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Institute of Asian and Oriental Studies URPP Asia and Europe (2006–2017)

Coming of Age in Sinophone Studies

Conference, March 23–26, 2017


Dr. Kiu-wai Chu, Dr. Justyna Jaguścik, Prof. Dr. Andrea Riemenschnitter (Freiburg Institute for Advanced Studies / University of Zurich)

Keynote Speaker

Prof. Dr. Wendy Larson (University of Oregon)


Institute of Asian and Oriental Studies – Chinese Studies and URPP Asia and Europe


Ethnographic Museum, Pelikanstrasse 40, 8001 Zurich


The workshop seeks to understand Sinophone literary and cinematic fields since the 1950s by examining Coming of Age narratives covering the geohistorical span of Chinese modernities. It revisits a selected corpus of coming-of-age fiction from Chinese speaking regions, ranging from Hong Kong, Taiwan, Singapore, Malaysia to the broader Asian Sinosphere from new theoretical and methodological angles.

The workshop will guide us towards a more comprehensive understanding of that epoch‘s cultural productions within a transnational context by examining the period of disintegration following the establishment of the People‘s Republic of China in 1949 and, in particular, by tracing a significant portion of modern Chinese literary history and expanding the notion of Southbound literati writing in broader South/-East Asian contexts. By discussing another important corpus of texts by Mainland Chinese authors the workshop will also look back on the vicissitudes of coming of age during the Mao era and reread these narratives through the lens of the self-reflexive cultural critique of the project of Chinese modernity.

The workshop aims to add significantly to our understanding of Cold War Hong Kong, Taiwan, and Chinese-speaking Southeast Asian countries/regions as contact zones – places where cultures collide and collude. It seeks to open up dialogues for better understanding of emergent cultural forms that reflect social instability and to constitute the foundation of an innovative history of Sinophone cultural production.