The Island and the Mainland: A Dialogue on Contemporary Chinese Literature, 1949-2009
On October 31, 2009, the Chinese Culture Forum of Harvard University held its 24th annual symposium in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Jointly sponsored by the CCK-IUC, the Taiwan Economic and Cultural Office of New York, the Council of Cultural Affairs of Taiwan, and the City University of Hong Kong, the symposium featured several prominent writers and professors of literature from Taiwan, Hong Kong, and Mainland China, including Chu T'ienwen, Liu Ke -hsiang, and Ko Yu-fen from Taiwan, Dung Kai-cheung and Cheng Pei-Kai from Hong Kong, and Ge Fei and Huang Fayou from Mainland China. Following introductory remarks, the forum convened three main panels on literary and media production in these diverse Chinese contexts, the participants engaged in a wide-ranging set of issues, from the heteroglossic condition of contemporary Chinese-language literature, the ecology and dissemination of literature, and the geographical imaginary in literary production. A roundtable discussion featuring several young professors and scholars of Chinese literature concluded the symposium, summarizing the day’s discussions and posing further avenues of exploration in the featured authors' works.
The participants of "The Island and the Mainland" symposium, October 31, 2009
A Conversaton with Tsai Ming-liang and Lee Kang-sheng
In conjunction with the Harvard Film Archive's retrospective "Tsai Ming-liang Then and Now," an intimate conversation was held on the campus of Harvard in Cambridge, Massachusetts, on November 13, 2009. Sponsored by the CCK-IUC and the Taiwan Economic and Cultural Office of New York, was conducted in Chinese, opening up a more extensive and penetrating discussion with the Chinese-speaking Harvard community. For nearly two hours, the award-winning Malaysian-born, Taipei-based filmmaker discussed the visual logic of his works, the development of film culture and market in Taiwan, and the tensions between local concerns and transcultural aesthetics. Joining Director Tsai in this conversation was the leading actor in most of his films, Lee Kang-sheng, who discussed his initial foray into acting, as well as making the transition to a director in his own right. The event concluded with several questions from the audience. Over the weekend until Monday, November 16, the Harvard Film Archive showcased many of Director Tsai's most intriguing films, including a special screening of his latest work, Face, which was followed by a question and answer session with the audience.
Director Tsai Ming-liang and Lee Kang-sheng with Professors David Wang and Eileen Chow
[Photo courtesy of Chinwen Lee of World Journal]
Early China Seminar, Columbia University
After a year's suspension of its regular meetings in 2008-2009 during which we held the conference on "Writing and Literacy in Early China," the Early China Seminar reconvened on October 25, 2009. The meeting featured three presentations. In his paper "The Beginning of Writing in China," Professor Kuang-Yu Chen of Rutgers University continued to explore the topic of "Writing and Literacy" and reviewed new archaeological evidence for writing before Anyang (late Shang). In the second presentation, Professor Olivier Venture of École Pratique des Hautes Études, France, addressed questions regarding the purpose of bronze inscriptions, suggesting that, rather than intended to communicate with the ancestors, the meaning of the bronze inscriptions lies particularly in their recording the various ritual acts in the hope to extend spiritual benefits to the later generations of the elite families. In the third presentation, Dr. Duan Tianjing of Jilin University introduced new archaeological discoveries at the Nanfangshui site which fill in a major gap in Zhou dynasty archaeology of the eastern China plains. The three papers raised a wide range of issues, both historical and archaeological, which were enthusiastically discussed by the seminar's members. The meeting also provided a suitable chance for the gathering of Early China scholars in the New York metropolitan region.
Early China Seminar meeting, October 25, 2009
Professor Kuang Yu-chen of Rutgers University speaking at the Early China Seminar
China Workshop, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
With the generous support of Chiang Ching-kuo Foundation Inter-University Center for Sinology grant,, UIUC Center for East Asian and Pacific Studies established China Workshop in Fall 2008. The Workshop consists of three rubrics: "Meet New Authors Roundtable," "Modern China Lecture Series," and "China Dissertation Brownbag."
The first guest of China Workshop is Professor Letty Chen (Washington University), who discussed her newly published book, Writing Chinese: Reshaping Chinese Cultural Identity, in February 2009. We circulated her book among interested faculty and graduate students one month before her presentation. Chaired by Professor Gary Xu, Professor Chen explained the main argument of her book and followed by comments from a graduate student. In April 2009, Professor Parks Coble (University of Nebraska) gave a lecture on the politics of wartime journalism. Two more lectures were presented by two of our Freeman Fellows, visiting faculty from China. Professor Yang Peng (Fudan University) talked about youth culture and internet games in China and Professor Li Shenlan (East China Normal University) lectured on reforms of Chinese kindergartens.
A meeting of the China Workshop at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
From February to March, three Ph.D. students (from History, EALC, and Graduate School of Library Science and Information Studies) presented their dissertation research to faculty and students. These presentations proved very helpful for their later job talks in campus interview.
All guests of China Workshops also met with interested faculty and graduate students for tea or lunch. The East Asian studies community had very positive feedback on both their presentations and group meetings. All presentations were very well-attended: averaging 25 each talk.
For Fall 2009, China Workshop will continue to run events under these three rubrics. In addition, it will co-sponsor several lectures on Chinese law and society with College of Law. They include talks by Professor Eugenia Lean (Columbia University), Kwai Ng (University of California, San Diego), and Xin He (a visiting faculty from City University of Hong Kong). Professor Gala Walker (Ohio State University) will give a lecture on teaching Americans Chinese in December 2009. Other presentation will include film screening and discussion with California-based documentary filmmaker Rae Chang (October 2009) and Hong Kong independent filmmaker Evans Chan (November). Three Ph.D students are scheduled to present their dissertation research in November and December.
In sum, China Workshop has contributed significantly to fostering a robust intellectual atmosphere in Chinese studies at Illinois.