Chinese Language, Literature and Culture (Jun.-Prof. Graf)

The research area of Chinese Language, Literature and Culture studies modern China from the 19th century to the present. It comprises both the PRC and Taiwan, analyzing the entanglement of Chinese culture within Greater China, East Asia, and the world.
This area has three main fields of research: The first is a cultural history of medicine in China. It reads Chinese medical history as a global history and as a history of knowledge. Rather than perpetuating divisions between Western versus Chinese medicine, scientific versus alternative approaches, or professional versus popular knowledge, it investigates how medical knowledge was produced, disseminated and negotiated over time in a global context, thus highlighting China’s role in Global Health.
The second is the reading of Chinese literature as world literature. Analysing writers from Lu Xun (1881-1936) to Can Xue (1953-), it explores how writers become world-renowned authors, emphasizing reader reception and the role material culture played in their canonization.
The third focuses on the Chinese museum landscape and its role in shaping Chinese culture, be it the Afāq Khoja Mausoleum or so-called Tomb of the Fragrant Concubine near Kashgar, the Beijing Lu Xun Museum or the National Museum of Taiwan Literature in Tainan. These institutions cultivate understandings of Chinese history, politics, art and literature, playing a key role in what is remembered and what is forgotten in society.
Generally, this research area aims to achieve a fuller understanding of culture through three intersecting perspectives: firstly, by examining cultural production, e.g. by writers, institutions, or policies; secondly, by conducting close readings of texts, images, objects or displays to analyze materiality; and thirdly, by considering reception, e.g. readers, museum visitors, or patients. This multidimensional approach allows us to study cultural practices at a given moment in time. In addition, our focus on historical developments across time and global entanglements across space let us move beyond one moment in time, and trace the trajectories of those cultural practices which developed a lasting impact, even shaping how we understand Chinese culture today.