CEAS Colloquium Series

Event
Posted : October 26, 2015

A Goze refers to a blind female musician who traveled around Japan with shamisen (Japanese plucked stringed instrument). After the World War II, with the expansion of the welfare service for the disabled and the enhancement of education in schools for the blind, the culture of Gozes came to be recognized as the relics of the pre-modern times and the fact that there is no successor for it is also considered as the inevitabilities of history. With the passing of Haru Kobayashi (1900-2005), who was known as the last Goze, the culture of Gozes that had been maintained by visually-impaired...

Event
Posted : October 26, 2015

This talk asks how gender and family shaped religious activity and its representation during the Heian period by examining the career of Minamoto no Reishi (1040-1114). As Reishi’s career shows, ritual was very much a family matter; accordingly, this talk frames religiosity not only in terms of personal agency, but also in terms of networks of agents (proxies, relatives, servants, and representatives). Although, or perhaps because, Reishi was so well surrounded as a great lady in her own lifetime, she is little known today. In order to piece together information about her career, it is...

Event
Posted : October 26, 2015

John Nathan will propose that with his final work, Light and Dark(1916), Sōseki invented the modern Japanese novel. He will focus on the unprecedented depth and exactitude of character revelation Sōseki achieved in that work, on its affinity with narrative strategies evolved by his European contemporaries, George Meredith and Henry James in particular, and on the originality of the language he developed to achieve a unique fusion of Jamesian precisions on the one hand and Japanese impressionism on the other. A critical question he will address as a translator is whether fiction so...

Event
Posted : October 26, 2015

When and in what ways did film culture take shape in Osaka? In what ways did it change over time? In the Meiji and Taisho Periods, Tokyo prospered as a site of both film production and film consumption; Kyoto was active as a site of production, but had less success in terms of film consumption; and most regional cities showed little success in terms of either film production or consumption. Where does Osaka fit in? How did the geographic and historical factors of the city of Osaka shape and develop its film culture? How is a history of film depicted from the perspective of Osaka different...

Event
Posted : October 19, 2015

Framed as a book talk and an introduction to new research on medieval women, this lecture will consider what we know about Japanese noblewomen of the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries, as well as further avenues for research. Rewriting Medieval Japanese Women: Politics, Personality, and Literary Production in the Life of Nun Abutsu (Hawai‘i, 2013) argues that Kamakura-period (1185-1336) court women continued to produce memoirs, tales, poetry, poetic commentary, courtly advice, and epistolary literature and shows how these activities were impacted by shifts in the literary and...

Event
Posted : October 16, 2015

Over the last few years, LGBT-identified sub-populations in Asia have begun to experiment with globally-circulating demands for same-sex marriage. Although no country in the region has yet to legally sanction these arrangements, lost in contemporary debates, at least in South Korea, is that such couplings are neither totally new nor simply imported from an allegedly more “progressive” West.  To be sure, the largely unknown histories presented in this talk, culled from understudied tabloid sources, typically paired a female-dressed “wife” and a male-dressed “husband,” rather than cisgendered...

Event
Posted : October 16, 2015

The military crackdown of the massive student movement in Beijing’s Tiananmen Square on June 4th of 1989 has created an unforgettable date of mourning in the minds of the Chinese people.  Although voices to reclaim the movement have been suppressed by the Chinese government, the last twenty five years saw an outpouring of poetry about the June 4th incident, constituting what Jiayan Mi would call “spectropoetics” that aims for conjuring up images of the dead, fighting against the loss of memory, and calling forth a better future. In this presentation, Mi will offer some reflections on the June...

Event
Posted : October 16, 2015

Are any other premodernists dissatisfied with the standard units of historical analysis? Concepts such as ‘states’, ‘peoples’, ‘territory’ and ‘cultures’ derive from modern concerns and are often a poor fit to premodern circumstances of slow communications, weak centralization, fluid loyalties, shifting boundaries, remarkable mobility, tremendous diversity and continual interaction and exchange. Analyses that start from the normative ideas too often generate forced explanations of how a heterogeneous and unstable clumping of diverse interests and resources was really a ‘people’ on a...

Event
Posted : October 16, 2015

The revival of Confucianism in contemporary China has many dimensions, among which the political, the educational, the ritual, and the ethical are the most prominent. In this lecture Anna Sun focuses on the last two, the ritual and the ethical revival of Confucianism in everyday practice. The work is based on extensive field research in Confucius temples, as well as interviews with ordinary people in urban China. The conclusions drawn from this research bear witness to the resilience of Confucianism as a structuring power in the religious, social, and ethical imagination of Chinese society...

Event
Posted : October 16, 2015

Was Japan isolated in the eighteenth century? For decades historians have struggled to make sense of early modern Japanese foreign policy: did the Tokugawa shoguns cut-off Japan from the outside world, or was this a more nuanced policy of limiting select foreign contacts? This talk examines the case of Russia’s 1792 attempt to open trade with Japan. It reveals that the attempt foundered more problems of translation and political culture than on a Tokugawa aversion to trade with the West. Mark Ravina (Ph.D. Stanford, 1991) is professor of history at Emory University. He has been a visiting...

Event
Posted : October 16, 2015

The Police Affairs Bureau of the Home Ministry (Naimusho Keihokyoku) carried out centralized, national film censorship from 1925 to 1940. Every single print of all sorts of films – domestic or foreign, dramatic or documentary, feature-length or short – had to undergo this process and receive the censor’s seal of approval in order to be screened for a public in the Japanese Empire. Despite its vital role, the Home Ministry’s censorship, especially its effects on individual films’ textual details, has not attracted sufficient scholarly attention. This presentation fills this gap by focusing on...

Event
Posted : October 16, 2015

This talk explores how public knowledge of Western things, such as the telescope and the camera obscura, took shape in late Joseon Korea, and how it was used in painting. Korean envoys to Beijing were key players in introducing and circulating Western curiosities and novelties. They brought numerous books on Europe and some of the Western scientific instruments to Korea, and laid the foundation for the rise of Western learning. Telescopes, self-sounding clocks, world maps, and books on European geometry, such as Matteo Ricci’s (1552-1610) Jihe yuanben (Elements of Geometry) of 1607, opened up...

Event
Posted : October 16, 2015

According to the United Nations, by 2025, 1.9 billion people will be living in countries or regions with absolute water scarcity, and two-thirds of the world population could be under water stress conditions. In this talk, Santos argues that one of the best ways to capture the making of contemporary water shortage anxieties is to explore the global history of the modern flush toilet and the hydraulic system of waste disposal supporting its operation. Drawing on historical and ethnographic research on the spread of the flush toilet in rural South China, this paper calls for the need to...

Event
Posted : October 16, 2015

The Northern Song saw major changes in the rhetoric and performance of filial piety. Compared to earlier times, a proper epitaph (muzhiming 墓誌銘) for one’s parents was increasingly seen as one of the most crucial filial obligations of the son. The son also occupied a more visible place in his parent’s muzhiming, routinely being portrayed as having braved extreme physical, emotional, and financial obstacles in order to secure a biographer for his father or mother. These developments did not necessarily mean that muzhiming writing was free of contention and negotiation between the filial...

Event
Posted : October 15, 2015

The early seventeenth century saw an unprecedented surge in connections between Japan and states across Southeast Asia. Japanese merchants, mercenaries and migrants started to appear in large numbers in ports across the region while the first Tokugawa shogun exchanged regular correspondence with a diverse array of rulers and officials. This began to change, however, in the 1620s as the Tokugawa regime severed these connections by rejecting a string of incoming diplomatic letters and embassies. This paper explores this process of diplomatic retreat but argues that it was accompanied by a...

Event
Posted : October 15, 2015

The fiction of the popular early-Tokugawa writer Ihara Saikaku (1642-1693) is noteworthy for the tension between its narrator’s stern moral pronouncements regarding characters’ transgressive behavior and sympathetic, even heroic portrayals of these same characters. The resulting ambiguity has led scholars to radically differing interpretations of the ideological stance of these texts. This presentation will elucidate as a key to interpreting this ambiguity chapters in Saikaku’s first published work of fiction in which the narrator’s condemnations of hubristic behavior on the part of...

Event
Posted : October 15, 2015

In the last twenty years, Western scholars have begun to pay more attention to the importance of Manchu-language sources in the study of the history of the Qing dynasty (1644-1912). The recent discovery of the value of these materials ought more properly be regarded as a rediscovery, however, since in the early 19th century the first European sinologists had already begun to take a serious interest in the Manchu language, noting then its value for the study of Chinese history and the classics.  The pioneer in this regard was the remarkable Jean-Pierre Abel-Rémusat (1788-1832).  It was two...

Event
Posted : October 15, 2015

As part of the post-World War II democratization and modernization policies under US military occupation, the Japanese court system adopted the Anglo-American legal principle of direct trial and the adversarial system.  This innovation left behind the earlier inquisitorial system and foregrounded oral-based trials and cross-examination, and thus introduced live speech at the core of judicial processes.  This transformation was marked by the the adoption of the Japanese stenographic typewriter (sokutaipu) in 1950 as an official recording method to produce trial records. Drawing on interviews...

Event
Posted : October 15, 2015

Contrary to popular imaginings the Dharma has not historically been an inherently environmental religion. Rather, early Buddhism was a prosperity theology that succeeded largely on account of its willingness to exploit both people and natural resources on the commodity frontier. As such, by investigating the links between Buddhism and agricultural expansion this talk will explore how Buddhists radically transformed Asia’s environment. Johan Elverskog is Altshuler University Distinguished Teaching Professor and Chair of Religious Studies at SMU. He is the author of numerous books and articles...

Event
Posted : October 15, 2015

What does it mean to write literary history? How is it possible to reduce the vast arrays of literary data into a comprehensible historical narrative? And since it is not possible to include all literary data, then what is selected and what is omitted, and how are the selections representative of the whole of the data? This talk will take up the relationship between data and literary historical knowledge, focusing on the Quan Tang shi 全唐詩, the massive comprehensive anthology of Tang poetry that was produced during the Qing dynasty. The methodology that Chen employs is that of topic modeling,...

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