Transcultural Affinities: In Praise of Wang Zuoliang

  • Nicholas JoseEmail author
Part of the Encounters between East and West book series (EEWIP)


The paper investigates the meaning of the term ‘transcultural’ as its use widens, exploring its relationship with alternative terms, some of which it promises to replace: ‘transnational’, ‘intercultural’, ‘translational’, among other examples. The paper focuses on the application of ‘transcultural’ to literature (reading, writing and interpretation) and creative writing, and also considers what it can mean in relation to pedagogical practice in these fields. It makes specific reference to translation in an interpretative and pedagogical context, on the basis that transcultural inquiry will often be accompanied by movement between languages, cultures and societies. The question is asked: is ‘transcultural’ a description of an attribute of a text, or a framework or perspective for interpretation, experiment and creative practice and inquiry? Is ‘transcultural’ then an agentive position, a way of proceeding that creates new knowledge, partly through reflection and scrutiny into its own processes: hence ‘transculturalism’ as alternative pedagogy with radical implications. Examples will be taken from a range of contemporary literary texts including The Wind-up Bird Chronicle by Haruki Murakami, Elizabeth Costello by J. M. Coetzee, Carpentaria by Alexis Wright and China in Ten Words by Yu Hua—all texts that are marked by transcultural moves and that succeed in communicating transculturally (across different audiences/communities and/or in translation).


  1. Carpentier, A. (2001). La musicá en Cuba (1949) (A. West-Durán, Trans. as Music in Cuba). Edited with an introduction by Timothy Brennan. Minnesota: University of Minnesota Press.Google Scholar
  2. China story yearbook 2013: Civilising China.
  3. Coetzee, J. M. (2003). Elizabeth Costello: Eight lessons. London: Secker and Warburg.Google Scholar
  4. Eckermann, J. P. (1930). Conversations with Goethe (J. Oxenford, Trans.). London: J. M. Dent.Google Scholar
  5. Haffenden, J. (2005). William Empson: Vol. 1: Among the Mandarins. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  6. Lo, J. (2006). Disciplining Asian Australian studies: projections and introjections. Journal of Intercultural Studies, 27(1–2), 11–27.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. McFarlane, F. (2015). In Proceedings of the Third China Australia Literary Forum. Western Sydney University, 28–29 August 2015 (pp. 38–43).Google Scholar
  8. Murakami, H. (2003). The wind-up bird chronicle (J. Rubin, Trans. with the participation of the author). London: Vintage.Google Scholar
  9. Ortiz, F. (2003). Transculturation and Cuba, (H. de Onis, Trans). In Chomsky, A., Carr, B., & Smorkaloff, P. M. (Eds.). The Cuba reader: History, culture, politics. Durham and London: Duke University Press.Google Scholar
  10. Peng, P. (2010). Transmutation of modern China’s attitude to western culture from the perspective of translation. In Y. Sun (Ed.), Intercultural studies: New frontiers (pp. 319–30). Beijing: Foreign Language Teaching and Research Press.Google Scholar
  11. Pratt, M. L. (1992). Imperial eyes: Travel writing and transculturation (2nd ed, 2008). London: Routledge.Google Scholar
  12. Santí, E. M. (2004). Towards a reading of Fernando Ortiz’s Cuban counterpoint. Review: Literature and arts of the Americas, 37(1), 6–18.Google Scholar
  13. Song, X & Cadman, K (Eds.). (2012). Bridging transcultural divides: Asian languages and cultures in global higher education. Adelaide: University of Adelaide Press.Google Scholar
  14. Walkowitz, R. L. (2015). Born translated: The contemporary novel in an age of world literature. New York: Columbia University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Warner, Marina. (2011). Stranger magic: Charmed states and the Arabian Nights. London: Chatto & Windus.Google Scholar
  16. Wright, A. (2006a). Carpentaria. Sydney: Giramondo.Google Scholar
  17. Wright, A. (2006b). On writing Carpentaria. HEAT 13. New series. (pp. 79–95).Google Scholar
  18. Wright, A. (2012). Kapengtaliyawan [Carpentaria] (Li Yao, Trans.). Beijing: People’s Literature Publishing House.Google Scholar
  19. Wright, A. (2015). In Proceedings of the Third China Australia Literary Forum, Western Sydney University, 28–29 August 2015 (pp. 14–18).Google Scholar
  20. Yu H.(2012). China in ten words (A. H. Barr, Trans.). London: Duckworth Overlook.Google Scholar
  21. Zamora, L. P. & Faris, W. B. (Eds.). (1995). Magical realism: Theory, history, community. Durham and London: Duke University Press.Google Scholar
  22. Zuoliang, W. (1985). [王佐良] Degrees of affinity: Studies in comparative literature [Lun qihe: Bijian wenxue yanjiu ji]. Beijing: Foreign Language Teaching and Research Press.Google Scholar
  23. Zuoliang, W. (1980). Experiencing Australia’s festival atmosphere [Aozhou shengjie dangchangguan], Foreign Literature [Waiguo Wenxue], 4 (pp. 1–7).Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Nature Singapore Pte Ltd. and Higher Education Press 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.The University of AdelaideAdelaideAustralia

Personalised recommendations