Public seminar by Prof Mei Chia-ling, Hong Kong Jockey Club Distinguished Visiting Professor of Modern Chinese Literature at Lingnan University 2012
13 Apr 2012
Prof Mei Chia-ling, Hong Kong Jockey Club Distinguished Visiting Professor of Modern Chinese Literature at Lingnan University 2012, today gave a public seminar on “From ‘youth spirit in China’ to ‘youth spirit in Taiwan’ – a discussion on youth imagination and national discourse in 20th-century Chinese literature”.
According to Prof Mei, the beaming hopes and radiant vigour represented by youth, as well as a wealthy, progressive and peaceful China, have been the common aspirations of many Chinese intellectuals since the turn of the 20th century. Inspired by this “youth spirit”, countless young people have devoted their lives to building a prosperous and stable China. “This spirit was not just the driving force behind various political manoeuvres in the 20th century but also the focus of literary imaginations,” Prof Mei said.
Therefore, Prof Mei began her discussion on youth imagination and national discourse in 20th-century Chinese fiction with Liang Qichao’s ‘On Youth China’, published in 1900 after the collapse of the Hundred Days Reform in 1898. She explained the origins of the discourse on ‘youth spirit in China’ and ‘youth spirit in Taiwan’, as well as their relationships with concepts such as “nation” and “nationality”. Prof Mei argued that the biggest contribution of Liang’s essay was its “discovery” of the disregard of “youth” in Chinese traditional literature.
Since the publication of Liang’s essay, youth imagination has often been linked with the discourse on nation and nationality. Many new literary works after the May Fourth Movement are about young people’s search for identity and their aspirations for China. Prof Mei concluded her seminar by noting that 20th-century Chinese literature had written a touching chapter in literary history with its vivid records of social upheavals during the last hundred years.
About Prof Mei Chia-ling
Prof Mei Chia-ling received her PhD in Chinese Literature from National Taiwan University. She is a Professor of the Graduate Institute of Taiwan Literature and Department of Chinese Literature, and Director of the Graduate Institute of Taiwan Literature, National Taiwan University. She was a Visiting Professor at Charles University in Czech Republic, Tsinghua University in China and the University of Heidelberg in Germany. Her publications include Language and Narrative in A New Account of Tales of the World, Gender or Nation? Criticism on Taiwan Fiction of the 50’s and the 80’s-90’s and New Criticism in the Literature of the Six Dynasties: Pastiche, Narrator as the Author’s Mouthpiece and Interchange Poetry. She was a recipient of the Outstanding Teaching Award at the National Taiwan University, and the National Award for Exceptional Teaching in a General Education Course presented by the Taiwan Ministry of Education.