Tuesday, November 15, 2016

"China in the German Enlightenment"

Have I mentioned this before? Some of you know that I was chair of the Columbia University Seminar on Eighteenth-Century European Culture for seven years. During that time we had a wonderful variety of scholars speaking on many aspects of this subject. In the wake of the debates over freedom of speech during the year of protests over the "Mohammed cartoons," I organized a series of talks on freedom of speech in the 18th century. The results appeared in a volume published by Bucknell University Press.

I have recently been anointed co-chair of another Columbia seminar, Religion and Writing, with my term officially beginning in the academic year 2017-2018. This is a two-year gig, as one of the present co-chairs has accepted an EU fellowship. This Thursday, one of the most notable members of the Goethe Society of North America, and indeed the president of our organization, Daniel Purdy will be speaking on "Publishing over Preaching: Jesuit Missionaries and Chinese Print Culture in the Seventeenth Century." (If you would like to attend, please contact the Seminar's rapporteur, Deborah Shulevitz. Her email is on the Seminar's website.)

In preparation for my introduction of Daniel on Thursday, I have taken a look at a recently published volume that he edited: China in the German Enlightenment. Very many interesting subjects are contained in its pages, including the fascinating-sounding “Leibniz on the Existence of Philosophy in China,” by Franklin Perkins. However, the one that caught my eye in particular is the chapter by John K. Noyes entitled “Eradicating the Orientalists: Goethe’s Chinesisch-deutsche Jahres- und Tageszeiten.” Unfortunately the Amazon preview only allowed me to see two pages, but in those two pages I noticed that John referred to the Wolfgang Schadewaldt essay that I discussed in a post recently on "reflections in a watery medium." I look forward to reading more.

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