Lecture on "Literature and Politics in Contemporary China" by Ma Jian, Harvard University
Lecture by Ma Jian (Author of Red Dust and The Noodle Maker) at Harvard Univeristy, October 6, 2005
Second International Symposium on Research and Pedagogy in Classical Chinese and Chinese Language History, Columbia University
Sponsored by CCK Foundation and NOCFL, the Second International Symposium on Research and Pedagogy in Classical Chinese and Chinese Language History was held at Columbia University in New York City on October 21-22, 2005. More than 20 scholars and educators representing Europe, East Asia and North America, presented their latest findings on a wide range of subjects.
The themes of six panels were Poetic Chinese, Lexical Studies of Pre-Qin Texts, Lexical Studies of Early Modern Chinese, the Syntactic Evolution of Chinese Language, Phonology and Morphology, and Linguistic Research and Chinese Language Teaching. The presentations and discussions that followed each panel shed new light on a number of persistent issues in Chinese language history, such as the reconstruction of the obstruent coda in Archaic Chinese, the semantic nature of Ba-construction, word order change in Chinese language history and the sources of general disposal structures. Some previously less-noticed issues were raised as well, including the contrastive study of Chinese sentence-final aspect marking and the verb-attached aspect marking in English, and prosodic restraints on syntactic structures in Chinese poetry.
Due to the relatively small size of the symposium, each presenter had ample time to argue their cases, and the discussions following each panel were thorough and constructive. All participants enjoyed the more intimate and focused environment. They hope academic exchanges as such will be continued and expanded, and expressed their appreciation for the generous support from the CCK Foundation.
The first international symposium on research and pedagogy in Classical Chinese and Chinese language history was also sponsored by the CCK Foundation and organized by the Department of East Asian Languages and Cultures at Columbia University in 2003.
The International Symposium on "the Hsia Brothers and Chinese Literature," Columbia University
Sponsored by the CCK foundation, the Symposium on "the Hsia Brothers and Chinese literature" was convened at Columbia University on October 28th and 29th 2005. As an occasion for scholars in the field of Chinese literature to pay respect to the Hsia brothers and to provide new insights to the field, the symposium attracted more than seventy scholars from different parts of the United States, Taiwan, Hong Kong, and China. The presence of Professors C. T. Hsia (Columbia University), Patrick Hanan and David Wang (Harvard University), Kang-I Sun Chang (Yale University), Jonathan Chaves (George Washington University), Chen Guoqiu (Hong Kong University of Science and Technology), Chen Pingyuan (Peking University), Edward Gunn (Cornell University), Perry Link (Princeton University), Mei Chia-ling (National Taiwan University), Michelle Yeh (UC-Davis), and many others made this symposium an intellectually stimulating and memorable event.
After remarks from Professors Robert Hymes (Columbia University) and David Wang, the symposium began with a roundtable discussion on "Chinese Literary Studies from a Historical Perspective." The roundtable discussion was then followed by a panel on "The Hsia Brothers and Chinese Studies." During the formal dinner reception at the Faculty House at Columbia University, Professor C. T. Hsia??s various impromptu interactions with the participants certainly left the audience with an imprinting and heartwarming impression.
The second day of the symposium featured mostly junior scholars in the field of Chinese literature. With topics ranging from the "Acoustic Aesthetics of Vernacular fiction", to various reexaminations of the paradigmatic trope of the "Gate of Darkness," and from "the Women Writers C. T. Hsia Did Not Write About" to "Sinophone Literature and Its Challenges to Modern Chinese Literature," scholars such as Paize Keulemans (Yale University), Michael Berry (UC-Santa Barbara), Amy Dooling (Connecticut College), Jing Tsu (Rutgers University), and so forth demonstrated both the permeating influences from the Hsia Brothers and new scholarly attempts to build on and expend the existing paradigms set by the Hsia Brothers. This symposium successfully lived up to its title and proved itself as more than a celebratory event.
Form as Poetics: The Transition from Late Qing to Modern Poetry, Harvard University
Lecture by Michelle Yeh (University of California-Davis) at Harvard University, October 31, 2005.
The Fourth International Junior Scholars Conference on Sinology, Donghwa University
Sponsored by the CCK Foundation, the Ministry of Education, the Council of Indigenous Peoples, and the Council for Cultural Affairs in Taiwan, the fourth international junior scholars conference on sinology was held from November 18 to 20 at Donghua University in Hualian, Taiwan. It was a resounding success, with twenty-one foreign scholars from a dozen of countries and approximately one hundred local participants who engaged each other in a most friendly and productive environment. The conference covered a rich diversity of topics on multi-ethnic approaches to sinology, ranging from genetics and cultural anthropology to such subjects as comparative philosophy, religious studies, minority discourse, ethnicity and politics, linguistics, music and drama performances, writing about the Other, and so forth. Olga Lomova from Charles University opened the conference with a series of questions on a new novel and a best-seller in China, The Wolf Totem. Her keynote speech, “Is Wolf Better than Dragon,” set the tone for the eight panels to follow, and scholars pursued the problematic further by examining alternative ways in which sinology could be conducted in more dynamic and responsive manners. To open up dialogues, three professors from China lead discussion in heart-felt fashion about the possibilities of sharing life experiences as well as research results. Paul Anderer, Associate Vice President of Columbia University, also briefed on the platforms enabling trans-national networks of cooperation and exchange to be established. The three day event reached its climax with an aboriginal picnic along the shore in the second evening. In the round-up session, four distinguished scholars highlighted the power and limitations of multi-ethnic approaches as revealed by the twenty-five papers. Enlightened and inspired, everyone seemed not only better but happier than dragon after the conference.
Early China Seminar, Columbia University
Profs. Li Feng 李峰 of Columbia University and David Prager Branner [林德威] of the University of Maryland served as co-Chairs of the Columbia University Early China Seminar again this past Fall. The Seminar has been generously supported by the CCK Foundation, thanks to which it has rapidly become a prominent venue for the study of Early China.
The Seminar’s various papers explore the relatively new field of “Early China Studies”, a term (of Western origin) so new to China that it does not yet even have a standard Chinese translation. While most papers are grounded in sinology and the history of Chinese thought (漢學、中國思想史), the variety of their topics and affiliated disciplines extends well beyond those traditional fields of inquiry. The past Fall term’s papers have included aspects of cosmology, paleography, grammar, bronze-casting techniques, material culture as a metaphor for political philosophy, and political influences on the editing of classical texts. In keeping with the Seminar’s tradition, one paper presented a report on recent archæological finds in greater China.
Participants not only come from New York, but also travel from many other institutions all over the Northeast. From an original founding membership of 5 just a few years ago, the Seminar has grown to several dozen participants at its larger meetings. Papers are given variously in either English or Chinese, and lively discussion also takes place in both languages. With its central location at Columbia University in New York City, the Seminar has rapidly established itself as the focal point of Early China Studies on the East Coast of the United States, and an important venue in the melding of different disciplines into this new field.
The past semester’s papers were as follows:
David Prager Branner, University of Maryland, also gave a short demonstration of Yintong 音通, his new on-line database of Chinese Historical Phonology. (Report by David Prager Branner, 2006.02)
For the Early China Seminar community, Fall 2005 has been a busy and fruitful season. With the generous support from the CCK-IUC, we were able to hold three consecutive meetings to which six distinguished scholars were invited to present their research. The papers are arranged across very different disciplines, reflecting the multi-disciplinary nature of the field of Early China studies. The season began on September 24 with a paleographical paper on the “Reconstruction of the Shang Kinship Terms and Kinship Systems from the Bronze Inscriptions,” presented by Professor Hwang Ming-chorng from Academia Sinica. Hwang reexamined our current methodological basis for reconstructing the kinship structure of the Shang dynasty. Based on systematic control of inscriptional sources, Kwang suggested that the Shang royal lineage was indeed composed of ten intermarrying sublineages, each marked by one of the ten heavenly stems (tian-gan). The second paper on September 24, “Understanding yan’gong in Two Ways: Lessons from the Xunzi and the Guodian Bamboo Texts,” was presented by Professor Annping Chin from Yale University. Beginning by introducing Zhang Xuecheng’s key concept yan’gong (words for all to share), Chin explored the meaning of gong in pre-Qin context, particularly in the Xunzi and the newly excavated bamboo texts from Guodian, Hubei.
The Early China Seminar resumed on November 12 with two featured presentations on early Chinese philosophy and literature: “The Myth That China Has No Creation Myth; Or, How Not to Compare China and the West,” by Professor Paul Rakita Goldin of University of Pennsylvania; “Liu Xin and the ‘Discovery’ that Yao was the Ancestor of the Han Imperial Family,” by Professor Gopal Sukhu from City University of New York (Queens College). Goldin argued strongly that the long standing belief that China has no “creation myth” is but a product of the West’s search for cultural “others”. On the one hand, China has no lack of “creation stories” as best reflected in the newly discovered bamboo text “Tai yi sheng shui”; on the other, if we apply the same criterion that “God created the world out of nothing” to Greek tradition, there is no “creation myth” either. Even in Judeo-Christian tradition, God did not create the world exactly “out of nothing.” Sukhu suggested that different from the early Han ideology that Confucius was the “sage king” heralded by the presence of unicorn in the Gongyang text, Liu Xin, working from a different text, the Zuozhuan, discovered that the Liu family had descended from Emperor Yao through the Fan family in the state of Jin, hence carrying the Mandate of Heaven.
On December 3, the Seminar community enjoyed two rather “technical” presentations. In his paper “Tool Metaphors in the Huainanzi,” Dr. John Major of the China Institute, New York, statistically explored the use of tool terms such as “compass,” “square,” “balance-beam,” and “chisel” across the pre-Qin philosophical texts, determining that the high concentration of such use is found in the Huannanzi. Major noted that while the text is itself a handbook of emperorship, the overwhelming use of such terms suggests that for the authors of the Huannanzi, the world is rational, measurable, and susceptible to good government according to clear standards. The second paper of the day, “The Casting Techniques of Bronze Weapons and Vessels in the States of Wu and Yue during the Eastern Zhou Period” by Lian Haiping from the Shanghai Museum, tested the frontier of experimental archaeology. While the experiment was done in the laboratory of the Shanghai Museum, the paper, along with a 20-minute video show, demonstrated in details the excellent crafts of surface treatment that are seen only on the Wu and Yue bronzes from South China.
The papers attracted a large number of scholars as well as graduate students across universities in the East Coast region. As a standing practice of the Early China Seminar, all papers were read in advance by the members and were carefully discussed in an up-to- one-hour session that followed each presentation. The seminar provided an excellent place for learning and exchange for both the speakers and the attendees.
Third Annual Chinese Medieval Studies Workshop
On December 10, 2005, the Third Annual Chinese Medieval Studies Workshop at Columbia University was held. Over the past three years, this annual gathering of scholars from across the United States to present on current research and to discuss scholarly issues of the medieval field has generated much excitement about the field and its new directions and approaches. It has also been successful in bringing about the formation of a network of scholars working on the medieval period and collaborative projects among the participants. This year’s meeting of scholars working on medieval literature, history, art history, and religion has proven to be yet another fruitful event.
Over the course of this one-day workshop, five speakers presented papers on new research and discussants responded to these papers. The participants and papers presented are as follows: Robert Campany, “Adepts and Their Communities (pre-350 C.E.)” (Discussant: Michael Puett); Alan Berkowitz, “Social and Ethical Dimensions of Reclusion in Early Medieval China” (Discussant: Robert Ashmore); Jack Chen, Poetic Insignificance (Discussant: Paula Varsano); Wendy Swartz, "New Approaches in Tao Yuanming Studies in the Ming and Qing” (Discussant: Tian Xiaofei); Eugene Wang, “Patterns Above and Within: Palindromes, Astral Pictures, and Ring Compositions in Medieval China” (Discussant: Robert Ashmore). The workshop concluded with a special presentation of the Angel Island Poetry Inscriptions by Charles Egan. The workshop was attended by a number of Columbia faculty members and graduate students, as well as colleagues and students from other universities.