Daoist Studies Workshop, McGill University
Walking Through Life with Terror and Betrayal: a Lecture by Yan Lianke, Harvard University
Yan Lianke, author of frequently banned-in-China novels such as Serve the People and Lenin’s Kisses, delivered an hour lecture in Chinese at Harvard University on April 3, 2013. Yan’s visit was part of a ten-stop tour of colleges and universities in the United States, for each of which he spoke on a different topic. In his talk at Harvard, entitled “Walking through Life with Terror and Betrayal,” he narrated the deeper, existential terror of being a writer in China today through a series of anecdotes about his writing career. For Yan, escaping from the terrors of everyday life through writing paradoxically gives rise to further unease; however, the greatest terror is the possibility of losing the ability to write. His humble yet provocative depiction of the writer’s condition drew a strong response from the audience, many of whom were visiting scholars and students from the PRC for whom this was a rare chance to interact with a black-listed author. More than 40 people attended and participated in a lengthy question-and-answer session following the talk.
Cold War and East Asia: Chinese Perspectives International Workshop, Harvard University
A full-day workshop on “Cold War and East Asian Cultural Politics: Chinese Perspectives” was held at Harvard University on April 4, 2013. The event was organized by Xiaojue Wang (Assistant Professor at the University of Pennsylvania and 2012-2013 An Wang Postdoctoral Fellow at Harvard University) and co-sponsored by the Fairbank Center for Chinese Studies at Harvard University and the Harvard-Yenching Institute. With a full line-up of twenty presentations divided amongst four panels and a concluding round table discussion, the workshop explored the ways in which the leveling and polarizing forces of Cold War ideology reconfigured modern Chinese literature and culture in communities across East Asia. A diverse range of scholarly perspectives was brought to bear on issues of ethnic and national identities, literature and cultural politics, reorientations of cultural tradition and imaginations of modernization in these societies. Presentations included, among others, Liao Ping-hui (University of California, San Diego) on “Eileen Chang and Chen Ying-chen: Two Contrasting Cases in Cold War Literature,” Wook Yon Lee (Sogang University, South Korea) on “Cold War Culture in the Korean Peninsula and Understanding of China,” and Huang Ying-che (Aichi University, Japan) on “Cold War Narratives in Japan.” In addition to the workshop presenters, a number of graduate students and visiting scholars attending the event and participated in open discussions following the formal presentations.
Lu Xun and East Asia: An International Conference, Harvard University
A two-day international conference on “Lu Xun and East Asia” was held at Harvard University on April 5-6, 2013. The conference was co-organized by David Der-wei Wang (Harvard University), Xiaojue Wang (University of Pennsylvania), and Jae-woo Park (Hankuk University, South Korea) and co-sponsored by the Harvard-Yenching Insitute, and Fairbank Center for Chinese Studies and Department of East Asian Languages and Civilizations at Harvard University. Participants included a number of top Lu Xun scholars from East Asia, North America, and Europe, as well as a delegation of members of the International Society of Lu Xun Studies (ISLS). The co-organizers delivered opening remarks and the conference proceeded smoothly through a full and rich program of 9 panels and 29 paper presentations that sought to reposition Lu Xun as a key interface of transnational literary and cultural studies by critiquing prevailing trends in Lu Xun Studies, exploring possibilities for reading Lu Xun in a dialogical light, and introducing new grounds for fruitful comparison of Lu Xun and his oeuvre with writers and literary works from East Asia and beyond.
Of particular interest were the panels on “Translation and the Human Condition” and “Sinophone Routes of Lu Xun Discourse.” The former included insightful papers by Carlos Rojas (Duke University) “Lu Xun, Translation, and the Germ of Humanity,” Wang Pu (Brandeis University) on “Indirect Translation and Promethean Cannibalism: On Lu Xun’s “Hard Translation” as a Political Allegory,” and Xiaolu Ma (PhD student, Harvard University) on “Transculturation of Madness: The Double Origin of Lu Xun’s Diary of A Madman.” In the latter, four papers spoke to the influence of Lu Xun in Taiwan, Hong Kong, Malaysia and beyond: Chan Kwok-kou Leonard (Hong Kong Institute of Education) on “Lu Xun and Hong Kong: Three Instances, ” Chong Fah Hing (University Putra Malaysia) on “Lu Xun's spirit and thought in Chinese education movement in Singapore and Malaya,” Chien-hsin Tsai (University of Texas at Austin) on “Lu Xun and His Taiwan Followers: From Lai Ho to Chen Yingzhen” and Hemant Kumar Adlakha (Jawaharlal Nehru University) on “The World of Lu Xun and East Asian Cultural Modernity.” Over the two days, more than 100 audience members attended the various panels; many spirited discussions began in the question-and-answer sessions continued enthusiastically during the breaks.
Participants of the Lu Xun and East Asia International Conference at Harvard University, April 5-6, 2013.
Transpacific China in the Cold War Conference, University of Texas at Austin
Scholars and graduate students from Hong Kong, Taiwan, England, the US, and Canada gathered at the University of Texas on April 18-19, 2013 to attend the “Transpacific China and the Cold War” conference hosted by the Institute for Historical Studies. The two-day conference highlighted new research focusing on the cultural and social productions that emerged from diasporic Chinese communities during the Cold War. Madeline Hsu, Associate Professor of History at UT and the Director of the Center for Asian American Studies, organized the conference with Poshek Fu, Professor of History at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and Zijiang Professor of Humanities at the East China Normal University in Shanghai, and Hon Ming Yip, Professor and Chair of the History Department at The Chinese University of Hong Kong. The conference included four panels, which addressed issues and questions relating to diasporic Chinese communities.
In the first session of the conference, entitled “Orphans of Empire: Refugees,” panelists Helen Zia, Glen Peterson (University of British Columbia) Madeline Hsu (University of Texas at Austin), and Dominic Yang (UBC). explored questions affecting Chinese refugees during the Cold War, an issue often overlooked by diplomatic historians. In the second session, “The Politics of Cultural Production,” panelists Poshek Fu (University of Illinois – Urbana-Champaign), Ping-hui Liao (University of California – San Diego) and Chih-ming Wang (Academia Sinica) examined the ways that Cold War politics imprinted itself upon literature, film, and literary criticism. Panelists Chi-kwan Mark (University of London), Shuang Shen (Pennsylvania State University) and Xiaojue Wang (University of Pennsylvania) formed the third panel on “Propaganda and Discourse,” during which they discussed fresh approaches to examining the press and literature. In the last panel of the conference, “Negotiating Nonalignment during the Cold War: Hong Kong,” panelists Peter Hamilton (Ph.D. Candidate, University of Texas), Simon Shen (Chinese University of Hong Kong) and Hon-Ming Yip (Chinese University of Hong Kong) challenged current scholarship by placing Hong Kong in the center of Cold War dynamics.
The conference was considered an overwhelming success by presenters and audience alike.
The Co-existence of ‘Storytelling’ and ‘Writing’ in the History of Novels in Vernacular Chinese: a Lecture by Xu Deming, Harvard University
On May 3, 2013, Professor Xu Deming of Yangzhou University delivered a lunchtime lecture on “The Co-existence of ‘Storytelling’ and ‘Writing’ in the History of Novels in Vernacular Chinese” at Harvard University. Drawing upon Gerard Genette’s theory of narrative discourse, Professor Xu argued that a now extinct “voice text” once ran parallel to all early Chinese short stories and novels (xiaoshuo 小說). By examining the characteristics of contemporary Yangzhou storytelling (pinghua 評話) – a “living fossil” of the lost voice text – against the parallel historical development of storytelling and vernacular fiction, we can rediscover the performative elements of the “voice text” that are deeply embedded within the narrative structures of stories and novels. Professor Xu provided several evocative examples of Wu Song episodes told by Yangzhou storytellers, for which he played audio and visual clips, and a detailed historical discussion of the co-evolution of written and performed narrative from the Song Dynasty forward. His lecture concluded with further examples of modern fiction, such as Lao She’s Rickshaw, that continue the tradition of borrowing narrative elements from storytelling practice. Approximately 20 faculty, graduate students, and visiting scholars attended the event and participated in the discussion following Professor Xu’s lecture.
Professor Xu Deming lectures at Harvard University, May 3, 2013
Early China Seminar, Columbia University
In Spring 2013, the Early China Seminar at Columbia University has had two meetings. The first meeting on March 2 featured two papers that both throw new light on the origin and early transmission of the core “Confucian” texts, the Shangshu 尚書 and the Shijing 詩經. In his paper, “Ideologies of Kingship in the ‘Yaodian’ 堯典: Style, Argument, and Purpose,” Martin Kern (Princeton University) suggests to treat the current “Yaodian” chapter of the Shangshu as two works: while the “Yao” part represents a model of charismatic rulership prior to the rise of the well-organized state, the “Shun” part of the text was probably addressed to an imperial audience (possibly early Han). In the second paper of the day, “A First Reading of the Qiye 耆夜 among the Qinghua Strips and the Related Issues about the Textual Transmission of the Shijing Poems,” Li Feng (Columbia University) discusses the intriguing relationship between the poem “Cricket” in the transmitted Shijing and the poem “Cricket” among the unearthed manuscript recently published by Qinghua University in Beijing. He suggests that while the unearthed “Cricket” shows features of Western Zhou language together with astronomically conceived political meanings; these features were lost when the poem was re-composed and incorporated into the Shijing.
On April 13, the Early China Seminar met for the second time in Spring 2013. In the first paper, “Almanacs as a Window on Early Chinese Natural Philosophy,” Ethan Harkness (New York University) discusses the recent discovery of ancient almanacs (“Day Book” or Rishu 日書) from in Qin and early Han tombs and highlights their significance for understanding early Chinese natural philosophy. In the second paper, Maxim Korolkov (Columbia University) provides a “state of the field” of Russian Sinology and an overview of recent research developments relevant particularly to Early China. Both meetings were well attended, and the members of the Early China Seminar are looking forward to our third meeting of the season on May 19, featuring two distinguished speakers, Joachim Gentz of University of Edinburgh, and Roderick Campbell of New York University.
Early China Seminar meeting on March 2, 2013 with speaker, Martin Kern.
Chinese Medieval Studies Workshop 9th Annual Meeting, Rutgers University
On The 8th annual meeting of the Chinese Medieval Studies Workshop was held at Rutgers University on May 4, 2013. This workshop, inaugurated by Professor Wendy Swartz of Rutgers and funded by CCK-IUC, is a major academic forum for the exchange of ideas and the advancement of scholarship. Distinguished scholars from across the United States working on medieval Chinese literature, history, religion, and visual culture, have been meeting annually in this forum since 2003 to discuss their current research, and over the years students from Columbia, Harvard, Yale, Princeton, and Rutgers have attended the meetings.This year’s meeting included the following papers and discussions: Robert F. Campany, “Remembering and Forgetting Past Lives in Early Medieval China: Preliminary Notes” (discussant: Michael Puett); Matthias Richter, “Non-linear Texts in Early China” (discussant: Sarah Allen); Antje Richter, “Discovering Epistolary Fiction in Early and Medieval China” (discussant: Wendy Swartz); Tian Xiaofei, “The Stubborn Orange: Letters and Gifts in Early Medieval China” (discussant: Goh Meow Hui); Alan Berkowitz, “Xu You’s Ears: On the Polemic Concerning Talent and Marketability in Early Medieval China” (discussant: Eugene Wang).