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Welcome to the home page of Prism: Theory and Modern Chinese Literature, a biannual peer-reviewed journal published by Duke University Press for Lingnan University of Hong Kong. It is jointly sponsored by the Centre for Humanities Research and the Chinese Department of Lingnan University and the Forum on Chinese Poetic Culture at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign.  Below are the highlights of the journal.

Mission Statement
Prism presents cutting-edge research on modern literary production, dissemination, and reception in as well as outside China. It also publishes works that study the shaping influence of traditional literature and culture on modern and contemporary China. Prism actively promotes scholarly investigations from interdisciplinary and cross-cultural perspectives, and encourages integration of theoretical inquiry with empirical research. It strives to foster in-depth dialogues between Western and Chinese literary theories in ways that illuminate the unique features of each as well as their shared insights into issues of universal interest.

History and Positioning
Prism is a new incarnation of Journal of Modern Literature in Chinese (JMLC) founded in 1987 by the Centre for Humanities Research of Lingnan University.  Hong Kong’s unique geocultural positioning, an important element of JMLC’s success, continues to be advantage to be fully exploited by Prism.  If most major English-language journals of Chinese literature are thousands of miles away from the field of studies, Prism is located right in it, being just a few hours of train or air travel to all major Chinese metropolises. If we more broadly think of modern literature written in Chinese, Prism’s geocultural positioning is even more prominent as Hong Kong is the de facto hub linking three major areas of modern Chinese literary production: China, Taiwan, and Southeast Asia.

The benefits of this geocultural positioning were proven by the accomplishments of JMLC. This journal was launched in 1987 to establish a bilingual platform that would encourage discussions and debates about the modern literature written in Chinese language. It aimed to address the longstanding marginalization of Chinese-language literary works produced outside mainland China, a marginalization largely due to political and ideological reasons. As a result, JMLC was warmly welcomed by scholars from both inside and outside mainland China and became a recognized venue for publishing progressive and cutting-edge research articles.  It had a broad subscription base and was indexed or made accessible full-text by MLA International Bibliography, Gale Cengage Learning, ProQuest, and EBSCOHost.

Under the “One Country Two Systems” arrangement, Hong Kong continues to enjoy freedom of speech, civil society and the rule of laws. It is this healthy sociopolitical environment that has attracted numerous celebrated Chinese writers to publish in Hong Kong their experimental or controversial works. This coveted place of modern Chinese literary production naturally provides a most fertile ground for the future growth of Prism.

New Horizons
To maximize its unique geocultural advantage, Prism shall go further than its predecessor in the direction of boundary-crossing. Apart from the inclusion of the Sinophone works in the purview of modern Chinese literature, Prism seeks to further broaden the horizons of Chinese literary studies by initiating in-depth dialogues with Western literary scholarship.  With the broad framework of theory, Prism shall experiment with three models of in-depth engagement with Western counterparts, both individual theorists and scholarly journals:

  • To invite leading Western and Chinese theorists (both Asia-based and West-based scholars of Chinese literature) to explore one particular critical issue of universal interest from comparative perspectives in an effort to gain a new understanding of it.
  • To invite one leading Western theorist to reflect on his/her theory’s cross-cultural significance, followed by Chinese theorists’ comments on both the applicability and inapplicability of this theory to Chinese literature and finally by the theorist’s response.
  • To invite one Chinese theorist to give a critical introduction to one literary theory developed in traditional and/or modern China, followed by comments by one or more Western experts on parallel Western theory and, finally, by the theorist’s response.

The primary venues of face-to-face interaction between scholars of Western and Chinese literature will be symposiums and conferences organized by the Centre for Humanities Research of Lingnan University and by partner institutions in China. Interested scholars are also encouraged to organize panels and forums in MLA conventions and AAS (Association for Asia Studies) in conjunction with their proposals for publication in Prism.  Papers and essays based on the presentations at these events will be peer reviewed for possible publication at Prism, either as a themed cluster under the “Theory in Comparative Perspectives” section in a regular issue or as a special themed issue.

Editorial Policies
Prism publishes two issues, usually one regular and one special issue, per year in the months of April and November.

A regular issue normally consists of two regular sections: research articles and book reviews, primarily addressed to academics, including graduate students, in Asian studies.  It may also feature a section called “Theory in Comparative Perspectives,” in which one or more thematic clusters are presented.  All research articles are expected to provide an original analysis of known texts, introduces innovative methodologies or approaches to time-honored subjects, or present important discoveries of new material.  Book reviews, in principle, are solicited, but proposals for a book review will be considered.

A special themed issue usually publishes the results of in-depth collaboration through international conferences and symposiums on topics crucial to the advancement of the field. These issues will play a pivotal role of generating and intensifying interest in the studied topics and thereby help set the intellectual trends of the field. In selecting topics for special issues, we shall take into account both the intrinsic needs of the field as well as the latest scholarly development in the academy.

Prism adheres to the highest standards of intellectual excellence. It enforces a rigorous policy of double blind peer review and implements multi-tier editing and copy-editing procedures to ensure the quality and regularity of its publication.  As we work hard to execute the plans described above, we believe that we will be able to make Prism a world-class journal in not too distant future. We shall tirelessly strive to achieve this lofty goal in the years ahead.