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Beyond Sinology: Chinese Writing and the Scripts of Culture by Andrea Bachner PDF

By Andrea Bachner

New communique and knowledge applied sciences offer distinctive demanding situations and probabilities for the chinese language script, which, in contrast to alphabetic or different phonetic scripts, will depend on a number of signifying rules. In contemporary many years, this multiplicity has generated a wealthy corpus of mirrored image and experimentation in literature, movie, visible and function artwork, and layout and structure, inside of either China and varied elements of the West.

Approaching this background from numerous substitute theoretical views, past Sinology displays at the chinese language script to pinpoint the a number of connections among languages, scripts, and medial expressions and cultural and nationwide identities. via a posh examine of intercultural representations, exchanges, and tensions, the textual content makes a speciality of the concrete "scripting" of id and alterity, advancing a brand new realizing of the hyperlinks among identification and medium and a critique of articulations that depend upon unmarried, monolithic, and univocal definitions of writing.

Chinese writing--with its background of divergent readings in chinese language and non-Chinese contexts, with its present reinvention within the age of recent media and globalization--can educate us find out how to learn and build mediality and cultural id in interculturally liable methods and in addition the way to scrutinize, critique, and but delight in and revel in the strong multi-medial creativity embodied in writing.

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It forms part of the argument only in the written form of a phonetic script as a positive foil for the sinograph. What is at stake here is not merely, not even primarily, the elevation of speech over writing. Without writing, so Hu’s extended metaphor suggests, language remains skinless. Voice alone is not body enough to materialize language. Rather, Hu Yuzhi concerns himself with language as a holistic system, an organism in which none of the parts can be treated in isolation. If one part fails, all others will be compromised as well: I consider our fixed script to be rotten in skin, bone, and flesh.

But even as the PRC broadcast its claim on the sinograph as its national heritage, the medial multiplicity it invoked also precluded a disambiguation of the tie between script and national identity. As the script politics that center on the sinograph and the structures that bind language and nationalism show, a language can only convincingly shoulder the burden of identity politics, an additional layer of signification over and above its communicative function, when it is construed according to a symbolic economy tied to a specific medium.

To talk about mediality in concrete cultural and material terms is of central importance to an understanding of writing. At least since Marshall McLuhan’s slogan “the medium is the message,” we have understood the intricate connections between content and carrier, indeed the impossibility of distinguishing neatly between them. However, speaking of the medium in the singular is yet another abstraction, since each mediated representation is really multiple. For instance, Chinese writing, and indeed writing in general, has myriad medial possibilities: each sign or group of signs teems with different “reading” possibilities for its semiotic content, its sound, and its graphic shape, even before we pay attention to historically specific forms, calligraphies, or writing styles on the one hand, and to its “media” in a more literal sense, such as possible textual, visual, and computational avatars, on the other.

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