PhD student, EALC

“What Is Exclaimed?! – Exclamation Points From Punctuation Reform to Xiao Hong’s Field of Life and Death

Time: Friday, Mar 4, 3-5 pm CT

Zoom Registration Link: https://uchicago.zoom.us/meeting/register/tJIqfuuhrTkvGdbor5Rf9LpQ4PAXW4U8WzBU

The Art and Politics of East Asia (APEA) workshop is proud to host Jiarui Sun (PhD student, EALC), who will be presenting a draft of her paper, “What Is Exclaimed?! – Exclamation Points From Punctuation Reform to Xiao Hong’s Field of Life and Death”. Yueling Ji (PhD candidate, EALC) will offer a response.

Jiarui summarizes her paper as follows:

“Because formalistic reforms like the adoption of Western-style punctuations do not explicitly alter “the shape, sound, or meaning of Chinese characters, but instead their configuration and flow on the page” (Mullaney 2017, 207), their impact often lies in the margin of our linguistic awareness, making it difficult for scholars of Chinese language reform to articulate their historical and theoretical significance in the formation of modern Chinese language and vernacular writing. So what happens if we study the evolution of modern Chinese writing from the perspective of one single punctuation mark? In this essay, I trace the historical development of discourses around the “proper” use of the exclamation point and show how its references and rhetorical effects – termed orders of indexicality in linguistic anthropology – build upon one another and give birth to new meanings based on different language users’ ideological engagement. From its most explicit presence in grammar guides to its most implicit impact on literary criticism, I argue that the exclamation point, through its orders of indexicality, opens up productive means to theorize the dialectic relationship between ideologies and linguistic structure, and therefore guide us to a more comprehensive understanding of how formal changes like new-style punctuations deeply impact realms of politics, gender, and artistic virtuosity.”

Presenter: Jiarui Sun is a PhD student in the Department of East Asian Languages and Civilizations at the University of Chicago. Her research encompasses studies of modern Chinese literature, linguistic anthropology, and semiotics. Particularly, she is interested in the relationship between language and nationalism.

Discussant: Yueling Ji is PhD Candidate in East Asian Languages and Civilizations. Her dissertation is tentatively titled “The Stylistic Complaint: Methods of Literary Criticism from Cold War China.” It studies the history of the concept of “style” in literary criticism and shows how Chinese critics rely on stylistics to defend their political views. More broadly, she also studies Sino-Soviet relations, Marxism, and gender/sexuality theories.

Please contact Siting Jiang (sitingjiang@uchicago.edu) and Nick Ogonek (nogonek@uchicago.edu) with any questions or concerns.

Nick and Siting, Co-coordinators, Art and Politics of East Asia Workshop, 2021-2


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