GERMAN-CHINESE RELATIONS are among the most complex and influential international relationships of our time. Connected and antagonized by missionary zeal, colonialist aggression, two World Wars, and the Cold War, Germany and China are today’s largest trading partners in Europe and Asia. Part of the exciting new field of Asian-German studies, my research engages in particular with the manifold literary relations between the German-speaking and the Chinese-speaking world. My previous projects in this field have shed light on the dynamics of cross-cultural literary reception, taking two very different German-language writers as case studies: Elfriede Jelinek, Austria’s most controversial contemporary writer, and Stefan Zweig (1881-1942), one of the world’s most beloved and at the same time most hated novelists. In a new project I am investigating the poetics of power and masculinities in German-language and Chinese-language literary texts.
The awarding of the world’s best known literature prize to ELFRIEDE JELINEK in 2004 triggered off worldwide hype. Although first works had already been translated in the 1990s, all translations in mainland China were only published after the key event of the Nobel Prize. They immediately received immense attention from the Chinese public and unleashed what could even be termed a “Jelinek fever.” Examining the processes of publishing and censorship I argue that Jelinek’s reception is inextricably bound up with China’s fast-paced transition after the introduction of the policy of reform and opening up, on the one hand, and the country’s long troubled relationship to the Nobel Prize, on the other.
For decades, the works of the Austrian-Jewish writer STEFAN ZWEIG (1881-1942) have faced attacks by critics in Europe and North America who questioned their literary value and excoriated the writer’s naïve Habsburg nostalgia during the Nazis’ seizure of power. Yet in other parts of the world, such as in China, Zweig’s works have enjoyed not only continued admiration but also truly exceptional influence, popularity, and even canonical status. My research on this case of cultural transfer has unveiled an extraordinary success story of Zweig’s works in China, from the first translations in the 1920s, shortly after the collapse of the Chinese Empire, through the Mao era to the contemporary People’s Republic. Chinese discourses on the Austrian writer suggest that his works can be read in an entirely different way, revealing long-overlooked political and literary dimensions.
My current project is a comparative study focusing on (mutual) depictions of GERMAN AND CHINESE MASCULINITIES in German-language and Chinese-language literatures. Literary texts often apply sexual metaphors and, in particular, contrasting imagery of masculinity in order to mark cultural alterity, which has long been overlooked despite the growing focus on men and masculinities in cultural studies. In selected German-language as well as Chinese-language works between the 18th and the 21st century, this project aims to identify how literary texts configure power relations via the entangled categories of gender and culture. In contrast to existing research, it therefore introduces an innovative multi-perspectival approach that challenges one-sided studies and binary Self-Other distinctions still widely used in postcolonial theory and gender studies.
- “The Liberating Masculinity of Goethe’s Werther and Its Repression in Modern China,” in Gendered Encounters between Germany and Asia: Transnational Perspectives since 1800, edited by Joanne Miyang Cho and Douglas T. McGetchin, 151-169. London and New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2017.
- “Review of Said El Mtouni, Exilierte Identitäten zwischen Akkulturation und Hybridität (2015),” Zeitschrift für Germanistik XXVI, no. 3 (2016): 717-719.
- “Deutschsprachige Exilliteratur in den 1930er-Jahren (Film des Monats: Maria Schraders Vor der Morgenröte),” Kinofenster.de (2016).
- “Review of Stefan Zweig and World Literature: Twenty-First-Century Perspectives,” Austrian Studies 23 (2015): 179-181.
- “Rezeption als Netzwerk: Stefan Zweig in China,” in Aktualität und Beliebtheit. Neue Forschung und Rezeption von Stefan Zweig im internationalen Blickwinkel, ed. Zhang Yi and Mark H. Gelber, 253-259. Würzburg: Königshausen & Neumann, 2015.
- “Habsburg Nostalgia and the Occidental Other: Chinese Perspectives on Stefan Zweig’s Novellas,” Journal of Austrian Studies 47/2 (2014): 105-130.
- “Jelinek and the Chinese ‘Nobel Complex’: A Challenging Reception,” Austrian Studies 22 (2014): 152-165.
- “Review of Stefan Zweig. Neue Forschung,” Austrian Studies 22 (2014): 229-231.
- “Stefan Zweig in China,” in Zweigs England. Schriftenreihe des Stefan Zweig Centre Salzburg 5, edited by Rüdiger Görner and Klemens Renoldner, 161-168. Würzburg: Königshausen & Neumann, 2014.
- “Was geschah, nachdem Nora international gelesen wurde? Die Rezeption von Jelineks Theaterstück in China und Europa im Vergleich,” in FRAUEN.SCHREIBEN. Österreichische Literatur in China 2, edited by Liu Wei and Julian Müller, 92-125. Vienna: Praesens, 2014. (co-author: Peter Clar)
- “Jelinek: zensuriert?! Ein Überblick über internationale Sanktionsmechanismen,” in TABU: Bruch. Überschreitungen von Künstlerinnen. Interkulturelles Wissenschaftsportal der Forschungsplattform Elfriede Jelinek (2014).
- “Review of Modern Austrian Literature through the Lens of Adaptation,” Journal of Austrian Studies 46, no. 4 (2013): 140-142.
- “Was geschah, nachdem Jelinek den Nobelpreis erhalten hatte? Jelinek und die chinesische Germanistik,” in Österreich im Reich der Mitte. Österreichische Literatur in China 2, edited by Liu Wei and Julian Müller, 191-211. Vienna: Praesens, 2013.
- “Jelinek goes China. Bericht über das interkulturelle Symposium FRAUEN.SCHREIBEN in Shanghai,” JELINEK[JAHR]BUCH (2013): 124-139.
- “Bis zum letzten Winkel der Erde. Zur Rezeption Stefan Zweigs in China,” Zweigheft 7 (2012): 23-27. [PDF]
- “Jelinek in Chinese: a Controversial Austrian Nobel Laureate in the Chinese Book Market,” Vienna Journal of East Asian Studies 2 (2011): 1-25. [PDF]
- Intermediaries of Cultural Transfer: German-Chinese Literary Encounters in the Republican Era (21st Biennial Conference of the European Association for Chinese Studies, St. Petersburg, August 2016)
- Languages of Masculinity: Count Waldersee in Chinese Fiction (21st World Congress of the International Comparative Literature Association, Vienna, July 2016)
- Stefan Zweig and (World) Literature in Exile (Walter A. Berendsohn Forschungsstelle für deutsche Exilliteratur, University of Hamburg, January 2016; 21st World Congress of the International Comparative Literature Association, Vienna, July 2016; Jahrestagung der Internationalen Stefan Zweig Gesellschaft, Literaturmuseum Wien, September 2016)
- German-Chinese Relations on the Screen: Migration and Gender in the German Crime Television Series Tatort (Summer School “China in Europe, Europe in China. Past and Present,” Confucius Institute at the University of Hamburg, July 2016)
- Die Krise des deutschen Mannes oder Was wir im Tatort über China lernen (Science Slam Special: Flucht und Exil, Tage des Exils, University of Hamburg, May 2016)
- Transmediale und transnationale Verflechtungen in Xu Jingleis Verfilmung Brief einer Unbekannten (2005) (Arbeitsstelle für Interkulturelle Literatur- und Medienwissenschaft, University of Hamburg, January 2016)
- Der chinesische Mann als sozialistischer Held: Gender, Orientalismus und Sozialismus bei Anna Seghers und Friedrich Wolf (Sektion B2: Tradition und Transformation. Der Ferne Osten in der deutschsprachigen Literatur, XIII. Kongress der Internationalen Vereinigung für Germanistik (IVG), Shanghai, August 2015)
- Images of Masculinity in German and Chinese Literature (Interdisciplinary Workshop Imagology as Critical Approach in Literary & Cultural Studies, University of California, Berkeley (USA), April 2015)
- Barriers as Catalysts: The Reception of Stefan Zweig in China (23rd Interdisciplinary German Studies Conference Barriers: Confronting Obstacles in Language, Media, Politics and Culture, University of California, Berkeley (USA), February/March 2015)
- Chinese Masculinities in Contemporary European Crime Television Series (Conference Translating Chinese Masculinities: Chinese Men in Global Contexts, University of Hong Kong, December 2014)
- The Liberating Masculinity of Goethe’s Werther in Modern China (German Studies Association (GSA) Thirty-Eighth Annual Conference, Kansas City, Missouri (USA), September 2014)
- The ‘Zweig-Style Women’: Stefan Zweig and Chinese Women’s Literature of the 1980s (Conference Zweig in the World. Rethinking Weltliteratur and Cosmopolitanism with Stefan Zweig, University of California, Berkeley (USA), September 2014)
- Sexuality, Love and Power: Negotiating Masculinities in German and Chinese Literature (AIM Gender, Arbeitskreis für interdisziplinäre Männer- und Geschlechterforschung – Kultur-, Geschichts- und Sozialwissenschaften, Conference Sexualität, Liebe, Männlichkeiten, Stuttgart, December 2013)
- Habsburg Austria as the Occidental Other: Stefan Zweig’s Novellas in Communist China (128th MLA Annual Convention, Boston (USA), January 2013)
- Rezeption als Netzwerk. Stefan Zweig in China (Zweig-Forschung und Rezeption im internationalen Blickfeld – Das Internationale Stefan Zweig-Symposium 2012 at the Renmin University of China, Beijing, November 2012)
- More Than a Nobel Hype? The Reception of Elfriede Jelinek in China (Jelinek in the Arena. Sport, Cultural Understanding and Translation to Page and Stage, University of Lancaster, July 2012)
- Zweig in China (Stefan Zweig and Great Britain, organized by the IMLR, Queen Mary University of London, Stefan Zweig Centre Salzburg, British Library, London, June 2012)
- Was geschah, nachdem Nora ihren Mann verlassen hatte oder Stützen der Gesellschaften – Ein interkultureller Vergleich (together with Peter Clar (University of Vienna) at the symposium FRAUEN.SCHREIBEN. Österreichische und chinesische Autorinnen im interkulturellen Vergleich at Fudan University, Shanghai, June 2012)
- … bis in den letzten Winkel der Erde. The Reception of the Austrian Writer Stefan Zweig in China (Annual Conference of the Austrian Studies Association (formerly MALCA) AEIOU: GLOBAL AUSTRIA, Long Beach, California, April 2012)
- … Even in the Remotest Corner of the World: The Reception of Stefan Zweig as an Austrian Writer in China (British Comparative Literature Association (BCLA) Spring Graduate Reception, University of London, March 2012)
- AUT OF THE BOX: Austrian Literature Received in China (Ingeborg Bachmann Centre for Austrian Literature AUT OF THE BOX seminar series, London, February 2012)
- Why the Chinese Love and Hate Elfriede Jelinek (German Graduate Research Seminar (GGRS) series, University of Cambridge, January 2012)
- Cultural Transfer Across Centres and Peripheries? Explaining the Outstanding Success of an Austrian Writer in China (Comparing Centres, Comparing Peripheries, organized by the British Comparative Literature Association (BCLA), SOAS Research Students’ Society and UCL, London, January 2012)
- A Love-Hate Relationship: The Reception of Nobel Literature Laureates in the Contemporary Chinese Book Market (British Association for Chinese Studies (BACS) Annual Conference, University of Edinburgh, September 2011)
- A System of Cultural Transfer: The Case of Stefan Zweig’s Literary Works in the Chinese-Speaking World (China Postgraduate Network (CPN) Annual Conference, London School of Economics (LSE), June/July 2011)
- Stefan Zweig in China (8th International Postgraduate Conference on Current Research in Austrian Literature, Ingeborg Bachmann Centre, London, May 2011)
- Jelinek in China (Austria in the Middle Kingdom – Austrian Literature and China (奥地利文学在中国国际学术研讨会), Fudan University, Shanghai, November 2010)