Peter Cryle is an Emeritus Professor in the Institute for Advanced Studies in the Humanities at the University of Queensland. He is the author of a number of books on the history of sexuality, including Geometry in the Boudoir (Cornell UP, 1994), The Telling of the Act (U of Delaware P, 2001), and, with Alison Moore, Frigidity: An Intellectual History (Palgrave Macmillan, 2011). He is currently completing a critical genealogy of normality, co-written with Elizabeth Stephens.
Words and Things: The Uncertain Place of Philology in Intellectual History
This paper will consider the ease and the difficulty of adapting the habits of philology to the exigencies of intellectual history. The title chosen by Michel Foucault for one of his major historical studies, Les Mots et les choses, was not translated literally when the work was published in English. It was rendered as The Order of Things, rather than “Words and Things.” In fact, Foucault himself might have preferred “L’Ordre des choses” as his French title, but was unable to use it because it had been taken by an earlier work. (In 1958, Jacques Brosse had published an essay entitled L’Ordre des choses, with a preface by Gaston Bachelard.) So it appears that the English title restored a possibility that had been squeezed out in French. But when Foucault, as we must suppose, had been called on to revise his French title, he had been content with “Words and things.” There is something disarming about the pair of substantives he chose. We should not suppose that he merely wanted to show how words could be paired referentially with things: the provocation lies in the very simplicity. In the body of the essay, he developed the notion of discourse, which involved articulated sets of words. Discourses he understood to be sayable propositions corresponding to thinkable things. A statement was thinkable exactly insofar as it was sayable, and the articulation of statements gave shape to the content of thought. Since the 1970s and 1980s, Foucault’s influence on the humanities and social sciences has been great, and there now exists at least one field of research that owes direct allegiance to his view of discourse: the field of intellectual history. Scholars have come to intellectual history after being trained in a range of disciplines: not just history of various kinds, but philosophy, studies in religion, and literary studies. This paper will ask specifically what it can mean in practice to bring to the historical study of discourses a training in which philology has played a part. In the absence of a putative love of discourse, what might it mean to take words as objects of exquisite historical attention?
Anne Freadman is a researcher in ‘language and literature’. With others, she has published edited collections on French studies, on French literature, and on genre theory, and has authored books in semiotics (The Machinery of Talk: Charles Peirce and the Sign Hypothesis, Stanford, 2004) and on Colette (The Livres-Souvenirs of Colette: Genre and the Telling of Time, Legenda, 2014). Her recent work has been largely devoted to genre theory, and is published in a large number of chapters and articles. She has also published widely on the teaching of culture in modern languages curricula. At present she is engaged on a book about Jewish diaries from occupied France.
The Word and all Things in it.
This conference gives me the opportunity to review the recent renewal of interest in the field of philology, as exemplified in James Turner’s Philology: the Forgotten Origin of the Modern Humanities (Princeton, 2014). Curiously, Turner’s account completely overlooks the modern languages, yet it was here, I would argue, that philology was most central, and its rejection the most radical.
Starting from the 1970’s when this rejection was at its peak, I shall reconsider both what we wanted to give up, and what we gave it up for. I have argued elsewhere (Modern Languages Journal, Vol. 98, no. 1, 2014 (373-385)) that modern languages as a discipline in the present proclaims the unity of ‘language’ and ‘culture’, but that this unity has been lost with the loss of the philological paradigm. Yet, following Turner, philology was at its heart a paradigm that put language at the centre of all manner of research. Taking as an (albeit idiosyncratic) example my own work, I shall go on to argue that philology did not die; it just got lost in the thickets of structuralism, deconstruction, and the new historiography, and learnt new tricks while it was there.
Kam Louie is Honorary Professor at Hong Kong University and UNSW. He has 18 books under his name. Recent publications include Chinese Masculinities in a Globalizing World (Routledge 2015), Eileen Chang: Romancing Languages, Cultures and Genres (ed) (Hong Kong University Press 2012) and 男性特质论 —— 中国的社会与性别 (江苏人民出版社 2012) [Chinese translation of Theorising Chinese Masculinity (Cambridge University Press 2002).
Love, Sex and Class in Traditional China or How the Talented Scholar Used the Word to Indulge
This paper looks at the “talented scholar” (caizi 才子) in traditional Chinese literature. I have shown elsewhere that the Chinese masculinity ideal is defined by wen (literary talent) and wu (martial prowess), with wen dominating. In practice, wen men were those who have passed the civil service examinations. Examination success, that is, having mastery of words, was the key to officialdom and access to worldly goods and desires. But the official, being a gentleman, was not meant to indulge in love and sex.
However, young men could indulge while waiting to pass examinations. Thus in traditional Chinese depictions, the talented young scholar always wins the girl, so much so that traditional romantic tales are said to be stories of “talented scholar and beautiful woman才子佳人” (unlike European romances about knights and maids). By examining the iconic talented scholar, Jia Baoyu, protagonist in the classic novel Red Mansion Dream, I will examine how intimate relationships were imagined in traditional China, and show that ultimately, happy lovers, both hetero- and homo-, are only found when class boundaries are not transgressed.