Tag Archive for College of East Asian Studies

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”

Cho Named U.S.-Korea NextGen Scholar

Joan Cho is one of 11 U.S.-Korea NextGen Scholars in the country.

As a 2018-19 U.S.-Korea NextGen Scholar, Joan Cho, assistant professor of East Asian studies, will develop public policy skills and learn how to provide commentary and expertise on issues related to Korea.

The U.S.-Korea NextGen Scholars Program is a unique two-year non-resident program that provides opportunities for mid-career Korea specialists to discuss issues of importance to U.S.-Korea relations with policymakers, government officials, and opinion leaders in Korea and the United States, learn how to effectively engage with the media, participate in the policymaking process, gain experience as public intellectuals helping to bridge the scholarly and policy communities, and address issues of importance to the U.S.-Korea relationship.

“As a Korean-American scholar of contemporary Korean politics, it is my goal to better inform Koreans and Americans that the U.S.-Korea relationship is not limited to foreign relations on a national level,” Cho said. “The NextGen Scholar program will provide me with the opportunity to engage with key policymakers in Washington and Seoul. I’ll also be able to network with like-minded scholars from diverse backgrounds, and collaborate on various research/policy-relevant projects while learning to become a public intellectual.”

Haddad, Cho in The Conversation: The Goal in Korea Should Be Peace and Trade–Not Unification

Mary Alice Haddad

Mary Alice Haddad

Joan Cho

Wesleyan faculty frequently publish articles based on their scholarship in The Conversation US, a nonprofit news organization with the tagline, “Academic rigor, journalistic flair.” In a new article, Mary Alice Haddad, professor and chair of the College of East Asian Studies; Joan Cho, assistant professor of government, assistant professor of East Asian studies; and Alexis Dudden, professor of history at the University of Connecticut provide historical context to the negotiations happening between North and South Korea, and argue that the focus now should be on peace and trade. Haddad also is professor of government, professor of environmental studies.

This article emerged as a direct result of Visiting Assistant Professor of Music Jin Hi Kim’s One Sky II project. Haddad, Cho, and Dudden spoke on a panel April 17 at a Music Department Colloquium on the current political conflict, and U.S. and North Korean policy, as well as Korean urban culture.

The goal in Korea should be peace and trade – not unification

Last week, the world witnessed a first tangible step toward a peaceful, prosperous Korean peninsula.

On April 27, 2018, Kim Jong-Un became the first North Korean leader to step foot in South Korea – where he was welcomed by South Korean President Moon Jae-in.

A few days later, the South Korean government reported that Kim had promised to give up his nuclear arsenal under certain conditions.

While some viewed the summit with skepticism and issued reminders about Kim’s villainous past, others began talking of a unified Korea – a reasonable reaction considering that the leaders signed a document called the Panmunjom Declaration for Peace, Prosperity and Unification of the Korean Peninsula.

The intentions of these two leaders is key. For while Donald Trump and Xi Zinping and Vladimir Putin may tweet and hold meetings, it is the nearly 80 million Koreans who will determine the future of how they will share their peninsula.

Bùi ’07 Shares Photos, Paintings, Video at CEAS Gallery

On March 29, Vietnamese artist Lêna Bùi '07 spoke to gallery goers at the opening reception of her exhibit, Proliferation at the College of East Asian Studies. In Proliferation, Bùi draws on her context of living in a rapidly changing country. Her abstract paintings, photographs, and candid video broadly examine the less obvious effects of development on the socio-political and cultural fabrics of the country, and specifically dealing with people's negotiation with nature in various forms.

On March 29, East Asian studies major Lêna Bùi ’07 spoke to gallerygoers at the opening reception of her exhibit, Proliferation, at the College of East Asian Studies. In Proliferation, Bùi draws on her context of living in a rapidly changing country. Her abstract paintings, photographs, and candid video broadly examine the less obvious effects of development on the socio-political and cultural fabrics of the country, specifically dealing with people’s negotiation with nature in various forms.

Sun ’20 Wins Japanese Language Contest Prize for Essay

Sun took the second place win in the College Intermediate Division.

Zhaoyu Sun ’20

Zhaoyu Sun ’20 received an award for his essay in the Eighth Annual Consulate General of Japan in Boston Japanese Language Contest. Sun took the second place win in the College Intermediate Division.

Sun, who is from Beijing, China, is majoring in East Asian studies and government. His essay focused on the ideal U.S.-Japanese relationship.

“I discussed how military cooperation, establishing a strong relationship with other countries in East Asia, and establishing equality between the two nations will build a strong U.S.-Japanese relationship and subsequently benefit the world,” he explained.

The essay contest is open to students who are currently enrolled in a Japanese language course at a university/college or high school in New England and who did not grow up in a home where Japanese was the main language.

Sun will receive his award during a ceremony April 7 in Brookline, Mass.