The Chinese Program presented the talk entitled “Journeys to the West: The Many Adventures of China’s Monkey King” on November 3, 2016. The speaker is Professor Robert E. Hegel, Liselotte Dieckmann Professor of Comparative Literature and Professor of Chinese at Washington University in St. Louis. He is a world-renowned specialist in the narrative and theatrical traditions of late imperial China.
In the talk, Professor Hegel discussed Journey to the West, one of China’s greatest novels from the sixteenth-century. Its central figure is the Monkey King who is both prankster and serious Buddhist pilgrim, monstrous warrior and interpreter of difficult philosophy. He also plays a major role in the numerous literary sequels, films, television dramas, video games, and other spin-offs of the novel–each with a slightly different take on his journey to bring South Asian scriptures back to China. The major theme of the talk is the complexity of culture how many elements can be inextricably intertwined–specifically fiction, theater, and religious belief and practice in the case of the Monkey King.
This talk was attended by more than 100 audiences from students and faculty at W&M as well as Williamsburg community members. This event was organized by Chun-yu Lu and was generously sponsored by WMCI, Reves Center, and Arts & Sciences.