CEAS Colloquium Series

Event
Posted : January 7, 2016

For most of history, little has mattered more for human communities than their relations with the soil that provided most of their food and nutrients. For the past few centuries (the “Anthropocene”), on the other hand, nothing has mattered more for soils in China and the wider world than human action, which has accelerated erosion and rerouted nutrient flows, making humans into agents of geomorphological change. What understandings of environmental change prevailed in China’s erosion-prone loess plateau region during the nineteenth and early twentieth century, when human alteration of the...

Event
Posted : January 7, 2016

What is the role of Chinese theories of fiction in a globalized world? Is there something wrong with Western paradigms unable to fully accommodate Chinese literary experience? Can Chinese theories of fiction offer researchers in the West a deeper understanding of the “true” nature of fiction, and thereby put into question Eurocentric viewpoints and paradigms and contribute to the creation of more “objective” transcultural theories of fiction? I will try to answer these questions through discussing Chinese theories of fiction, in ancient and modern times, in the context of influential theories...

Event
Posted : January 7, 2016

Starting in the eleventh century, the Yellow River shifted from a long-term condition of relative stability to a later state of frequent floods and course changes.  Historical sources record the dates and characteristics of flood events, while soil cores reveal the increasing quantity of annual sediment deposition and its origin on the loess plateau.  All evidence confirms that the primary cause of the change was intensification of human activity in the grasslands of the Ordos basin, the loess soil region contained within the great bend of the Yellow River.  Settlement there was sparse until...

Event
Posted : January 6, 2016

Sin Saimdang (1504-1551) is undoubtedly the most famous female artist in Korean history, but why and how do we remember her? Even though we do not know what Saimdang looked like, we find her image on the 50 000 Won banknote. Facts about her life are scattered and none of the remaining works attributed to her, including painting, calligraphy and embroidery, can be confirmed as authentic. Yet, the material is overwhelming: about a hundred paintings are ascribed to Saimdang. Since the sixteenth century the literature and visual material has grown, with every century contributing its own ideas...

Event
Posted : January 6, 2016

Opponents of Shenzong’s anti-Tangut wars of choice from 1068 to 1085 lauded Renzong’s approach to war in the early 1040s as a superior model: Lose every major battle in a war of necessity against the Tangut Xi Xia, but retain the trust of the realm by negotiating an acceptable if inglorious peace. But when those same anti-war advocates came to power in the conservative Restoration that followed Shenzong’s death in 1085 they discovered that ending wars was difficult indeed. “The Politics of Peace and War” outlines some structural differences between wars of necessity and wars of choice, and...

Event
Posted : January 6, 2016

Now a global poetry, the haiku was originally a type of verse flourishing in Japan from the 16th through 19th centuries. Widely renowned for its minimalism of form (typically running 3 phrases in 17 syllabets) and aesthetics (deploying nature imagery to profound, even philosophical, effect), historically the haiku was much more: its surprisingly numerous modes tended to the erotic, satirical, crude and mischievous. Drawing from my forthcoming edited anthology, The Penguin Book of Haiku (London: Penguin Classics), I contend that the “Japanese” haiku was always a world literature, an invented...

Event
Posted : October 27, 2015

This talk concerns the work of the prominent Korean lay Buddhist and entrepreneur Yu Guanbin (1891-1933) in Shanghai during the mid-1920s and early-30s. Yu collaborated with the Chinese Buddhist reformer Taixu (1890–1947) to promote a transnational Buddhist discourse called “the Buddha-ization movement” (fohua yundong). Yu also acted as a bridge between Korean and Chinese Buddhism by undertaking the project of rebuilding an eleventh-century Korean temple, Koryŏsa, in Hangzhou. In this talk, Kim examines how Yu’s engagement in these projects is a distinctive case of modern East Asian...

Event
Posted : October 27, 2015

Robert Hymes, H. Walpole Carpentier Professor of Chinese History (EALAC), received his B.A. from Columbia (1972) and his M.A. (1976) and Ph.D. (1979) from the University of Pennsylvania . His work has focused on the social and cultural history of middle period and early modern China, drawing questions and sometimes data from cultural anthropology as well as history, and using the methods of the local historian to study elite culture, family and kinship, medicine, religion, gender, and (currently) the changing role and form of Chinese social networks from the tenth through the seventeenth...

Event
Posted : October 27, 2015

This talk will explore how photography was understood and utilized in the flourishing urban culture of late Qing China. By surveying pictorial magazines, photo albums of the courtesans in Shanghai, and the poems written about this new cultural practice, Wu addresses issues of how traditional aesthetic ideas were involved in adopting and indigenizing this new medium. These complex interactions reveal that tradition was deeply implicated in the cross-cultural trafficking of technologies and power in the formation of China’s urban culture and visual/literary modernity. While Chinese literati...

Event
Posted : October 27, 2015

If today we know anything about the life of Europeans in China during the early modern period, we owe it to the precious manuscript reports and letters written in inland China, Macao, and Canton, and still found scattered in archival repositories all over the world. Letters criss-crossed the oceans and the continents on sea ships, river boats, carts, horses and mules, palanquins etc., using  both European systems of transportation provided by the various East India Companies and governments, as well as Chinese and other local public and private postal arrangements.  In this presentation, I...

Event
Posted : October 27, 2015

Two special 30 minute talks. Talk One: Pictorial Shanghai (Shanghai huabao, 1925-1933) and Creation of Shanghai’s Modern Visual Culture This talk will examine the seductive images of China’s new culture and society that emerge from the pages of the tabloid periodical Shanghai huabao (Pictorial Shanghai) from 1925 to 1933. Closely connected to Shanghai Art Academy, and by featuring in words and images the exhibitions, performances, and personal lives of both China’s artistic elite and its aspiring youth, Shanghai huabao created a complex and richly textured lifestyle into which its readers...

Event
Posted : October 27, 2015

When historians and social scientists have tried to account for the different personality cults that emerged in the twentieth century, they have often treated those movements as regressions into an “emperor worship,” which was supposedly intrinsic to the political culture of imperial China. However, the vast mass of commoners did not stand in any direct ritual relationship to the state or the emperor in late imperial China; the name, the countenance or personal qualities of the Ming and Qing Emperors were not known to the common people, and they were not called upon to participate in official...

Event
Posted : October 27, 2015

“Chinese literary tradition as a whole is a lyrical tradition” became an influential conception, after UC Berkeley’s Professor Chen Shixiang and Princeton’s Professor Gao Yougong unfolded their expositions of Chinese lyricism in the 1970s and 1980s. In the decades that follow, many Hong Kong, Taiwan and overseas Chinese literary scholars advocate the view of a “Chinese lyrical tradition”, and predicate their studies on it. Indeed, “lyrical tradition” as an interpretative concept, has exhibited its strong explanatory power, and made numerous contributions to the study of Chinese literary...

Event
Posted : October 27, 2015

Poetry and history tell two, sometimes rivaling, truths. Poetry claims to reveal the existential, moral truth of the private person, which could either enrich or contradict that individual’s public image and historical agency. In the latter case, which version is true, or truer? This question is especially challenging in reading the poetry of Wang Zhaoming (1883-1944), better known by his penname Jingwei, a KMT political figure who many polar opposite historical roles, first a martyr and last a Japan collaborator and traitor of the nation. In contrast, his lofty poetic persona underwent...

Event
Posted : October 27, 2015

Natsume Soseki’s portrait may have yielded its place on the ¥1000 bill, but as we approach the centenary of the novelist’s death his canonical status in Japan seems as solid as ever.  In the Anglophone world, where Sōseki’s readership has long been limited to specialists, his work is gaining new readers: new English translations of no fewer than seven of his novels have appeared since 2008 and a major conference on his work is slated for this April at the University of Michigan.   But why this focus on Sōseki...

Event
Posted : October 27, 2015

The years 1952-1965 were fraught with problems for Japan’s kabuki theatre, whose very existence was at stake. As Japan struggled with post-Occupation social, political, and economic difficulties, kabuki found itself in danger of being bypassed by multiple other forms of entertainment. Its senior actors were passing away, its company system was crumbling, its young stars were leaving to act in movies, the Tōhō conglomerate was raiding Shōchiku, new playwrights were becoming rare, the fate of the onnagata was being debated, and so on. There were positive developments as well, of course,...

Event
Posted : October 27, 2015

**Please note this talk will be in Chinese**   在討論宋代政令的形成及運行流程時,研究者通常會追蹤章奏等文書從呈遞到頒出的進程。近年來,學界已經有了不少深入的相關研究成果。而我們經常感到,在這一過程中,仍然有些場景時隱時現,有些環節秘而不顯。本文試圖觀察處於整個文書運行過程“高端”——皇帝所在之“禁中”——的文書處理環節,關注處於這一關鍵位置上卻隱而不彰的機構:尚書內省,討論該機構及宮官們在政務文書運行中的作用.   The women of the Inner Court Secretariat did not play a policy-making role comparable to that of the well-known officials of the Song dynasty, but they did draft documents on the emperor’s behalf.  In many instances, these women, and not the emperor, retained control of the imperial seal.  Although they did not leave the inner palace, some women gained a thorough...

Event
Posted : October 27, 2015

A wave of populism is sweeping the world. The talk will first compare the different forms populism takes in various countries, reflecting a variety of historical, political, and social conditions. Buruma will discuss what populist movements have in common; why elites are under fire everywhere, in Europe, the US, and Asia; the effects of the Internet, globalization, and immigration. Buruma will then conclude by looking at the common responses of the old elites, talk about why they are inadequate, and see what could possibly be done better.

Event
Posted : October 26, 2015

What was possible for a former geisha in late nineteenth-century Japan? This talk focuses on the life of one Sumiya Koume (1850-1920), a geisha who was a concubine before becoming a social activist and Christian missionary. Anderson analyzes what her life reveals about opportunities for some women in the Meiji period (1868-1912). While scholars normally divide women of this period into two categories—those based in households and those available for hire—and frame their experiences in terms of the “good wife, wise mother” (ryōsai kenbo) paradigm or the birth of feminism, Anderson argues that...

Event
Posted : October 26, 2015

When investigating China’s encounters with modern commerce and cultural change, many look to the great eastern port cities, perhaps Shanghai or Guangzhou.  But rapid economic and cultural transformations were features of late imperial China’s continental frontiers as well.  This talk focuses on key agents of those transformations:  the merchants who orchestrated the extraordinary rise of Southwest China’s transnational trading firms, which flourished from the 1880s until well into the twentieth century.  These firms were at the heart of seismic disruptions in Southwestern communities,...

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