Tag Archive for College of East Asian Studies

Consul General of Japan Visits with Wesleyan Students, Faculty

Consul General of Japan

Gregory Boyko, honorary Consul General of Japan in Connecticut; Hideshige Sakurai, assistant to the Consul General of Japan in Boston; Ann Zhang ’22; Setsuo Ohmori, Consul General of Japan in Boston; and Felice Li ’25 gathered in front of Olin Library during a student-led campus tour (in Japanese) on Oct. 14.

Felice Li ’25 met, mingled, and offered a campus tour to one of Japan’s sōryōji—or consuls general—during a recent visit to Wesleyan.

“As a new student here, I felt very excited to show the consul general our campus and what I had explored here so far,” Li said. “I lived in Tokyo before coming here, so I was excited to present the tour in Japanese.”

Li was among several students and faculty who spent the day with Consul General Setsuo Ohmori, who is the highest-ranking Japanese consul in Boston. The CG supports the safety and stability of the Japanese people, and works to build upon the friendship between Japan and the United States.

Wesleyan’s Japanese Garden Celebrates 25th Anniversary with Exhibit

japanese garden

Paul Theriault, Center for the Arts art preparator; Stephen Morrell, Japanese garden architect; Ben Chaffee, associate director of visual arts; and Rosemary Lennox, exhibitions manager, gather outside the Mansfield Freeman Center for East Asian Studies Japanese Garden during its 25th-year celebration.

Since 1995, the Mansfield Freeman Center for East Asian Studies Japanese Garden—or Shôyôan Teien—has provided a serene space for meditation, tea ceremonies, and art classes.

Designed, built, and continuously cared for by Stephen Morrell, a landscape architect specializing in Japanese-style gardens, Wesleyan’s Shôyôan Teien is being celebrated through a new exhibit that contemplates the garden’s rich history.

“One’s experience of the garden is meant to be personal,” Morrell said. “By design, it encourages a peaceful intimate relationship where subjective and objective experience merges into present moment being. When that happens you become part of the garden.”

The exhibit, titled 25th Anniversary of the College of East Asian Studies Japanese Garden (Shôyôan Teien), held inside the Freeman Center’s Gallery, showcases sketches, photographs, models, poetry, video, and historical records of the garden.

The exhibition will run through Dec. 10. Gallery hours are noon to 4 p.m. Tuesday through Friday.

japanese garden

The Japanese garden can be viewed through the Freeman Center’s tatami room (shôyôan). The tatami room was built in 1987 through the generosity of Mansfield Freeman from the Class of 1916. Planned as an educational resource, the ensemble of the tatami room and garden provides a tangible means of experiencing Japanese aesthetics and culture.

garden

Shôyôan was built in September 1987 by master carpenter Takagaki Hiroshi and his apprentice Kaneko Ryosei, using traditional Japanese tools and techniques. In a traditional Japanese house, a similar room would function as a multi-purpose space, serving alternately as a living room, dining room, bedroom, or study.

japanese garden

The garden is host to several plants and trees including Japanese box leaf holly, crimson pygmy barberry, Korean and Japanese boxwood, iris, Yakushima rhododendron, lilyturf, Japanese garden juniper, sedum, Japanese shield fern, and weeping hemlock.

japanese garden

Japanese garden architect Stephen Morrell also designed the meditation gardens for Zen Mountain Monastery in Mount Tremper, New York, and Omega Institute in Rhinebeck, New York, as well as a tea garden exhibition for the New York Japan Society. Since 1981, he has been Curator of the John P. Humes Japanese Stroll Garden in Mill Neck, New York.

Photos of the gallery exhibit are below: (Photos by Milly Hopkins ’25)

japanese garden

japanese garden

japanese garden

japanese garden

japanese garden

japanese garden

japanese garden

japanese garden
japanese garden

Cho to Join Washington Research Consortium on Korea

Joan Cho

Joan Cho

As a newly-selected non-resident adjunct fellow for the Washington Research Consortium on KoreaJoan Cho hopes to showcase South Korea’s democratization through a new scholarly book tentatively titled, Dictator’s Modernity Dilemma: Development and Democracy in South Korea, 1961-1987.

Cho, assistant professor of East Asian Studies, will participate in the multi-year laboratory research project until 2024 through the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS). The project, titled “The South Korean Pathway: Understanding the Theoretical and Policy Significance of Korean Democracy and Foreign Policy,” will conduct an in-depth analysis of South Korea’s democracy and foreign policy to fill an important gap in the U.S. and European political science literature.

“Current literature overlooks the importance of Asian cases and to the extent that the political science literature uses Asian cases, these are overwhelmingly focused on using the China case to explain why Asia does not fit into mainstream theorizing,” Cho explained.

Japanese Community Celebrates Spring with Cherry Blossom Festival

On April 17, Wesleyan’s Japanese community gathered outside the College of East Asian Studies to celebrate Ohanami, or “flower viewing.” In early spring, three sakura—or cherry blossom trees—are blooming near the Japanese Garden.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the annual gathering was restricted to current students studying Japanese and CEAS faculty members.

The cherry trees were donated in the mid-70s by Nobel Laureate Satoshi Omura, who received an honorary degree from Wesleyan in 1994.

“The cherry blossoms’ timing was perfect,” said event coordinator Naho Maruta, associate professor of the practice in East Asian Studies. “We had fallen cherry blossoms all over the ground, which made a beautiful cherry blossom carpet.”

Maruta said this year’s event was especially meaningful because it was canceled last year. Also, since Japanese classes are still taught online this semester, “some students and teachers finally met each other for the first time in person.”

Photos of the event are below:

cherry blossom

cherry blossom

Students Gather to Honor Atlanta Victims, Combat Anti-Asian Violence

vigil

Students organized a vigil on March 30 to reflect on a recent attack against Asians and Asian Americans. (Photo by Nathaniel Pugh ’21)

On March 30, more than 150 students gathered outside Usdan University Center for a community vigil to mourn the victims of the March 16 Atlanta spa shootings and to create a safe space for Asian and Asian-American students to discuss the rise of anti-Asian violence and be heard by the community.

The vigil was organized by Emily Chen ’23, Kevin Le ’22, and graduate student Emily Moon, in conjunction with members of the Asian American Student Collective.

Students read poems, played music, and shared their reflections during the event. Towards the end, the organizers gave anyone moved to speak the opportunity to do so.

Watanabe Explores Japanese Historical Tale in New Book

flowering talesTakeshi Watanabe, assistant professor of East Asian studies, is the author of Flowering Tales: Women Exorcising History in Heian Japan, published by Harvard University Press in January 2020.

The book is the first extensive literary study of A Tale of Flowering Fortunes (Eiga monogatari), a historical tale that covers about 150 years of births, deaths, and happenings in late Heian society, a golden age of court literature in women’s hands.

According to the publisher:

Takeshi Watanabe contends that the blossoming of tales, marked by The Tale of Genji, inspired Eiga’s new affective history: an exorcism of embittered spirits whose stories needed to be retold to ensure peace.

Tracing the narrative arcs of politically marginalized figures, Watanabe shows how Eiga’s female authors adapted the discourse and strategies of The Tale of Genji to rechannel wayward ghosts into the community through genealogies that relied not on blood but on literary resonances. These reverberations, highlighted through comparisons to contemporaneous accounts in courtiers’ journals, echo through shared details of funerary practices, political life, and characterization. Flowering Tales reanimates these eleventh-century voices to trouble conceptions of history: how it ought to be recounted, who got to record it, and why remembering mattered.

Wesleyan in the News

NewsIn this recurring feature in The Wesleyan Connection, we highlight some of the latest news stories about Wesleyan and our alumni.

Wesleyan in the News

  1. CNN: “What the ‘Woke Student’ and the ‘Welfare Queen’ Have in Common”

“Every age seems to need a bogeyman, some negative image against which good people measure themselves,” writes President Michael Roth ’78 in this op-ed. Roth compares today’s bogeyman, the “woke” college student, with those of past eras—the “welfare queen” and “dirty hippie”—and seeks to build understanding and dispel negative misperceptions of activist college students. “The images of the welfare queen and of the woke student are convenient because they provide excuses to not engage with difference, placing certain types of people beyond the pale,” he writes. “These scapegoats are meant to inspire solidarity in a group by providing an object for its hostility (or derision), and educators and civic leaders should not play along.”

2. Los Angeles Times: “Opinion: Our Food Is Tainted with E. Coli, Yet the FDA Is Rolling Back Safety Rules”

As yet another food-borne E. coli outbreak sickens Americans, Fred Cohan, the Huffington Foundation Professor in the College of the Environment and professor of biology, and Isaac Klimasmith ’20, argue in this op-ed that more can and should be done to prevent dangerous contaminations of our food supply. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has rolled back rules that “would have required monitoring and treating irrigation water for E. coli,” a major cause of these outbreaks. “We should not be surprised that a regulation-averse administration would disregard the science of food safety, but it is concerning that consumers have become complacent about yearly outbreaks of E. coli contamination and largely silent about the rollback of food safety regulations,” they write.

3. The Washington Post: “What Happens When College Students Discuss Lab Work in Spanish, Philosophy in Chinese or Opera in Italian?”

Stephen Angle, director of the Fries Center for Global Studies, professor of philosophy, and the Mansfield Professor of East Asian Studies, is interviewed about Wesleyan’s efforts to promote language study, including the new Cultures and Languages Across the Curriculum (CLAC) initiative, through which students can study a range of disciplines in other languages. For example, Angle teaches a Mandarin-language section of Classical Chinese Philosophy, a course historically taught in English. Read more about CLAC and Wesleyan’s language instruction here.

Ethnic Food, Art at 3rd Annual Languages Lead the Way

As part of International Education Week at Wesleyan, the Fries Center for Global Studies hosted its third annual “The Languages Lead the Way” on Nov. 20 in Fisk Hall. This food, arts, and crafts event focused on conversing in the target languages of Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Arabic, French, Italian, Spanish, Russian, Portuguese, German, Hebrew, Hindi-Urdu, and American Sign Language.

As part of International Education Week at Wesleyan, the Fries Center for Global Studies hosted its third annual Languages Lead the Way event on Nov. 20 in Fisk Hall. This food, arts, and crafts event focused on conversing in the target languages of Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Arabic, French, Italian, Spanish, Russian, Portuguese, German, Hebrew, Hindi-Urdu, and American Sign Language.

The event was facilitated by Foreign Language Teaching Assistants (FLTAs) from China, Japan, Tunisia, France, Italy, Spain, and Colombia, as well as Teaching Assistants and Wesleyan students from all these languages.

The event was facilitated by Foreign Language Teaching Assistants, teaching assistants, and students representing all 15 Wesleyan language departments. More than 200 guests attended the event. In order to receive food, participants were asked to learn a few words and phrases of the target languages. “It is meant to be an interactive, fun, and educational event,” said Kia Lor, assistant director of language and intercultural learning. “This is one of the several ways the Fries Center for Global Studies is cultivating and empowering a community of practice of language learners, teachers, and practitioners. We believe creating this interconnected community of practice will help individuals achieve intercultural skills, cultural self-awareness, empathy, and mutual understanding. When we can practice these skills among ourselves, we can then translate them into the world at large.”

Japanese Community Celebrates Cherry Blossom Viewing

Every spring, the Japanese celebrate Ohanami, or "flower viewing" during the time when sakura, or cherry blossoms are in bloom. On April 18, Wesleyan's Japanese community hosted its annual Ohanami outside the College of East Asian Studies.

Every spring, the Japanese celebrate Ohanami, or “flower viewing,” during the time when sakura (cherry blossoms) are in bloom. On April 18, Wesleyan’s Japanese community hosted its annual Ohanami outside the College of East Asian Studies.

This event is open to current and former students in Japanese classes, native speakers of Japanese, and CEAS faculty members.

This event was open to current and former students in Japanese classes, native speakers of Japanese, and CEAS faculty members.

Paper by Sun ’20 Published in Yale Review of International Studies

Zhaoyu Sun ’20

A paper by Zhaoyu Sun ’20 was published in the April 2019 issue of The Yale Review of International Studies. 

The article, titled “Critical Comments Among Chinese Netizens – Before and After the Cyber Security Law” is based on a research paper he wrote for his CEAS 385/GOVT 391 Legacies of Authoritarian Politics course last fall. The class was taught by Joan Cho, assistant professor of East Asian studies; assistant professor, government.

Sun, a College of East Asian Studies and government double major, explained that despite the growing availability of information within China and the country’s increased linkage to the West, the coercive actions taken by the government following the establishment of the 2017 China Internet Security Law have led to a reduction in comments using confrontational language in sensitive or political documents.

“This behavior indicates that netizens (internet users) are highly conscious of the laws concerning internet use and regulate their behavior accordingly,” Sun wrote. “The censorship system and recent Cyber Security Law therefore seem to have successfully prompted netizens to self-censor their language in accordance with the boundaries established by the regime.”

Sun also was a recipient of a 2018 Consulate General of Japan in Boston Japanese Language Contest prize.

Tran ’21 Wins Japanese Language Essay Contest Prize

Jess Tran ’21

Vietnam native Jess Tran ’21 grew up learning her native language alongside English, but it wasn’t until her freshman year at Wesleyan that she decided to give a third language a try—Japanese.

Tran, an economics major and College of East Asian Studies minor, immersed herself in the new language for two years. This month, she won a prize at the annual Consulate General of Japan in Boston Japanese Language Contest.

The essay prompt was “What is Japan to me?”

“In essence, I talked about how my initial admiration for certain aspects of Japan inspired me to think about how I can contribute to Vietnam—my home country, and how learning Japanese actually gives me a better understanding of my own mother tongue and solidifies my interest in language and Asian culture,” Tran said.

Learning Japanese, Tran explained, is much different, grammatically, than English or Vietnamese, although it is indirectly connected with Vietnamese through certain shared characteristics with Chinese.

“So often, as I learn Japanese, I would learn something new about or learn new ways of thinking about Vietnamese, and it’s very fascinating to see how the differences in cultural values tie into the differences in the two languages,” Tran said. “I feel like I’m not only learning a new language but a new thinking structure.”

Tran took third place in the contest’s intermediate level essay division, which is open to students who have completed fewer than two years of Japanese language study and have not studied in Japan.

Tran said she’d “definitely recommend everyone who’s interested in Japanese to participate [in the essay contest] because it’s a great learning experience.”

“My Japanese professors were extremely patient and helpful during the process, and it really helps consolidate what was taught in class,” she said.

In 2018, Zhaoyu Sun ’20 took second place in the contest.

Wesleyan in the News

In this recurring feature in The Wesleyan Connection, we highlight some of the latest news stories about Wesleyan and our alumni.

Recent Wesleyan News

  1. The New York Times Magazine: “Letter of Recommendation: Phyllis Rose’s ‘Parallel Lives'”

Professor of English, Emerita Phyllis Rose’s 1983 book Parallel Lives: Five Victorian Marriages, is featured in the New York Times Magazine. The book, which the reviewer notes she has re-read every few months recently, is a “group biography of several notable Victorians and their marriages,” through which the reader can gain deeper insight into intimate relationships and societal change.

  1. Middletown Press: “Middletown Musician Noah Baerman Wins Guilford Performing Arts Fest Artists’ Award”

Noah Baerman, director of the Wesleyan Jazz Ensemble, received the inaugural Guilford Foundation/Guilford Performing Arts Festival Artists’ Award at a ceremony on Sept. 29. The award was created this year to encourage the development of new work by professional Connecticut artists and to provide a vehicle for the debut of original material at the festival.

2. Commentary: “Among the Disbelievers”