Fate, Prognostication and Freedom in Chinese Literature, Film and Folktale

Michael Lackner (IKGF)
Kwok-kan Tam (Open University of Hong Kong)
Monika Gaenssbauer (IKGF, FAU)
Terry Siu-han Yip (Hong Kong Baptist University)
Martin Kroher (IKGF, FAU)

September 27, 2016 -
September 28, 2016


IKGF Seminar Room, Building D1
Hartmannstraße. 14,
91052 Erlangen

Different cultures have different concepts of “fate”, and hence there are different methods of prognostication. The conference seeks to address the philosophical, cultural, political, religious, or moral issues behind the human desire of a person to master his/her own fate when he/she enters into the act of prognostication. Seen in this light, fate plays a role in life because prognostication works as a result of human participation.

Both Oedipus and Macbeth are classic examples of how a human being acts as an agent in realizing a prediction, while thinking that they are the master of their fate. Human agency has a double sense of being master and being an agent of someone or something else. In the Oedipus case, Oedipus becomes the agent of fate because it is he who makes it come true. In classical as well as modern Chinese literature, there are many such stories in fiction or in drama. It is in this double sense that fate works as a paradox in life.

The modern Chinese concept of fate may be different, because it is often seen as an expansion of the traditional concept by incorporating social and psychological elements. In the case of Lao She, he sees that the human subject is doomed because life is fated and is socially determined. Lao She does not deal with prophecy, or he does not believe in it, but he reveals that the human subject cannot transcend socially-determined fate, no matter how hard a person struggles against it. So are other modern Chinese writers, such as Aileen Chang (Zhang Ailing) and Xi Xi, who see life as predicated in fate and all struggles against fate as doomed. Instead, they depict the psychological state of fictional characters who live under the threat of a looming fate.


Poster Flyer


September 27, 2016

10:00 - 10:30 Welcome Addresses – Introduction
Michael Lackner (IKGF, FAU)
Kwok-kan Tam (Open University of Hong Kong)
10:30 - 11:00 “Psycho-fatalism in A Girl Like Me and Deep Secrets in the Baihua Garden
Kwok-kan Tam (Open University of Hong Kong)
11:00 - 11:15 Discussion
Discussant: Monika Gaenssbauer (IKGF, FAU)
11:15 - 11:45 Coffee Break
11:45 - 12:15 Fate or Destiny in The Matrimony Inn and Eileen Chang’s Love in a Fallen City
Terry Siu-han Yip (Hong Kong Baptist University)
12:15 - 12:30 Discussion
Discussant: Christopher Lupke (Washington State University, Pullman)
12:30 - 14:30 Lunch Break
14:30 - 15:00 The Clash Between Personal Fate, Future, and Society in Ge Fei’s Latest Fiction
Nicoletta Pesaro (Ca’ Foscari University of Venice)
15:00 - 15:30 The Chinese Concept of Fate in Lilian Lee’s Dumplings, The Last Piece of Chrysanthemum Jelly, and With No Reservation
Jessica Tsui-Yan Li (York University, Toronto)
15:30 - 16:00 Discussion
Discussant: Terry Siu-han Yip (Hong Kong Baptist University)
16:00 - 16:30 Coffee Break
16:30 - 17:00 Prophecy, Power and the Lost Self in the TV Drama Legend of Miyue
Serena Qun Xie (Zhongnan University of Economics and Law, Wuhan)
17:00 - 17:30 Discussion
Discussant: Philipp Hünnebeck (IKGF, FAU)

September 28, 2016

9:30 - 10:00 The Recurring Fate in Life After Life and The Reincarnation of Golden Lotus
Kaby Wing-Sze Kung (Open University of Hong Kong)
10:00 - 10:30 Dream-Scenes, Symbols and Prognostication in Wong Kar-wai’s Ashes of Time
Monika Gaenssbauer (IKGF, FAU)
10:30 - 11:00 Discussion
Discussant: Nicoletta Pesaro (Ca’ Foscari University of Venice)
11:00 - 11:30 Coffee Break
11:30 - 12:00 Determinacy and Free Will in Contemporary Chinese Cinema
Christopher Lupke (Washington State University, Pullman)
12:00 - 12:15 Discussion
Discussant: Carsten Storm (FAU)
12:15 - 14:00 Lunch Break
14:00 - 14:30 Popular Response to Natural Disaster in 18th Century Shandong: Views from Below as Represented in Prosimetric Vernacular Narrative
Roland Altenburger (University of Würzburg)
14:30 - 15:00 Divination or Death Traps? The Semiotic Language in Chinese Folklore and Fortune Telling
Anna Tso (Open University of Hong Kong)
15:00 - 15:30 Discussion
Martin Kroher (IKGF, FAU)
15:30 - 16:00 Coffee Break
16:00 - 16:30 Oppression versus Obsession: Dream, Fate and Prognostication in Hongloumeng
Kelly Kar Yue Chan (Open University of Hong Kong)
16:30 - 17:00 Fate, Myth and The Gesture of Restoring ‘Ambiguity’ (歸隱) – Superhuman Force and Landscape Imagery in Late Tang and Song Poetic Works
Frank Kraushaar (University of Latvia, Riga)
17:00 - 17:30 Discussion and further planning
Discussant: Kwok-kan Tam (Open University of Hong Kong)

International Consortium for Research in the Humanities

"Fate, Freedom and Prognostication. Strategies for Coping with the Future in East Asia and Europe."

Friedrich-Alexander-Universität Erlangen-Nürnberg
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91052 Erlangen
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Fax: +49 (0)9131 85 - 64360