Conference Call for Papers: Literature and Journalism in the Republic of Vietnam (1955-1975) and the Reception of Western Thought

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Call for Papers
October 1, 2019 to February 15, 2020
Subject Fields: 
Asian History / Studies, Humanities, Literature, Journalism and Media Studies

Organization Host: Institute of Asian and African Studies, Hamburg University 

Time: December 12, 2020

Place:  Asien-Afrika-Institut, University of Hamburg,

                                    Address: Edmund-Siemers-Allee 1, 20146 Hamburg

We are pleased to invite papers to Literature and Journalism in the Republic of Vietnam (1955-1975) and the Reception of Western Thought at University of Hamburg, December 12, 2020. This one-day conference approaches literature and journalism in South Vietnam in connection with western theories in humanities, aiming at exploring how this body of literature was engaged with and influenced by contemporary political, social, cultural, religious, aesthetic, philosophical, and literary thought of the West.

There have been publications that discuss historical conditions in which a wide range of thought from Germany, France, and the United States had reached the personal and professional lives of southern Vietnamese intellectuals. Some examples of such publications are “South Vietnamese Literature” (Van hoc Mien Nam -, by Thuy Khue; “Vietnamese Literature of Freedom South” (Van hoc Mien Nam Tu Do -, by Nguyen Vy Khanh; Southern Vietnamese Literature: an Overview (Van hoc mien Nam: tong quan - Westminster, Calif. : Văn Nghệ, 2000), by Vo Phien; Women Writers of South Vietnam, 1954-1975 (Yale University's Vietnam Forum 9, 1987), by Cong Huyen Ton Nu Nha Trang; “The Literature of Vietnam 1954-1973,” by Nguyen Tran Huan, in Essays on Literature and Society in Southeast Asia: Political and Sociological Perspectives, edited by Tham Seong Chee (Singapore University Press, 1981), pp. 321-345; and “Psychoanalysis in South Vietnam’s Urban Fiction: Case Study of Thanh Tam Tuyen” (Phân tâm học trong tiểu thuyết đô thị miền Nam: Trường hợp Thanh Tâm Tuyền), by Doan Anh Duong and Nguyen Thi Binh, Tap chi Van hoc 2 (2013).

This conference examines how South Vietnam’s literary and journalistic authors perceived and were (potentially) influenced by thought generated in the West. This includes, but is not limited to, phenomenology, hermeneutics, existentialism, romanticism, idealism, essentialism, Marxism, structuralism, and psychoanalytic criticism. This conference welcomes papers that discuss the complex dynamics of the reception in South Vietnam of western thinkers and writers such as Albert Camus, André Gide, Guy de Maupassant, Marcel Proust, Jean-Paul Sartre, Boris Pasternak,  Fyodor Mikhailovich Dostoevsky, Anton Chekhov, Bertolt Brecht, Franz Kafka, Sigmund Freud, Thomas Mann, Martin Heidegger, Hermann Hesse, Edmund Husserl, Stefan Zweig, Graham Greene, Somerset Maugham, and Ernest Hemingway.

This conference emphasizes the dynamism and diversity of Western thought in individual literary texts and authors as well as among texts of different authors and different texts of the same author. Historical contexts through which Western thought migrated to Vietnam and was perceived differently among authors is also an interest of the conference. The conference hopes to shed light on the social and cultural dynamics and complexities of South Vietnam.

The conference also welcomes papers that explore South Vietnam’s literature (novels, poetry, memoirs, drama, short stories, biographies, and essays) and journalism from the perspective of new critical theories in the humanities that have developed since the 1960s in the Western academy. These theories include, but are not limited to, postcolonial criticism, feminist criticism, lesbian/gay criticism, ethnic studies, and environmentally-oriented criticism. The conference furthermore welcomes papers that explore South Vietnam’s writing through the lens of literary theories such as narratology, post-structuralism, post-modernism, new historicism, and stylistics.

Open to such wide and multiple ways of approaching South Vietnam’s literature and journalism, the conference seeks to ask how this writing participated in issues that are socially, culturally, politically, and philosophically significant to Vietnam and the world in both the past and present. Such an approach to South Vietnam’s literature and journalism also aims at an alternative plural, inclusive view of this writing, neither exclusively anti-communist nor “bourgeois individualist” (cá nhân tiểu tư sản), as it has often been interpreted both in and outside of Vietnam and which problematically retains the marginal position of South Vietnam’s literature in mainstream Vietnamese literature and in dominant literatures of the host countries where the Vietnamese authors migrated, settled, and continued to write after the Fall of Saigon.[1]

Abstract submission:

Abstract submissions should include a title, an abstract of no more than 300 words, and a brief biography (name, institutional affiliation, and email contact). As the organizers plan to publish an edited book including selected conference papers, only previously unpublished papers or those not already committed elsewhere can be accepted.

Please submit your abstract to the conference at; cc: Prof. Thomas Engelbert ( and Dr. Chi Pham ( by February 15, 2020. Notifications of acceptance will be sent out at the end of March 2020.  Participants will be required to send in a completed draft paper (5,000-8,000 words) by October 30, 2020.


[1]Read John C. Schafer.  Võ Phiến and the Sadness of Exile. Humboldt State University Press, 2016.

Contact Info: 
Pham Phuong Chi, Ph.D 
Postdoctoral Researcher

Asien-Afrika-Institut, University of Hamburg,

Edmund-Siemers-Allee 1, 20146 Hamburg

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