The 24th “History of Sino-German Literary Exchange” and the 55th Session of “Zijin Lectures” Held Successfully


The morning of February 26, 2024 witnessed the success of the 24th session of the Dong’s Academic Salon of Literature, History and Philosophy “History of Sino-German Literary Exchange”, as well as the 55th session of “Zijin Lectures”. Themed “Distant Mystery: Global Historical Landscape of German Literature from Goethe to Trojanow”, the lecture was delivered by Prof. LI Shuangzhi, Dean of German Department of College of Foreign Languages and Literature of Fudan University, and moderated by Associate Prof. LIU Yongqiang from School of International Studies of Zhejiang University. Prof. LI Yuan, Academic Leader of German studies, Dr. ZHUANG Wei, a youth researcher of “Hundred Talents Program” and some undergraduate, postgraduate and doctoral students from German major or other majors attended this lecture.

Prof. LI began with the concept of “Fernweh”, narrating the quest and desire of literary world for “distance”. In the quest for “distance”, the Western world came up with various imaginations about the world. With the development of Western colonial system, these imaginations came to be blended with reality and the divides and recognitions among civilizations facilitated constantly changing and developing world scenarios.

Then, Prof. LI introduced the global historical view proposed by Sebastian Conrad, who in his What is global history emphasized interaction and interconnection of the world and suggested a study on history from a global perspective. LI noted that such global historical view is not meant to study general global history, but to study the history of a particular region in a global backdrop while stressing the connection between one region and other regions, even the globe.

Prof. LI then elaborated on the “Global Literature” vision of Goethe, who proposed the concept of “Global Literature” (Weltliteratur) in his diary in 1827. A collection of papers under his editorship named Ueber Kunst und Altertum included literatures from different counties and regions, such as Persia, Serbia, Britain and China, etc. Immersed in literature of different countries, Goethe searched for “spiritual commercial trade”, namely, the exchange of literature. LI mentioned that Goethe read a Chinese novel Chinese Courtship in Verse, and conveyed his beautiful fantasies about China and desire to visit China in poems. Then, LI read some poems by Goethe, including “Buch des Sängers”, “Buch Hafis” and “Chinesisch-deutsche Jahres- und Tageszeiten”, to delve into Goethe’s desire for Chinese culture.

Goethe’s concept of “global literature” has a far-reaching impact in German literary circles, even on some writers in the global world nowadays, who also expressed their global views. Prof. LI introduced Ilija Trojanow, a Bulgarian German writer, whose works Der Weltensammler and Tausend und ein Morgen showcased a kind of global mobility and cultural diversity/multiplicity against Eurocentrism. In the novel Der Weltensammler, Trojanow explored global historical origin, and exhibited Western and Oriental perspectives from multi-angle narration. In his most recent novel Tausend und ein Morgen, Trojanow spoke out for the silent majority of history against inequality and oppression through quasi-sci-fi adventure stories in his playful imitation of Arabian Nights.

Prof. LI traced the global historical landscape from 19th century onwards with his detailed and informed explication, showing the dynamic effect of literature in constructing global landscape. The lecture featured its combination of vivid pictures, detailed accounts and readable language to illustrate profound knowledge, arousing enthusiasm for discussion. It was also praised by Associate Prof. LIU Yongqiang and Prof. LI Yuan. Prof. LI Yuan further discussed its enlightenment on Regional Country Studies (RCS) from the perspective of global history in relation to the latest development of German studies in recent years.

Attendants including Prof. ZHUANG and German majors had heated discussions with Prof. LI on different perspectives and themes, like German migration literature, global climate crisis, Anthropocene Epoch and hometown. Atmosphere was lively and all present benefited a lot. The lecture ended in applause.

Zijin Club, School of International Studies, Zhejiang University

Institute of German Culture, Zhejiang University

Institute of German Studies, School of International Studies, Zhejiang University

Translated by HU Qianwan, Proofread by XU Xueying

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