Visions of the World in Modern Chinese Thought and Culture

Arrival Date in Beijing, China:  Saturday, June 17, 2017 (course begins June 19, 2017)

Departure Date from Beijing, China:  Saturday, July 8, 2017 (course ends by evening July 7, 2017)

Location:  Stanford Center at Peking University, Beijing, China

Instructor:  Professor Ban Wang, East Asian Languages and Cultures

Eligibility: Enrolled Stanford University students in good academic standing. At least two classes taken in Chinese studies.  Graduate students will be given priority.

Fees/Cost: Airfare, accommodations, and food are covered by the Stanford Center at Peking University.  See details under "Program Cost."




In this three-week seminar, students investigate cosmopolitanism, nationalism, and literature in the context of the system of nation-states and transnational trends. China’s rise has generated much discussion about the country’s growing role in the world and a Chinese vision of a global community has come into focus. Taking part in current debates on globalization and cosmopolitanism, we will examine national literature’s relations and tensions with the world and universal values. We will study how world-minded thinkers articulate China’s place and project its potential contribution to the global community. Critiquing and renewing traditional resources, Chinese writers in the last 100 years learned and absorbed ideas from the West while advancing their own imaginaries of modernity and international society. This seminar will combine intellectual history, philosophy, culture, transnational studies, and literature. In an enactment of the Chinese humanistic tradition composed of wen (letters), shi (history) and zhe (philosophy), the seminar will also study Western texts of cosmopolitanism and world literature through a comparative glance at China.  The seminar is limited to 6 Stanford participants.  The seminar will also include up to 6 Chinese university students.

Learning Goals

This course will help students understand China in a broad context of global society and cosmopolitan aspirations. Rather than a nation-state, Chinese thinkers and writers have consistently expressed a worldview that is broader and transcends the nation-state framework. Re-enactment of Chinese tradition and engagement with Western ideas enable Chinese thought to go beyond the nation-state framework, generating images, narratives, and theories of an international community. The seminar readings will expose students to an internationalist trajectory in intellectual discourse and literature in modern China. While engaged in nation-state building to move China out of empire, thinkers and writers always attempt to evolve a view of moral and political community on the global scale beyond the geopolitical unit of nation-state.


Seminar Schedule

We will first study Casanova's The World Republic of Letters to gain an overview of commonly accepted view of world culture based on global capitalist system.

To critique this system, we move to a different articulation of the world by reading Cheah and Robbins' edited volume Cosmopolitics: Thinking and Feeling beyond the Nation.

We will then study Goldman and Lee eds., An Intellectual History of Modern China and consider the nation-international spectrum in Chinese thought.K’ang Yu-wei (Kang Youwei's Book of World Community is one important document in the transition from Empire to the nation-state, but it envisages a world that transcends the nation-state and its related cultural imaginations.

Joseph Levenson's book Revolution and Cosmopolitanism moves to more literary and translation aspects of China engagement with the world in terms of Maoism and third world nations.

Wang Hui's The Rise of Modern Chinese Thought (Zhonguo xiandia sixiang de xingqi) gives us a general contour of this nation-international spectrum. We will also use a film and a novel to test the validity of these arguments.


Application Process

A seminar application is required plus an official Stanford transcript via Axess.  Please submit transcript and the application online at the same time.  The deadline to apply is November 8, 2016.  Applications received after the deadline will be considered for the waitlist.  Transcripts via Axess should be submited to Connie Chao.

For applicants in China, please visit this website.  


For More Information

Please contact Professor Ban Wang with "SCPKU Seminar" as your email subject.  More information about SCPKU's Graduate Seminar Program can be found here.

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