Asian Studies

In the Realm of the Senses: Mapping China’s Modern Sensorium 現代中國的感覺與感官革命

Modern Sketch 11 (November 1934), courtesy Colgate University Libraries Digital Collections

“From one moment to the next, living is a constant succession of millions of impressions of all the senses.” This German natural furniture advertisement reminds us of a simple fact that we tend to take for granted and ignore. This conference begins with this deep-seated obliviousness as its starting point and seeks to unveil, decode, and critically interrogate deeply rooted meanings that the senses have ingrained in the culture and society of modern China. In accordance with anthropologist David Howes’ argument that social revolutions are always sensory revolutions, we contend that the series of political, social, and technological revolutions that shaped the contours of modern China also brought about a sensory revolution that, unfortunately, has yet to be adequately understood. This conference brings together fourteen internationally recognised scholars from Asia, Europe and America, with the aim to critically re-examine this issue.

The questions this conference addresses include (but are not limited to): What are the specific roles and expressions of the senses in Chinese intellectual and literary traditions? How did the introduction of modern/Western technologies impact the ways Chinese people sensed the self and the world? To what extent did political and social revolutions redefine sensescapes and sensibilities in modern China? How were sensory and multisensory experiences translated into literary and artistic expressions? In which ways did the sensory faculties store and restore feelings, emotions and memories in the tumultuous journey of modern China? How far did sensual patterns and the sensescapes they created shape national and social identity? How important was this change of Chinese sensual habits/practices, with its new system of values, for the transformation of the Chinese people into modern global citizens? This conference is intended to be an interdisciplinary forum, with participants from backgrounds in literature, history, media studies, and religious studies. This conference also engages with other critical trends in the humanities, including body and gender studies, visual studies, as well as emotion and affect studies.

Programme

Registration

Registration for the event is now open until the 8th of June, each day is booked seperately:

Book tickets for the 19th of June

Book tickets for the 20th of June

Conference speakers

Weihong Bao 包衛紅, University of California, Berkeley

Shuowin Chen 陳碩文, National Chengchi University

Wen-Huei Cheng 鄭文惠, National Chengchi University

Kirk Denton, Ohio State University

Jane Geaney, University of Richmond

Kean-fung Guan 顔健富, National Tsinghua University

Lena Henningsen, University of Freiburg

Xuelei Huang 黃雪蕾, University of Edinburgh

Jie Li 李潔, Harvard University

Barbara Mittler, University of Heidelberg

Paul Pickowicz, University of California, San Diego

Paolo Santangelo, Sapienza University of Rome

Xiaobing Tang 唐小兵, University of Michigan

Shengqing Wu 吳盛青, Hong Kong University of Science and Technology

Acknowledgement

We gratefully acknowledge the support of a conference grant awarded by the Chiang Ching-kuo Foundation for International Scholarly Exchange; the School of Humanities and Social Science, Hong Kong University of Science and Technology; and the School of Literatures, Languages and Cultures, University of Edinburgh.

Event image Modern Sketch 11 (November 1934), courtesy Colgate University Libraries Digital Collections.

Modern Sketch 11 (November 1934), courtesy Colgate University Libraries Digital Collections

In the Realm of the Senses: Mapping China’s Modern Sensorium 現代中國的感覺與感官革命

This conference seeks to unveil, decode, and critically interrogate deeply rooted meanings that the senses have ingrained in the culture and society of modern China. Fourteen internationally recognised scholars from Asia, Europe and America, will critically examine the series of political, social, and technological revolutions that shaped the contours of modern China in the realm of the senses.

Abden House
University of Edinburgh
EH16 5HP