A Workshop on Commentarial Traditions in the East and the West
28-30 Jun 2021 Strasbourg (France)


Due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, this scientific event will take place during the first semester of 2022.


Despite its centrality and its impact in a historical perspective, commentary is usually considered as a tool for deciphering great works or as thin trace of intellectual activity. It is reduced to an ancillary status and denied that of a text per se.

In order to enrich our understanding of the commentarial tradition in China and Japan, the eleven contributors to this workshop invite to consider commentary as textual material and to analyze its linguistic, stylistic and rhetorical dimensions. Participants mostly engaged in the field of pre-modern literature will shed light on the textual aspects of commentary, and they will do so in order to better elucidate its relation to an original text.

The contributions will more particularly tackle the type of bond with base text that specific commentaries assert through a series of device. Whereas secondary in time and importance, and by essence open to other and new proposals, commentary altogether stages itself in a position of authority. It even happens that rhetorical gestures bring commentary to proclaim itself as taking control over the original text, whereas the absorption of base text within a commentary points to the creation of a new text, with its stylistic feature along with a hollow missing text. All this potential carried by commentary leans in its economy. It is thus necessary to reveal some of the characteristics of commentary and to look for its grammar. Cases of auto-commentary further question the status that commentary designs for itself, i.e. as text proper or appendix. Such questions will be addressed through a number of case studies chosen in the Chinese, Japanese and Western traditions. They will shed light on both the continuum and the differences between commenting, translating and rewriting.

Because our attention shifts from patrimonial texts to commentaries, the corpus under study will not be limited to a unique part of traditional bibliographies. However, in order to delineate characteristics from most ancient commentaries, a few examples on so-called philosophical and historical commentaries will be analyzed. Also, as a means to complement previous contributions on commentaries of the masters (zi 子) – one might think of foundational works by Anne Cheng or Rudolf Wagner – this project will more specifically focus on what we conventionally call « literature » (e.g. shi 詩, ci 詞, fu 賦 and xiaoshuo 小說).

This project aims at bringing up general – if not theoretical – ideas and questions in relation to the commentary, its textuality, its position within the textual realm and its gestures toward other texts. As such, it will be enriched by contributions from specialists of commentaries and paratexts in the West. It will also benefit from a diachronic perspective by including case studies from all periods of history.

The workshop will be held in English.

It will be open to up to fifteen participants in addition to its eleven contributors. Advance registration through this website is required. It is free of charge and possible from March 1st to June 13th 2021. Eight spots will be set aside for doctoral candidates until April 1st 2021.

The workshop, organized by Marie Bizais-Lillig, will take place at the University of Strasbourg from June 28th to June 30th 2021.  

Contributors (in alphabetical order)

Bizais-Lillig Marie (Associate Professor, University of Strasbourg, France)

Kraushaar Frank (Professor, University of Latvia, Latvia)

Lesigne-Audoly Evelyne (Associate Professor, University of Strasbourg, France)

Lomova Olga (Professor, Charles University, Czech Republic)

Luca Dinu (Associate Professor, National Taiwan Normal University, Taiwan)

Nicoll-Johnson Evan (Assistant Lecturer, University of Alberta, Canada)

Pennanech Florian (Independent Scholar, France)

Schimmelpfennig Michael (Senior Lecturer, Australian National University, Australia)

Svensson Martin (Senior Lecturer, University of Gothenburg, Sweden)

Tian Xiaofei (Professor, Harvard University, United States of America)

Vieillard-Baron Michel (Professor, Inalco, France)



We would like to thank the following institutions for the support they provide for the organization of this workshop:

  • Research Group for the Study of Oriental, Neo-hellenistic and Slavic civilisations (ER1340-GEO), Faculty of Modern Languages, University of Strasbourg,
  • East Asian Civilisations Research Centre (UMR8155-CRCAO), for the program "Diglossia, Intralingual Translation and Interpretation.

(Updated on September 10th 2020)


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Source: gallica.bnf.fr / Bibliothèque nationale de France

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