Chinese and English Literary Scholarship on Ang Lee’s Lust, Caution: The Necessity for Cross-cultural Communication in the 21st Century

By Richard Douglass-Chin.

Published by The International Journal of Literary Humanities

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North American reception of Chinese American director Ang Lee’s 2007 film “Lust, Caution” was luke-warm, but Chinese interest in the film has been high. Traditional Western databases suggest that English-language scholarship on both film and novel (on which the film is based) is very sparse. But Google Scholar, as well as Chinese databases suggest another story altogether. The discrepancy suggests a problematic disconnect between Western and Chinese scholarship, even within the work of a single scholar. Harvard academic Ou-fan Lee has written an English article on Ang Lee’s film adaptation of the novel, but has also published a monograph (Oxford University Press, Hong Kong) on the same topic in Chinese. Why has Ou-fan Lee, working in both Chinese and English, chosen to publish his monograph in Chinese only? Why has his monograph not been translated into English? If strong nationalist attitudes make Chinese humanities scholars resistant to writing in English, a preference for Orientalist discourses on the part of western journals makes it difficult for Western scholars to access a plethora of Chinese material that falls outside of this discourse and is therefore not translated into English (Flowerdew & Li). Is this the case with Ou-fan’s monograph? What are the differences between Ou-fan’s English article and his Chinese text? My investigation contributes to an only recently-developing, long-overdue intercourse between English and Chinese-speaking scholars in 21st-century humanities.

Keywords: Cultural Dialogue as Global Imperative, Linguistic Diversity, Languages, Film, Literature, Theater, Nationalism, Orientalism, Translation

The International Journal of Literary Humanities, Volume 10, Issue 2, pp.95-103. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 415.108KB).

Dr. Richard Douglass-Chin

Associate Professor, English Language, Literature, and Creative Writing, University of Windsor, Windsor, Ontario, Canada

Richard Douglass-Chin is an associate professor at the University of Windsor. He specializes in American Literature, especially African American and Asian American literary forms. He has published a critical monograph, Preacher Woman Sings the Blues, as well as articles in The Canadian Review of American Studies, The College Language Association Journal, Revista la Torre, and MELUS ("Finding the Way:Chuang Hua's Crossings and Chinese Literary Tradition").