Undergraduate and graduate programmes offered by the University iuav of Venice:

Leo Ou-fan Lee



Leo Ou-fan Lee is currently the Sin Wai Kin Professor of Chinese Culture at the Chinese University of Hong Kong.

Born in China, he was brought up in Taiwan and went to the United States for graduate education where he received his Ph. D. degree from Harvard in 1970. He has taught at Harvard, UCLA, Chicago, Indiana, and Princeton Universities in the United States, as well as the University of Hong Kong and the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology.

His scholarly publications in English include: Shanghai Modern: The Flowering of a New Form of Urban Culture, 1930-1945 (Harvard University Press, 1999), Voices from the Iron House: A Study of Lu Xun (Indiana University Press, 1987), The Romantic Generation of Modern Chinese Writers (Harvard, 1973), City between Worlds: My Hong Kong (Harvard University Press, 2008), and Musings: Reading Hong Kong, China and the World (Hong Kong: Muse Books, 2011). In Hong Kong, he is known as both a scholar and cultural critic and has published more than 20 books in Chinese across a wide spectrum of subjects: literature, Hong Kong culture, film, classic music, and architecture.




Shanghai Past and Present: Some Cultural Reflections (Abstract)

Fifteen years since my book, Shanghai Modern, was first published (1999), I find myself a somewhat alienated stranger in the city I wrote about. The new Shanghai hasincorporated” the old Shanghai in a dizzying drive for global “super-modernism”. What has exactly happened? What does all this mean for a cultural historian and critic now residing in Hong Kong?

My reflections are based on several recent trips to Shanghai, where I toured the “old sitesas well as the newly developed areas in Pudong. I have talked with local scholars and architects and read a number of their works in the hope of forming an overall impression (if not theory). In this keynote speech I plan to offer my personal reflections on a number of new or renovated urban sites (the bridges and buildings on the Bund, the Xintiandi, the new Pudong skyscrapers, the “Massenet Cultural district” etc.) in order to gauge the cultural implications of this new urban profile: Is Shanghai indeed becoming a “global city”? Is cultural nostalgia on its way out or serves merely as an excuse for building a global metropolis? What considerations lay behind the architectural designs of these new and huge buildings by international architectural firms in the name of honoringChinese culture”? How do Shanghai residents themselves think of such changes in the “self-portrait” of their city? If so, what does all this mean for Hong Kong as the “Other” city in this much retold “Tale of Two Cities”?

Wherever relevant, I shall also draw upon the writings of famous cultural theorists and architects (Koolhaas, Richard Rogers, Herzog and de Meuron) and the examples of other Asian and European cities (Seoul, Singapore, Berlin) for comparison.





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