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How to Become a Cosmopolitan: Learning French in Shanghai, 1904-1924

Tuesday, February 19, 2019
noon
124 Sparks Building
How to Become a Cosmopolitan: Learning French in Shanghai, 1904-1924

Cosmopolitanism arguably begins in language: If linguistic incommensurability represents radical alterity, an acute threat to subjectivity, then interlingual communication establishes the possibility of transcending boundaries—cultural, national, but also personal and intimate. This presentation examines the first two generations of Francophile writers and intellectuals in China and asks: How did young Chinese in the early twentieth century acquire the linguistic competence that allowed them to translate French literature, to go study in Paris, and to mingle with French authors of their day? Language as, simultaneously, a precondition for and a site of cosmopolitan practice constitutes an entry point for understanding the pathways of literary cosmopolitanism in modern China.

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124 Sparks Building

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