SEIS Academic Forum Series
Forum on Irish Studies (No. 39)
Communicating across Two Worlds: China and the West
Speaker: Professors John Blair and Jerusha McCormack
Date: 12 December 2017 (Tuesday)
Venue: Room 202 Shaw Run Run Building, BFSU (北外逸夫楼202)
Given the fact that China and the West are such radically different civilizations how can we communicate across them? And why should we even take the trouble to do so? In this talk, Professors Blair and McCormack address these questions in terms of language and values. Although these may seem dramatically divergent, practical ways may be developed for working between these two worlds.
About the Speaker
These two academics usually write and lecture together since they joined forces a decade ago. Together they produced a sourcebook of readings that represent Chinese and Western Civilizations over the last 3000 years or so: Western Civilization with Chinese Comparisons (WCwCC), now in its 3rd edition at Fudan University Press in Shanghai. Their more recent book, just published in the USA by Rowman and Littlefield, is entitledThinking through China. It explains ten key words in Chinese, then uses these concepts to respond to persistent Western questions about China: Why, after centuries of missionary activity, is China not Christian? What about human rights? What about “democracy”? Does China seek to rule the world? The answers based on central Chinese words differ sharply from standard Western responses. They conclude that, as an outlier in terms of world-values, “the West is WEIRD.”
In their earlier careers Jerusha McCormack concentrated on Irish, English, and Anglo-Irish literature. She devoted several books to Oscar Wilde and his circle, culminating inThe Man Who Was Dorian Gray,Palgrave Macmillan, 2000. At BFSU since 2004 she has taught graduate seminars in American Studies, British Studies and, currently, Irish Studies, as well as co-teaching, over several years, the course WCwCC
John G Blair first taught American Studies here in 1988, under the direction of Prof Zhu Yongtao: a very different China. He has returned several times since then concentrating on comparative studies. His books includeModular America: the Emergence of American Way(1988), which won the Ralph Henry Gabriel Prize from the American Studies Association (USA) for interdisciplinary contributions to the field. He first taught WCwCC in 2003-04, now a required course for SEIS graduate students taught by Chinese colleagues Drs Yi Rui and Wang Yan.