New Literary History of Modern China Editorial Board Workshop, Harvard University
On September 21-22, 2012, Harvard University hosted a two-day workshop for members of the editorial board of A New Literary History of Modern China, a volume commissioned by Harvard University Press. This volume aims to gather short works by scholars with varied disciplinary backgrounds that help rethink approaches to modern Chinese literary history, and its development is being sponsored by CCK-IUC. In addition to the project’s editor-in-chief, Professor David Der-wei Wang, the workshop included Lindsay Waters (Executive Editor for the Humanities at Harvard University Press) and six members of the editorial board: Kirk Denton (The Ohio State University), Michel Hockx (SOAS), Carlos Rojas (Duke University), Jing Tsu (Yale University), Ban Wang (Stanford University), and Michelle Yeh (University of California – Davis).
In three workshop sessions held over the course of two days, the editors discussed the broad scope of the project, each of the proposed topics, and a sampling of the submitted essays. Several proposals were adjusted or replaced with new topics, and, in compiling their new topic list, the editors strove to achieve a representative balance across time periods, genres, and geopolitical locals. The general consensus favored fresh perspectives and innovative approaches to modern Chinese literary history, but the editors also agreed that the volume could not completely eschew the most canonical texts, writers, and historically significant dates. Publication is slated for fall 2015.
Editors of the forthcoming A New Literary History of Modern China participate
in a workshop at Harvard University, September 21-22, 2012.
Lei Feng: The Construction and Deconstruction of a Revolutionary Moral Model, a Lecture by Tao Dongfeng, Harvard University
Professor Tao Dongfeng, Chair Professor of Cultural Studies at Capital Normal University in Beijing and visiting scholar in the Department of East Asian Languages and Civilizations at Harvard University, delivered a talk entitled “Lei Feng: The Construction and Deconstruction of a Revolutionary Moral Model” on September 26, 2012 at Harvard University. In the first part of his discussion, Professor Tao outlined the construction of Lei Feng as a revolutionary moral model during the Maoist era. In the second half of his talk, he turned to examples from contemporary popular culture, especially memes and images circulated online, in order to demonstrate the deconstruction and even mockery of the iconic image of Lei Feng. Professor Tao’s talk was co-sponsored by the Fairbank Center for Chinese Studies at Harvard University. About forty people attended the talk, and a lively discussion in both Chinese and English followed Professor Tao’s presentation.
Professor Tao Dongfeng lectures at Harvard University on September 26, 2012.
Stories of Chinese Poetic Culture: Earliest Times through the Tang, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
On October 19 and 20, 2012, the international conference “Stories of Chinese Poetic Culture: Earliest Times through the Tang” was held at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign. It was the inaugural conference of the Forum on Chinese Poetic Culture, funded by the Chiang Ching-kuo Foundation and co-hosted by the Center for East Asian and Pacific Studies, and the Program in Medieval Studies at the University of Illinois.
Eighteen scholars from the US, Asia, and Europe and two advanced Ph.D. students attended and presented papers at the conference. The two-day conference centered around eight carefully chosen themes: “Poetry and Politics,” “Poetry and Institutionalized Learning,” “Poetry and Heroes,” to “Poetry and Literary Coteries,” “Poetry and Women,” “Poetry and Reality/Imagination,” “Poetry and Religion,” and “Poetry and Daily Life.” Participants not only exchanged ideas on the subject matter but also gave suggestions to each other as to how to make their papers accessible to general readers.
The papers will be revised and compiled as a course text for both undergraduate and graduate students. This book will be the last of the trilogy of poetry textbooks published by Columbia University Press (the first two are: Zong-qi Cai, ed., How to Read Chinese Poetry: A Guided Anthology, 2008 and Cui Jie and Zong-qi Cai, How to Read Chinese Poetry Workbook, 2011). It will be rich in content, broad in scope, accessible in language, and refined in style. The revised papers will be turned in by the end of January, 2013 and the entire manuscript will have been revised and submitted to press by June 1, 2013.
The conference was widely publicized both on the UIUC campus and beyond. A color conference flyer was pasted everywhere on UIUC campus. A conference announcement was posted in major listservs like H-Asian Net, H-Net and others, and was later picked up by various websites like http://earlychinasinology.blogspot.com. This widespread publicity generated such great interest in the event that the conference organizers even received a request for tele-broadcasting of the conference from a scholar in Taiwan.
Participants gather for the "Stories of Chinese Poetic Culture" conference at
University of Illinois on October 19-20, 2012.
Entering the Golden Era of Chinese Film, a Lecture by Peggy Hsiung-ping Chiao, Harvard University
Professor Peggy Hsiung-ping Chiao, Professor at Taipei National University of the Arts and prominent film producer, gave a talk entitled “Entering the Golden Era of Chinese Film” on November 8, 2012 at Harvard University in which she gave a detailed analysis of historical and recent developments in mainland Chinese, Hong Kong, and Taiwanese film industries. Professor Chiao suggested that three key factors were primarily responsible for a recent growth spurt in the mainland Chinese film industry: a rapid increase in the number of movie theaters and movie screens in China, a rise in co-productions among Hong Kong and mainland Chinese filmmakers, and investment by foreign producers in studios located in China. Using clips of recent releases in several different film genres, Professor Chiao illustrated the differences in the types of films being produced by China, Hong Kong, and Taiwan, and noted that while Hong Kong and Taiwan films seem increasingly interested in local issues and local culture, mainland Chinese filmmakers largely continue to churn out epic Hollywood-style blockbusters. A key question will be whether these flashy films can be marketed outside of domestic audiences. Professor Chiao’s talk was co-sponsored by the Fairbank Center for Chinese Studies, and an audience of about twenty-five people attended her lunchtime presentation.
Screening of Datong: The Great Society, Harvard University
Director Evans Chan introduced his film, Datong: The Great Society, before it screened for an audience of around 60 attendees on November 8, 2012 at Harvard University. Named 2011 Movie-of-the-Year by China's progressive Southern Metropolitan Daily for “returning fuller memories and humanity to Chinese history," Datong: The Great Society focuses on modern China's first major utopian philosopher and constitutional reformer, Kang Youwei (Liu Kai Chi). After the Qing government’s bloody crackdown on the political reform he initiated in 1889, Kang and his daughter Tung Pih (Lindzay Chan) fled into 16 years of exile, including residence on a Swedish island. Evans Chan’s docu-drama recounts Kang’s epic struggle for China's modernization as well as for his dream of Datong – the Chinese Utopia. Incorporating a frame from August Strindberg’s Dream Play, narration by actress Jiang Qing, and historical documentary, the film struck audience members with its innovative blending of theater and cinema. Following the screening, both Evans Chan and the film’s executive producer, Peggy Hsiung-ping Chiao, responded to questions from the audience.
Late Imperial Personhood: Posthumanist Perspectives on Xu Wei (1521-1590), Yale University
The first of three workshops on “Late Imperial Personhood: Posthumanist Perspectives on Xu Wei (1521-1590),” organized by Professor Tina Lu (Yale University), was held on November 10-11, 2012 at Yale University and included the following scholars: Chen Hsiu-fen 陳秀芬 (National Cheng-chi University), Si-yen Fei (Penn), Jonathan Hay (NYU), Pieter Keulemans (Princeton), Tina Lu (Yale), Casey Schoenberger (Yale), Wei Shang (Columbia), and Xue Longchun 薛龍春 (Nanjing Arts Institute). (In addition, three Yale graduate students listened in on the proceedings.) The first workshop was dedicated to reading a significant percentage of Xu Wei’s oeuvre, across different genres (Sisheng yuan 四聲猿, Nanci xulu 南詞敘錄, occasional verse in shi and fu form, letters, military recommendations, his gazetteer on his hometown, and many other prose pieces).
Workshop participants also spent some time considering how to publish findings and made tentative plans to publish an issue dedicated to Xu Wei in the new bilingual Journal of Chinese Literature and Culture (a joint venture between Duke University Press and Beijing University). In addition, consideration was given to how the participating scholars can work together in a way that more truly integrates individual contributions than the conventional collected volume of essays. The eight of members of the Xu Wei workshop are all deeply committed to truly collaborative work, and we recognize the futility of understanding a figure like Xu Wei—whose contributions to multiple cultural fields was probably unparalleled in late imperial times—by splitting up his oeuvre according to scholarly specialty. Consequently, Tina Lu has started the process of setting up a wiki (hosted by a Yale server) that will allow each to contribute short open-ended essays that others can comment on and link to additional essays.
Early China Seminar, Columbia University
The Early China Seminar at Columbia University convened in two meetings in Fall 2012. The first meeting on September 15, 2012 was devoted entirely to recent archaeology. In the first paper, “Opening New Fields: The Origins and Development of Civilization in Ancient Sichuan, China,” Professor Rowan Flad of Harvard University reported on the result of the Chengdu Plain Archaeological Survey organized by Harvard. The project was aimed at uncovering the history of human activities on the Chengdu Plain in Sichuan in the late Neolithic to early Bronze-age. Particularly the research on the Baodun culture-period sites offered important clues to understanding the rise of the prominent Bronze-age city, Sanxingdui. In the second paper, “Ceramic Petrography, An Old Fashioned Technique Provides New Insights into Bronze Age Chinese Society,” Professor Emeritus James Stoltman of the University of Wisconsin (Madison), offering a broad context, discussed the recent application of Petrographical analysis to bronze-casting molds from Anyang and ceramics from Guicheng in Shandong, which uncovered important compositional difference in regional ceramics.
The meeting on November 10, 2012, on the other hand, featured two papers that analyzed written evidence from Early China. Professor Newell Ann Van Auken’s (University of Iowa) paper “Teaching the Spring and Autumn: Two Early Commentarial Traditions Embedded in the Zuǒ zhuàn,” offers an insightful look into the process of composition of the Zuo Commentary. Working from the different patterns of quotes incorporated into Zuo, she argues for the existence of two independent commentary traditions on the Spring and Autumn Annals, different also from Gongyang and Guliang. Moreover, these two previously unknown traditions seem to have been based on a pool of information that was possibly independent from the Spring and Autumn Annals. The second paper on November 10, “Scribal Variation and the Meaning of the Houma and Wenxian Covenant Texts’ Imprecation: Ma Yi Fei Shi麻夷非是” by Professor Crispin Williams (University of Kansas) focused on the interpretation of the phase “Ma Yi Fei Shi” in the covenant texts in the Warring States period, suggesting that it should be correctly translated as “Wipe out (someone’s) Shi-lineage”.
Members of the Early China Seminar at Columbia University gathered for their
first meeting of the 2012-2013 academic year on September 15, 2012.