The Centre for Philosophy and Critical Thought, Goldsmiths University of London

Research Centre run jointly between the Departments of Sociology and English and Comparative Literature at Goldsmiths University, London

CPCT Spring 2022-23 research seminar “Translating Global Critical Theory” –  The Birth of Chinese Feminism: Translating He-Yin Zhen (24 Feb)

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A conversation with Rebecca E. Karl and Lydia H. Liu

24 February 2023

5:30-7:00pm GMT

Zoom Link:

He-Yin Zhen (1886-1920?) was a theorist who figured centrally in the birth of Chinese feminism. Unlike her contemporaries, she was concerned less with China’s fate as a nation and more with the relationship among patriarchy, imperialism, capitalism, and gender subjugation as global historical problems. The Birth of Chinese Feminism (ed. & transl. Lydia Liu, Dorothy Ko, Rebecca Karl; Columbia UP 2013) is the first translation and study of He-Yin’s work in English. It critically reconstructs early twentieth-century feminist thought in a transnational context by juxtaposing He-Yin Zhen’s writing against works by two better-known male interlocutors of her time. He-Yin Zhen complicates conventional accounts of feminism and China’s history, offering original perspectives on sex, gender, labor and power that remain relevant today. The seminar will take the form of a dialogue with Rebecca Karl and Lydia Liu on He-Yin Zhen’s theoretical work, its intellectual and historical context, and the challenges of translation.

Rebecca E. Karl teaches History at New York University. Her most recent book is China’s Revolutions in the Modern World: A Brief Interpretive History (Verso 2020). She is co-founder of the Critical China Scholars collective and founding co-editor of the website,  

Lydia H. Liu is Wun Tsun Tam Professor in the Humanities at Columbia University. She is the author of The Freudian Robot (2010), The Clash of Empires (2004), and Translingual Practice (1995). Her new book Global Language Justice (co-edited) will be published by Columbia University Press in Fall 2023.

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