Faculty Lecture Series Concludes with Sarah Allen, Associate Professor of Comparative Literature

Media contact: Noelle Lemoine, communications assistant; tele: 413-597-4277; email: [email protected]

WILLIAMSTOWN, Mass., March 9, 2018—Sarah Allen, associate professor of comparative literature, will present the final lecture in the Williams College Faculty Lecture Series on Thursday, March 15. The talk will take place at 4:15 p.m. in Thompson Chemistry, Wege Auditorium. It is free and open to the public.

In her talk, titled “Telling Tales in Medieval China,” Allen will present some facets of her research on stories and anecdotes from eighth and ninth century China, in the latter half of the Tang dynasty. These are brief narratives on topics ranging from political backstabbing in the highest echelons of the government, to the romantic woes of famous poets, to encounters with ghosts or were-beasts and any number of other anomalous or mysterious events. In their own time and for centuries after these stories existed on the margins of literary discourse, seen as gossip or hearsay rather than true literature, but in the early 20th century they were rediscovered by scholars seeking to re-interpret the history of Chinese literature in light of generic models from Western literature and given new stature as the first “conscious fiction” in China. Allen will discuss what we can learn about these stories from the surviving evidence, their status and function in their own time, and what is lost and gained in seeing them either as hearsay or as fiction.

Allen holds an A.B. and Ph.D. in East Asian languages and civilizations from Harvard University, and an M.A. from the University of Michigan. Prior to coming to Williams in 2017, she was on the faculty at Wellesley College for nine years, where she taught Chinese literature, history, and language. At Williams she teaches introductory courses on literature as well as courses on folk and fairy tales and medieval literature. Her field of research is medieval Chinese literature, with a focus on informal narratives and their shifting roles as literature and as records of past events.

The Faculty Lecture Series was founded in 1911 by Catherine Mariotti Pratt, the spouse of a faculty member who wanted to “relieve the tedium of long New England winters with an opportunity to hear Williams professors talk about issues that really mattered to them.”


For building locations on the Williams campus, please consult the map outside the driveway entrance to the Security Office located in Hopkins Hall on Main Street (Rte. 2), next to the Thompson Memorial Chapel, or call the Office of Communications 413-597-4277. The map can also be found on the web at www.williams.edu/map