Becoming History: Qu Qiubai and the Chinese Script - Australian Society for Asian Humanities Becoming History: Qu Qiubai and the Chinese Script - Australian Society for Asian Humanities

Becoming History: Qu Qiubai and the Chinese Script

Becoming History: Qu Qiubai and the Chinese Script

This talk presents the life and work of Qu Qiubai (1899-1935), a founding member of the Chinese Communist Party, creator of Latinized Chinese script, and translator of Marxist philosophy into Chinese. I explore how Qu shed his identity as a traditional man-of-letters and assumed the role of a modern intellectual and radically renounced what he deemed to be “voiceless,” “pictorial,” and “feudalistic” Chinese characters. Parallel to this transformation of Qu is the reconfiguration of the Chinese script. Removed from its role in imperial China, the Chinese script was susceptible to revolutionary currents at the hands of Qu and his fellow Latinists in the Soviet Union, who sought to replace the Chinese script with the Latin alphabet. As this talk illuminates the interweaving of script and revolution in China at the turn of the twentieth century, it also explores the contexts of global communism from which Qu and his Marxist counterpart in Italy, Antonio Gramsci (1891-1937), theorized a new revolutionary subjectivity in the masses. They both considered language to be not the embodiment of the logos but more the structure of material production. Together they contested the logocentric approach to language in Western metaphysics.

About the Speaker:

Lorraine Wong is a senior lecturer in Languages and Cultures Programme at the University of Otago, New Zealand. Based on her training in comparative literature and modern Chinese history, Lorraine is working on her book tentatively entitled “Script and Revolution in China’s Long Twentieth Century.” This research situates China’s script revolution in a global context and examines its relation to literary modernity, nationhood, mass politics, and revolutionary transformation in modern China. Aside from her research into China’s script politics, Lorraine also explores the forgotten stories of literary Esperantists of Chinese and non-Chinese origins. Her work appears in both English and Chinese academic journals, such as Literature Compass, Modern Chinese Literature and Culture, Prism: Theory and Modern Chinese Literature, and Journal of Hangzhou Normal University. Her English essays also appear in two edited volumes, namely Tribute and trade: China and global modernity, 1784-1935 (by Sydney University Press) and The Intercultural Role of Esperanto (by Wydawnictwo Rys together with Adam Mickiewicz University, Poland).

“Talks in Chinese Humanities” are co-presented by the China Studies Centre, the Department of Chinese Studies, the Australian Society for Asian Humanities and the Faculty of Art, Design & Architecture at UNSW.

Register via Eventbrite.


Sep 30 2022


12:00 pm - 1:00 pm



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