Month: October 2017

Gina Elia: Shifting Concepts of Religion and Modernity in Republican-Era Chinese Literature

Gina Elia’s research focuses on the emergence of religious modernity during the Republican Era of the ROC. The literature of Bing Xin, Su Xuelin, and Su Dishan depicts characters who exhibit modern characteristics but traditional religious ideas. These authors believe that a religious mindset is necessary for a truly modern society, a distinctive approach to modernity. Gina Elia is a Ph.D. student in the Department of East Asian Languages and Civilizations at the University of Pennsylvania and a Visiting Scholar at Academia Sinica for the 2016-2017 academic year.

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The Native Speaker: A Category in Need of Rupture

In my language, we say “I love you” a lot. Think about that sentence for a minute. Really think about it. Does it strike you as odd? I speak of my native language, which happens to be English, as though it belongs to me.  But how can something as massive and unruly as a language belong to anybody? The largest category of words in almost any language is technical—specialized jargon unknown to the majority of native speakers. Languages are created by human beings, but they quickly grow into giant, complex webs of syntax and vocabulary bigger than any one person. So how can a language belong to anybody? Sure, “my language” might simply be a form of shorthand, easier than having to say in full, “the language I speak,” all the time. It is also no different than the way people use the possessive pronoun to describe every aspect of their identity—“my nationality,” “my religion,” and so on. Yet, in the above sentence, I also use my supposed “ownership” of the English language as the basis for feeling comfortable asserting how “I love you” is used by all English speakers in the world, as though I could ever assert such

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