Faulkner Goes to China Under Foreign Rights Publishing Agreement


swartwout-and-rieger-croppedDr. Susan Swartwout, director of the Southeast Missouri State University Press, has announced a foreign rights publishing agreement with Dr. Kang Yi of Harbin Engineering University in northeast China to translate the book, “Faulkner and Morrison,” an essay collection from Southeast’s Faulkner Conference, into Chinese and to distribute it to scholars in the People’s Republic of China.

Yi, a Faulkner scholar, will work on a translation team with two colleagues — Drs. Wang Lili and Bai Jing — who also teach at Harbin University. All members of the team did their degree work in English literature with a focus on the works of William Faulkner.

Once the translation and formatting is complete, the Chinese version will be published by Wu Han University Press and distributed by Harbin University. The team’s translation and publishing work is being sponsored by the Chinese government and Harbin University. Harbin Engineering University is located in the city of Harbin, the capital of Heilongjiang province, and offers more than 150 degree programs, 48 of which are conducted in English, to its approximately 25,000 students.

“In China, Faulkner study has been popular since 1937. However, the theme of Faulkner study has been limited, focused onThe Sound and the Fury’ and ‘A Rose for Emily,’” Yi said of this project. “There is a need for Chinese scholars to explore not only new perspectives but new themes in Faulkner studies. On the other hand, the study of (Toni) Morrison is newly hot here.”

Bai Jing wrote, “We do hope to do something meaningful for both Faulkner studies in China and for Southeast Missouri State University, which has done so much for us during our two years there.”

The project began with the Faulkner and Morrison Conference in October 2010 at Southeast Missouri State University, a biannual conference devoted to the writings of Nobel Laureate William Faulkner and one other notable American author. Past conferences have included Faulkner and Twain, Faulkner and Chopin, Faulkner and Warren, Faulkner and Zora Neale Hurston, and in October 2016, Faulkner and Hemingway.  A collection of the best papers from each conference is then published by Southeast Missouri State University Press.

Translation team member Bai Jing was sponsored by the Chinese government to study for a year in Southeast’s Center for Faulkner Studies with Dr. Christopher Rieger, director. From Aug. 3, 2014, to Aug. 9, 2015, she attended various classes in the Department of English, conducted research in the University’s L. D. Brodsky Collection of William Faulkner materials, and consulted with Rieger about her own scholarship and research on Faulkner’s works. 

 ”Our visiting scholar program at the Center for Faulkner Studies allows scholars from around the world to come to our campus and work on their own research using our world-class collection,” Rieger said. “Also, they are able to devote time to intensive study of literary criticism and other research on Faulkner that they may not have access to in their home countries. Jing thought that Chinese scholars would benefit from having literary criticism on these two important authors available in their native language, and we’re honored that they have chosen our book to translate.”

In June of this year, Jing and Yi contacted Swartwout about the possibility of acquiring the rights to translate and publish “Faulkner and Morrison” in Chinese. After discussions, the agreement was finalized in September.

“The Chinese scholars have been wonderful to work with,” Swartwout said. “Both Dr. Rieger and I have offered our help with any of the Southern idioms that might prove complex. And we both received an invitation to visit China and deliver a lecture.”

Upon completion of the foreign rights agreement, Yi wrote, “Facing this great challenge, we are excited, and we will be devoted to creating the translation. It is an honor for our team.”

Upon its release, a copy of the Chinese version of “Faulkner and Morrison” will be available in both Kent Library and the Center for Faulkner Studies for future, visiting Chinese scholars to use.


Photo Caption: Dr. Susan Swartwout and Dr. Christopher Rieger with a copy of “Faulkner and Morrison,” a volume of scholarly essays on Nobel Prize laureates William Faulkner and Toni Morrison published for the Center for Faulkner Studies by the Southeast Missouri State University Press. The volume will be translated into Chinese under a foreign rights publishing agreement.