Andrea Riemenschnitter
ifk Senior Fellow

Duration of fellowship
01. October 2016 bis 31. January 2017

Traditional Landscape Aesthetics in Chinese Environmental Literature and Art


The longing for untouched landscapes grows with their very real destruction and has now become a symptom of post-socialist modernity. This project investigates literary and artistic connections to pre-modern aesthetic landscape concepts (Chinese: shanshui 山水 ) and contextualizes these with contemporary depictions of landscapes as apocalyptic ruins of civilizations, fetishized objects of consumption, or hidden sanctuaries. Yet the discourse about landscape aesthetics is not merely a diagnosis of the problem; it equally represents the attempt to open up alternative worlds. Tracing key terms and concepts allows us to reflect on changes in conceptions about the relationship between humans and nature, negotiation processes between modern and traditional, western and Chinese values, and the roll of ethics and aesthetics within the program of ecological modernization, as well as in the spheres of artistic production and spatial planning.


Andrea Riemenschnitter studied music, Sinology, German studies, and sociology in Munich, Bonn, Taipei, and Göttingen. Since 2002 she has researched and taught as Professor for Modern Chinese Language and Literature at the University of Zurich, where she is the Vice Director of the Institute of Asian and Oriental Studies. Her current research is devoted to Sinophone literary and medial representations, as well as to aesthetic debates about contemporary culture, with a particular focus on environment, postcoloniality, histories of connection and theories of the modern, gender and performativity. Guest professorships, research grants, and cooperations with leading institutions in Asia, Europe, and the USA have enabled her to build research specializations in the areas of Hong Kong studies, environmental studies, and transmedial art. Her publications include works on pre-modern travel literature, mythology and modernity, environment and aesthetics, Hong Kong and contemporary Chinese literature.


gem. mit Zhuang Yue (Hg.), Entangled Landscapes. Exchanges between Early Modern China and Europe, Singapore, im Druck; gem. mit Jessica Imbach und Justyna Jaguscik (Hg.), Special Issue, Recognizing Ghosts, Journal of Modern Literature in Chinese 12, no. 1, 2014; Karneval der Götter. Mythologie, Moderne und Nation in Chinas 20. Jahrhundert, Reihe Welten Ostasiens, Bern 2011.

21 November 2016
  • Lecture
Andrea Riemenschnitter


In leisen Tönen und mit hintergründiger Ironie erzählen drei zwischen 2004 und 2011 entstandene Romane die Geschichte der unsterblichen Hoffnung auf eine bessere Welt. Drei Generationen einer entwurzelten Familie werden Zeuge, wie die verschiedenen Modernisierungsprojekte Chinas aufgrund der Verstrickung von utopischer Vision und Realität scheitern.