CEAS Colloquium Series

Event
Posted : February 23, 2017

In the history of epigraphic study in China, which traces its history back to the eleventh century or much earlier, the 1980s was undisputedly one of the pivotal turning points. The influx of young aspiring scholars to the post-Cultural Revolution Chinese academia, who enthusiastically conducted extensive fieldwork across China to uncover epitaphs, sculptures, and other forms of stele inscriptions, marked a new phase in the scholarship of Chinese history. Their plentiful findings led to the publication of hundreds of new epigraphic collections since the 1990s, which ushered in the emergence...

Event
Posted : February 21, 2017

In “dream vision” (mugen) Noh, a ghost appears to a traveling priest in a dream and reenacts the memory that keeps it attached to this world; it does so in order to obtain assistance in achieving enlightenment and release from that attachment. Dream vision plays, especially those composed by Kanze Zeami and Konparu Zenchiku, are generally considered to be the finest embodiment of the aesthetic of yūgen (ineffable beauty) and as such resistant to allegorical and/or historical analysis. This paper will examine examples of Noh plays that incorporate stories from Heian period court culture such...

Event
Posted : February 15, 2017

The Japanese art dealer Yamanaka Sadajirō and art collector Nezu Ka’ichirō acquired numerous fragments of sculpture looted from Chinese Buddhist sites, notably caves at Tianlongshan. Levine considers the fragmentation and circulation of Tianlongshan’s sculpture—especially the heads of Buddhas and Bodhisattvas—into private collections and museums in relation to Tianlongshan’s modern “discovery,” Japanese colonial archaeology, and the twentieth-century, transnational art market for Chinese sculpture. A historian of the art and architecture of Japan and Buddhist visual cultures...

Event
Posted : February 15, 2017

Lunch will be provided. Infrastructures in China are designed as armatures for development—from the transit-oriented developments along Hong Kong’s metro system, integrated freshwater networks in the Pearl River Delta, to agricultural specialization programs in the Yangtze River Delta—all aim to increase economic production of regions, cities, and villages. These engineered landscapes manipulate political and economic systems, and alter the physical spaces, often with serious social and environmental consequences. However, many of these infrastructures also create unexpected landscapes of...

Event
Posted : February 3, 2017

In my lecture, I will examine the connections between Japonisme and the emergence of cinema. Japonisme, the influence of the Japanese art, culture and aesthetics on European and American art, roughly between the 1860s and 1910s, also had a significant impact on early cinema. In particular, I discuss the relationship between Japonisme and the films of Lumière brothers. Finding inspirations from paintings and applying their compositions to their films, the Lumière films presented accuracy, immediacy, and temporality, three goals of Impressionist painters. In order to challenge the liner...

Event
Posted : February 2, 2017

This talk contemplates the following questions about Song-period China.  If only certain parts of China experienced a “Medieval Economic Revolution,” can we view such revolution as a common feature of entire “China”?  If other parts of China experienced a significant economic downturn, how did such downturn interact with or offset the revolutionary growth elsewhere?  Much of the regional downturn was associated with environmental degradation.  And much of the environmental degradation both resulted from and led to the furthering of regional disparity, unequal resource allocation, and...

Event
Posted : January 30, 2017

This talk takes up the figure of the supply chain to think about the problem of constancy-amid-flux in the circulation of people and things between Fuzhou, China and the United States.  Ethnographically, the talk focuses on a grey industry of transnational Chinese couriers whose work revolves around the transport of American-born infants and a steady supply of “quality” milk formula from their migrant parents in the U.S. to designated caregivers in rural Fuzhou.  For Chinese migrants hoping to ensure the safe movement and return of their “Little Americans,” supply chains not only emerge as...

Event
Posted : January 27, 2017

It is the presence and placement of kanji or “Chinese characters” within the German and Japanese texts (both written by Tawada) that is a striking feature of Borudō no gikei/ Schwager in Bordeaux. Published first in 2008, the German language text written by Tawada contains 276 characters as headings or “titles” for component sections of varying lengths. In Tawada’s 2009 Japanese text, published in the following year, contains a similar layout, but the kanji that appears at the heading of each section is printed as a mirror image of itself. Can we take at face value, and as a kind of “key” to...

Event
Posted : December 15, 2016

Most Daoist scriptures in Early Medieval China were not freely accessible; they were transmitted from Masters to chosen disciples via elaborate transmission rituals. Scriptures, ritual manuals, and compendia record detailed instructions for the transmission of specific texts, including references to “pledge offerings” (called faxin, mengxin, xinwu, mengwu, mengshi, laixin, guixin or zhangxin) to be given by the disciple to the master as a requirement for the transmission of scriptures or other written materials. Offerings for the transmission of esoteric scriptures are not unique, we find...

Event
Posted : December 14, 2016

Based on archives, local gazetteers, 35 in-depth interviews in Beijing and Shanghai and many diaries and studying/working notes given by former Educated Youths, autobiographies, memoirs, documentary literature and reportage etc., this talk shows that firstly, the hunger for books and knowledge of the educated youths was stratified, and youths from city cadres and intellectuals’ families constituted the main body of personal reading activity during the Cultural Revolution. They found ways and means to obtain books to read, but in comparison, thirst for reading was not significant for the...

Event
Posted : November 17, 2016

The later reception of the Chuci anthology has been largely framed around the representation of the attributed author Qu Yuan as a loyal subject. This talk instead traces the earlier reception and contested status of Qu Yuan during the Han dynasty, to open up a space for the language of the Chuci to be deployed for a different orientation: as part of the repertoire of imperial performance in Xie Lingyun’s poetry. Harrison Huang received his Ph.D. from The University of California, Berkeley. He specializes in medieval Chinese poetry and intellectual history. His research interests...

Event
Posted : November 11, 2016

Yakushiji temple in Nara houses a 2.5-meter bronze sculpture of the Master of Medicine Buddha with two attendant bodhisattvas; the triad was completed ca. 718. A temple of the same name was vowed by Emperor Tenmu (r. 672–686) in 680 for an earlier capital, Fujiwara, when his chief consort, later Empress Jitō (r. 686–697), became ill. Visually and metaphorically, the 1.5-meter bronze pedestal beneath the Master of Medicine icon supports the Buddha’s promise to quell forces that sicken people and foster chaos. The elegant and powerful blend of Indic foreign figures, Chinese cosmology, grape...

Event
Posted : September 2, 2016

A major cult figure in southwest China from the ninth to thirteenth centuries, Liu Benzun was best known for sacrificing parts of his body to quell demons and save lives. This paper examines key figurations of Liu at cave temples in Anyue and Dazu as part of a broader study of how these sites reshaped the mountain setting, which has long been the destination for Buddhist ascetics, for lay devotees. Central to my discussion is the presentation of Liu’s Ten Austerities as a spectacular relief across a cliff surface at Baodingshan, which is in a marked contrast with the Cave of Perfect...

Event
Posted : September 2, 2016

From the debut of the Buddha Śākyamuni in early historical Japan through the fifteenth century, the Indian sage often cut a remote and un-affecting figure. Only late in Japan’s tumultuous sixteenth century did new stories of his life, filled with original poetry, drama, and derring-do, begin to circulate as commercial books. In turn, these print commodities were adapted for the puppet theater from the middle of the seventeenth century, and for the kabuki stage from the mid-nineteenth. Largely overlooked by scholars of Japanese Buddhism and the Japanese theater, these new staging’s of the life...

Event
Posted : September 2, 2016

Nanban byōbu, screen paintings depicting the arrivals of Europeans in late 16th - early 17th century Japan, constitute one of the most numerous genres of Japanese painting. Long admired for their visual accounts of the brief encounter between Japan and Europe in the age of exploration, Nanban screens have opened avenues of research for the study of genre painting, the Momoyama period, and the history of European maritime exploration and missionary activity in East Asia. This lecture will approach Nanban screens from the perspective of the history of early modern Japanese painting, addressing...

Event
Posted : September 2, 2016

Media censorship in contemporary China is sustained effectively without losing its legitimacy domestically, even when the Chinese media became much more commercialized through media reform, and censorship in China in the post-Mao era is highly criticized globally. A high level of compliance is evident within the journalistic field and among the general public, although resistance and conflict are also reported occasionally. This talk provides historical perspective on the Chinese media censorship system by exploring how the CCP achieved such a high level of compliance among media workers in...

Event
Posted : September 2, 2016

For several decades now, IT developers in Japan have battled with their colleagues in other parts of the world for a chance to shape the ubiquitous computing protocols of the future. But as with the internet before it, attempts to establish global standards for ubiquitous computing continually bump up against the disparate needs and practices of specific populations. This talk explores debates over how to build a ubiquitous computing network with Japan in mind, from specific aspects of Japanese communication and urban design to the particular challenges of an aging and shrinking population....

Event
Posted : September 2, 2016

In April of 1936, the magazine Kamigata hanashi (Kamigata Story) was launched in Osaka. This was a rakugo (comic storytelling) magazine published monthly out of a local storyteller’s home. One mission of the magazine as laid out by the editor in the inaugural issue was to help breathe new life into a traditional art that was losing a popularity battle with manzai (two-person stand-up comedy) and other modern performing arts and media. In the second year (of four and a half) of the magazine’s run, the editor issued a call for yoshikono verses, which, like dodoitsu, are conventionally written...

Event
Posted : September 2, 2016

Of all the war atrocities committed by the Japanese military in China, perhaps the most notorious and curious case was that of the Hundred Man Killing Contest. As Japanese military units raced to capture the Chinese capital of Nanjing in late 1937, Tokyo Nichinichi shinbun reporters breathlessly covered the story of two officers competing to be the first to kill one hundred Chinese soldiers. Although the event is remembered today as an example of the cruelties of Japanese militarism, thinking about the Killing Contest as media spectacle can provide new insights on how total war transforms...

Event
Posted : September 2, 2016

The scholarship of Japanese Empire seems to have developed along a series of dichotomous ideas, including the victimizer and the victimized, the colonizer and the colonized, Naichi and Gaichi, and so forth and so on, though the more recent scholarship aims to multi-layer these simple dichotomies.  In my presentation, I try to make efforts to find the moments of humanism, and even humanitarianism, in Japan’s reign of its empire.  I do so by focusing on the destitute children deprived of parents in both sides of Japanese Empire, Japan proper and the occupied China.  In the early twentieth...

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