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The Life, Works, and Translations of Gu Hongming (1857-1928) as Masquerade

Centre for Translation (December 4, 2014)

SEMINAR SERIES : Translation seminar series

MAJOR SPEAKER : St. André, James
LENGTH : 123 min.
ACCESS : Open to all
SUMMARY : Joan Riviere's article 'Womanliness as a Masquerade' will form the basis of a discussion of the late Qing intellectual and noted translator Ku Hung-ming. Specifically, this paper will argue that, just as some women can be seen as performing 'womanliness' as a masquerade, so too we may theorize the translations of Gu Hongming as a type of masquerade, a conscious adopting of a role that draws on pre-existing norms relating to that role. This understanding of his work, in turn, allows us to see how his translations, his original writings in English, and his life in China fit together to form a performance of Chineseness, not for his compatriots, but for foreigners. Yet while drawing on pre-existing stereotypes of Chineseness built up in Europe over two centuries in order to be seen as Chinese, Gu managed to avoid a simple self-orientalizing persona, arguing for the continued relevance of Chinese thought in the modern world. Although he may have only enjoyed limited success in his own lifetime, his work deserves more attention at a time when translations out of Chinese by Chinese translators are on the rise.  [Go to the full record in the library's catalogue]

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