See Attached Sheets Cover Enclosed To Scan American Studies has been a growing and dynamic interdisciplinary field in China since the early 1980s. Most of the institutions of higher education provide courses on American studies in their departments of history, foreign languages or international studies. The disciplinary basis of American Studies has extended from the domain of solely literary and cultural studies to almost all academic fields which touch on different aspects of the United States. Moreover, with advances in media and communication technologies, it is now possible for people of both Asian and European cultural backgrounds, to exchange views and improve their understandings of American culture. This reshaping has been providing both changes and challenges in our approaches to modern American literary and cultural creation. With the increasing academic interest in and teaching experience of American Studies, the Faculty of English Language and Culture of the Guangdong University of Foreign Studies hosted an international conference on American literature and culture from May 24 through 27, 2002.
The Conference, entitled Re-reading America: Changes and Challenges, brought together not only Chinese and U.S. scholars with expertise in this interdisciplinary field, but also scholars from other Asian and European countries or regions who are involved in American literary and cultural studies. It was a truly international occasion when participants, who are from different ethnic and cultural backgrounds, all benefited from the diversity of research topics and multiplicity of approaches. The program of this conference, therefore, included speakers specializing in the field of American Studies from around the world; they presented a variety of topics with provocative implications for the future of American Studies. Among the keynote speakers are recognized scholars like Hazel V. Carby (Yale University), Michael Denning (Yale University), He Qixin (Beijing Foreign Languages University), Mao Sihui (Guangdong University of Foreign Studies), Ou Hong (Zhongshan University), Shen Dan (Peking University), Jeremy Tambling (Hong Kong University), and Wang Ning (Tsinghua University).The present volume contains the proceedings of this conference.
The volume is divided into ten chapters characterizing the ten major topics of the conference. Chapter One is on re-reading or re-interpretation of American fictions; Chapter Two is about American Poetry; Chapter Three contains papers on American drama and American music; Chapter Four is about American Cinema; Chapter Five is on Asian American literature; Chapter Six introduces China's reception of American literature through translation; Chapter Seven is an overall introduction on American cultural studies; Chapter Eight is on feminist studies; Chapter Nine is about African and Native American Studies; and Chapter Ten is a discussion on American social sciences. In the first Chapter, Wang Ning's paper Canon (Re)Formation: A Literary Revisionism tries to reveal and examine the relations of power behind the canon formation and reformation, which, in accord with the views of Harold Bloom, is actually a result of literary revisionism. Among the many factors influencing canon formation, Wang Ning contends that given power institution and some artificial operation appear more important.
After a historical review of canon formation in the West, the author points out that in the past canonical literary works of non-western countries, including Chinese literature and even Asian-American literature, were deliberately "marginalized" because of the cultural assumptions of the strong Eurocentrism or even West-centrism. In today's context of globalization, however, cultural dialogue and communication have made it possible for different literatures to compete on a relatively even level although the assumed cultural hegemony of the West leads to an imposition of Western cultural values onto those of weaker nations. Cultural homogenization is becoming increasingly conspicuous and cultural pluralism is a historical trend probably beyond anyone's expectation and resistance. This trend influences the canon formation of not only European literature but also American literature. Minority literatures, like the Chinese-American literary works, are moving from periphery to center and deserve more attention in the rewriting of the literary history in a multicultural society like the United States. Dai Guiyu's paper provides a study of Hemingway's fictional women.
Based on postmodern feminist theories, she contends that Hemingway used an androgynous point of view in his representation of women. She also argues that Hemingway, as a writer, is very sensitive to sexual and gender problems existing in the modern culture and society. In his novels, Hemingway is also much concerned with identifying the appropriate relationship between men and women, and has tried hard to offer a satisfactory approach to the settlement of gender issues through his presentation of the tension and the ideals of male-female relationship in complex ways. In this sense, Dai Guiyu concludes, Hemingway is an unprejudiced writer with an androgynous perspective.In Chapter Two, Ou Hong's paper Gary Snyder's Sense of Nativeness rejects the idea that Chinese culture has had a substantial influence on the work of Gary Snyder. Ou Hong proposes that the published writings on Snyder in China emphasize the influence of Chinese culture on him to such a degree that they reveal their author's ignorance of Snyder's strong sense of nativeness.
Nativeness plays a very important role in his dialogue with Chinese culture, and Ou Hong thinks that the core of the sense of nativeness is the sense of one's cultural inheritance. As to Snyder, his cultural inheritance consists of the American literary tradition and American Indian lore. Among the American writers whose literary influence had shaped him, Snyder listed Walt Whitman, William Carlos Williams, Robert Frost, Kenneth Rexroth, and Wallace Stevens. In addition, Snyder's experience and life style also determine the uniqueness of his sense of nativeness. Ou Hong concludes that Snyder's assimilation of Chinese culture is controlled by his sense of nativeness. Wang Hong's paper in Chapter Three analyzes the dialogue in David Mamet's Oleanna from the perspective of discourse analysis. Oleanna is an encounter between a forty-year-old teacher (male) and a twenty-year-old student (female) in an institutional setting (teacher's office). It is also an encounter between different conceptions of education and male / female relationship.
The outcome of this encounter is that power shifts from the teacher, who at the beginning thinks he is offering help to a student about to fail her course, to the student, who in the end ruins the teacher's career by accusations of political incorrectness and even of attempted rape. Since the play consists of only two characters talking in the same locale, the shift of power is displayed through the structure and texture of dialogue, and the validity of the student's accusation can only be judged by what is said, how it is said and the uptake of the message. Wang Hong's analysis of the dialogue attempts to show how the power relationship is constructed through the dialogue and, on the basis of the analysis, to offer a judgment concerning the validity of the student's accusation. The analysis relies on research on politeness, language, and power and, in particular, Drew & Sorjonen's research on institutional dialogue. Ian Chaplin's paper The Times They are A-Changin'. What Future for the American Protest Song offers for debate an analysis of the American protest song culture in the context of the political and social changes after the September 11th terrorist attack.
The author discusses the concerns among artists of the freedom to dissent and disagree that the voices of protest through the medium of popular culture will become muted, and worries about the future of the unassailable 'freedoms' that such artists concern. The essay presents a research on the songwriters and performers who have specialized in this genre and the impact of their work through the medium of popular culture on students from the Vietnam War generation to the new generation now witnessing the Middle East conflicts. It aims to raise awareness and encourage cross-disciplinary and cross-cultural study of the environment in which American youth today strives to assess and evaluate its political and educational institutions, and their own role in addressing the changes and challenges which affect US international relations.In Chapter Four, Mao Sihui's paper A License to Kill But Hollywood Never Dies: Re-reading Globalization, Americana and the Semiotic Empire indicates a critique of the globalization in which the hegemony of Eurocentric cultural production, such as Hollywood cinematic products, tends to supplant pluralistic discourses by means of its dominant political, cultural and technological powers.
Taking films such as A License to Kill and Tomorrow Never Dies as visual texts for analysis, in which James Bond becomes the most desirable image of "White Saviour" of world civilization, the author contends that Hollywood has semiotically manufactured some most powerful images as "universal inheritance" for "global culture". It is those electronically mediated images, the paper maintains, that represent one of the most potent arms of cultural hegemony in the 21st century. While exploring the issue of who has the power and control over the conditions necessary for the production of valid knowledge in the postcolonial context, this paper examines the politics of cinematic and reveals their practices in relation to the dominant relations of material, social and cultural production. He Qixin's paper The MTV Generation and Hollywood's Post-Modern Adaptation of Romeo and Juliet analyzes the success of Baz Luhrmann's adaptation of Shakespeare's love tragedy Romeo and Juliet into screen.
From the author's point of view, Hollywood films, which aim at catering for the popular tastes of contemporary American audience, are registered as both a cultural commodity and an item in commodity culture. Baz Luhrmann's unconventional adaptation of Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet, the most commercially successful of all films based on Shakespearean drama, serves as a good example. With his chosen cinematographic techniques, Luhrmann successfully presents the text of Shakespeare's love tragedy in a specific