New fellow of British Academy hails from Taiwan

Staff writer, with CNA

Tue, Jul 31, 2018 - Page 4

Ouyang Wen-chin (歐陽文津), a professor at the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS) at the University of London, has been elected as a fellow of the British Academy, becoming the first Taiwan-born academic to be honored with the title.

The title symbolizes “diversity” and “equality,” she said during a brief visit to Taipei on Friday.

Ouyang said she hopes that the fellowship was also a recognition of comparative and world literature, adding that she would like to see the field of literature trend more toward non-Western-centric research and focus on works and authors outside Europe and the Americas.

“The world has revolved around European and American literature in terms of research in the field,” she said.

Ouyang is one of 76 academics who were elected last week as fellows of the British Academy.

“A record 76 academics have been elected as fellows of the British Academy today, in recognition of their achievements in the humanities and social sciences,” the academy said in a news release dated July 20.

Ouyang’s achievements span research in Arabic literature, comparative literature, world literature and the Silk Road, it said.

She is the author of Literary Criticism in Medieval Arabic-Islamic Culture: The Making of a Tradition (1997), Poetics of Love in the Arabic Novel (2012) and Politics of Nostalgia in the Arabic Novel (2013).

Ouyang is editor-in-chief of the journal Middle Eastern Literatures and a member of the editorial board of the Bulletin of the School of Oriental and African Studies, the school said.

Born in Taiwan and raised in Libya, Ouyang completed a bachelor’s degree in Arabic at Tripoli University and a doctorate in Middle Eastern Studies at Columbia University in New York, the SOAS Web site says.

She taught Arabic language, literature and culture at Columbia University, the University of Chicago and the University of Virginia before moving to London, the Web site said.