Language and Literature
Based on Enlightenment thinking, modernity is associated with progress, advancement, rationality, and liberation. However, in the Western discourse, the critical views on modernity have already been formulated in the late nineteenth century. Nietzsche’s outspoken critique of the Enlightenment ideals of progress and reason and his outlook on European civilization as corrupt and declining is a case in point. A more radical critique of Western modernity and the legacy of the Enlightenment can be found in Max Horkheimer and Theodor W. Adorno’s works. Modernity was also criticized in the last quarter of the twentieth century in the context of postcolonial, postmodern, and poststructuralist theory (e.g.: works by Aimé Césaire and Enrique Dussel). However, for decolonial thinkers (e.g.: Walter Mignolo), these criticisms are Eurocentric or at least Eurocentered and they stress the need to issue critique of modernity from the perspective of coloniality. The novel A Concise Chinese-English Dictionary for Lovers by a Chinese author Xiaolu Ge tells a story about a Chinese girl Z comes to the U.K. to study and falls in love with a British man. After many struggles, Z decides to leave the U.K. and go back to China. In the novel, there are many representations of cultural conflicts between Chinese and the Westerners. I would like to look through these cultural encounters in order to find out the denied or repressed alternative ways of thinking and understanding (e.g. Chinese concepts like Yin and Yang) and discuss how they contribute to delink from colonial matrix of power.