Dr. Jon Eugene von Kowallis (寇志明)

Dr. Jon Eugene von Kowallis is Head of the Chinese Studies Program in the School of International Studies at UNSW. He studied Chinese language and literature at Columbia University in the City of New York (BA), National Taiwan University, the University of Hawaii (MA), Beijing University and the University of California, Berkeley (PhD). The Chinese program at UNSW has the largest student enrolments of any Chinese program in Australia, with over 1400 students enrolled in the many and diverse, discipline-based undergraduate courses offered on Chinese language and culture. He has served as President of the Oriental Society of Australia, the oldest professional organization of Asianists in the country.

Jon’s research, writing and now his second university press book, The Subtle Revolution: Poets of the ‘Old Schools’ in late Qing and early Republican China (Berkeley: University of California, China Research Monographs, 2006) on the role of classical Chinese poetry during the modern era have influenced the direction of an entire field on rethinking the role of traditional genres, both in articulating and in reflecting the modern era. His book not only argues a thesis about the entry of modernity into Chinese letters in the late 19th / early 20th century, but also challenges the dominant paradigm in Chinese literary history.

His research in this field has been recognised as ground-breaking, both within and outside China: it has already occasioned a PhD dissertation at Princeton University, and book reviews of the monograph have been published in China Review International, Chinese Literature: Essays, Articles, Reviews (Wisconsin), The Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society (London) and The Journal of Asian Studies (Ann Arbor).

He is considered an authority on the father of modern Chinese literature, Lu Xun (1881-1936), and the foremost Western scholar on his classical-style poetry due to his monograph The Lyrical Lu Xun: a Study of his Classical-style Verse (Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press). Jon writes in Chinese as well as English and his articles and reviews have appeared in Lu Xun Yanjiu Yuekan (Lu Xun Research Monthly), Shanghai Lu Xun Yanjiu (Shanghai Lu Xun Research), Wen yu Zhe (Literature and Philosophy) and other prominent Chinese-language journals.

In dialogue with author Li Yiyun at the Sydney Writers’ Festival, May 19, 2010.