SOAS University of London

Romantic, Rebel, and Reactionary: The Metamorphosis of Byron in Twentieth-Century China

LI Ou (Associate Professor at the Chinese University of Hong Kong)

Date: 20 May 2019Time: 5:00 PM

Finishes: 20 May 2019Time: 7:00 PM

Venue: Russell Square: College Buildings Room: 4426

Type of Event: Lecture

This event is free and open to the public, however registration is required. Online registration.



This talk traces the trajectory of Byron’s critical reception in twentieth-century China and in doing so, explores the complex interaction between literary texts and their foreign contexts. The history of Byron’s reception will be discussed in three stages: first, from the late Qing to the early Republican era (1900s to 1920s), when Byron was celebrated as a rebel hero as part of the sweeping tide of revolution and the New Culture Movement; second, from 1930s to 1970s, when Byron experienced a drastic re-evaluation by the socialist standard of revolutionary romanticism and became a controversial figure, with his individualism denounced as bourgeois in nature; and third, from the post-Mao late 1970s to the end of the century, when Byron translations and scholarship re-emerged with fewer obvious ideological constraints. The turbulent course of Byron’s Chinese reception attests to the extraordinary subversiveness and volatility of his poetry, which make it especially prone to constant reinterpretation and reinvigoration.

Speaker Biography

LI Ou is Associate Professor at Department of English, the Chinese University of Hong Kong. She is the author of Keats and Negative Capability (Continuum, 2009), ‘Keats, Sextus Empiricus, and Medicine’ (Romanticism 22:2 (2016), 167-76), ‘Keats’s Afterlife in Twentieth-Century China’ (in English Romanticism in East Asia: A Romantic Circles PRAXIS Volume), ‘Romantic, Rebel, and Reactionary: The Metamorphosis of Byron in Twentieth-Century China’ (in British Romanticism in Asia, Palgrave, 2019), and ‘Two Chinese Wordsworths: The Reception of Wordsworth in Twentieth-Century China’ (in Romantic Legacies: Transnational and Transdisciplinary Contexts, Routledge, 2019). Her research interests include Romantic poetry, especially Keats, and cultural/literary relations between China and Britain.


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