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Margins and Recognition(s) in the Practice of the Picun ‘New Workers’ Literature Group

Wednesday 13 October 2021
on-line Zoom event

Abstract: The talks outlines the declinations of ‘marginality’ in the literary production and community-making practice (two closely interrelated activities) carried out by the Picun Literature Group (皮村文学小组), an autonomously organized literary community based in the eastern outskirt of Beijing and made up of rural–urban migrant workers with an interest in creative writing. Marginality concerns both the material condition of individual group members’ lives, often unable to permanently settle down in the city, and to their historical condition, characterized by the loss of sociocultural gains achieved by the working class in the past century. The lecture discusses how marginality is translated into the literary works produced by worker authors in the group, particularly addressing the literary devices (tropes, imagery, style) they employ. On the basis of this, the talk invites to reflect on how marginality influences the visibility, promotion and reception of the group’s literary activity – self-styled as ‘new workers literature’ (新工人文学) – on the part of the city’s cultural establishment, oscillating between ‘fetish’ and ‘trademark’.

Bio: Federico Picerni is a PhD candidate in Asian and transcultural studies at Ca’ Foscari University of Venice in a double-degree program with Heidelberg University. His research interests concern the relation between literary production and society, with a focus on Chinese workers literature after the 1980s. He has discussed the Picun Literature Group in “Strangers in a Familiar City: Picun Migrant-worker Poets in the Urban Space of Beijing,” an essay published in International Quarterly for Asian Studies in 2020.

Zoomlink to the Talk:

Meeting ID: 647 2818 4043
Passcode: G3+hYZnC

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