Lecture on American Studies
Topic: The Great American Experiment
Speakers: Prof. John Blair & Prof. Jerusha McCormack
University of Geneva (Switzerland); University College, Dublin
Discussant: Prof. Mei Renyi
Chair: Dr. Yan Xunhua
Time: 3:00 - 5:00 pm, 18 October (Thursday)
Place: Room 115, SEIS Building
Sponsor: American Studies Center, SEIS, BFSU
About the Lecture
There was a time, not so long ago, when China and the USA saw eye to eye about the urgency of climate deterioration: witness the November 2014 joint statement issued by Xi Jinping and Barack Obama. Since then, Donald Trump has become President of the USA and his agenda removes that country from among those nations trying to cope with the deteriorating climate. How should we understand where Trump fits into the American scheme of things and what are the future prospects for us humans?
About the Speakers
These two academics usually write and lecture together since they joined forces fifteen years ago. Together they produced a sourcebook of readings that represent Chinese and Western Civilizations over the last 3000 years or so. Its original title was Western Civilization with Chinese Comparisons (WCwCC). Now the 4th edition is in press at Fudan University Press in Shanghai. It will be entitled Comparing Civilizations: China and the West (CCCW). Their most recent study, published in the USA by Rowman and Littlefield, is entitled Thinking through China. It explains ten key words in Chinese, then uses these concepts to respond to persistent Western questions about China: Why, after centuries of missionary activity, is China not Christian? What about human rights? What about “democracy”? Does China seek to rule the world? The answers based on the ten central Chinese words differ sharply from standard Western understandings. They conclude that, as an outlier in terms of world-values, “the West is WEIRD” [Western, Educated, Industrial, Rich, and Democratic].
In their earlier careers: Jerusha McCormack concentrated on Irish, English, and Anglo-Irish literature. She devoted several books to Oscar Wilde and his circle, culminating in The Man Who Was Dorian Gray, Palgrave Macmillan, 2000. At BFSU since 2004 she has taught graduate seminars in American Studies, British Studies and, more recently, Irish Studies, as well as co-teaching, over several years, in China and the West, the course WCwCC .John G Blair first taught American Studies here at BFSU in 1988, under the direction of Prof Frank Deng, seconded by Prof Zhu Yongtao: a very different China. He has returned several times since then concentrating on comparative studies. His books include Modular America: the Emergence of an American Way (1988), which won the Ralph Henry Gabriel Prize from the American Studies Association (USA) for interdisciplinary contributions to the field. He first taught WCwCC in 2003-04. It was for many years a required course for SEIS graduate students in English taught by Chinese colleagues Yi Rui and Wang Yan. Now it is an optional course taught by Huang Qiang and Yi Rui.
All interested parties are welcome!