Lena Henningsen

Principal Investigator

I research Chinese literature from the 20th and 21st century. I am interested in what makes texts special from a literary point of view and how they are embedded into the specific conditions of their production, distribution and consumption. Moreover, I see literary texts as invitations to ask questions about creativity: I started my career delving into the creativity of Chinese authors in the early 21st century and making a point about the creativity intrinsic even to texts allegedly treated as fake or plagiarism. I have then turned my attention to the creativity of readers. Taking the cue from Michel de Certeau I argue that texts are created only through reading, in particular in the case of unofficial hand-written entertainment fiction from the Chinese Cultural Revolution: These texts were not only read and discussed widely at the time. Rather, through constant copying, readers preserved the texts, and in the process, they often rewrote the texts, thus inscribing themselves and their creativity into them, as I argue in my recently published book (Cultural Revolution Manuscripts: Unofficial Entertainment Fiction from 1970s China, 2021). Within the scope of the *READCHINA* project I am now conceptualizing a study on the figure of the reader within Chinese literature since the 1940s.


Belfortstr. 18 Rooms 03 004-05
Freiburg, BW 79098