CEAS Colloquium Series

Event
Posted : March 19, 2018

The ominous implications of disasters—fires, floods, earthquakes—are clear in the literature of Japan’s medieval period: they portend unrest in the realm, suggest the corruption of the powerful, and underscore the futility of human ambition. When the shogun’s capital of Edo was devastated by fire in 1657, and the imperial capital of Kyoto was shaken by a destructive earthquake in 1662, a little more than a half-century into the rule of the Tokugawa shoguns, the question of how the nascent world of print fiction would treat these two events was therefore a charged one. This talk examines...

Event
Posted : March 14, 2018

There are more prison chaplains in the Japanese correctional system than there are in American prisons–despite the fact that Japan has only a fraction of the U.S. prison population. Why does Japan have so many prison chaplains and what do they do? Based on over two years of fieldwork with Japanese prison chaplains from Buddhist, Shinto, and other sects, Lyons argues that the prison chaplaincy has developed as one face of religious work for the public benefit. The chaplaincy is charged with offering a depoliticized form of religious education tailored to the goals of the host institution...

Event
Posted : March 6, 2018

Fu poetry underwent a transformation during the 8th and 9th centuries, partly due to its inclusion in the imperial examinations, but also owing to the merging of the varied stylistic streams flowing out of the the Han and Six Dynasties forms. Scholars have traditionally considered the division between the “old-style” 古 and prosodically “regulated” 律 fu to be a line of demarcation. A tension arises when one is asked to consider the startling diversity of poems placed under the title of fu. Dr. Knight proposes that the fu from medieval times onward are in fact a complex poetic model of...

Event
Posted : March 6, 2018

This research is based on fieldwork across borders, working with Turkic Muslim Uyghur communities in China’s Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region, and in Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan. It asks, what can attention to sound contribute to our understanding of the patterns of religious change and political tension in this region? How do new religious modalities circulate within Uyghur society, and how do people listen to, embody, and reproduce them? The study begins with a group of Uyghur women in a small village in southern Xinjiang, and explores the spiritual and political geographies they inhabit,...

Event
Posted : March 5, 2018

This presentation is mainly conducted in Japanese. In the management of the castle town, the distinctive urban form of early modern Japan, not only samurai bureaucrats but also townspeople officials played an important role in town administration. However, compared with research on townspeople officials in Edo, Kyoto and Osaka, there is more room for discussion about the social importance of townspeople officials in regional castle towns. In this presentation, using records from the lower townspeople officials, or kumigashira, who were primarily responsible for the administration of the...

Event
Posted : March 2, 2018

Although overseas travel was off limits to Japanese themselves from the 1630s through the 1860s, thousands of Chinese ships sailed into Nagasaki Harbor during that time, bringing the bounty of the continent to an eager, captive audience: silks and satins, sugar, ginseng and other medicines, minerals, animal products—and books. Much attention has been given to a few prominent works of Chinese fiction that became widely familiar to the Japanese public in the early modern period. Yet many fundamental questions remain unanswered about the broader reception history. What portion of books imported...

Event
Posted : February 16, 2018

In 1936, writer of shōjo and romance fiction, often depicting same-sex love, Yoshiya Nobuko was asked to adapt the 1923 novel Stella Dallas into the Japanese language with a Japanese setting. The famous sound film of the movie staring Barbara Stanwyck had not yet been released, but based on the success of the 1925 silent film in Japan, Yoshiya’s translation was commissioned with an eye to making a movie. In 1937 A Mother’s Song (Haha no kyoku) directed by Yamamoto Satsuo and starring Hara Setsuko and Iriye Takako was released and is considered formative of the a new genre of “mother films” (...

Event
Posted : February 12, 2018

In one of the greatest works of meta-literature in Chinese history, “Rhapsody on Literature” 文賦, Lu Ji陸機 (261-303), not only sets forth theories and practices of literary composition, but also candidly discusses the various fearsome and obsessive challenges that concern the writer. These challenges range from the difficulty in finding at times le mot juste, the occasional disconnection between idea formation and articulation, to the dread of inadvertently imitating or duplicating a prior work. The last problem is especially revelatory of the angst-generating literary contradictions of early...

Event
Posted : January 31, 2018

When and how did China’s Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution really begin? How do historians delineate the temporal boundaries of major historical events, and trace their origins, precedents, and preludes? And, how are periodization schemes and historiographical categories constructed and defined? In this talk, Professor Wu will reexamine the opening phase of Mao’s last revolutionary endeavor and the critical historical events leading up to it, with the aims of exploring an understanding of how the great turmoil began in ways less dependent on teleological and Mao-centered premises and more...

Event
Posted : January 31, 2018

When the twenty-nine leaders of the newly post-colonial states gathered in the West Javanese city of Bandung in April 1955, the global media coverage helped to turn the Bandung Conference into one of the most iconic moments of the post-colonial history. ‘Great Men’ of history such as Nehru, Zhou Enlai and Sukarno elegantly ‘danced’ on the world stage to the delights of popular audiences worldwide. But, where were the women? When we consider the history of international diplomacy, there is a dearth of women as agents of diplomacy. This study probes deeper into how and why women have been...

Event
Posted : January 23, 2018

It was said that more than 60,000 Japanese people remained in Manchuria when the last repatriation ship returned to Japan from China. Many remaining Japanese people in Manchuria engaged in the Chinese communist revolution at the request by the Communist Party of China. Some radical communists groups organized the cultural movements at factories, hospitals and coal mines. Dr. Tsuboi’s paper will consider their movements within the context of refugee (displaced person) problematics and discuss what /who was the refugee in the northeast Asia in 1950th. Dr. Hideto Tsuboi is a Japanese...

Event
Posted : January 5, 2018

Due to inclement weather affecting guest travel, this event has been postponed until further notice. Thank you for your understanding. This talk is dedicated to the rhetorical analysis of illness narratives in early medieval Chinese self-writing. Professor Richter will first elaborate on reasons for the rarity of accounts of the physical in Chinese autobiographical literature of the period, whether related to illness and healing or not, and then set out to determine the rhetorical functions of those illness narratives that have made it into self-writing. These functions clearly emerge as...

Event
Posted : January 5, 2018

Professor William Hedberg’s presentation focuses on the reception and continued popularity of Chinese vernacular fiction in Meiji- and Taishō-period Japan, with special focus on the novel The Water Margin (Ch. Shuihu zhuan, Jp. Suikoden).  The story of 108 outlaw gallants who band together in the marshes of northeastern China, The Water Margin reached new heights of popularity in the modern era, when authors as disparate as Mori Ōgai, Tokutomi Sohō, Masaoka Shiki, and Akutagawa Ryūnosuke presented the novel as an uncannily proto-modern example of literary realism, as well as a key point...

Event
Posted : January 2, 2018

On the thirteenth day of the second month of Jishō 3 (1179), the notorious Rokuhara Novice and Former Chancellor, Taira no Kiyomori, presented a partial copy of the Chinese text Imperial Readings of the Taiping Era to the Japanese court. Nakayama Tadachika, the courtier who recorded the event in his diary, grudgingly observed that the text had “never before come to our sovereignty.” The performative appeal of such a gift is clear, for mastery of things Chinese reflected cultural capital like little else in late-twelfth and thirteenth-century Japan: Kiyomori’s gesture encapsulates the ideal of...

Event
Posted : December 21, 2017

In the first half of the twentieth century a number of Japanese companies began investing in offshore guano mining. Beginning in the North Pacific, in the interwar period guano prospectors fanned out across the South China Sea, surveying and claiming uninhabited islands that they hoped would prove commercially valuable. To defend their claims they cultivated close connections with the Imperial Japanese Navy and took care to couch their activities in terms of the national strategic interest. As a result the Japanese government increasingly found itself drawn into island sovereignty disputes...

Event
Posted : December 20, 2017

The 2008 Sichuan earthquake killed 87,000 people and left 5 million homeless. In response to the devastation, an unprecedented wave of volunteers and civic associations streamed into Sichuan to offer help. The Politics of Compassion examines how civically engaged citizens acted on the ground, how they understood the meaning of their actions, and how the political climate shaped their actions and understandings. Using extensive data from interviews, observations, and textual materials, Bin Xu shows that the large-scale civic engagement was not just a natural outpouring of compassion, but also...

Event
Posted : December 20, 2017

Although the tomb of Yelü Yuzhi (d. 941) and his wife Chonggun (d. 942) was partially looted in 1992, it still provides the most comprehensive material record of known members of the early Liao ruling elite. Yuzhi was a cousin of Abaoji, the dynastic founder, and a brother of Abaoji’s right-hand man Helu; Chonggun was a sister of the second Liao empress. Although they, like their imperial relatives, were proud Kitans, their tomb was furnished with artifacts reflecting Chinese and Turkic artisanal traditions. The multicultural nature of this burial is typical for early Liao nobility and...

Event
Posted : December 13, 2017

In this presentation, Dr. Ambaras examines the histories of people who moved, the relationships they created, and the anxieties they provoked, in the spatial and social borderlands between Japan and China from the 1860s to the 1940s. Japan’s imbrication in new geopolitical structures and spatial flows engendered forms of intimacy that were seen as problematic, or even horrific, because they transgressed notions of territory marked by stable, defensible borders and notions of place marked by distinct identities and social roles. Yet rather than see those borders and roles as already...

Event
Posted : December 8, 2017

The role of cities in the schemes and visions of Chinese political activists and administrators has varied widely over the past 120 years. Economic conditions shaping cities have also shifted radically. In the current era of fantastical urban growth, can any continuities be seen in China’s urban history? This talk addresses this question via a survey of scholarship in the field and the results of my own work on the history of Chengdu, an important provincial capital and cultural center, from the late Qing to the early Communist period. Of particular interest is how the state has promoted as...

Event
Posted : October 24, 2017

The advent of sports broadcasting in Japan in the 1920s necessitated the creation of new forms of oral narrative performance. The sporting events themselves offered the narrative frame, and the task before the radio broadcaster was to present that bare sequence of events with enough structure and art to hold the audience’s attention to a spectacle that they couldn’t actually see. The contemporary discourses around these broadcasts traded on the rhetoric of an immediacy that was undeniable while also being, in many ways, a consensual fiction. The first half of the presentation outlines the...

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