CEAS Colloquium Series

Event
Posted : October 10, 2019

Ginza Bricktown (1872) is celebrated as an exemplar of Japanese efforts to rapidly modernize and Westernize following the Meiji Restoration of 1868.  By constructing a district of Western-style brick buildings and paved streets at the center of the capital, the story goes, Meiji Government leaders could demonstrate Japan’s newfound progress to observers both foreign and domestic.  Yet this narrative elides the political conflicts and local contestation that challenged the planning and construction of Bricktown from the outset and prompted its early termination.  This talk will revisit...

Event
Posted : September 26, 2019

In this talk, Christine Marran, Professor of Japanese Literature and Cultural Studies at the University of Minnesota and co-convener for the UMN’s Environmental Humanities Initiative, will discuss how environmental phenomena associated with climate change inherently test the capacities of particular modes of writing and literary analysis. Starting with author Amitav Ghosh’s claim that the imaginary of the modern realist novel is incompatible with the representation of climate, Marran will discuss forms of Japanese writing to suggest how literary studies can address environmental...

Event
Posted : September 26, 2019

From the Park Chung-hee syndrome to the contentious debates surrounding the legislation to deal with “pro-Japanese collaborators” of the colonial period and the rise of the New Right the textbook controversy, South Korea in the last two decades has been waging internecine struggles so fierce and contentious, it has been called a civil war, tout court. These debates reveal that Korean society is deeply divided over how centrally their country’s history of overcoming the colonial and authoritarian past should underlie current political consciousness and a vision for the future. Should South...

Event
Posted : September 13, 2019

The formal patriarchal order of samurai life in Tokugawa Japan (1600-1868) discursively erased women of samurai status from much public documentation and encouraged a misogynistic culture. Yet families still needed to keep some records by and about their women. This talk will discuss samurai women’s lives based on the family records of one samurai household and reveals a surprising degree of generalized respect for women’s authority in the family. Luke Roberts is professor of history at UC Santa Barbara, where he focuses in early modern political economy and social history. He is author of...

Event
Posted : September 5, 2019

In the modernizing context of the early twentieth century, intellectuals from South America to East Asia addressed the increasing importance of the movies for the transformation of embodied attitudes. Seen by local elites as a pedagogical apparatus, film delivered promises of becoming modern through its mimetic power over the spectators’s bodies. In this talk I will propose that, at the intercrossing between the dissatisfaction and hopes for film displayed by intellectuals in Taishō Japan, such as Murayama Tomoyoshi, and Brazil’s post-slavery First Republic discourse on film, such as...

Event
Posted : July 5, 2019

In 1939, Japan passed the Film Law to mobilize cinema in the empire’s war efforts, and the colonial government in Korea continued moving toward total control of the domestic culture industry. From such political turns, Korean filmmakers and producers found both perils and opportunities in the film business. Korean cinema was on the verge of losing its ethnic ground, as it was to be incorporated into the empire’s greater film sphere; at the same time, the national cinema’s crisis presented an opportunity for colonial filmmakers to explore a larger film market ensured by the empire’s expansion...

Event
Posted : June 28, 2019

This talk challenges the audience to decipher one of the most astonishing cross-cultural enigmas: How, through transreading—which integrates lento reading, poetic translation, creative writing, and cultural hermeneutics—Franz Kafka transplants the seed of Dao and nurtures it in a European mind. Distinct from the approaches of his contemporaries, Kafka’s Dao is a patience game with words and thoughts maneuvered like marbles. Not only does Kafka’s game echo the voices of ancient Chinese poet-philosophers Laozi and Zhuangzi, but it also delivers their messages in an uncompromising way that...

Event
Posted : June 28, 2019

 (Lecture is in Chinese only) Qian Zhongshu’s wide-ranging works that exhibit his broad and deep understanding of diverse traditions are recognized for elucidating his experience using historical and cultural phenomena as the backdrop. Traversing freely across cultures, his writing merges understandings from a myriad of disciplines to showcase the striking connections and universal values between disparate literary, historical, and intellectual traditions, ancient and modern, Chinese and Western. Professor Ji Jin’s lecture will delve into this distinct space for discourse opened up by...

Event
Posted : June 28, 2019

The League of Nations Advisory Committee on the Traffic in Opium and Other Dangerous Drugs, created in 1920, culminated almost eight decades of political turmoil over opium trafficking, which was by far the largest state-backed drug trade in the age of empire. Opponents of opium had long struggled to rein in the profitable drug. Opium’s Long Shadow shows how diverse local protests crossed imperial, national, and colonial boundaries to gain traction globally and harness public opinion as a moral deterrent in international politics after World War I. Steffen Rimner traces the far-flung...

Event
Posted : June 27, 2019

At a time when Korean Studies scholarship seems intent on “interrogating,” “contesting,” “asserting,” and “problematizing,” it has become all too easy to lose sight of the millennia-old Korean literary tradition and its potential for continuing to inform Korean cultural expression in the new millennium. In this presentation I wish to emphasize the powers of endurance of a literary tradition that is equal parts oral, local, lyric, and performative on the one hand, and recorded (primarily in Chinese until the modern era), cosmopolitan, and conceptual on the other. The Korean literary tradition...

Event
Posted : June 27, 2019

Formulaic literature (fangshu) constitutes one of the largest categories of printed texts in late imperial China, yet historians have largely considered recipes as of secondary importance to medical theory. Upon scrutiny, the seemingly simple act of sharing medical recipes in print can be parsed into a variety of sub-genres that evolved in time. In Ming-Qing times, medical recipes functioned as coveted cultural capital that enabled individuals to express their visions for personal and social well-being, opening up new spaces for historical interpretation. In this talk, I offer an outline of a...

Event
Posted : June 27, 2019

The conventional understanding of the fate of Buddhism in Korea is that it declined during the Chosŏn dynasty. Recent studies, however, have shown otherwise. It is true that the Chosŏn state, founded on the basis of Neo-Confucian ideals, suppressed Buddhism and Buddhist establishments through the confiscation of property, the demotion of monastics, the forced relocation of monasteries to remote mountains, and the withdrawal of state support. Yet royal support of Buddhism continued despite protracted opposition from Confucian bureaucrats and scholars. Buddhism was very much alive among social...

Event
Posted : June 27, 2019

In this talk, Karen Teoh draws from her book, Schooling Diaspora: Women, Education, and the Overseas Chinese in British Malaya and Singapore, 1850s-1960s (Oxford University Press, 2018), to explore the political and cultural meanings of “going home.” From the 1940s-70s, a wave of ethnic Chinese living outside China re-migrated to their ancestral homeland. They were “returning” to a place they had never seen in order to help build a nation to which they felt they belonged. Initially hailed by the Chinese government as patriots and contributors to post-1949 Communist society, returned overseas...

Event
Posted : April 8, 2019

The Saishôshi Tennô-in residence was built for Retired Emperor Gotoba in 1207. The purpose of this talk is to understand the aesthetic, symbolic and political issues of this exceptional undertaking which combines architecture, religion, painting and poetry. First of all, we will recount in detail the genesis of the project, using mainly the Meigetsu-ki (The Journal of the Harvest Moon), the diary of Fujiwara no Teika, who was the main coordinator of the enterprise. Then, we will analyse some of the twenty-nine poems which were actually written on the sliding doors of the Palace (gosho) — the...

Event
Posted : April 5, 2019

It should no longer be at all controversial to begin with the premise that the formation of the genre of science fiction is intimately intertwined with the history of empire. However, few of the existing analyses on the subject address the specific case of Japan, despite the fact that the examination of Japanese science fiction provides a particularly effective prism for illuminating these issues as a consequence of its historical position as the only non-Western colonial empire with a science fiction tradition that emerged out of its history of imperial conquest while at once fetishized...

Event
Posted : April 3, 2019

During the last eighty years of the Tokugawa period (1603–1867), gazetteers called meisho zue enjoyed tremendous commercial success as a fresh but familiar form of popular geography. The multivolume large-format books combined equal parts image and text in painstakingly sketched and researched surveys of meisho (famous places) located in cities, domains, provinces, and regions throughout the Japanese archipelago. This presentation demonstrates how meisho zue function as innovative maps that leverage the place-making capacities of the codex, graphic illustration, single sheet maps, and...

Event
Posted : April 2, 2019

While travelling in remote Upper Egypt, the most conservative and least developed part of the country, Peter Hessler stumbled upon a Chinese merchant selling lingerie to locals. Soon he realized that there were Chinese lingerie dealers scattered in towns throughout Egypt, and he spent two years tracking them down and observing their daily routines. He learned about their unexpected paths from China to the Nile, and also about how they had discovered this unique product niche.  Hessler’s investigation also took him to a Chinese development zone in the desert near the Red Sea, where a state-...

Event
Posted : April 1, 2019

What emerges from the collision of poetry and the digital? This talk will present an alternative account of both contemporary Japanese literature and the last two decades of the Japanese internet. By exploring poetry generators, game-poems, twitter poems, wiki poems, augmented reality poems, Japanese Sign Language poetry videos, and more, we will not only consider what effect did the internet have on poetry, but how poetry reimagined the internet itself. Andrew Campana is a Presidential Postdoctoral Fellow at Cornell University, where he will be joining the Department of Asian Studies as...

Event
Posted : April 1, 2019

An attentive observer of the space surrounding him, Nagai Kafū (1879-1959) appeared particularly fond of spaces inhabited by geisha, actors, prostitutes and other vocational types of people embodying endangered collective memories vis-à-vis systems of power, marginal social figures hardly aligned with the dominant ideologies; in his mindscape, backward shitamachi neighborhoods seemingly left behind by the rebuilding of the city, alongside leisure districts and pleasure quarters, represented spaces of resistance against—but also of resilience to, thanks to their capacity to withstand and cope...

Event
Posted : March 20, 2019

Who defines what it means to be ‘disabled’ in China today? In this lecture, Sarah Dauncey looks at the construction of disabled identities specifically from the perspective of Chinese cultural epistemologies. Drawing on sociological theories of citizenship, her research reveals how traditionally accepted notions of personhood are often fundamentally challenged through encounters and interactions with understandings of disability and impairment. She provides engaging examples of the ways in which representations and narratives of disability negotiate the identity of their subject(s) in...

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