Tsinghua University was once a major cradle of China’s comparative literature, where a number of distinguished pioneers worked, such as Wang Guowei, Liang Qichao, Wu Mi and Liang Qichao. And such eminent comparatists like Qian Zhongshu, Ji Xianlin, Yang Zhouhan and Wang Zuoliang either studied or worked here. Those who taught in the University include I.A.Richards and William Empson, two of the eminent representatives of the New Criticism. In 1983, Qian Zhongshu took the initiative of chairing the first Sino-American Symposium on Comparative Literature in Beijing, and Wang Zuoliang headed the Chinese delegation for the event. In 1987, Yang Zhouhan led the Chinese delegation to attend the second SASCL in the United States. What is more important is, Wang Ning, Director of the Center, headed the Chinese delegation to attend the third, fourth, fifth, sixth and seventh SASCL in China and the United States. Wang is currently Changjiang Distinguished Professor of English and Comparative Literature and Vice President of Chinese Comparative Literature Association. He was elected to the Academy of Latinity in 2010 and to Academia Europaea in 2013.
As an interdisciplinary research institute, the Center was founded in 2001, with its members from the School of Humanities and Social Sciences and that of Journalism and Communication, and with its office in the Department of Foreign Languages and Literatures and Wang Ning as its director ever since. Douwe Fokkema, the late European comparatist, and Yue Daiyun were invited to function as its advisors. Such international prestigious scholars as Fredric Jameson, J.Hillis Miller, Gayatri Spivak, Homi Bhabha and Jonathan Culler have been appointed as honorary guest professors.
Since its founding, the Center has been playing an important role in the University’s humanities. Combining comparative literature studies with cultural studies, the Center has also been playing a pioneering role in China’s cultural studies. There is both a graduate program in comparative literature and world literature under the comprehensive discipline of Chinese language and literature and one in Chinese-Western comparative criticism under the discipline of foreign languages and literatures. The Center also receives applications for post-doctoral and visiting scholarships or fellowships.
The Center pays particular attention to international academic exchange, with its members lecturing or doing research in various international prestigious universities and speaking on behalf of China’s comparative literature and cultural studies. It has established academic exchanges with more than 30 international prestigious universities and sponsored over 20 high-leveled international conferences or forums, such as the International Conference on Translating Theory and Interpreting Culture (2001), The Third Sino-American Symposium on Comparative Literature (2001), Tsinghua-Harvard Forum on Postcolonialism (2002), The Forum on Globalization and Culture (2002), The International Conference on Ibsen and China (2002), The International Conference on Critical Inquiry: Ends of Theory (2004), The Forum on Derrida and Deconstructive Criticism (2004), The Fourth, Fifth, Sixth and Seventh Sino-American Symposiums on Comparative Literature (2006) (2010)(2013) and (2016).
The current research projects undertaken by the members of the Center include comparative studies of modern and contemporary Chinese and Western critical theories, cultural studies, postmodern and postcolonial studies, cross-cultural communication in the global context, contemporary Chinese media and communication studies, globalization studies, cultural perspectives on translation studies, comparative literary history, diasporic studies, etc.