Since 1988, J. Hillis Miller has traveled to China to lecture on literary theory, especially the role of globalization in literary theory. Over time, he has assisted in the development of distinctively Chinese forms of literary theory, Comparative Literature, and World Literature. The fifteen lectures gathered in An Innocent Abroad span both time and geographic location, reflecting his work at universities across China for more than twenty-five years. More important, they reflect the evolution of Miller’s thinking and of the lectures’ contexts in China as these have markedly changed over the years, especially on either side of Tiananmen Square and in light of China’s economic growth and technological change. A foreword by the leading theorist Fredric Jameson provides additional context.
J. HILLIS MILLER is Distinguished Research Professor of English and Comparative Literature at the University of California, Irvine.
FREDRIC JAMESON is professor of literature at Duke University. In 2012, he received the Lifetime Achievement Award of the Modern Language Association.
"The heart of the work remains the new and urgent contemporary problem of not what literature is but whether it can survive in any recognizable form in globalization, a problem that promises to tell us as much about globalization as it does about literature. . . . Wonderfully witty and readable."—Fredric Jameson, from the foreword
“A new object comes into view: The Critic as Guest. For almost thirty years now, Hillis Miller has generously offered himself for inspection by Chinese scholars as a native informant of the U.S. intelligentsia, of deconstruction, of the humanist university, of print culture. Left to our imagination are their responses—the other half of the conversation silhouetted here. But with what modesty Miller steps over the horizon! With what scruples he offers his sometimes necessarily broad and blunt reports! This not really so innocent set of talks and essays traces a bright thread through one of the great cultural exchanges of our time, the words bounced between China and America.”—Haun Saussy, University of Chicago
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