Friday, November 15th, 2019 Tagore in China: The Case for Pan-Asian Poetics in the 1920s

Friday, November 15, 20195:00PM - 8:00PM202N, North House, 1 Devonshire Place
Friday, November 15, 20195:00PM - 8:00PM208N, North House, 1 Devonshire Place


The Annual Bengal Studies Lecture


Rabindranath Tagore’s 1924 tour in China has attracted numerous critical analyses throughout the years and continues to pique scholars’ curiosity. The literary luminary’s attempt to raise support for his vision of an Asia-wide investment in spirituality in a rapidly materializing world remains a particularly fraught topic. Scholarship on China’s response to the Eastern spirituality ideal has generally focused on Chinese Marxists’ scathing critiques of Tagore’s vision, epitomized in the cold reception his lectures received from their audience. Less attention has been paid to an array of enthusiastic responses that emerged from May 4th poets in the form of journal articles about Tagore and poetry which directly engaged with his ideas. This talk investigates the exchange with Tagore and his work as an event that deeply informed Chinese poetry. As such, I argue, Tagore’s visit enables a new understanding of the Eastern spirituality project not as a failure, but as a vehicle for the Chinese envisioning of Pan-Asian poetics.

Gal Gvili is an Assistant Professor at the Department of East Asian Studies at McGill University. She studies and teaches modern, and contemporary Chinese literature, literary and cultural theory. Her first book investigates how interactions between Chinese writers and Indian religions and philosophy fashioned a conviction that literature is the ultimate means for transforming the national fate.

The lecture will be followed by reception, 7-8 PM.

Main Sponsor

Asian Institute


Centre for South Asian Studies


Dr. David Chu Program in Asia-Pacific Studies

Department for the Study of Religion

Department of English

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