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Is a New “History of Chinese Literature” Possible: A Critical Investigation Centered on The Cambridge History of Chinese Literature

Social Sciences in China Review

No.1, 2019

 

Is a New “History of Chinese Literature” Possible: A Critical Investigation Centered on The Cambridge History of Chinese Literature  (Abstract)

 

Shen Yifan

 

The Cambridge History of Chinese Literature published in 2010 is one of the most important efforts of foreign academic Sinology to “rewrite the history of Chinese literature.” The book challenges the discourse authority of the mainstream history of Chinese literature from two aspects: “writing practice” and “view of literary history.” The former answers the practical question of “how to rewrite the history of Chinese literature through the updating of methodology; the latter uses the compilation principle as a medium to rethink the theoretical issues of “what is the history of Chinese literature” and “why we rewrite the history of Chinese literature.” Focusing on the latter, on the basis of clarifying the two basic compilation principles of “the history in history” and “the history of literary culture,” we can find a theoretical response to “what is the history of Chinese literature” in The Cambridge History of Chinese Literature regarding the three core concepts of history, literature, and China. Through exploring its interaction with Western mainstream theories, we can find the rewriting’s motivation and paradigmatic transformation of the contemporary overseas history of Chinese literature.