Director Christina Yao, "The Wall Street of China: Filmmaking in the Middle Kingdom," Harvard University
On March 30, 2011, Christina Yao, director and producer, spoke about her award-winning historical epic Empire of Silver in a talk entitled “The Wall Street of China: Filmmaking in the Middle Kingdom.” Using characters and stories of her film, she explained the traditional Chinese banking system from the Ming to the Qing dynasties, showing how the amalgamation of a unique system based on respect for talent, the operative principles, and the ethical standards produced a culture that is conducive to business success and its longevity. Director Yao, who holds a Ph.D. in Asian Theatre from Stanford University, also showed the film’s trailer and clips from a documentary about her filmmaking process. The talk introduced the current film industry in Mainland China through examples ranging from her real-location shooting to post production. The event was attended by about thirty people in the Yenching Common Room on the campus of Harvard University.
In Quest of a Chinese Literary Canon, Harvard University
An Exhibition of Henan Opera Performed by the Taiwan Bangzi Company, Harvard University
On April 11, the Taiwan Bangzi Company visited Harvard University to perform four famous scenes from traditional Henan Opera, including selections from Picking Up the Jade Bracelet, The Flirting Scholar, The Butterfly Lovers, and The Legend of the White Snake. The Taiwan Bangzi Company, featuring Wang Hailing, known as “The Queen of Bangzi Opera,” was touring the United States with their renowned production of Shakespeare’s Merchant of Venice, made the stop at Harvard to perform for the class “Old Tales for New Times: The Appropriation of Folklore in Modern and Contemporary China,” co-taught by Professor Wilt Idema and Professor David Wang. The students were treated to this wonderful performance with support from CCK-IUC, the Program in General Education at Harvard, the Taiwan Economic and Cultural Office of Boston, the Department of East Asian Languages and Cultures, and the Fairbank Center for Chinese Studies.
Chinese Cinemas: Reframing the Field, Duke University
On April 15-17, the conference “Chinese Cinemas: Reframing the Field” was held at Duke University. Co-sponsored by CCK-IUC, the conference invited film scholars from across the United States and Asia to survey the field of Chinese cinema as it is currently configured, while examining new directions in which it is moving. The conference also explored the diversity of ethnic, national, and linguistic dimensions included in the notion of what is “Chinese,” together with the multiplicity of formats and media included in the idea of “cinema.” Organized into four parts (history, form, structure, and representation), the presentations examined a wide variety of films from their earliest incarnations to the latest blockbusters, from revolutionary film to melodrama, and from classical opera movies to recent documentary film. Organized by Professors Carlos Rojas and Eileen Cheng-yin Chow of Duke, this conference will serve as a precursor to an edited volume to be published by Oxford University Press.
Professors Carlos Rojas and Eileen Cheng-yin Chow of Duke moderate the discussion
at the conference "Chinese Cinemas: Reframing the Field," held at Duke on April 15-17
Professor Ge Zhaoguang, "A Vietnamese King's Homage to the Qianlong Emperor in 1790," Harvard University
Professor Ge Zhaoguang, professor of history and the director of the National Institute for Advanced Humanistic Studies at Fudan University in Shanghai, mad a special visit to Harvard University on April 19 to present a lecture entitled “A Vietnamese King’s Homage to the Qianlong Emperor in 1790.” His talk discussed the intriguing situation of 1790, when delegates from Vietnam, Korea, Ryūkyū Islands, Burma, and Mongolia, visited the imperial resort at Chengde to pay homage to the Qianlong emperor on his eightieth birthday. Curiously, the Vietnamese king who had just defeated the Qing army offered to appear in Qing costume and kowtow to the Qing Emperor, an act that infuriated the other delegates. Professor Ge stimulating lecture on ceremonial manner and East Asian political order was followed by a response by Professor Mark Elliott and a lively discussion with the audience. This event was funded in part by CCK-IUC.
Writing a New Literary History of Modern China, Harvard University
On April 22-23, the workshop “Writing a New Literary History of Modern China” was held at Harvard University. Sponsored by CCK-IUC, the workshop gathered together both historians and literary scholars with diverse research interests to discuss new approaches to modern Chinese literary history, and featured more than twenty-five presentations in five panels, covering several hundred years of Chinese history. Each presentation was structured around a date of significance, along with a text, object, site, or artifact that illuminates this date to show how it constructs its historical significance in terms of how and what modern China signifies. Topics ranged from the discovery of the oracle bones in the early twentieth century, the construction of “time consciousness” in the Great Leap Forward, the ongoing star power of Teresa Teng in East Asia, to the recent Ming Hwa Yuan productions of the legend of the White Snake in Taiwan, and stimulated a broader discussion of the role of the literary imagination in writing history. To conclude the workshop, a roundtable of renowned scholars from a range of disciplines such as classical literature, political science, art history, and publishing provided additional perspectives on the textuality of historical dates as well as the eventfulness of literary texts.
Professor Mingwei Song speaking at the workshop “Writing a New Literary History of
Modern China,” April 22-23.
Staging the Modern: Theatre, Intermediality and Chinese Drama, Harvard University
The symposium “Staging the Modern: Theatre, Intermediality and Chinese Drama” was held on May 6-7 at Harvard University. This international meeting explored the deep entanglement of theater, new media, and Chinese modernity in the dramas of China, Hong Kong, Taiwan, and the Chinese diaspora during the twentieth and twenty-first centuries. Participants included both scholars of theater and drama from the United States, Europe, and Asia, but also featured the renowned playwrights and directors Nick Rongjun Yu from Shanghai and Danny Yung from Hong Kong. The exciting presentations on topics from the world of the theater in nineteenth-century Beijing and the changing concept of theater in Taiwan, to the multi-media and multi-lingual excursions of contemporary avant-garde theater, generated a lively discussion from the large audience attending the symposium. This event was sponsored by CCK-IUC, the Fairbank Center for Chinese Studies, the Harvard-Yenching Institute, and the Department of East Asian Languages and Civilizations.
Participants of the international symposium “Staging the Modern: Theatre, Intermediality, and Chinese Drama,”
held May 6-7 at Harvard.
China Workshop, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
With the support of a grant from the CCK-IUC, the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign Center for East Asian and Pacific Studies continues to flourish under the organizational structure of a committee of four doctoral candidates from a variety of China-related disciplines. The spring term of the China Workshop kicked off on January 27 with He Xin from the City University of Hong Kong, who presented a lecture, “Piercing the Veil of the Adjudication Committee in Chinese Courts: An Empirical Study from Shaanxi Province.” On February 24, two practicing lawyers, David Mungenast and Steve Upton, presented their insights on “Business, Legal Profession, and Global Politics in China, 1920 to the Present.” Their animated discussion approached the evolving practice of law in China from a historical and gendered perspective and drew an audience of about 35 graduate students and faculty from both the College of Law and the Department of East Asian Languages and Cultures. In March, the China Workshop provided a forum for two advanced Ph.D. students from EALC to present their dissertation chapters as a way to obtain feedback on the clarity and focus of their arguments as well as on their presentation skills; Jin Gong presented “The Arbitration Court for European Emigrants: Self-Governance and the Politics of Identity in the German Jewish Refugee Community of Republican Shanghai” on March 3, and Lawrence Chang presented “The Circulation of Texts and Political Legitimacy in Eighteenth-Century China” on March 10. On April 7, Professor Tonglin Lu from the University of Montreal discussed about her most recent research on the resistant potential of popular music used in the films of the contemporary Chinese film director, Jia Zhangke. On April 14, former Freeman Fellow and current visiting scholar at the Harvard-Yenching Institute Gu Hongliang gave a dynamic and provocative talk on the new Confucian idea of responsibility and how it could be applied to our daily life and social relations in the 21st century. The China Workshop concluded on April 29 with the presentations of four current Freeman Fellows, each a visiting professor from China. A large turnout of more than twenty attendees came to see presentations from Zhang Mingzhi (Xiamen University), who shed light on the underlying factors that led to the trade imbalance between China and the U.S., Du Shihong (Southwest University), who discussed the nuanced understanding and misunderstanding caused by the interpretation of language, Le Qiliang (Zhejiang University), who spoke on the ongoing debates and controversy surrounding the human right issue particularly within the socialist China context and Liu Huaiyu (Nanjing University), who revisited the changing meanings of the concept of “China.” The China Workshop at UIUC continues to foster a dynamic and robust intellectual atmosphere in Chinese studies. (reported by Poshek Fu, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign)
Promotional poster for a meeting of the China Workshop at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.
Early China Seminar, Columbia University
In 2010-2011, the CCK-IUC sponsored a series of four meetings in the regular program of the Early China Seminar at Columbia University. The first meeting on October 30 was devoted to the study of bronzes and bronze inscriptions honored by the presentations of Professors Chen Chao-jung (Academia Sinica) and Zhang Maorong (Shaanxi Normal University). The two scholars were on their visits to study Chinese bronzes in American collections in a collaborative publication project with Columbia University. Chen’s paper, “When Did Chinese Characters Cross the Yangzi River? The Use of GIS in the Study of Inscribed Bronzes from Early China,” examines inscribed bronzes particularly from the Hunan-Hubei regions as a way to demonstrate the reception history of Chinese characters in South China prior to the Spring and Autumn period. In the other paper, “Functionality and Typological Changes of Ancient Chinese Bronze Vessels,” Zhang takes a special approach and argues that typological changes of ancient Chinese bronzes can be best explained by the ways in which they were actually used, originating in changes in the ritual institution centered on sacrificial offerings of various kinds of food. The meeting on November 20 featured presentations by two postdoctoral scholars at the Columbia University. Jing Zhongwei (Jilin University) in this paper titled “Horse Whip (zhuìcè 錣策) and Bit (díxián 鏑銜)” examines archaeological evidence for the two key parts in the horse-controlling technology of early China and explores their broad connections to the Inner Asian steppe regions. Adam Smith (Columbia’s Society of Fellows) introduces internal evidence in the oracle bone records for the use of schedules, registers of livestock, and other types of documents as evidence of literacy in Anyang during late Shang (“The Evidence for Perishable Writing Media in Late 2nd Millennium China, BC”).
While the autumn meetings deal with archaeologically excavated materials, the spring agenda of the Early China Seminar was fully devoted to the study of ancient Chinese texts, particularly those from the Han to Western Jin period. Only slightly more than one year after Columbia published their majestic translation of the Huainanzi, the two scholars, John Major and Sarah Queen, brought to the seminar on February 27 their complete new translation of yet another long text from the Han dynasty, the Chunqiu fanlu 春秋繁露 of Dong Zhongshu. The paper they presented, “The Luxuriant Gems of the Spring and Autumn: Introduction,” discusses a variety of issues concerning the historical background of the text’s creation, its organizational principles, and its stylistic features. The presentation was followed by the close reading of the original text against the new translation involving all participants of the seminar in a two-hour session of lively discussion and debate. In the final meeting of the year on April 23, Agnes Chalier (“Reading the ‘Treatise On Record Sources’: Han Shu, Chapter 30, 藝文志”) discussed the composition of the “Yiwen zhi” as evidence of the diverse nature of early Chinese culture. Howard Goodman (“Understanding Early Chinese Metrology Through Tang Eyes”) discussed the creation of new metric standards by Xu Xun in the Western Jin dynasty and its cultural and historical meanings.
The Early China Seminar, organized and chaired by professors David Prager Branner and Li Feng, had an extremely productive and valuable 2010-2011 academic year, thanks the CCK-IUC for its generous support which made the year’s program possible. (reported by Li Feng, Columbia University)
Participants of the October 30, 2010 meeting of the Early China Seminar at Columbia University.
Modern China Seminar, University of Pennsylvania
Participants of the inaugural meeting of the Modern China Seminar: Culture and Society on February 26 at the University of Pennsylvania.
The inaugural workshop of the Modern China Seminar: Culture and Society at the University of Pennsylvania was held on February 26, 2011. The Modern China Seminar was conceived to provide an inter-university forum for the study of modern Chinese literature, culture, history, and society. It seeks to offer an interdisciplinary program for the exchange of ideas on a series of specific scholarly questions in modern China studies in American academia. Funded by CCK_IUC and cosponsored by the Department of East Asian Languages and Civilizations and the Center for East Asian Studies at the University of Pennsylvania, the first workshop entitled “The Great Divide in China: Cold War Culture and After” brought together fourteen scholars from nine universities and institutions in the United States. Participants included scholars of Chinese, Japanese literatures and comparative literature, historians, and scholars of cinema studies.
The featured speaker of the first meeting of the Modern China Seminar was Professor Kirk Denton of the Ohio State University who spoke on “Martyrdom and Memory: Monuments, Memorials, and Museums for Dead Heroes.” With his paper, Professor Denton considered the ideological and political construction of martyrs and martyrdom in post-socialist China and post-martial law Taiwan and sought to foster dialogues between and memorial and exhibitionary spaces devoted to martyrs in contemporary China and Taiwan. He discussed various ways how monumental memory sites in the PRC linked the sacrifices of the revolutionary past to successes in China’s rise to global prominence, while the memorial culture in Taiwan endeavored to respond to and contest the political repression during the Martial Law period. Professor Xiaobing Tang of the University of Michigan, who served as the reader of the workshop, responded to the presentation in terms of the discourse of memory and politics. Professor Tang revisited the debate of the early 1990s on how to re-read canonical socialist texts, and discussed the discursive framework based on which he edited Zai jiedu (Re-reading), the foundational work to study socialist Chinese literature, theater, arts, film, and society. He thus raised the important question of how to depart from it and re-configure the correlation of political culture and cultural politics from the post-socialist perspective. Professor Denton’s paper and Professor Tang’s response resulted in enthusiastic discussions among the participants, covering issues such as monuments and counter-monuments as related to issues of remembering and forgetting, the role of active viewing, the relationship between political representations and commercial interests, among others. (reported by Xiaojue Wang, University of Pennsylvania)