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Chinese Masters in Dahlem

David Hinton Is Samuel Fischer Visiting Professor at Freie Universität during Fall/Winter Semester 2013/2014

№ 257/2013 from Sep 05, 2013

The American writer and translator David Hinton is the 30th Samuel Fischer Visiting Professor of Literature at Freie Universität Berlin. During the 2013/14 fall/winter semester, he will be teaching a seminar at the Peter Szondi Institute of Comparative Literature entitled "Another Universe: Wilderness Thought in Ancient Chinese and Modern American Poetry." Hinton is the first translator in almost a century who deals with the masterpieces of Chinese philosophy, including the work of Tao Te Ching, Chuang Tzu, Confucius (The Analects), and Mencius. His numerous translations of classical Chinese poetry have been widely praised for their faithfulness to the original works. Hinton’s inaugural lecture will take place at the beginning of the semester; the date will be announced soon.

Ancient Chinese poetry is fundamentally different from the image that dominates Western traditions. In ancient Chinese philosophy, the universe is a living, harmonious whole; integrating humans into this harmonious whole is the subject of the ancient Chinese arts: poetry, painting, and calligraphy. The contemporary philosophical movement called "deep ecology," which greatly influenced the arts in Western countries during the 20th century, is increasingly looking into the ancient Chinese traditions for further inspiration.

In Hinton's seminar the students will read philosophical and poetic texts of ancient China in English translation. They will then read modern American poetry that was influenced by the ancient Chinese works. The seminar will also address other aspects of ancient Chinese culture: Zen Buddhism, painting, calligraphy, and the so-called Earth Art movement in contemporary Europe and North America. The latter is a trend using natural materials and landscape to make art. No knowledge of Chinese is necessary for participation in the seminar. Participation in this course is open to students of all disciplines. The classes will be held on Wednesdays from 2:15 p.m. to 3:45 p.m. The first class will meet on October 16.

David Hinton is the recipient of numerous grants, including ones from the Guggenheim Foundation, the National Endowment for the Arts, and two of the best well known awards for the translation of poetry in the U.S.: the London Translation Award from the Academy of American Poets and the PEN Award for Poetry in Translation. His volume of essays, Hunger Mountain: A Field Guide to Mind and Landscape, was included in the Best Books of 2012 list compiled by the British newspaper The Guardian.

Further Information

Peter Szondi Institute of Comparative Literature, Email: