CFP The Chinese Script and its Global Imaginary

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Call for Papers
April 1, 2016
New Zealand
Subject Fields: 
Chinese History / Studies, Cultural History / Studies, East Asian History / Studies, Literature, Digital Humanities

Special Issue (Spring 2017) -- The Chinese Script and its Global Imaginary

Edited by Lorraine C.M. Wong and Jacob Edmond

Call for Papers 

The Chinese script has been contradictorily associated with the identity and alterity of the Chinese people in intellectual and popular imaginations. Against the background of China’s “belated” transformation from a multilingual and multiethnic empire into a modern nation-state, the Chinese script was approached by intellectuals within and outside China as part of an anachronistic Confucian and imperial culture separating China from modern nationalism and global modernity. In today’s world, where China reinvents itself as a civilizational-national entity dreaming of an alternative global future, the Chinese script is recast as a possibly universal –– and yet neo-imperial ––medium on the cutting edge of literary-aesthetic innovations, popular cultures, and communication technologies that supersede cultural isolation and elitism. Yet cultural particularity continues to lurk behind the Chinese script, unfolding a global imaginary defined by an unyielding sense of foreignness and exoticism, while also problematizing the relative unity of mainland Chinese, diasporic Chinese and Sinophone communities. This new scene of cultural configurations on a global scale calls for our critical engagement.

This special issue of Frontiers of Literary Studies in China aims to trace the shapes of these configurations of cultures through mobilizing the Chinese script as a culturally particular, though potentially universal, medium of literary, artistic, and technological production. Submissions extending our understanding of the Chinese script from the written representations of Mandarin and non-Mandarin dialects and Sinitic languages to the interfaces of Chinese characters, pinyin, and Roman letters are welcome, as are essays analyzing the script’s practical and imaginative connections to various scriptive technologies in the past and in the present. This special issue tracks the genealogies and ramifications of the Chinese script in relation to premodern imperial regimes and neo-imperial, capitalistic technocultures, as well as exploring the role of writers, calligraphers, artisans, artists, designers, and cryptanalysts as old and new scriptive agents who practically and imaginatively work with the Chinese script.

Essays engaging with comparative, historical, and theoretical examinations of the Chinese script and its resonances in literature and film, visual and performance art, design and architecture from within and beyond Chinese cultural contexts are welcome.

Potential topics include but are not limited to:

  • Script reforms in China and non-western worlds
  • Script practices of premodern imperial and neo-imperial regimes
  • The concept of “ideography” in literatures, arts, and communication technologies
  • Uses of the Chinese script in mainland Chinese, diasporic Chinese, and Sinophone literatures and art
  • The hegemony of pinyin in relation to internet literature and the rise of Mandarin Chinese as a new lingua franca


The submission deadline for full papers is April 1, 2016 (for a projected publication date of March 2017).


( and FLSC STYLE SHEET GUIDELINES. If there are illustrations, they do not have to be in high resolution at the time of submission but high-resolution images must be provided once the essay is accepted for publication. Send electronic submissions to guest editors Lorraine C.M. Wong ( and Jacob Edmond ( as well as FLSC managing editor Chun Zhang (


Contact Info: 

Dr. Lorraine C.M. Wong

Lecturer in Chinese Studies

University of Otago