Confucius Institute

Confucius Institute Lecture: How to Promote More Openness and Freedom in Chinese Studies

Presented by Liu Dong, Professor of Chinese and Philosophy at Tsinghua University and Associate Director of the Institute for National Studies

Koessler Room, Michigan League, 12 - 1 pm, Monday, April 13, 2015

Currently the state of Chinese Studies in China alternates between consensus and contestation. This situation offers a rare opportunity. It is only because of this rich academic culture of debate, that we have the opportunity to revive the tradition's vitality, and so help China to reform its current state of disarray in regard to social norms. With this in mind, this essay develops further Feng Youlan's distinction between "illuminating speech" and "communicating speech" - Illuminating speech explains and interprets the literature of the past, whereas communicating speech transmits past literature to later generations. I point out that, according to the basic principles of hermeneutics, all "illuminating speech" must become "communicating speech", but under current global conditions, "communicating speech" must also become "confrontational speech" (or debate). Following this line of reasoning, the author offers a framework for examining the dialectical relationship between pluralism and freedom on the one hand, and conservatism and openness on the other.

Liu Dong studied with Li Zehou, the leading scholar of Chinese aesthetics before his passing, but Liu's fields include Comparative Literature, philosophy, and cultural critique. He is founding editor of Zhongguo xueshu 《中国学术》 (China Scholarship), the first blind-peer-reviewed academic journal in China for humanities and social sciences; he is also Professor of Chinese and Philosophy at Tsinghua. A prolific writer, his books include studies of anti-aesthetics, Max Weber, Lu Xun, Karl Jaspers, and an introductory textbook on Chinese culture for Chinese undergraduates, as well as translations of Wittgenstein and Jacques Gernet. Last year he was a Neubauer Collegium Visiting Fellow at the University of Chicago, and will remain active over the next two years as one of four collaborators involved in Judith Farquhar and Haun Saussy's Neubauer Collegium project, History, Philology, and the Nation in the Chinese Humanities.  

The Road to Fame: Film Screening and Discussion

FRIDAY, MARCH 20, 2015



Screening Room, Michigan Theatre 

2 - 4 pm 
Screening: 83 minutes; Post-Screening Discussion: 30 min 


The Road to Fame tells a unique story of coming-of-age with Chinese characteristics. The film chronicles the staging of the American musical Fame-China's first official collaboration with Broadway-by the senior class at China's top drama academy as their graduation showcase. During the 8-month process, 5 students compete for roles, struggle with pressure from family and authority, and prepare to graduate into a cutthroat and corrupt show business. Part of China's One-Child generation, they have been spoiled growing up but are now obliged to carry on the failed dreams of their parents. They must confront complex social realities and their own anxieties, and, in the process of staging Fame, negotiate their own paths to success in today's China.

This presentation is co-sponsored by the U-M Lieberthal-Rogel Center for Chinese Studies. 

For more information, click here

Traditional Chinese Music Performance in the library


As you prepare for the end of the term, stop by the library for some beautiful Chinese music and some snacks! Five undergraduate student musicians, enrolled in the Residential College Humanities course “Chinese Instrumental Music Ensemble”, play the pipa (lute), the erhu (fiddle) and the dizi (flute). 

This event is sponsored by the U-M Confucius Institute and the U-M Library.

More events and information:

Theatre, Nightlife and Literary Adventure in Nineteenth-Century Beijing

Lectures by Professors Wu Cuncun, University of Hong Kong, and Mark Stevenson, Victoria University 

Friday, January 23, 2015 | 2-6 pm 

Venue: Anderson Room D, Michigan Union
*Light refreshments will be provided. 

The lively world of Beijing opera continues to be a productive source of inspiration for Chinese and foreign literary and cinematic imagination. That this inspiration remains so powerful, despite the dwindling number of aficionados, is testament to the energy that at one time animated scenes both on- and off-stage and in-between-energy that was both social and aesthetic. Responding to recent theory concerned with the performativity of social life, particularly within history and gender studies, Dr. Wu and Dr. Stevenson will discuss important lessons from the Chinese experience that will enrich the study of history and theatre more generally.