Call for papers: International Conference China’s ongoing quest for cultural modernity into the 21st century: Legacy of Lu Xun

15th – 17th Nov 2012, New Delhi, India
Deadline: 25th Aug 2012

Organizers: Hemant Adlakha, Institute of Chinese Studies & Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi (India) & ISLS Park, Jae Woo, President, International Society of Lu Xun Studies (ISLS), Seoul (S. Korea) & Hankuk University, Seoul Venue: India International Centre (IIC), New Delhi, India

Lu Xun (1881-1936) has been regarded as the biggest symbol of the twentieth century Chinese

literature and revolutionary culture. No other modern intellectual, writer and thinker has been more read or written about in China in the past one hundred years. In the pantheon of modern literary figures in Japan and Korea, only Lu Xun is hailed as “the spirit of East Asian literature”. Lu Xun is also the most well known modern Chinese writer internationally.


Soon after Lu Xun’s death when Mao Zedong declared “Lu Xun’s vision is the vision of new socialist China”, the people of China firmly believed the legacy of Lu Xun “the great revolutionary, the great thinker, the great writer” had been established for ever. Indeed for the ensuing four decades, Lu Xun remained the unquestioned “hero” and pioneer of modern Chinese fiction as well as of the socialist realism in literature. But that was until the beginning of the reform era. In 1981, the birth centenary of Lu Xun was celebrated for the last time in the Great Hall of the People. It was also for the last time that the top CPC leadership was present at an event celebrating Lu Xun. In the three decades since his centenary celebrations, the treatment meted out to Lu Xun in the official political and cultural discourses under the new reform regime has been changing from being “ignored” to being “forgotten” to being “silenced”. Interestingly, Lu Xun has been subjected to attacks and criticisms by all kinds of political “isms” namely neo-Confucianism, Chinese post-modernism, liberalism, anti socialist realism, anti May Fourth enlightenment etc. When Lu Xun was alive, he was said to have been most ruthless in his criticism of one and all. It seems “New China” which is no longer under the shadows of its imperial and feudal past, has vowed to take its revenge against Lu Xun. Lu Xun is now being criticised for evil origin of the Cultural Revolution; Lu Xun’s Spirit ( luxun jingshen ) is seen as a synonym for despotism; Lu Xun is seen as the chief culprit for breaking the Chinese tradition for his relentless critique of Confucianism; Lu Xun is even called a traitor for defaming Chinese tradition as civilization of cannibals. Following a brief period during the early to mid 1980s when Lu Xun enjoyed “independent” wave of popularity (the period is called in China’s intellectual debates as “from Study Lu Xun to Lu Xun Study”), he fell out of favour in the aftermath of the June Fourth incident. Yet, nearly eight decades after his death and over three decades after unbridled campaign to “oust” him, Lu Xun remains a living force in contemporary Chinese culture and literature. Lu Xun agenda is regarded by many in China today as the politically most sensitive agenda. Several public intellectuals in China in recent years have welcomed the official apathy and indifference shown to Lu Xun, and in the typical Lu Xun-style satire have called it “Lu Xun is now back where he belongs to – back with the people!” Lu Xun had once observed “it is very difficult to change China”! Now, nine decades later, “new prosperous China” is mockingly asking Lu Xun to change!


This conference aims to bring scholars/experts from India, China, Japan, Korea, Southeast Asia, Europe and America to deliberate and critically examine:


(1) Key features of China’s evolving cultural discourse into the twenty first century; especially focusing on what has happened to the goal of “developing a new person” (li ren) Lu Xun had set a century ago;

(2) The ideological and the political nature of attacks on Lu Xun in the past decade;

(3) To reflect upon and interpret the ongoing intellectual debate generated by the recent controversial decision to remove several of Lu Xun’s literary creations including his master piece The True Story of AhQ from school text books;

(4) To look into the current debate in China on whether the Lu Xun era is really dead and over in twenty first century China;

(5) Why has China’s reform regime consistently distanced itself from Lu Xun or the Spirit of Lu Xun?

(6) Contrast and compare the increasing worldwide popularity and reception of Lu Xun?s works, especially the new research in Japan and Korea with the intriguing debates in China on the eve of Lu Xun’s 130th birth anniversary, namely “who is Lu Xun” (Lu Xun shi shei)? Please send a 300-words abstract to Hemant Adlakha at, by 25 August 2012 at the latest. For more information please visit our webpage


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