Tracking the Chinese Avant-Gardes: Literary and Visual
Organizers: Barrett Watten, Wayne State University
Jonathan Stalling, University of Oklahoma
Jacob Edmond, University of Otago

American Comparative Literature Association
Seattle, 26–29 March 2015; stream B (10:30–12:10)
Dashpoint, Seattle Sheraton

The past thirty-five years has witnessed the phenomenal growth of numerous avant-garde art and poetry movements in China, from the 1979 Stars exhibition and Misty School of poetry to the present. This seminar will survey the formal innovations, historical development, and cultural logics of the Chinese avant-gardes, working across genres and disciplines in doing so. It will present examples of formally innovative and culturally provocative art, from its period of emergence after the Cultural Revolution in the 80s to the traumatic break that occurred with the events of the June 4/Tiananmen Square movement to periods of growth and dispersion in the 90s and global recognition in the 00s. How have Chinese avant-gardes developed, dispersed, changed, been absorbed—what are their influences, accomplishments, contradictions, historical mission? How are the Chinese avant-gardes global; how do they respond to or resist globalization; how do they reflect, affirm, or critique China’s role in the global order? How are the Chinese avant-gardes a moment of cultural translation or hybridity between Chinese and Western/avant-garde aesthetics, philosophy, and/or politics (including gender)? How were emergent forms of transnational art, such as Conceptual Art or Concrete Poetry, interpreted in China? How do the Chinese avant-gardes negotiate the visual/verbal interface between pinyin and roman characters as a part of its task? And finally, what does the emergence of the Chinese avant-gardes, in their specific historical and cultural conditions, mean for the theory of the avant-garde, given its Eurocentric historical basis?

Friday, March 27th
Network Theory as Globalizing Apparatus; the Avant-Garde in Anqing
Nick Admussen, Cornell University

Inevitable Russia: Russian Literature in Bei Dao`s Poetic World
Jinyi Chu, Stanford University

Digital Remaster
Jacob Edmond, University of Otago, New Zealand

Zhong Biao at the Margins of the Avant-garde
Paul Manfredi, Pacific Lutheran University

Saturday, March 28th
Poets, Critics, and the work of Chinese Avant-garde Poetics
Jonathan Stalling, University of Oklahoma

The Struggle for China in Chinese Contemporary Art – The Art Critic Wang Nanming
Florian Wagner, Friedrich Alexander University Erlangen-Nuremberg

Remaking the Body through Self-Torture: Yu Hua’s Two Stories and the Art of Post-Mao China
Popo Pi, Washington University in St.Louis

Social Bodies in Contemporary Chinese Avant-garde Theater: the Case of Downstream Garage
Yang Zi, Shanghai Jiaotong University

Sunday, March 29th
Public Use of Imagination: A Reexamination of the Central Processes behind the Second “Stars” Exhibition
Jianli Li, Henan University [CANCELLED]

Avant-Garde Sources in the Here and Then: Gao Xingjian’s Wild Men and Cao Yu’s The Wilderness
Annelise Finegan Wasmoen, Washington University in St. Louis

Bunker Art/World Car: Cai Guoqiang’s Global Parataxis
Barrett Watten, Wayne State University

Nation and Institution vis-à-vis the “Avant-Garde” – Remapping the Storm Society (1932-1935)
Xiaoqing Zhu, Harrisburg Area Community College

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