CEAS Colloquium Series

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,...

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...

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