Lecture, 27. May 2020

Guest lecture – Prof. Dr. Maghiel van Crevel: "Battlers‘ Poetry and Picun Literature: Chinese Poet Xiaohai"

27. May 2020, 14:00 - 16:00
Registration by mail to baharova@uni-trier.de
Maghiel van Crevel

The DFG Centre for Advanced Studies “Russian-Language Poetry in Transition” (FOR 2603) cordially invites you to a live lecture by Prof. Dr. Maghiel van Crevel, entitled “Battlers’ Poetry and Picun Literature: the Chinese Poet Xiaohai.” His lecture will be held in English and will be streamed live via Zoom. Please register by e-mail with our coordinator Katja Baharova (baharova@uni-trier.de) no later than May 26, 2020, to receive your access data.


About the lecture

In 2003, Xiaohai left home at age fifteen as one of the hundreds of millions of rural-to-urban migrant workers or “Battlers” whose hard work and low pay have enabled China’s rise. He was a factory worker in a string of cities for a good dozen years: think assembly line, overtime, exploitation, alienation. To counter the pressures of this life, he wrote poetry. In 2016 he settled in Picun, a village on the outskirts of Beijing made famous by the Migrant Workers Home. The Home is an NGO that aims to advance social identification through cultural education. Xiaohai has become a prominent member of the Picun Literature Group, his poetry accompanied by a highly mediagenic public persona. Among other things, his story highlights the role of professional poets and artists as patrons of Battler poets. This shows the power of poetry as a meme in Chinese cultural tradition that remains operational today, including a vision of poetry as a social practice. Who is Xiaohai? What does his writing say? What other actors and factors shape his persona? What can we learn from this about the nexus of precarious labor, activism, and cultural production in China today? What does Battlers’ poetry do and mean, to whom—and what are some of the questions in regard to aesthetics that Battlers’ poetry might raise for scholars, educators, and translators?

About Prof. Dr. Maghiel van Crevel (Leiden University, The Netherlands):

Maghiel van Crevel is professor of Chinese Language and Literature at Leiden University. A specialist of contemporary poetry, he has published a dozen books in English, Dutch, and Chinese, including scholarly monographs and edited volumes, literary translations, and textbooks. His research draws on extensive fieldwork undertaken since the early 1990s. See, for instance, “Walk on the Wild Side: Snapshots of the Chinese Poetry Scene.” Recent publications include Chinese Poetry and Translation: Rights and Wrongs (with Lucas Klein); and, in the area of Battlers’ poetry, “Debts: Coming to Terms with Migrant Worker Poetry” and “Misfit: Xu Lizhi and Battlers Poetry.”

Further Information on Prof. Dr. Maghiel van Crevel can be found here: https://www.universiteitleiden.nl/en/staffmembers/maghiel-van-crevel#tab-1