In October, Dr Matthew Treherne and I travelled to China for a conference held at Fudan University in Shanghai. After an arduous 19-hour flight, so much food we thought we would burst, and an opening ceremony fit for the Olympic Games, Dr Treherne kicked things off with an inspiring lecture about love in Dante’s Commedia.
Matthew took his own love of Dante as a starting point for his lecture, and went on to explore how Dante himself presents different types of love in his great poem. Dante doesn’t appear to be very widely studied in China, and many of the students were keen to find out which English translations they should use as a first step into the world of the Commedia (FYI, Matthew advised either Durling or Kirkpatrick; I recommended Sinclair or Sisson, proving that it’s all just a matter of taste).
The trip was a real eye-opener for me in terms of conference etiquette. I’ve only ever been to conferences in the UK before, so seeing how different cultures do things was really interesting. Chinese conferences are much more formal than British ones; there are opening and closing ceremonies, prizes for the best papers, designated “respondents” to each paper, and gruelling schedules, which begin at 8am (!!!). But we were also treated to some of the most amazing food, and met some really interesting and inspiring people.
Thanks to Fudan University for inviting us to speak and for looking after us so well. We had a really amazing trip and hope to be able to stay a little longer next time to fully enjoy your beautiful city!