Call For Papers
An Inauspicious Year: Confronting Crisis in Chinese Literature, History, and Culture
Graduate Student Virtual Conference
Dates: February 12–13, 2021
While each disaster we confront feels overwhelming and singular in its immediacy, writers, artists, literati, religious specialists, and others throughout Chinese history were also no strangers to crisis. Chinese texts are littered with accounts of disasters writ large, such as rebellions, invasions, plagues, and natural disasters, as well as the smaller, yet still devastating personal traumas of career failure or the loss of a loved one. Texts describe these tragic events using terms such as wei 危 (danger), zai 災 (calamity), nan 難 (disaster), and huo 禍 (misfortune), among others, all of which resonate with our shared modern sense of crisis.
Yet crisis in such contexts can contain rich and fluid meanings that extend beyond the dichotomies of good/bad and hope/despair. Disaster for one could suggest opportunity for another. Traditional Chinese historiography is conceptualized around the inevitable waxing and waning of dynastic glory—a cycle predicated on the collapse and reconstitution of order—and a process often the result of the exploitation of natural or man-made disasters. For religious practitioners, crisis could prove a powerful tool in reshaping one's perception of the world. In addition, the awareness of and preparation for potential dangers, or ju'an siwei 居安思危, has long been an exalted mindset for both state and individual governance. This ability to stand in the face of dangers (linwei 臨危) and respond accordingly was considered a touchstone of governance and personal character.
In this virtual conference we hope to explore new ways of conceptualizing and defining crisis, as well as engaging with broader, related issues in this Chinese context that include (and extend beyond) the following:
· Rethinking dichotomies such as trauma and resiliency, disruption and continuity
· Traditional perspectives/unorthodox interpretations of disaster
· Memory and agency amidst disaster
· Responses (personal and/or institutional) and creative approaches to crises
· Forming (collective or individual) identity through crises
· Crises through a religious lens
· Disruption of social order or norms
· Crisis as opportunity
In an effort to include a diversity of perspectives and subjects, we invite papers from a range of humanistic fields that address notions of crisis. Papers may explore texts from different areas—literature, history, religion, art, etc.—but should be grounded in the close reading of primary sources.
Graduate student presenters will be paired with a faculty member, who will read and comment on the paper. Organizers will do their best to pair each graduate student with a faculty member from a similar discipline. Each presenter will have 20 minutes to present their work, followed by 10 minutes for comments and discussion. Each panel will consist of three papers and the conference itself will take place over two days.
For those who are interested in participating, please submit an abstract of up to 250 words by Sunday, October 11, 2020. Upon reviewing the submissions, organizers will notify participants. Full drafts of papers should be submitted 4 weeks prior to the start of the conference (Friday, January 15, 2020) to allow faculty participants ample time to review them.