This talk will focus on contestations of the stereotype of Chinese cruelty in recent Chinese culture, especially in Mo Yan’s 2001 novel The Sandalwood Execution and the 2002 video installation Ling chi: Echoes of a Historical Photograph by Taiwanese artist Chen Chieh-jen. In dialogue with prejudiced representations of China in the West, such as the circulation of photographs of Chinese executions after the Boxer Rebellion or Georges Bataille’s Tears of Eros of 1961, as well as Chinese reflections on cruelty and spectatorship, Mo Yan and Chen foreground different media to rethink the link between interculturality and violence.
Andrea Bachner is Associate Professor of Comparative Literature at Cornell University. Her research explores comparative intersections between Sinophone, Latin American, and European cultural productions in dialogue with theories of interculturality, sexuality, and mediality. Her first book, Beyond Sinology: Chinese Writing and the Scripts of Cultures (Columbia University Press, 2014), analyzes how the Chinese script has been imagined in recent decades in literature and film, visual and performance art, design and architecture, both within Chinese cultural contexts and in different parts of the “West.” She is the co-editor (with Carlos Rojas) of the Oxford Handbook of Modern Chinese Literatures (forthcoming 2016) and has published articles in Comparative Literature, Comparative Literature Studies, Concentric, German Quarterly, Modern Chinese Literature and Culture, Taller de Letras as well as in several edited volumes. She has just completed a genealogy of the concept of inscription that probes the media imaginaries of poststructuralist theory (Inscriptive Passions, Poststructuralist Prehistories) and is currently working on a reflection on the limits of comparison through an exploration of the rich history of cultural contact, exchange, and affinity between Latin American and Chinese cultures from the late 19th century to today (Comparison at the Margins: Latin America and the Sinophone World).