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“The Strength of Weak Links in the Sinophone System,” Jing Tsu, Yale University

When Apr 27, 2015
from 12:15 PM to 01:30 PM
Where 102 Kern
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In the Chinese-language literary system, writers’ relations to one another are being reshuffled across time and space. Distant parallels are drawn into ever closer proximities, and the implicit comradeship once presumed between fellow exiles outside of mainland China can be repolarized due to this change. In the ocean that is the world literary space, intimacy can be uncomfortable. The compression of the global literary space is opening new doors and backchannels for loosening and tightening the grip of national literary geographies. New internal horizons and platforms are opening up, each eager to become a new site of comparisons—and perhaps to invite or disinvite renewed relations. For the first time—and never so evident—global, regional, national, and local interests are simultaneously in play. Approaching large-scale literary studies from the perspective of local and regional alliances, my talk explicates these dynamics in terms of the weak, and how margins forge their own margins. I highlight Taiwan in a dynamic triangulation with Hong Kong and Macau that is largely unseen on the world stage, and analyze, at the same time, the proliferation of new internal peripheries in Taiwan literature and how it manages such diversity. What would normally be distinguished as local and transregional accounts, then, works in tandem to animate what I have called “literary governance,” a decentralized but generative process in language-literature systems that is mobilized around hard and soft thresholds of language access, where combinations of affective attachments and institutional, or material, power are reproduced to uneven effects.