Xuenan Cao is a scholar of Chinese media cultures and literature. Having earned her Ph.D. in Literature from Duke University, Dr. Xuenan Cao is pausing in New Haven, writing her book. It is titled “Chinese Whispers,” which is also a pejorative name for the game we call “Telephone.” The rules of the game are simple. One whispers in another’s ear, and passes on a message. By the end of the line, the message has been massacred. But nothing is lost. The question is where it is stored. Dr. Cao hopes to offer a new perspective. She writes book reviews and literary criticism. Her English language publications include single-authored articles in Theory, Culture & Society (2021), Extrapolation (2019), Journal of Language, Literature, and Culture (2016), Frontiers of Literary Studies in China (2016), amongst others. More at https://campuspress.yale.edu/caoxuenan/.
Julia Cross is a historian of medieval Japan, specializing in religion, death, and the body. Drawing on Buddhist manuscripts and art, her research examines how people in medieval Japan attributed religious and social significance to the body, specifically the sacred dead.
Julia’s book project focuses on relic worship in thirteenth through fifteenth century Japan. During this period, relics that had previously been under the control of powerful men in the court began to magically appear at nunneries and temples. In her research, Julia argues that this redistribution helped to create a differently gendered religious geography by linking given landscapes and peoples—e.g., nunneries, female monastics, and female courtiers—to this world of real and imagined relics. This change empowered nuns while granting peripheral temples and female monastics a promise of salvation in a period when the Buddha’s teachings were believed to be almost lost (mappō). To illuminate this history, Julia’s research incorporates analysis of chronicles, records, diaries, literary narratives, religious theory, and surviving reliquaries pertaining to relic worship. Her second project examines mummification practices in eighteenth century Japan. Here, Julia questions the common assumption in Japanese scholarship that Buddhist mummification was an anomaly unique to this period and only practiced by peripheral members of society. Her research shows that mummification practices were not novel and can be traced back to older practices of mountain asceticism.
Julia received her PhD in East Asian Languages and Civilizations at Harvard University in 2021. She holds an MA in East Asian Studies from the University of California, Los Angeles (2012), and a BA from the University of California, Santa Cruz, in the History of Art and Visual Culture (2009), where she received honors for her thesis on Chinese landscape painting. Her research and writing have been supported by various fellowships, such as the Robert Ho Family Foundation Program in Buddhist Studies, Fulbright Research Fellowship, and the Foreign Language and Area Studies Fellowship (FLAS).
In spring 2022, Julia taught “Mummies, Ghost, and Relics: Understandings of the Sacred Dead,” which examined how Buddhist cultures across East Asia understand death conceptually and perceive it physically, through corpses, mummies, ghosts, and relics.
Na Sil Heo is a historian of modern Korea, with research interests in studies of childhood, the cultural Cold War, race, and gender and sexuality. She is currently completing a book manuscript that examines childhood as a site of ideological and cultural formations in 1950s-1960s South Korea. Reading sources ranging from home floor plans and children’s literature to infant formula advertisements, her work reveals how Cold War liberalism manifested in various realms of childhood in postwar Korea. Her research has been published in the Journal of Asian Studies and Gender & History. She has also outlined a second book project which locates the history of family planning in Korea within transnational circulations of medical knowledge, contraceptives, and population control advocates. She received her Ph.D. in East Asian Studies from the University of Toronto in 2020. Her research has been supported by fellowships and grants, including the Andrew W. Mellon Postdoctoral Fellowship in the Humanities at the University of Pennsylvania, Korean Collections Consortium of North America (KCCNA), and Dr. David Chu Scholarship in Asia Pacific Studies at the University of Toronto. Before coming to Yale, she taught Korean history at the University of Toronto and the University of Pennsylvania.
Trenton Wilson is a scholar of early Chinese intellectual and political history. His dissertation, “Empire of Luck: Trust and Suspicion in Early China,” examines political and ethical debates around institutional trust in the Qin and Han empires. He is especially interested in problems of bureaucracy, surveillance, amnesty, fate, and luck in discussions of early Chinese institutional design. He is also interested in the development of Han classicism, classical commentary, and intellectual culture the early and medieval periods. In his research, he uses excavated materials, excavated administrative documents, and other excavated manuscripts. In 2017-2018, he spent a year reading excavated materials at the Center for Bamboo and Silk Manuscripts at Wuhan University. Wilson received a B.A. in East Asian Languages and Cultures from the University of Kansas in 2009, an M.A. in Chinese Philosophy from Peking University in 2012, and a Ph.D. in History from University of California, Berkeley in 2021.