The University of Newcastle, Australia

New Centre for early modern studies sparking Chinese collaboration

Tuesday, 6 March 2018

Trip to China brings new perspective on early modern research

Deputy Director of the Centre for 21st Century Humanities and the Early Modern Women Research Network, Professor Ros Smith is leading the development of a new Centre bringing together Chinese and Australian early modern studies academics.

In European terms, early modern refers to the period 1500-1700 including the Renaissance, the Reformation, the invention of printing, and the discovery of the New World.

Professor Smith said the idea to reach out to her Chinese counterparts began with an audit of Chinese academics in the field of early modern studies.

“In doing the audit we found that there are so many academics in China looking at the early modern field but we don’t have anything to do with them. In my position on the ARC College of Experts I often saw other areas that have Chinese partners so we thought this collaboration would be a good way to bring a different global perspective on early modern studies,”  Professor Smith said.

The China-Australia Centre for Early Modern Studies was further developed following a trip to China in October 2017 where Professor Smith met with academics from Peking University, Zheijang University and the Chinese University of Mining and Technology – all universities with cognate centres in this field, including a Centre for Medieval and Renaissance Studies at Zheijang University.

The project aims to build collaborations in early modern literature and culture with scholars from China, with three areas of focus:

  1. Collaboration between Chinese and Australian scholars on early modern European literature and culture
  2. Comparative studies of early modern European literature and culture with sixteenth/seventeenth century Chinese literature across specific topics.
  3. Points of contact between early modern Europe and Ming dynasty China

Plans are in place for Professor Smith and Director of the Centre for 21st Century Humanities, Professor Hugh Craig, to visit China later in 2018 to further cement the collaborative Centre.  Professor Craig said he’s looking forward to hearing the Chinese viewpoint on early modern history.

“In studying early modern Europe, Chinese and Australian scholars both bring a new perspective because they are outside the established research centres in the US, the UK and Europe,” he said.

A symposium is also planned for late 2018.

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