ACIAC has since its founding positioned itself to be a national resource centre on Australia-China arts and culture. From time to time, it hosts seminar talks and public lectures on one or another of the topics that engage community interest. On May 10, 2018, the Institute kicked off a Chinese Culture Seminar series with one of its first speakers, Dr Yan Xu. Dr Xu is a Mo Yan expert, and she received her doctoral degrees from Macquarie University (Cultural Studies) and Beijing Language and Culture University (British and American Literature). Her research fields include literary theory, Chinese-English translation and interpretation, and narratology, and of course the narrative art of the Chinese Nobel Laureate, Mo Yan. Prior to coming to Australia, she worked as a university lecturer in China for 5 years. She has been a tutor and lecturer at Top Education Institute and Macquarie University.
In her speech, Dr Xu began with general facts and figures regarding China’s history, population, geography and regional development of economy. Speaking from a comparative perspective, she then looked into the modern and contemporary realities of the country in the 20th century. She discussed three historic events that shaped the China in the 20th century, namely, the May Fourth Movement, the Cultural Revolution and Reform and Opening-up. She spoke of the fall of the last Chinese feudal dynasty and the founding of the Chinese republic in the wake of the May Fourth Movement; she used the novel by Shanghai-based novelist Ye Xin, Educated Youth (NieZai, translated by WSU academic Dr. Jing Han), to illustrate the impact that average Chinese people were subjected to during the notorious Cultural Revolution. She went on to use Mo Yan’s novel, Frog, to explain the overall response of the Chinese intelligentsia to the controversial one-child policy that was implemented after the beginning of the 1980s. Dr Xu then talked about the Chinese perceptions of the family, society and the human relationship with environment, at the centre of which were three core values of Chinese culture She concluded with an invitation to visit ten of the most spectacular tourist attractions in China when Australians visited the country.
The first of the Chinese Culture Seminar talks attracted quite a crowd of WSU staff and students. WSU colleagues Peter Hutchings, David Cubby, Alison Short, Ross Newton, Lara Keys, Jyn Chang, Amelia Koh-Bulter, Sydney poet Mark Treddinick, Daniel Bolger from ACRI of UTS, media representatives and students attended the seminar and responded most positively to the talk and joined the speaker for a lively interaction.
In the rest of the year, the Institute will invite more scholars from both China and Australia to continue the initiative with more talks on different aspects of the Chinese culture. ACIAC welcomes colleagues and students to attend these events and, with us, unravel the mystery that might still loom in your mind about the country.