MRI Forum 53

"Global Modernity and Linguistic Universality: Invention of the Modern Chinese Language"

Date:

  • 12 October 2009

Location:

  • Macau Ricci Institue

Time:

  • 18:00 to 21:30

Cost:

  • Free

Languages:

  • English

Speaker

Tong Qing Sheng 童庆生

Tong Qing Sheng 童庆生 teaches in the School of English at University of Hong Kong. His research interests include critical theory, world literature, and theories of modernity. His current research is focused on the British reception of China as a country and cultural phenomenon. He is the founding co-editor of Critical Zone: A Forum of Chinese and Western Knowledge and an editorial member of several international journals.

Introduction

What constitutes the historical experience of modernity in the domain of knowledge production? Is it possible to conceive Chinese modernity as independent of global modernity? Why is linguistic modernity understood to be a necessary condition of social modernity in China? With these questions in mind, this paper reviews the universal language movement in early modern Europe, discusses the historical and discursive continuities between it and China’s efforts to reform its language, and argues that the May Fourth language reform movement should be understood as the practice of a historical understanding of intellectual modernity that first emerged in Europe in the early modern period.