May Fourth at 100: Intellectual Voices and the Future of China
Where: China Institute
100 Washington St.
212-744-8181 Price: Members $15; Non-members $20; Students $10
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Speakers: Leta Hong Fincher, Gail Hershatter, William Kirby, Li Chenjian, Lydia Liu, Viren Murthy, Andrew Nathan, Zhang Xudong
Scholars today view May Fourth as one of the most significant turning points in modern Chinese history. By challenging traditional values, the movement opened up an era of intellectual enlightenment that had far reaching effects on all aspects of Chinese life. However, the movement also has a complicated legacy in China today. On the one hand, a handful of May Fourth leaders went on to help establish the Chinese Communist Party, making the movement an important chapter in the history of the modern state. On the other hand, the May Fourth era also generated democratic ideas and other new ways of thinking that helped inspire a new wave of powerful student protest in June, 1989, which led to one of the party’s biggest crises.
Our afternoon symposium will connect the May 4 spirit to today, through three panel discussions, on literature and the public intellectual, the birth of feminism, and the challenge of facing history.
On May 5, 2019, China Institute will host an afternoon-long symposium to reflect on the 100th anniversary of the May Fourth Movement. The event will examine the legacy of the May Fourth era through three panels focusing on literature and the role of public intellectuals, the emergence of strong feminist movement, and the challenge of facing history in China today.
Is there a role for public intellectuals in China? How did the movement change the lives of Chinese women who sought to reimagine their place in Chinese society, and what struggles do Chinese women continue to face today? Do artists, writers, and musicians bear responsibility as critics in Chinese society? Why is it so difficult for China to look back on its tumultuous modern history? Is the West still a model for China? Join us in exploring these questions and more!
Questions to discuss:
· What can we learn from the legacy of May Fourth?
· How did the movement change the lives of Chinese women who sought to reimagine their place in Chinese society, and what struggles do Chinese women continue to face today?
· Why have student protests in China been able to generate enough power to shape discussion on the national level? How should nations deal with complicated parts of their own history?
· Is the West still a model for China?
Join us as we reflect on the 100th Anniversary of the May Fourth Movement and the lasting power of China’s Enlightenment!
May Fourth and China Institute:
The spirit of May Fourth is central to China Institute, established in 1926. The renowned educational reformer Hu Shih, one of the institute’s founders, believed that educational and cultural exchange with the West was a path to a strong, modern China. Hu led a campaign during the May Fourth era to democratize education by promoting the use of vernacular Chinese instead of the antiquated classical Chinese. He was just one of many commanding Chinese intellectuals of the time who took to the media, art, and literature to push for modern thinking and the building of a new culture.