‘Cambridge Criticism’ beyond Cambridge: F.R. Leavis and Others - An International Conference

Event Date: 
Thursday, June 29, 2017 - 09:00 to Saturday, July 1, 2017 - 17:00

Tsinghua University, Beijing

Recent years have seen a revival and a new growth of interest in the phase of English literary and cultural criticism known as ‘Cambridge Criticism’ or ‘Cambridge English’.  That phase – from the early 1920s (soon after the founding of the English Faculty at Cambridge) to the mid-1930s – is especially associated with the work of I. A. Richards and his student William Empson; both taught in China at Tsinghua University, Yenching University and the Southwest Associated University (Xinan Lianda). Richards is often identified as the progenitor of the American ‘New Criticism’ (though he himself demurred).  He had a close association with T. S. Eliot, a major influence on the contemporary poetry and criticism.

Another important figure, whose thought and practice eventually moved in a different direction from the others, is F. R. Leavis, about whom much new writing has appeared over the last ten years or so.  Like the others mentioned, Leavis was a close reader and textual critic but his work also concerned itself more than theirs with the cultural context of literature and with the problems of valuation in criticism.

These critics and others (Raymond Williams of a later period, for example) have long held great interest for Chinese scholars, particularly in the contemporary intellectual climate, owing to their critical achievements, relevance and in some cases direct connections with China.  This major international conference will re-assess their work and relevance today in China and internationally.  It falls in the centenary year of the founding of the English Tripos at Cambridge and takes forward some of the discussions held during the colloquium
“ ‘Cambridge English’ and China”, which took place in Cambridge in 2011.

The conference will be jointly organized by the Centre for the Study of European and American Literatures, the Department of Foreign Languages and Literatures, Tsinghua University, and the School of Foreign Languages, Hangzhou Normal University.  The registration fee in GBP will be £150, which will cover a welcome dinner, lunches, coffee breaks, conference pack and (for an additional £20) a trip to the Forbidden City on 1 July, 2017. Accommodation (twin rooms) will be available in guest houses on Tsinghua Campus. The price will be 538 to 598 Chinese Yuan per night (average around £65 at present exchange rates). Bookings should be made through Miss Xiong Wenyuan at xwy14@mails.tsinghua.edu.cn by 15 May 2017.

Confirmed participants are urged to apply for visas and to book their flights at the earliest possible time. For further details, including confirmed speakers, or to propose a paper, please contact Professor Cao Li, the convenor of the conference, at licao@tsinghua.edu.cn or her colleague, Dr Zhang Ping at vv73@tsinghua.edu.cn, or Dr Chris Joyce, at chris.joyce.1969@pem.cam.ac.uk co-convenor in the UK.

Centre for the Study of European and American Literatures
Department of Foreign Languages and Literatures
Tsinghua University