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East-West Dialogues: The Transferability of Concepts in the Humanities

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Edited By Christoph Bode, Michael O'Sullivan, Lukas Schepp and Eli Park Sorensen

This is an edited collection of essays drawn from collaborative events organized jointly by The Chinese University of Hong Kong and Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich. The book focuses on how literary and cultural perspectives from different humanities academic environs in Asia and Europe might contribute to our understanding of the "transferability of concepts." Exploring ways in which these traditions may enter into new and productive collaborations, the book presents readings of a wide range of Western and Eastern writers, including Shakespeare, J.M. Coetzee, Yu Dafu. The book contains a virtual round table followed by four thematic sections – "Travels and Storytelling," "Translation and Transferability," "Historical Contexts and Transferability," and "Aesthetic Contexts and Transferability."

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Chapter 1: Bridging the Gap? J. M. Coetzee’s Elizabeth Costello and André Brink’s States of Emergency as/on Literary Contact Zones: Laura Zander

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Laura Zander

Bridging the Gap? J. M. Coetzee’s ElizabethCostello and André Brink’s States of Emergencyas/on Literary Contact Zones

The 2016 triennial conference of the Association of Commonwealth Literature and Language Studies (ACLALS) was dedicated in a spirit of poetic referencing rather than topicality when the organizing committee at Stellenbosch University opted for the conference title “Stories that Float from Afar.” The Call for Papers accounted for this particular choice of labeling by asserting that the phrase had “come to signify the ability of stories to transcend temporality and place, to speak to us of inaccessible experiences from a time that has gone.”1 Referencing a piece recorded in 1873 by Xam storyteller Kabbo, the organizers placed the eponymous title phrase in the following context: Kabbo, in his respective story, argues his case for returning to his home in the northern Cape from Cape Town where he had been first an inmate in the Breakwater Prison and then a language and cultural informant for the linguist Wilhelm Bleek. The home to which he refers is therefore, as the organizers suggest, already a literary rather than a tangible one, as Kabbo and his community have been displaced by settler invasions, and their pursuit of a livelihood criminalized. Consequently, Kabbo can never really return to this home because it has been rendered unhomely – in Homi Bhabha’s sense of the term – invaded by history, the oppressive force that “captures dreams and re-dreams them” (53), as the organizers state by borrowing...

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