Dear Distinguished colleagues,

Welcome to "CASS Forum (2014•Literature): Epic Tradition in Modern Society" sponsored by Chinese Academy of Social Sciences (CASS) and jointly organized by Institute of Ethnic Literature (IEL), CASS, and International Society for Epic Studies (ISES) from November 14 to 15 in 2014. Here, I would like to express my sincere gratitude to distinguished guests from around the world for taking time off from busy schedules to come here. It is your presence that sheds luster on the Forum. It is believed that your insight and expertise in the field will definitely provide a golden opportunity to ignite new ideas and make great contribution to developing the discipline of international epic studies. The smooth opening of the Forum is the result of our joint efforts.

In recent years, the academic achievements in epic studies in China have gained attention and recognition from around the world. China’s epic researchers not only provide reference for the disciplinary construction of epic studies and the safeguarding of epic heritages in some neighboring countries, but also actively commit to promoting the multilateral cooperation and academic exchanges in the field of international epic studies. Therefore, we have planned to organize a series of forums on international epic studies regularly to convene scholars of different disciplines and research fields across the globe to discuss the cutting-edge issues on epic studies. The project was launched in 2011. The next year, we organized the “2012 International Summit on Epic Studies: Toward Diversity, Creativity, and Sustainability.” More than 70 participants from nearly 30 countries and regions gathered and discussed dozens of epic traditions from ancient time to the present in different ethnic groups in Asia Pacific Region, Western Europe, Central and Eastern Europe, Central Asia, Africa, Latin America, and China, while proposed and founded the “International Society for Epic Studies.” The founding of ISES in China shows the expectations of epic scholars from different parts of the world in regards to epic research work in China and urges us to establish a regular platform for academic communication and dialogue in international cooperation.

Epic is a time-honored art of oral narrative of humanity. Some epic traditions have become endangered in modern society while others still maintain their vitality. Being considered as part of the most profound connotation and distinctive characteristics in the traditional culture by communities, groups, and individuals concerned, these epic traditions are outstanding representations of cultural creativity. It is worthwhile to probe into the decline, viability, and development of traditional epics in modern society.

As Confucius once said, "what a joy it is to have friends from afar". We are honored that 18 scholars from 8 countries attend the forum to explore the living condition of the epics of different languages and cultures in Europe and Asia, the three major epics in China, the epic traditions in Miao and Uygur, and the countermeasures taken by the academic circles around the globe. The present Forum will certainly further promote the research on epics in the world, enhance the scholarly discourse and cooperation on epic studies between different countries and regions, and make collective contribution to safeguarding intangible cultural heritage and promoting the dialogue and mutual understanding of different cultures.

On behalf of the International Society for Epic Studies, I would like to take this opportunity to invite you to join the Society. For further information about ISES, please log onto our official website:

I hope you will enjoy your time during the Forum.


Chao Gejin

Director of Institute of Ethnic Literature, CASS
President of International Society for Epic Studies