BOOK LAUNCH: Malaysian Crossings, November 26 (Sat) / 1:55 – 4:30pm

Book Launch: Malaysian Crossings: Place and Language in the Worlding of Modern Chinese Literature (Columbia University Press, Dec 2022), by Dr Chan Cheow Thia (NUS Department of Chinese Studies)

Organized by the Department of Chinese Studies and the Singapore Research Nexus, Faculty of Arts & Social Sciences, NUS

Date/Time: November 26 (Sat) / 1:55 – 4:30pm

Venue: The Pod, Level 16, National Library Building, 100 Victoria Street, Singapore 188064



1:55pm Registration
2:10pm Welcome Remarks by Associate Professor Elaine Ho Lynn-Ee (NUS Geography & FASS Vice Dean of Research)
2:15pm Opening Remarks by Assistant Professor Ma Shaoling (Yale-NUS)
2:20pm Presentation by Author, Assistant Professor Chan Cheow Thia (NUS Chinese Studies)
2:50pm Presentation by Discussant, Associate Professor Xu Lanjun (NUS Chinese Studies)
Presentation by Discussant, Dr Philip Holden (co-author of The Routledge Concise History of Southeast Asian Writing in English)
3:30pm Q & A and Discussion, Moderated by Assistant Professor Ma Shaoling
4:00pm Refreshments
End of Event

About the Book

Book Cover

No scholar of modern Chinese literary studies in its globalizing mode will miss the recent spotlight on Malaysian Chinese (Mahua) literature. Previously untapped, works from or about the Southeast Asian country are now read for bracing ideas on language, ethnicity and diaspora. In Malaysian Crossings, Chan shows how the minor literary formation’s grasp of its own marginality in the world-Chinese literary space constitutes the threshold—instead of a hurdle—to creating signature aesthetic imprints that foster global outlooks.

In the book, Chan describes the strategic “worlding” of modern Chinese literature that involves authorial navigation of inter-connected literary spaces. Foregrounding the inter-Asian linkages between Malaysia and other Sinitic-speaking locales (such as China, Taiwan, and Singapore) in the writing practices of Lin Cantian, Han Suyin, Wang Anyi, and Li Yongping, Chan analyzes their representations of multilingual social realities, and reflections about colonial Malaya or independent Malaysia as valid literary terrain. Both sets of creative discourse underlie the literary worlds built out of the physical journeys, the interactions among social groups, and the mindset shifts entailed in creating distinctive literary languages for the place. Historicizing such “crossings” from the 1930s to the 2000s, Chan contends that new perspectives from the periphery are essential to understanding the globalization of modern Chinese literature. By emphasizing the inner diversities and connected histories in the margins, Malaysian Crossings offers a powerful argument for remapping global Chinese literature and world literature.

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About the Author

CHAN CHEOW THIA is Assistant Professor in the Department of Chinese studies at the National University of Singapore. His research interests include modern Chinese-Sinophone literature, Southeast Asian studies, and diaspora studies. His monograph, Malaysian Crossings, foregrounds the Southeast Asian locality as a significant laboratory for imaginative Chinese writing that fosters meaningful styles of covert globality in the literary margins. His articles are published at disciplinary and regionally-focused venues such as Modern Chinese Literature and Culture, SOJOURN: Journal of Social Issues in Southeast Asia, as well as PRISM: Theory and Modern Chinese Literature. He co-edited the special issue of PRISM on “The Worlds of Southeast Asian Chinese Literature.” As a literary translator and editor, his work has appeared in Renditions: A Chinese-English Translation Magazine.


About the Chair

MA SHAO-LING is Assistant Professor of Humanities (Literature) at Yale-NUS College, where she teaches and writes on nineteenth century to contemporary global Chinese literature, culture, media, and critical theory. Her first book manuscript, The Stone and the Wireless: Mediating China, 1861-1906 was published in June 2021 with Duke University Press as part of the ‘Sign, Storage, Transmission’ series. She is currently pursuing a second monograph project, tentatively titled China in Loops, which examines the recursivity of information and concrete social relations in contemporary global China. Her articles have appeared or will be appearing in Critical Inquiry, Configurations, and positions: asia critique.


About the Discussants

XU LANJUN is Associate Professor in the Department of Chinese Studies at the National University of Singapore. Her research interests include 20th-century Chinese literature and film, the cultural history of youth and children in 20th-century China, as well as the Cold War and China-Southeast Asia cultural connections. Her major publications include Chinese Children and War: Nation, Education and Mass Culture (Peking University Press, 2015) and Chineseness and the Cold War: Contested Cultures and Diaspora in Southeast Asia and Hong Kong (co-edited with Jeremy E. Taylor. Routledge, 2021).


PHILIP HOLDEN retired in 2018 as Professor of English at the National University of Singapore, having worked for 25 years in higher education in the Southeast Asian country. His work in auto/biography studies includes the book Autobiography and Decolonization: Modernity, Masculinity and the Nation-State, and articles in major scholarly journals such as biography, Life Writing, a/b: Auto/biography Studies, and Postcolonial Studies. He has published widely on Singapore and Southeast Asian literatures, is the co-author of The Routledge Concise History of Southeast Asian Writing in English, and one of the editors of Writing Singapore, the most comprehensive historical anthology of Singapore literature in English.

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