International Comparative Literature (ICL), a brief introduction


First approved for publication in July 2017, International Comparative Literature (ICL) (CN31-2148/I, ISSN2096-4897) is a quarterly (issued on the 28th day of February, May, August, November), bilingual (Chinese and English), international academic journal, edited by the Research Center for Comparative Literature and World Literature at Shanghai Normal University, a National Key Research Center. Distributed throughout China and abroad, ICL is the only official journal in China that features bilingual scholarship, seeks to enhance Chinese cultural diffusion through lively international exchange, and focuses on comparative literary and cultural studies across a wide range of nationalities, languages and disciplines.

ICL grew out of the monographic serials, Cowrie: A Journal of Comparative Literature and Culture, founded and compiled for over 35 years by the world-renowned scholar and pioneer of the Chinese school of comparative literature, SUN Jingyao (1942-2012). From its inception, Cowrie had the generous support of prominent scholars such as YANG Zhouhan (1915-1989), JIA Zhifang (1915-2008) and the President of the Chinese Comparative Literature Association (CCLA), YUE Daiyun. In prestige and reputation, Cowrie was comparable to the leading journals of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences (e.g. Foreign Literature Review); it published articles by notable scholars in China and abroad including, QIAN Zhongshu, JI Xianlin, HUANG Zuolin, ZHONG Jingwen, FAN Cunzhong, YANG Jiang, LI Funing, YANG Zhouhan, and Gerald Gillespie (Professor Emeritus at Stanford University and former president of the International Comparative Literature Association (ICLA)). Once recommended, thanks to the support of Gerald Gillespie, Cowrie was quickly included into the MLA Directory of Periodicals in the United States.

In 2012, Professor LIU Yunhua, the Director of the Center for Comparative Literature and World Literature at Shanghai Normal University, assumed the editorship of Cowrie. In line with the sweeping transformations happening at the time in scholarly exchanges between China and abroad, Professor Liu turned the former English publication into a bilingual (Chinese-English) academic book series. He worked diligently to create a platform that enabled the publishing of original comparative work on Chinese culture and literature, both domestically and abroad. In addition, he implemented a double-blind review process in line with international norms. The journal quickly cultivated a reputation as a serious and inventive space for international exchange and dialogue. Articles published in Cowrie have been included in renowned data platforms such as China National Knowledge Internet (CNKI) and Superstar Academic; they have also been cited by prestigious journals, including Chinese Social Science Digest and China University Academic Abstracts (CUAA). 

Building on Cowrie’s accomplishments, ICL launched its inaugural issue in June  2018: by publishing original research that foregrounds literature- and culture-centric interdisciplinarity, the journal facilitates the national strategy of “Chinese culture going global;” fosters the disciplinary development of comparative literature; promotes Sino-Western cultural dialogues and exchanges; and introduces uniquely Chinese research—with Chinese characteristics, Chinese style, and Chinese insights—to foreign audiences. In addition, as a high-level, high-quality, and high-end publication, ICL is helping to garner esteem for Chinese (language) in the world’s academic communities. 

International Comparative Literature is run by a talented team of scholars at the Research Center for Comparative Literature and World Literature at Shanghai Normal University, a Chinese National Key Discipline. Last year, the center was ranked first on the list of China’s graduate majors (2017-2018), a report released jointly by the Research Center for Chinese Science Evaluation (RCCSE), the Network of Science & Education Evaluation in China, and the Evaluation Center of Chinese Education Quality at Wuhan University. The journal’s success is no doubt a tribute to the hard work and talent of the research team and to the vast and ever-growing resources of the center. There has also been an increasing presence of international scholars on the team: ICL has invited distinguished comparatists both in China and abroad to serve as its consultant editors, advisory board members, and editorial board members. With the continued support, contributions, and involvement of everyone involved, ICL will continue to develop and see positive improvements in all aspects of the journal.

International Comparative Literature (ICL) adheres to a stringent sequence of editorial procedures, including a double-blind review process. By establishing this standard, we hope to make the discipline of comparative literature and world literature an example of academic rigor within the humanities. 

ICL publishes original work in the fields of comparative literature, world literature, comparative poetics, and comparative culture. The journal focuses on three different types of publications: (1) “Special Topics,” which focuses on current and popular topics in domestic and international academic contexts; (2) “Articles,” which are original research papers written in response to particular topics compiled by leading experts of relevant fields; and (3) “Book Reviews,” which seeks to spearhead a national trend by highlighting serious, critical reviews of manuscripts. In addition, on the inside front cover of each issue, a “Featured Scholar” in the field of comparative literature will be introduced to the readers; on the inside of the back cover, the “New Books Recommendation” section will recommend four new monographs on comparative literature, written in both China and abroad. Finally, ICL will also periodically include comparative literature yearly reports, general reviews, and interviews.

ICL strives to provide its readers with a rigorous international academic journal that has unique Chinese characteristics. The publication’s cover design, page layout, and citation guidelines are all in line with international standards. Over the first few issues, Chinese and overseas authors are each accounting for about half of all research published and there is no shortage of world-renowned authors such as Roger T. Ames and LI Sher-shiueh.


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