Professor Wen-chin Ouyang
BA, BEd (Tripoli), MA, MPhil, PhD (Columbia)
Professor of Arabic and Comparative Literature
- Professor Wen-chin Ouyang
- Email address:
- +44(0)20 7898 4348
- SOAS, University of London
Thornhaugh Street, Russell Square, London WC1H 0XG
- Russell Square: College Buildings
- Office No:
- On Sabbatical:
- On leave 2015-16
Wen-chin Ouyang was born in Taiwan and raised in Libya. She completed her BA in Arabic at Tripoli University and PhD Middle Eastern Studies at Columbia University in New York City. She taught Arabic language, literature and culture at Columbia University, University of Chicago and University of Virginia before she moved to London. She is interested in critical theory and thought as well as poetics and prosaics. She has written extensively on classical and modern Arabic narrative and literary criticism. She is the author of Literary Criticism in Medieval Arabic-Islamic Culture: The Making of a Tradition (1997), Poetics of Love in the Arabic Novel (2012) and Politics of Nostalgia in the Arabic Novel (2013). She has also published widely on The Thousand and One Nights, often in comparison with classical and modern Arabic narrative traditions, European and Hollywood cinema, magic realism, and Chinese storytelling. She is Editor-in-Chief of Middle Eastern Literatures and a member of the editorial board of Bulletin of SOAS. She founded and co-edits Edinburgh Studies in Classical Arabic Literature. She chaired the editorial board of Middle East in London Magazine (2007-2008) and contributes regularly to Banipal: Magazine of Modern Arab Literature. A native speaker of Arabic and Chinese, she has been working towards Arabic-Chinese comparative literary and cultural studies, including Silk Road Studies.
- A Modern Arabic Literary Genre: Themes and Techniques
- Arabic Critical Theory and Thought
- Classical Arabic Prose Literature and Adab
- Critical Perspectives on Palestine Studies I: History and Politics
- Critical Perspectives on Palestine Studies II: Culture and Society
- Culture Society and Politics in Classical Arabic Literature
- Dissertation in Palestine Studies
- Introduction to Classical Arabic Literature
- Modern Palestinian Literature (PG)
- Nation and Nationalism in Middle Eastern fiction (in Translation)
- Politics and Aesthetics in Modern Arabic Literature
PhD Students supervised
- Abdulrahman Al Farhan, Spirituality in Modern Arabic Prison Poetry
- Alexandria Milton, Beyond the Periphery: Spatial Approaches to Human Experience in the Short Story
- Charis Bredin, Creaturely Encounters: Animals in the Libyan literary imaginary
- Cleo Jay, Moroccan Theatre in the Post-Lead Years: Performing Identity, Politics and Society
- Irene Fernandez Ramos, Performing immobility: Space, the individual-collective body and the narratives of oppression in Contemporary Palestinian Theatre
- Maha Abdel Megeed, Muwaylihi's Isa ibn Hisham: Between 18th-Century Revival and 19th-Century Neoclassical Renaissance
- Nathanael Mannone, Between Dissent and Co-optation: An Exploration of film, music, and quotidian humour in revolutionary Tunisia
- Nora E.H. Parr, Intertextuality in Palestinian Literature: Novel Formulations of Nation-ness
- Poonkulaly Gunaseelan, ‘Breaking taboos (?)’: Representations of rape in post 1970s Indian-English literature
- Siba Aldabbagh, Word and Image in Visual Art and Poetry from the Arab World
The Curious Life of Objects in the Arabian Nights: what can food, gems and clothes tell us about cultural encounters by Wen-chin Ouyang
The Silk Road and World Literature
The Silk Road, which is in a variety of academic, political and cultural programmes around the world, is a metaphor for a form of globalization that predated the twentieth century and the strategic importance of Central Asia today, can serve as a non-Eurocentric framework in the study of cross-cultural interactions and developments.
The key ideas are:
There is a need to go beyond the dominant view of world as made up of discreet, bordered, sovereign realms and consider it as interconnected, networked nodes of continues flow of cross cultural interaction, so as to identify and articulate various patterns of globalization and different forms for cosmopolitanism without privileging one cultural unit or historical moment.
Ideas, languages, cultural expressions and products emerge, take shape and develop or decline within the framework of global networked circulation. It is possible and necessary to identify and describe the various structures of global economy of exchange, across time and space, within which the birth, maturity, death and even revival of ideas, languages and cultural expressions and products may be theorized.
Multilingualism is at the heart of creativity. Each language is always in contact with other languages as well as other systems of expression, especially image and sound, and through such contact it gains and rejuvenates its creative force. It is important to uncover the various forms of multilingualism latent in each linguistic and cultural expression, so as to understand fully and in a more complex fashion the ways in which language, whether based in word, image or sound, produces meaning and makes an impact, and to encourage and support multilingualism and creativity. Multiculturalism has been in existence in a variety of forms around the globe and is both product and producer of cross-cultural contacts and multilingualism. It is, like multilingualism, the foundation of creative cultural expressions.
Material objects are sites of cultural memory and discourse. They provide evidence of global circulation of ideas, languages and cultural expressions in various forms: the objects themselves, the raw material of these objects, the relevant techniques and technologies, the use and function of these objects in one culture or across cultures, and the cultural legacy accumulated around these objects. (Examples: musical instruments, china, paintings, manuscripts, etc). They are interesting objects of study as such, and can more importantly serve as one key focus of the project.
Literature, the visual arts and music inhere multilingualism and multiculturalism accumulated through cultural encounters across time and space. They tell similar stories of intercultural development but diverge in their expressive outlets, production of meaning and reception, and nuance. Comparative study of these is crucial in understanding and articulating different forms of multilingualism and multiculturalism and the divergent patterns of their development.
It is necessary to adopt a simultaneously multi- and interdisciplinary approach to cultural encounters and intercultural developments, or different forms of globalization (past and present, East and West) that bring together to mutually inform and enrich: (i) languages, literatures, cultures, religions, material culture, music history, politics, development studies, anthropology, and the sciences; (ii) scholars of and from Asia, Africa, the Middle East, and Europe, to track the circulation of ideas, languages, cultural expressions and products, across various and overlapping networks. (Circulation of silk will not be traced from China centripetally, for example, but to and fro China, Damascus and Venice at the same time).
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- Near and Middle East
Ouyang, Wen-Chin (2013) Politics of Nostalgia in the Arabic Novel: Nation-State, Modernity and Tradition. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press.
Ouyang, Wen-Chin (2012) Poetics of Love in the Arabic Novel: Nation-State, Modernity and Tradition. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press.
Ouyang, Wen-chin (1997) Literary Criticism in Medieval Arabic-Islamic Culture: The Making of a Tradition. Edinburgh University Press.
Edited Books or Journal Volumes
Ouyang, Wen-chin, ed. (2014) The Arabian Nights: An Anthology. London: Random House. (Everyman's Library)
Ouyang, Wen-Chin, ed. (2012) Utopias, Dystopias and Heterotopias: The Spatiality of Human Experience and Literary Expression. Special issue of the Middle Eastern Literatures 15(3). London: Taylor and Francis.
Omri, Mohamed-Saleh and Ouyang, Wen-Chin, eds. (2007) The Novelization of Islamic Literatures. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press. (Comparative Critical Studies, 4 (3))
Ouyang, Wen-Chin and van Gelder, Geert Jan, eds. (2005) New perspectives on Arabian nights: ideological variations and narrative horizons. London: Routledge.
Hart, Stephen and Ouyang, Wen-Chin, eds. (2005) A Companion to Magical Realism. Woodbridge: Tamesis.
Ouyang, Wen-Chin, ed. (2004) Ideological Variations and Narrative Horizons: New Perspectives on the Arabian Nights. Basingstoke: Francis and Taylor. (Middle Eastern literatures 7(2). Special issue)
Ouyang, Wen-chin (2016) 'Solomon's Ring.' In: Al-Shaar, Nuha, (ed.), Qur'an and Adab. Oxford: Oxford University Press. (Forthcoming)
Ouyang, Wen-Chin (2015) 'Literature and Thought: Re-reading al-Tawhidi's Transcription of the Debate between Logic and Grammar.' In: Pomerantz, Maurice A. and Shahin, Aram A., (eds.), The Heritage of Arabo-Islamic Learning: Studies in Honor of Wadad Kadi. Leiden: E. J. Brill, pp. 444-460. (Islamic History an Civilization)
Ouyang, Wen-Chin (2015) 'Return or Departure? Homecoming in al-Tahtawi's Travelogue.' In: Bauden, Frederic, (ed.), Tropics of Travel 4: Homes. Proceedings of the International Conference Organized at the Université de Liège (13-15 January 2011). Louvain; Paris; Walpole (MA): Peeters, pp. 89-108.
Ouyang, Wen-Chin (2014) 'Mujun, Junun, Funun.' In: The Rude, the Bad, and the Ugly: Essays in Honour of Professor Geert Jan van Gelder. Oxford: Oxbow Books, Gibb Memorial Trust, pp. 7-12.
Ouyang, Wen-chin (2013) 'Silenced Cultural Encounters in Poetry of War.' In: Kennedy, Hugh, (ed.), Warfare and Poetry in the Middle East. London; New York: I. B. Tauris, pp. 167-192.
Ouyang, Wen-chin (2011) 'Lost in Nostalgia: Modernity's Repressed Other.' In: Translation, Trauma, Tradition: The Classic and the Modern. Oxford: Oxford University Press, pp. 191-210. (Classical Presences)
Ouyang, Wen-chin (2010) 'Dramas of Encounter: al-Shidyaq on Arab, English and French Women.' In: Chraibi, Aboubakr, (ed.), Tropes du Voyage: Encontres. Paris: l'Harmattan.
Ouyang, Wen-Chin (2009) 'The Arabian Nights in Chinese and English Translations: Differing Patterns of Cultural Encounter.' In: Chraibi, Aboubakr and Ramirez, Carmen, (eds.), Les Mille et une nuits et le recit oriental: En Espagne et en Occident. Paris: L’Harmattan, pp. 371-400.
Ouyang, Wen-Chin (2008) 'Utopian Fantasy or Dystopian Nightmare: Trajectories of Desire in Classical Arabic and Chinese Fiction.' In: Chraibi, Aboubakr and Bauden, Frederic and Ghersetti, Antonella, (eds.), Le repertoire narrative arabe medieval: transmission et ouverture. Geneve: Droz, pp. 323-351.
Ouyang, Wen-Chin (2008) 'Text, Space and the Individual in the Poetry of Badr Shakir al-Sayyab.' In: Ostle, Robin, (ed.), Sensibilities of the Islamic Mediterranean: Self Expression in a Muslim Culture from Post-Classical Times to the Present Day. London: I. B. Tauris.
Ouyang, Wen-Chin (2008) 'Mapping Arab Womanhood: Identity Politics and Narratives of Arab Women.' In: Ostle, Robin, (ed.), Sensibilities of the Islamic Mediterranean: Self Expression in a Muslim Culture from Post-Classical Times to the Present Day. London: I. B. Tauris, pp. 174-193.
Ouyang, Wen-chin (2007) 'Literature as Performance: The Theatre of al-Hatimi's Al-rasila al-mudiha.' In: Chraibi, A., (ed.), Classer les recits: Theories and pratiques. L'Harmattan, pp. 115-145.
Ouyang, Wen-Chin (2006) 'English Translation of Arabic Literature.' In: France, Peter and Haynes, Kenneth, (eds.), Oxford History of Literary Translation in English, Vol. 4 (1790-1900). Oxford: Oxford University Press, pp. 323-331.
Ouyang, Wen-Chin (2006) 'Intertextuality Gone Awry: The Mysterious (Dis)Appearance of Tradition in the Arabic Novel.' In: Deheuvels, Luc and Michalak-Pikulska, Barbara and Starkey, Paul, (eds.), Intertextuality in Modern Arabic Literature since 1967. Durham: Durham University Press, pp. 45-64. (Durham Modern Languages Series Arabic Series AR2)
Ouyang, Wen-chin (2005) ''Introduction' to Part IV: Empire, Nation, Magic.' In: Hart, Stephen M. and Ouyang, Wen-Chin, (eds.), A Companion to Magical Realism. Woodbridge: Tamesis, pp. 225-227.
Ouyang, Wen-Chin (2005) ''Introduction' to Part III: The Politics of Magic.' In: Hart, Stephen M. and Ouyang, Wen-Chin, (eds.), A Companion to Magical Realism. Woodbridge: Tamesis, pp. 153-154.
Ouyang, Wen-chin (2005) 'Genres, Ideologies, Genre Ideologies and Narrative Transformation.' In: Ouyang, Wen-Chin and van Gelder, Geert Jan, (eds.), New Perspectives on the Arabian Nights: Ideological Variations and Narrative Horizons. Routledge, pp. 9-15.
Ouyang, Wen-Chin (2005) 'Beyond Magical Realism: Ideology of Fantasy.' In: Hart, Stephen M. and Ouyang, Wen-Chin, (eds.), A Companion to Magical Realism. Woodbridge: Tamesis, pp. 13-20.
Ouyang, Wen-Chin (2005) 'Theorizing Narrative, Narritivizing Theory: A Novel Interpretation of One Thousand and One Nights.' In: Joly, Jean-Luc and Kilito, Abdelfattah, (eds.), Les Mille et Une Nuits: Du texte au mythe. Morocco: Universite Mohammed V de Rabat, pp. 175-197.
Ouyang, Wen-chin (2005) 'Whose Story Is It?: Sindbad the Sailor in Literature and Film.' In: Ouyang, Wen-Chin and van Gelder, Geert Jan, (eds.), New Perspectives on the Arabian Nights: Ideological Variations and Narrative Horizons. Routledge, pp. 1-15.
Ouyang, Wen-Chin (2005) 'From The Thousand and One Nights to Magical Realism: Postnational Predicament in The Journey of Little Ghandi by Elias Khoury.' In: Hart, Stephen and Ouyang, Wen-Chin, (eds.), A Companion to Magical Realism. Woodbridge: Tamesis, pp. 267-280.
Ouyang, Wen-chin (2004) 'Idéologie du genre et subjectivité auctoriale dans les Mille et une nuit de Pasolini.' In: Chraibi, Aboubkr, (ed.), Les Mille et Une Nuit en partage. Sindbad Actes Sud, pp. 81-94.
Ouyang, Wen-Chin (2002) 'From Beirut to Beirut: Exile, Wandering and Homecoming in the Narratives of Etel Adnan.' In: Majaj, Lisa and Amireh, Amal, (eds.), Etel Adnan: Critical Essays on the Arab-American Writer and Artist. McFarland and Co., pp. 67-88.
Ouyang, Wen-Chin (1996) 'The Thousand and One Nights.' In: McGreal, Ian P., (ed.), Great Literature of the Eastern World. New York: HarperCollins Publishers, pp. 470-478.
Ouyang, Wen-Chin (1996) 'The Maqamat of al-Hamadhani and al-Hariri.' In: McGreal, Ian P., (ed.), Great Literature of the Eastern World. New York: HarperCollins Publishers, pp. 488-495.
Ouyang, Wen-Chin (1993) 'Princess of Resolution: The Emergence of al-Amira Dhat al-Himma, a Medieval Arab Warrior Woman.' In: Ross, Lena, (ed.), To Speak or Be Silent. Wilmette: Chiron Publications, pp. 197-209.
Ouyang, Wen-chin (2016) 'Male Friendship in Literary Writings: Brotherhood, Society and Political Authority in Arabic and Chinese Cultures.' Alif: Journal of Comparative Poetics, 36 . (In Press)
Ouyang, Wen-chin (2014) 'The Qur'an and Identity in Contemporary Chinese Fiction.' Journal of Qur'anic Studies, 16 (3). pp. 63-84.
Ouyang, Wen-chin (2014) 'Intertextuality and Transformation: Collective Memory in Arabic and Chinese Narratives of History (in Arabic).' Alif, A Journal of Comparative Poetics (34). pp. 109-135.
Ouyang, Wen-Chin (2012) 'Preface: Utopias, Dystopias and Heterotopias: The Spatiality of Human Experience and Literary Expression.' Middle Eastern Literatures, 15 (3). pp. 227-231.
Ouyang, Wen-chin (2009) 'An Ethical Underworld?: Legendary Con Artists in Arabic Vernacular Fiction.' Oriente Moderno, LXXXIX . pp. 407-424.
Ouyang, Wen-Chin (2007) 'Fictive Mode, ‘Journey to the West’, and Transformation of Space: Discourses of Modernisation in ‘Ali Mubarak’s ‘Alam al-Din.' Comparative Critical Studies, 4 (3). pp. 331-358.
Ouyang, Wen-Chin (2007) 'Interview with Haifa Zangana.' Comparative Critical Studies, 4 (3). pp. 447-453.
Ouyang, Wen-chin (2004) 'Whose Story Is It? Sindbad the Sailor in Literature and Film.' Middle Eastern Literatures, 7 (2). pp. 133-147.
Ouyang, Wen-chin (2004) 'Genre, Ideologies, Genre Ideologies and Narrative Transformation.' Middle Eastern Literatures, 7 (2). pp. 125-132.
Ouyang, Wen-chin (2003) 'Metamorphoses of Scheherazade in Literature and Film.' Bulletin of the School of Oriental and African Studies, 66 (3). pp. 402-418.
Ouyang, Wen-Chin (2003) 'The Dialectic of Past and Present in Rihlat Ibn Fattuma by Najib Mahfuz.' Edebiyat: Journal of Middle Eastern Literatures, 14 (1-2). pp. 81-107.
Ouyang, Wen-Chin (2002) 'The Epical Turn of Romance: Love in the Narrative of ‘Umar al-Nu‘man.' Oriente Moderno, 19 (1). pp. 485-504.
Ouyang, Wen-chin (2000) 'Romancing the Epic: "Umar al-Nu" man as narrative of empowerment.' Arabic and Middle Eastern Literatures, 3 (1). pp. 5-18.
Ouyang, Wen-chin (1999) 'The Imagined Modern Nation in Al-farafir by Yusuf Idris.' Modern Language Quarterly, 60 (3). pp. 379-408.
Ouyang, Wen-chin (1998) 'A novel in the form of an ode: the power of Ghassan Kanafani's narrative in Ma tabaqqa lakum.' Arabic and Middle Eastern Literatures, 1 (2). pp. 223-231.
Ouyang, Wen-Chin (1997) 'Feminist Discourse between Art and Ideology: Four Novels by Nawal El Saadawi.' Al-‘Arabiyya, 30 . pp. 96-113.
Ouyang, Wen-Chin (2008) 'Review of Roger Allen and D. S. Richards (eds), 'Arabic literature in the Post-Classical Period'.' International Journal of Middle East Studies, 40 . pp. 708-710.
Ouyang, Wen-Chin (2003) 'Review of Algerian White, 'Assia Djebar' and Hanan al-Shaykh, 'Only in London'.' Wasafiri, 40 . p. 60.
Ouyang, Wen-Chin (2002) 'Review of Dwight F. Reynolds, 'Interpreting the Self: Autobiography in the Arabic Literary Tradition'.' Bulletin of the School of Oriental and African Studies, 65 (3). pp. 574-576.
Ouyang, Wen-Chin (1996) 'Review of Nawal Al-Sa dawi, 'Woman at Point Zero' and 'The Circling Song'.' International Journal of Middle East Studies, 28 (03). pp. 457-460.
Ouyang, Wen-Chin (1995) 'Review of Joseph Zeidan, 'Arab Women Novelists: The Formative Years and Beyond'.' Al-‘Arabiyya .
Ouyang, Wen-chin (2011) 'Interextuality, Ideology and Culture: Trajectories of Narratological Inquiries in Ancient Near and Middle Eastern Literatures.' In: Narratives of Egypt and the Ancient Near East: Literary and Linguistic Approaches. Leuven: Peeters. pp. 539-549.