Meaningfully Linking Intercultural and Literary Studies:Toward the Emerging Field of Intercultural Literature
Inquiry into“Intercultural Communication""studies,which some call ""IC,""now has over 30 years of history in China and over 50 years internationally.Most programs of""Intercultural Communication”as a field of study usually trace their roots to the post-World-War-II U.S.diplomatic training program developed by Edward T.Hall and his associates and the publication of his book The Silent Language(1959).These approaches often focus on descriptive or interpretative elements of culture isolated for meaningful comparisons across cultural groups, or the social scientific examination of important cultural constructs, dimensions,or theoretical frameworks across cultures.In either case,the academic assumptions are generally rooted in functional,structuralist, positivist,social-science approaches to research.Though an“intercultural approach""to literature has at times been proposed,literary scholars often find it intellectually incongruous to attempt to link or utilize the""pragmatic”or""scientific""dimensions or theories that arise from the IC tradition in meaningful ways.
Yet,as the field of intercultural studies seeks to find its place in the Chinese disciplinary register,some proponents feel that the ongoing emphasis toward explorations of interculturality ideally fit
textual studies.Based on drafts proposed in 2015,since 2016 the National Ministry of Education disciplinary register places IC within the broader framework of foreign language and literature studies.
The""Direction 13”for""Comparative Literature and Intercultural Studies""identifies a field which
●is cross-language,cross-national,and interdisciplinary in orientation;it studies literary and cultural exchanges,influence, and integration in the world;
●centers on the interaction of Chinese and foreign literature, unveils the diversity and integration of literature and culture;
●includes as main research areas: the relationship between Chinese and foreign literature, transnational literature comparisons,the communication/transference of literature, the translation history of literature and culture, imagology,international Chinese culture studies (the spread of Chinese culture internationally).(Author's translation)
Admittedly,these areas of emphasis are not entirely what“Intercultural Communication”studies have focused on over the years,especially in the seedbed of the field's development in North America.There and in China,where the field was formalized in 1995 with the forming of the Chinese Association for Intercultural Communication(CAFIC),the influence of communication and cross-cultural psychology as scientific endeavors have primarily guided research initiatives toward construct definition, theory postulations, hypothesis testing, and evaluation of construct validity, reliability, and the representativeness of findings. Applications have focused primarily on intercultural training for education or international business, toward the cultivation of intercultural awareness, competence, and problem solving in individuals or cultural groups for smoother exchanges or cooperation.
Each of these emphases involve rich contents,interesting ideas, and good outcomes.But they seem somewhat remote from the approaches of textual or literary representation or analysis laid out in the disciplinary direction outlined above. How can these two expressions of “intercultural studies” be rectified, let alone integrated? That is the key question guiding the development of this
volume,and each of the authors provides arguments and examples toward the potential marriage of ideas centered on interculturality as it is or can be expressed and analyzed in literary studies.
Part of the problem or gap in understanding is that past summaries about the IC field as well as the assumptions currently being advanced are limited or incomplete.The field's roots in anthropology and descriptive comparative studies and the contribution of those who contributed to both the “interpretation of culture”and“writing culture”have too often become historical footnotes or neglected altogether.
However, there is increasing evidence that there were already earlier approaches that included the description, interaction, and creative dialogue between civilizations and cultural groups under the rubric of “intercultural”encounters or academic explorations.These include
● Terms and perspectives regarding the plurality of cultures advanced in Europe, particularly in Germany, by Johann Gottfried Herder,the von Humboldt brothers, Immanuel Kant, and others in
the late 1800s (e.g., Elberfeld);
● An early series of “intercultural dialogues” among religions apparently initiated by the University of Chicago in the 1920s;
● And a social-studies “intercultural education” movement forming in the late 1920s into the1940s (e.g., DuBois, Brown, Vickery and Cole).
Even in mainstream intercultural work, there has been a call for more nuanced re-conceptualizations of culture (see Baldwin et. al.), theorizing (Gudykunst, Dai),and critical studies (e.g., Nakayama and Halualani) . Now with nearly five decades of development since the simultaneous establishment of professional divisions in associations for scholarship as well as applications in Mass Communication (ICA,1970), Speech and Rhetoric (SCA,1971), focused associations also in Cross-cultural Psychology (IACCP, 1972),the Society for Intercultural Education, Training, and Research (SIETAR,1973), and the flag ship International Journal of Intercultural Relations (IJIR,1977),it is high time that the value and practice of literary studies be meaningfully rejoined with the maturing field(s) of“intercultural studies.”This re-linking or revival of textual and literary analysis with intercultural studies can rekindle ferment and future developments of advantage in each of these fields, as well as enhance the emerging integrated area of study: intercultural literature.The chapters in this volume convincingly show the fertile foundations in place for the further promoting of such an endeavor.
As China begins to put“interculturalstudies”on the disciplinary map,we believe that past bottlenecks and misconceptions of the limitations of IC (when it is viewed as merely a social science or
functional field ) can be overcome by exploring the richer historical, theoretical, conceptual, and textual contributions that exist. As these chapters show,there are a great many avenues and approaches for considering interculturality and comparative cultural interactio in literary texts.
As Homi Bhabha once posited ""the location of culture""with reference to post-colonial orientations, we would argue in favor of the“re- location of culture""with“ intercultural”orientations , highlighting the broad range of foundations and foci of research that could be drawn from. By more clearly addressing the multiple levels types, paradigms of culture and the varied processes, barriers, interventions, and outcomes of various approaches to IC, we trust that these volumes can help lay the groundwork for detangling the perceived""interdisciplinary""ambiguity or ambivalence of IC scholarship. Toward this vision, each author in these paired volumes is making an important contribution. There is great potential for a multi-faceted ""intercultural literature"" relevant to Chinese andinternational, comparative literature, as well as other forms of media/ textual analysis. May these volumes contribute to moving such an academic agenda forward!
1.Interfacing Literature, Culture, and (Intercultural) Communication Studies in the Digital Era ——Mao Sihui
2.Comparative Literature Meets Translation Theory ——Sandra L. Bermann
3.Comparative Literature, Translation, and Intercultural Studies: Interaction and Mutual Enhancement ——Zha Mingjian
4.Literary Studies and Transtextual Transculturality ——Susan Arndt
5.Performances of Meaning: A TransversalInquiry ——Michael Steppat
6.The Tao and the Logos Revisited ——Zhang Longxi
7.Cultural Encounters in the Diaspora: Intercultural
Communication and Identity in Terry Woo's Banana Boys——Fu Lin
8.Middle-Class, Mobile, Queer and African: Transnationalism in Online Writing from Nigeria and South Africa——Shola Adenekan
9.The Death of Identity: The Representation of Black Diasporic“Identity”in Americanah ——Shirin Assa
10.“You May Enter But You Will Never Be Inside”: Diasporic Constructions of Stasis and Progress in the African Homeland——Patrick Oloko
11.From Separating to Uniting Hyphen:“Hyphenated Identities”in Gish Jen's and Elif Shafak's Novels——Mine Krause
12.Tasting Interculturality: Culinary Visions of America in Elif Shafak's The Bastard of Istanbul ——Mine Krause
13.Identity Negotiation in Gish Jen's Mona in the Promised Land—— Shen Weiwei Vivian
14.Power Relations and the Body in Transcultural Communication: Reading Zadie Smith's White Teeth ——Yuan Mingqing
15.Small-Town Family as a Battlefield: Reading Cultural Influences in Alice Munro's“Chaddeleys and Flemings”——Zhou Yi
Variations of Cross-Cultural Transfer
16.“Alltheraces”: Reassessing the American Community Masque—— Michael Steppat
17.From Social Norms to Law: Translational Dysfunction and Palimpsest in The Contract and The Merchant of Venice——SunYan
18.Dialogical Hermeneutics as an Alternative Model for Literary Imagination: A Critique of Ethical Criticism——Inge van de Ven& Tom van Nuenen
Introductory Explanation ——Michael Steppat & Steve J. Kulich
Intercultural ConceptsofIdentity ——Mine Krause & Shen Weiwei Vivian
The Challenge of an Intercultural Literature ——Michael Steppat & Steve J. Kulich
About the Authors
About the Series