Concepts on the Move across Languages: Words, Metaphors, and Images for the Chinese State 1800-1920

Concepts on the Move across Languages: Words, Metaphors, and Images for the Chinese State 1800-1920

Rudolf Wagner - Professor of Chinese Studies, University of Heidelberg

Tuesday, January 25, 2011 - 4:30pm to 6:00pm
Auditorium (Room 101), Henry R. Luce Hall See map
34 Hillhouse Avenue
New Haven, CT 6511

The Council is pleased to present the 51st Annual Edward H. Hume Memorial Lecture.Languages continually enrich themselves with concepts they import from other languages. While not a modern phenomenon, the denser and faster communications during the 19th and 20th centuries have resulted in a large-scale homogenization of the modern languages of the world around a core of globalized concepts with their modern order and hierarchy. The common features of these concepts are hidden below the linguistic surface of the different languages and most speakers are unaware of them. Concepts are abstract and cannot directly guide action in time and space. For this purpose, recourse is taken to metaphor and simile. These in turn lend themselves to become the material for visual representation, for example in political cartoons. The lecture will focus on the migration of such metaphors and their visualized forms across languages and cultures. It will focus on the metaphor of “China asleep/China awakened.” This metaphor became common parlance during the 19th century and has remained in the global metaphorical canon to this day. The lecture will address the dynamics of this highly asymmetrical translingual and transcultural migration, the cultural brokers involved, and the contact zones where the exchanges take place. Rudolf Wagner is senior professor for Chinese studies at the University of Heidelberg in Germany and codirector of the Cluster of Excellence “Asia and Europe in a Global Context: Shifting Asymmetries in Cultural Flows.” His published research subjects include: third-century philosophy (a three-volume study on the Laozi commentary by Wang Bi); religion of the 19th-century Chinese-Christian Taiping Heavenly Kingdom; early Chinese- language press, especially the Shenbao; funeral architecture of the Mao Zedong and Sun Vat-sen mausoleums; and analyses of contemporary PRC prose and drama. He is a recipient of the Leibniz Award.

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