Virtual international conference on Sinophone Malaysian Literary Studies
Bearing the theme “The Multinational Production of Sinophone Malaysian Literature” (马华文学的多国生产), the bilingual conference (conducted in both English and Chinese) aimed to provide a platform for researchers and scholars from local and abroad to share thoughts on their research findings particularly in the aspects of Sinophone Malaysian Literary Studies.
ICS Dean Assoc Prof Dr Chong Siou Wei was invited to officiate the virtual opening ceremony. Also present at the ceremony were Organising Committee Chairperson Assoc Prof Dr Khor Boon Eng, esteemed keynote speakers, as well as academics and students from local and abroad.
Dr Khor welcomed all the participants and said, “The committee received more than 240 registrations from both local and abroad, such as the USA, China, Korea, Taiwan, Thailand and Singapore. The theme has reflected well on the latest research trend of the Sinophone Malaysian Literature. Now, the research on Sinophone Malaysian Literary Studies is not only getting attention in Asia, but also in other regions as well, such as the United States. Most importantly, we hope this will be a platform for productive exchanges and fruitful interaction among participants.” He also expressed his appreciation to the University and ICS for the great support; local and international presenters for their sharing, as well as committee members and student helpers for making the event a success.
In his opening speech, Dr Chong thanked the local and international participants for their active participation. He revealed, “The University always actively engages in international academic collaboration, aiming to provide staff and students with opportunities to broaden their horizons and absorb new knowledge. The conference was originally scheduled to be held last year. However, due to the Covid-19 pandemic, we had to move the conference online. During the pandemic outbreak, we had to move all the teaching and learning, as well as academic activities online, so that teaching and research activities will not be interrupted. Virtual events like today's conference will not be affected by distance and space, everyone can join the conference by just logging into the online platform. Even after the pandemic is over, we can still consider to organise events virtually.”
The six sub-topics that were discussed at the conference included the nature and characteristics of Sinophone Malaysian Literature, comparative perspectives on Sinophone Malaysian Literature with global and local literature, the multinational production of Sinophone Malaysian Literature, the rethinking and retrospection on the historical and socio-political contexts, the forms and styles of Sinophone Malaysian Literature, and the prominent authors and works.
The first panel session was conducted by academics from the US. Dr Brian Bernards from the University of Southern California presented on “Sinophone Malaysian Literary Studies in the US and Canada”; Prof Dr Andrea Bachner from Cornell University presented on “Global Jungle Fever: Sinophone Malaysian Narrative and World-Literary Ecologies" and Prof Dr Carlos Rojas from the Duke University presented on “History, Counter-history, and Narrative in the work of Ng Kim Chew”. The moderator was Dr E.K. Tan from Stony Brook University. Their discussions focused on the Sinophone Malaysian Literature, authors and works from the western perspective.
The topics “Deconstructing the Sinophone”, “Sinophone Literature as a Third Cultural Space in the case of Malaysia” and “Rethinking Indigeneity in Sinophone Malaysian Literature'' were presented by Dr Lim Kien Ket from the National Chiao Tung University, Taiwan, Dr Khor and Dr Tan respectively during the second panel session. The moderator for the session was Dr Brian Bernards. The discussions provided the participants with a deeper understanding of Sinophone Malaysian Literature as one of the tributaries of Sinophone Literature.
The following session saw speakers from UTAR presenting their respective topics. CChS Modern Chinese Literature Studies Unit Head Dr Wong Lih Lih presented on “The Intertextuality of Literature and History: On the ‘May 13’ Narrative in Malaysian Chinese and Malay Literature”; ICS academic Dr Chou Wen Loong presented on “‘New Village’ in Sinophone Malaysian Literature: The Passing of A Collective Memory” and Dr Lee Soo Chee presented on “A Contemplative Chinese Malaysian Poet of the 1980s Generation: Zhou Tianpai and His Writing Skills of Structures and Image - Themes”.
Other speakers included Dr Alison Groppe from the University of Oregon, who presented on “Memory, Metafictionality and 'Malaysian Chineseness' in the Fiction of Li Zishu”; Prof Dr Wong Yoon Wa from the Southern University College, who presented on “Reflection and Reconstruction: The Diverse and Complex System of Sinophone Literature in Singapore and Malaysia”; Prof Dr Wang Yanfang from Jiangsu Normal University, who presented on “Critical Discourse·Subject Theory·Research Paradigm - Research on Malaysian Chinese Literature in Mainland China in the past 40 years”; Dr Seng Yan Chuan and Seng Jing Fei from the University of Malaya, who presented on “An Analysis of the Ecological Consciousness of Sinophone Malaysian Writers”; Dr Kao Chia-li from the National Chung Hsing University, who presented on “The Cross-cultural Aesthetics in the Historical Memory of The Garden of Evening Mists”; Dr Ch’ng Ee Cheik from Yancheng Teachers University, who presented on “The Mechanism of Speeches: Discourse Construction of Inter-ethnic Narrative in Malaysian Literature in Malay, English and Chinese” and Dr Sim Kok Meng from the Performance Art Theatre (心向太阳剧坊), who presented on “Who is Dubian (杜边)? ——A Preliminary Study on the Creative Writing of Sinophone Malaysian Dramatists”.