Jin Ping Mei and the World: Translation and Transculturation —— A Symposium in Honor of David Roy (1933-2016)
The Department of East Asian Languages and Civilizations at Harvard University convened a symposium on Jin Ping Mei (The Plum in the Golden Vase) in honor of David Tod Roy (1933 – 2016), Professor Emeritus of the University of Chicago, on December 5, 2019.
Professor Roy was best known for his masterful translation of the Ming Dynasty classic Chin P’ing Mei (The Plum in the Golden Vase). The novel chronicles the rise and fall of a corrupt and wealthy merchant, Hsi-men Ch’ing, as he pursues numerous sexual adventures. Professor Roy’s translation, a testament to his meticulous scholarship, took him three decades to complete and is recognized as a milestone in the study of Chinese literature. Princeton University Press published the five-volume series over a period of 20 years, and the final volume, “The Dissolution,” was published in 2013.
The symposium was open to the public. It featured 15 speakers – senior and junior scholars working on Chinese literature – from both the United States and Canada. Many scholars were old friends of Professor Roy. We also had the honor of inviting Professor Roy’s brother, Stape Roy, and his widow, Mrs. Barbara Roy, to the symposium. The symposium attracted more than 40 attendees, beyond the participants. Topics discussed include poetry, authorship, print culture, translation, eroticism in literature, and narrative psychology. The symposium closed with a roundtable discussion, focusing on teaching Jin Ping Mei in translation and other useful resources for studying the novel.
A New Day Is Upon Us: Building the Field of Chinese Studies
On September 4, 2019, Professor Pauline Yu, President Emeritus of the American Council of Learned Scholars (ACLS), delivered the final lecture in the Chiang Ching-kuo Foundation’s 30th Anniversary Lecture Series, titled “A New Day Is Upon Us: Building the Field of Chinese Studies.” Her lecture traced the foundations of China Studies in North America from the late-nineteenth century to today. In particular, she argued against the commonly held assumption that Area Studies developed out of a Cold War mentality in the wake of World War II, and instead demonstrated how such a concept has already emerged as early as the turn of the twentieth century. Yu also outlined the formations and contributions of funds and research centers that focus on China and East Asia, from Luce and Ford Foundations to the ACLS and, as of 1989, the CCK Foundation. The lecture was presented to a full room of distinguished scholars and guests, including Stephen Owen, Wai-yee Lee, Mark Elliott, Karen Thornber, and Peter Bol. The discussion that followed was lively and largely focused on the issue of how to weather the current political climate and confrontational atmosphere between China and the US. The event was co-sponsored by the Fairbank Center for Chinese Studies at Harvard University.