Concentric: Literary and Cultural Studies
Vol. 40 No. 1 | March 2014
Guest Editors: John Rodden & Henk Vynckier
Deadline for Submissions: August 15, 2013
While George Orwell’s status in Britain, the US, and the West generally speaking is beyond question, his place in Asian and other non-Western cultural discourses has been less certain. From raucous democracies to hermit kingdoms, contemporary Asia features varied societal and political models, and George Orwell’s writings consequently have been received very differently from country to country. For example, in Myanmar, the former Burma, Burmese Days (1934) is hailed as a first-class anti-colonial document, but Animal Farm, Nineteen Eighty-four, and the rest of his work are banned.
To be sure, Orwell is profoundly linked to and deserving of consideration in the Asian cultural context. He was born in Bengal, served five years in the Indian Imperial Police in Burma, and returned from the experience a firm anti-colonialist. Already in his first book, Down and Out in Paris and London (1933), he reflected on the fate of Indian rickshaw pullers and gharry ponies while discussing his experiences as a dishwasher in Paris, and such texts as “A Hanging,” “Shooting an Elephant,” and Burmese Days have become classics of English colonial literature. From 1941 to 1943 he was employed by the Indian section of the BBC’s Eastern Service. His private correspondence, book reviews, and essays further demonstrate his lifelong interest in the question of Indian independence, the future of Palestine, decolonization throughout Asia and around the world, and new English writings from Asia. Yet in Nineteen Eighty-four, a very different Asia looms large, for Oceania, the Anglo-American superpower in this dystopian classic, is permanently threatened by the two rival global powers of Eurasia and Eastasia.
The purpose of this special issue is to invite essays that further Orwell scholarship in an Asian as well as global context and, in doing so, make possible new perspectives on one of the most influential authors of the 20th century.
John Rodden is an independent scholar located in Austin, Texas. He has taught at the University of Virginia, the University of Texas at Austin, and Tunghai University in Taichung, Taiwan. He has published ten books on Orwell, including The Politics of Literary Reputation: The Making and Claiming of “St. George” Orwell (1989) and The Cambridge Introduction to George Orwell (2012). He has also published critically acclaimed monographs on the New York intellectuals, the politics of culture in Germany before and after the fall of the Berlin Wall, and the art of the literary interview.
Henk Vynckier is the Chair of the Department of Foreign Languages and Literature at Tunghai University, Taichung, Taiwan. He has published on Orwell, collecting as a literary theme, travel literature, and the literary legacy of the Chinese Maritime Customs Agency (1854-1950). He is also an honorary researcher in the Research Center for Humanities and Social Sciences at the Academia Sinica contributing to an interdisciplinary research project on Robert Hart and the Chinese Maritime Customs Service.
Concentric: Literary and Cultural Studies is a peer-reviewed journal published two times per year by the Department of English, National Taiwan Normal University, Taipei, Taiwan. Concentric is devoted to offering innovative perspectives on literary and cultural issues and advancing the transcultural exchange of ideas. While committed to bringing Asian-based scholarship to the world academic community, Concentric welcomes original contributions from diverse national and cultural backgrounds.
Each issue of Concentric publishes groups of essays on a special topic as well as papers on more general issues. The focus can be on any historical period and any region. Any critical method may be employed as long as the paper demonstrates a distinctive contribution to scholarship in the field.
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