*This is a hybrid event.
In traditional Chinese poetics, resentment (yuan, 怨) is a prominent concept. A complex emotion between anger and sorrow, resentment is, at one and the same time, outreaching and introspective, personal and political, future-oriented and pass-obsessed. Throughout history, from Confucius’s time to the late Ming, at the most tumultuous moments, resentment erupts. What does this bad feeling with immense aesthetic and political implications have to say to the mid-twentieth century, one of the most traumatic moments in modern China? This project aims to think about resentment in the modern time with a series of writers, from Hu Feng to Shen Congwen to Eileen Chang. They wrote in different locales, different genres, and with different political affiliations, yet at this particular historical juncture, they were all writing with/about resentment. I argue that in their writings, resentment opens up a new way of getting in touch with history of feeling temporalities, in which the world becomes a material plane of affective entanglement, and inter/subjectivities are envisioned as reverberations across time and space. Literary, acoustic, as well as material artifacts thus become sites for healing that hold the potential of channeling the dysphoric negative affect, and reimagining our relation with the world.
Eliot Chen is a graduate student in the Department of East Asian Languages and Cultures, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Their interests include modern Chinese literature, critical theory, and media studies. Their research primarily revolves around the aesthetics and politics of feelings in the (post)modern time, with an especial emphasis on the echoes between contemporary affect theory and traditional Chinese poetics.