, in which I intend to complicate the articulations of the claim to modernity by evoking the difference between the temporality of beginning and origin, I will discuss the relationship between “foundational texts” of the Algerian literary modernity and the concept of origin, through the prism of de Man’s presentation of temporal confusion implicated in the desire to locate the ‘origin’ of the modern in the present. As the novels to be discussed are written in close proximity to the Algerian War for Independence (1954-1962), they enact a complex conflation between the idea of literary modernity and political modernity. The cardinal part of the presentation will be consecrated to Kateb Yacine’s Nedjma (1956) and Rachid Boudjedra’s Répudiation (1967), two novels inaugurating contesting visions of what it means to be modern. Yacine’s “solution” is to stop writing fiction (he published only two novels), while Boudjedra’s is to start writing in Arabic.

© UTCP Graduate Student Conference Committee, 2009.