On the afternoon of November 9, 2019, the Language & Literature Series of iHarbour Lectures began its first session in the Innovation Harbour Lecture Hall.
The Language & literature Series has integrated academic views and popular elements in the contemporary world into lectures on language cognitivity and literature & culture. The Language Cognition subseries, with a focus on “How Language Shapes Us?”, explores the roles that language plays in individual cognition and behavior, cultural transmission, and the construction of national image to demonstrate the enormous power of language in communication, cognition development, thinking patterns, and major political and historical events. The Literature & Culture subseries, with “Everlasting Classics” as a main theme, elucidates the impact of Western classics on the philosophy, culture, and technological advancements of modern and contemporary China. It leads the audience into a journey of Chinese classics in the Western World while sparking a dialogue between Eastern and Western cultures and promoting Chinese culture.
XJTU’s Vice President, Zheng Qinghua, said in his opening speech, “Chinese civilization has a long history and is continuously developing to be an inclusive cultural system, during the course, language and literature have played a considerable role.”
The first session's invited lecturers are Professor Feng Zongxin (Tsinghua University) and Professor Yang Ruiying (Xi’an Jiaotong University).
Professor Feng’s lecture - A Mathematician’s Fairy Tale: Alice's Adventures in Wonderland - introduced the inherent meaning of classics and fairy tales. “Alice's Adventures in Wonderland is a classical fairy tale. It is not only for kids, but also has profound meaning that can only be discovered and understood by adults,” he said and analyzed the philosophical theories and mathematical views of Lewis Carroll, the author and a mathematician. Professor Feng suggested that Lewis’s comparison of “wonderland” and reality challenges people to think about truth of reality. “Just as the author said”, Professor Feng added, “Raising a question sometimes is more important than finding an answer.”
Professor Yang Ruiying lectured on Where Does Language Come From? She first showed pictures of fish and smog to lead to her point that language to humans is like water to fish, software to computers, and air to human life. She introduced several views on the possible origins and properties of language. “Language is a system that is mainly cultural – learned through social interaction.” Professor Yang believes that language can influence and change people’s way of thinking and behavior, making research on language development significant. She also expected that students could hold a rational view of languages, so as to spread Chinese culture through language and promote intercultural communication.
The iHarbour Lectures Series of Language & Literature includes 10 lectures in 5 sessions held from November 9 to December 7, 2019. Invited lecturers are from Tsinghua University, Western Sydney University (Australia), Utrecht University (Netherlands), the Chinese University of Hong Kong, and so on. Lecturers include full-time university professors, playwright, and director. An online broadcast channel is also available to students who cannot attend.