Book Launch: Malaysian Crossings

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Book Launch: Malaysian Crossings

Launch of Malaysian Crossings: Place and Language in the Worlding of Modern Chinese Literature by Cheow Thia Chan, NUS Chinese Studies

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The Pod NLB 100 Victoria St Singapore, 188064 Singapore

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About this event

Programme - Launch of Malaysian Crossings: Place and Language in the Worlding of Modern Chinese Literature

1:55pm Registration

2:10pm Welcome Remarks by Professor Elaine Ho Lynn-Ee (NUS Geography & FASS Vice Dean of Research)

2:15pm Opening Remarks by Assistant Professor Ma Shaoling (Yale-NUS)

2:20pm Presentation by Author, Assistant Professor Chan Cheow Thia (NUS Chinese Studies)

2:50pm Presentation by Discussant, Associate Professor Xu Lanjun (NUS Chinese Studies)

3:10pm Presentation by Discussant, Dr Philip Holden (co-author of The Routledge Concise History of Southeast Asian Writing in English)

3:30pm Q & A and Discussion, Moderated by Assistant Professor Ma Shaoling

4:00pm Refreshments

4:30pm End of Event

About the Book

Malaysian Chinese (Mahua) literature is marginalized on several fronts. In the international literary space, which privileges the West, Malaysia is considered remote. The institutions of modern Chinese literature favor mainland China, Taiwan, and Hong Kong. Within Malaysia, only texts in Malay, the national language, are considered national literature by the state. However, Mahua authors have produced creative and thought-provoking works that have won growing critical recognition, showing Malaysia to be a laboratory for imaginative Chinese writing.

Highlighting Mahua literature’s distinctive mode of evolution, Cheow Thia Chan demonstrates that authors’ grasp of their marginality in the world-Chinese literary space has been the impetus for—rather than a barrier to—aesthetic inventiveness. He foregrounds the historical links between Malaysia and other Chinese-speaking regions, tracing how Mahua writers engage in the “worlding” of modern Chinese literature by navigating interconnected literary spaces. Focusing on writers including Lin Cantian, Han Suyin, Wang Anyi, and Li Yongping, whose works craft signature literary languages, Chan examines narrative representations of multilingual social realities and authorial reflections on colonial Malaya or independent Malaysia as valid literary terrain. Delineating the inter-Asian “crossings” of Mahua literary production—physical journeys, interactions among social groups, and mindset shifts—from the 1930s to the 2000s, he contends that new perspectives from the periphery are essential to understanding the globalization of modern Chinese literature. By emphasizing the inner diversities and connected histories in the margins, Malaysian Crossings offers a powerful argument for remapping global Chinese literature and world literature.

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About the Author

CHAN CHEOW THIA is Assistant Professor in the Department of Chinese studies at the National University of Singapore. His research interests include modern Chinese-Sinophone literature, Southeast Asian studies, and diaspora studies. His monograph, Malaysian Crossings, foregrounds the Southeast Asian locality as a significant laboratory for imaginative Chinese writing that fosters meaningful styles of covert globality in the literary margins. His articles are published at disciplinary and regionally-focused venues such as Modern Chinese Literature and Culture, SOJOURN: Journal of Social Issues in Southeast Asia, as well as PRISM: Theory and Modern Chinese Literature. He co-edited the special issue of PRISM on “The Worlds of Southeast Asian Chinese Literature.” As a literary translator and editor, his work has appeared in Renditions: A Chinese-English Translation Magazine.

About the Chair

MA SHAO-LING is Assistant Professor of Humanities (Literature) at Yale-NUS College, where she teaches and writes on nineteenth century to contemporary global Chinese literature, culture, media, and critical theory. Her first book manuscript, The Stone and the Wireless: Mediating China, 1861-1906 was published in June 2021 with Duke University Press as part of the ‘Sign, Storage, Transmission’ series. She is currently pursuing a second monograph project, tentatively titled China in Loops, which examines the recursivity of information and concrete social relations in contemporary global China. Her articles have appeared or will be appearing in Critical Inquiry, Configurations, and positions: asia critique.

About the Discussants

XU LANJUN is Associate Professor in the Department of Chinese Studies at the National University of Singapore. Her research interests include 20th-century Chinese literature and film, the cultural history of youth and children in 20th-century China, as well as the Cold War and China-Southeast Asia cultural connections. Her major publications include Chinese Children and War: Nation, Education and Mass Culture (Peking University Press, 2015) and Chineseness and the Cold War: Contested Cultures and Diaspora in Southeast Asia and Hong Kong (co-edited with Jeremy E. Taylor. Routledge, 2021).

PHILIP HOLDEN retired in 2018 as Professor of English at the National University of Singapore, having worked for 25 years in higher education in the Southeast Asian country. His work in auto/biography studies includes the book Autobiography and Decolonization: Modernity, Masculinity and the Nation-State, and articles in major scholarly journals such as biography, Life Writing, a/b: Auto/biography Studies, and Postcolonial Studies. He has published widely on Singapore and Southeast Asian literatures, is the co-author of The Routledge Concise History of Southeast Asian Writing in English, and one of the editors of Writing Singapore, the most comprehensive historical anthology of Singapore literature in English.

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