The University of Iowa

Mo Yan's Nobel Prize: Resetting Chinese Literature

February 13th, 2013

Mo Yan
The controversy over awarding of the Nobel Prize for literature to PRC author Mo Yan has uncovered old and bitter debates about the relationship between politics and literature. However, Chinese society and contemporary Chinese literature have come a long way since the Cold War, when those debates first flared up, and the possibilities for Chinese literature today are unprecedented. 

In an upcoming public lecture, East Asian scholar Charles A. Laughlin will explain how Mo Yan and his generation have fundamentally changed the relationship between literature and politics in China, helping create a broader space for creativity and more vigorous engagement with world literature than ever before. This lecture will be held Friday, Feb. 22, at 3:30 p.m. in 1117 University Capitol Centre on the UI campus.

Laughlin is Weedon Chair Professor of East Asian Studies at the University of Virginia. He has published extensively on Chinese literature from the 1920s-1960s, including two books: “Chinese Reportage: The Aesthetics of Historical Experience” and “The Literature of Leisure and Chinese Modernity.” Laughlin also edited “Contested Modernities in Chinese Literature.” His current research focuses on discourses of desire in Chinese revolutionary literature.

This event is presented by the Center for Asian and Pacific Studies in International Programs.

For more information, contact Dongwang Liu at or 319-335-1305.

Read a related article from Iowa Now: IWP participant wins Nobel Prize for Literature