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About the talk:
An eccentric commentary to the famous drama The Story of the Western Wing 西廂記 may seem like strange place to begin a discussion about travel. But Jīn Shèngtàn's 金聖嘆 commentarial exegeses are in fact noted for their discursive nature. And the philosophical and subjective quality of his comments and asides in prefatory essays to specific acts of the drama often meander into interpretive fields well outside of, but always linked to, his explications. Connecting travel through text with travel through the world, he un-anchors the idea of authority residing in a writing or reading subject, and posits a true zero point, wú 無, as the potential state of the text, which is a material object formed by Heaven through the medium of an accomplished author, one that the virtuoso reader recreates under defined intellectual/emotional and material states of being.
About the speaker:
Stephen West is a Foundation Professor of Chinese and Head of the East and Southeast Asian Section in the School of International Letters and Cultures at Arizona State University. West works in the textual culture of late medieval and early modern China (1000–1600), with specialties in performance literature, drama, urban literature, and garden studies.