1 December | LUCIS-Gravensteen Lecture | Wen-chin Ouyang

Wen-chin Ouyang, Professor of Arabic and Comparative Literature (SOAS London) will give a lecture on "Reading Arabic Literature in a Global Context: Silk and Spice in Literary Writings." Gravensteen 11, 3-5pm. All are welcome.

Date & Time
1 December 2016

Gravensteen, Room 11
Pieterskerkhof 6
2311 SR Leiden

Reception to follow at Faculty Club Brasserie

Chair: Prof.dr. Petra Sijpesteijn (LIAS, Director of LUCIS)
Discussant: Prof. dr. Miguel John Versluys (Archaeology)

Silk and Spice in Literary Writings

Material objects are an integral part of literary writings. They give a literary work its texture and ground it in a real world. More importantly, they inhere memories of cross-cultural encounters that go beyond the time and place of the production and consumption of a literary work. What can material objects in literary writings tell us about global circulation of goods, people and ideas? What can this global circulation inform the ways we read and understand literary works? This lecture looks at material objects as memorial sites of intercultural exchange and explores the potentials in using ‘the Silk Road’, envisioned here as overlapping networks of circulation, as a framework for the study of literature in a global context.


Wen-chin Ouyang was born in Taiwan and raised in Libya. She completed her BA in Arabic at Tripoli University and PhD Middle Eastern Studies at Columbia University in New York City. She taught Arabic language, literature and culture at Columbia University, University of Chicago and University of Virginia before she moved to London. She is interested in critical theory and thought as well as poetics and prosaics. She has written extensively on classical and modern Arabic narrative and literary criticism. She is the author of Literary Criticism in Medieval Arabic-Islamic Culture: The Making of a Tradition (1997), Poetics of Love in the Arabic Novel (2012) and Politics of Nostalgia in the Arabic Novel (2013). She has also published widely on The Thousand and One Nights, often in comparison with classical and modern Arabic narrative traditions, European and Hollywood cinema, magic realism, and Chinese storytelling. She is Editor-in-Chief of Middle Eastern Literatures and a member of the editorial board of Bulletin of SOAS. She founded and co-edits Edinburgh Studies in Classical Arabic Literature. She chaired the editorial board of Middle East in London Magazine (2007-2008) and contributes regularly to Banipal: Magazine of Modern Arab Literature. A native speaker of Arabic and Chinese, she has been working towards Arabic-Chinese comparative literary and cultural studies, including Silk Road Studies.

Last Modified: 23-11-2016