‘Presenting China’ focus of international conference

How the Chinese nation presents itself to the world — as in its recent hosting of the 2008 Summer Olympic Games — and how it is perceived by other nations — including rival global superpower, the United States — is the focus of an international conference Oct. 17-18 at WUSTL in Wilson Hall, Room 214.

Titled “Presenting China: Theory and Pedagogy,” the conference is free and open to the public. Advance registration is requested.

The rise of China to become a new global superpower raises questions about how China is presented as well as conceived in other countries such as the United States, suggests conference chair Lingchei Letty Chen, Ph.D., associate professor of modern Chinese language and literature and director of East Asian Studies in Arts & Sciences.

In so many manifestations, Chen explained, China is perceived simultaneously as an ancient Eastern culture, a Communist nation-state, a newcomer in the global market-economy and a fast-changing society in its culture, values and self-knowledge.

“This is a wonderful opportunity to learn more about issues ranging from how we perceive and understand China to the dynamic relationship between China and the United States,” Chen said. “We hope to see many Washington University students and faculty at the conference.

“There is a strong interest in China and China studies on the Washington University campus, and this conference provides our students and faculty with a forum to discuss key issues with renowned scholars in the field,” she said.

The conference brings together Chinese scholars from fields such as literature, history, film and media studies, political science and anthropology as well as senior China-based journalists. Topics include how the Chinese nation and culture are being studied, what knowledge about China is being transmitted in classrooms and how the media portrays this increasingly influential nation.

WUSTL faculty participating in the conference include Gwen Bennett, Ph.D., assistant professor of art history and archaeology; Gerald L. Early, Ph.D., the Merle Kling Professor of Modern Letters and director of the Center for the Humanities; Beata Grant, Ph.D., professor of Chinese language and literature in the Department of Asian and Near Eastern Languages and Literatures; Robert E. Hegel, Ph.D., professor of Chinese in Asian and Near Eastern Languages & Literatures and the Liselotte Dieckmann Professor of Comparative Literature; Pauline Lee, Ph.D., assistant professor of Chinese religion and culture; and James Wertsch, Ph.D., the Marshall S. Snow Professor and director of the McDonnell International Scholars Academy, all in Arts & Sciences; and Carl Minzner, J.D., associate professor in the School of Law.

Part of a two-part conference jointly organized by Washington University and Fudan University in Shanghai, this opening conference is co-sponsored by the Chiang Ching-kuo Foundation Inter-University Center for Sinology at Harvard University.

Other WUSTL Arts & Sciences sponsors include the vice chancellor for students, the Department of Asian & Near Eastern Languages and Literatures, Center for Humanities, Center for Programs, East Asian studies and international and area studies.

For more information on speakers, topics and registration, call 935-4448 or visit artsci.wustl.edu/~eas/presenting_china.htm.