Tag Archive for East Asian Studies

Distinguished Scholars from China Discuss “Comparative Enlightenments” at Wesleyan

Distinguished scholars from China discussed "Comparative Enlightenments" with Wesleyan faculty during a forum May 9-11 at the Mansfield Freeman Center for East Asian Studies.

Distinguished scholars from China discussed “Comparative Enlightenments” with Wesleyan faculty and other guests during a forum May 9-11 at the Mansfield Freeman Center for East Asian Studies.

(Story contributed by Charles Salas, director of strategic initiatives)

“A golden example of what exchange should be between academic communities in the United States and China.” That’s how Gao Xiang, vice secretary of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences (CASS) and editor-in-chief of the Social Sciences in China Press, described the Chinese-American Scholarly Exchange Forum that took place May 9-11 at Wesleyan’s Mansfield Freeman Center for East Asian Studies. The forum brought 15 distinguished scholars from China to Wesleyan to meet with American counterparts to discuss the topic of “Comparative Enlightenments.”

The forum was framed by Wang Weiguang, president of CASS, who expressed fervent hopes for this dialogue “between Eastern and Western civilizations as if a lamp is lit by another lamp, as if a dream illuminates another dream, and ultimately illuminates our entire human world.” CASS is far and away the most important center in China for studies in philosophy and the social sciences, and this is the second forum in which they’ve partnered with Wesleyan. The topic of the first forum (held a year and a half ago in Bejing) was “Tradition.”

Wang is an Expert on Medieval Chinese Poetry, Chinese Literature

Ao Wang, assistant professor of Asian languages and literatures, assistant professor of East Asian studies, will teach “Third-Year Chinese” and “Man and Nature in Classical Chinese Literature” this fall.

For the past two years, Ao Wang has shared with his students at Wesleyan a passion for Chinese poetry and intellectual debate over East Asian cultural issues.

Wang came to Wesleyan in fall 2010 as a visiting professor. He was hired in the 2011-12 academic year as an assistant professor of Asian languages and literatures and East Asian studies.

Originally from Qingdao, China, Wang was drawn to the United States because of his love of American culture, particularly music and poetry. Though he didn’t have a specific career goal at that time, he eventually decided to become a translator of poetry—from Chinese into English, and English to Chinese. Wang went on to earn a Ph.D. from Yale in East Asian languages and literatures.

Prior to teaching at Wesleyan, Wang taught briefly at the University of California-Davis, and then for two years at Trinity College in Hartford. He was attracted to Wesleyan because of its vibrant and active intellectual community. “The students at Wesleyan are serious about their studies,” he says. “They dedicate themselves to their work, and push their teachers to do a better job.” In fact, Wang says, his students actually ask for more homework—the opposite of what he encountered in previous teaching jobs—and push for more intellectual challenge.

This past year, Wang taught “Introduction to Chinese Poetry.” Students in this course, who were not required to know the Chinese language, compared different translations of classical Chinese poems to examine how the image of ancient Chinese poetry was constructed in the process of cultural exchange.

Wang also taught “Gender Issues in Chinese Literature and Culture,” which he called a “fun class.”

“The students are very interested in the daily lives of ancient Chinese women—how they saved money, how they raised and educated their children—and Confucian ideas about Chinese women. These are all very interesting ideas, and still relevant for our time,” he says. The class read excerpts from Yale Law School professor Amy Chua’s parenting memoir, Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother, and watched debates on YouTube over its messages. A diverse classroom make-up, with about half the students of East Asian descent, made for a very interesting discussion, says Wang.

Wang’s own research focuses on Medieval Chinese Poetry, which he says is not well studied. “There are still numerous important and great poets who have not yet been introduced to the Western world,” he says. “They need study and translation, and eventually will become part of world literature.” Wang is currently co-editing an anthology of contemporary Chinese poetry.

When not working, Wang enjoys reading, playing drums and guitar, and practicing a form of martial arts known as Kuntao.

Chinese Wedding Balls, Opera Carvings at “Provincial Elegance” Exhibit

Wesleyan’s Center for East Asian Studies is hosting an exhibit titled “Provincial Elegance” April 4 through May 27 in the Mansfield Freeman Gallery. The exhibit features Chinese antiques donated in honor of Houghton “Buck” Freeman ‘43 and his wife, Doreen. Patrick Dowdey, curator of the Freeman Gallery, spoke about the individual antiques during the show’s opening April 4.

Yamashita ’71, Bestor, Speak on Tohoku Earthquake, Disaster

Michael Yamashita '71, photographer for the National Geographic Magazine, spoke during the Freeman East Asian Studies Lecture Series March 8. The topic was "Tohoku Earthquake/Tsunami & Disaster, Food, and Fishing: The Aftermath of March 11." After graduating from Wesleyan with a degree in East Asian studies, he spent seven years in Asia, which became his photographic area of specialty. Upon returning to the U.S., Yamashita began shooting for the National Geographic as well as other American and international magazines and clients. His work has taken him to six continents.

Ted Bestor, the Reischauer Institute Professor of Social Anthropology and Japanese Studies at Harvard University is a specialist on contemporary Japanese society and culture, focusing much of his research on Tokyo. His current research focuses on the aftermath of the March 11 Tohoku earthquake, tsunami, and nuclear disaster, particularly their impact on national food supply and perceptions of food safety. (Photos by Bill Tyner '13)

The next FEAS lecture is on “Murakami Ryz and the Madonna Horror Complex,” at 4:30 p.m. March 29. View all upcoming FEAS lectures online here.

Shinohara Speaks about Contemporary Japanese Prints

In this video, Artist-in-Residence Keiji Shinohara introduces “A Late Christmas Gift: Contemporary Prints from Japan” at the Mansfield Freeman Center for East Asian Studies on Feb. 1. The 46 prints in this exhibition represent a wide range of contemporary Japanese printmakers, from established artists to graduate students and includes works in all print media. Shinohara is an internationally known woodblock printer who has been at Wesleyan for almost 20 years.

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Zheng to Speak on Chinese Music at Year of the Dragon Celebration

Su Zheng, associate professor of music, associate professor of East Asian studies, will speak on “150 Years of Chinese Music” during a Year of the Dragon Festival Feb. 26. From 1 to 2:30 p.m., she will address her audience in English and from 3 to 4:30 p.m. in Mandarin. Her lecture will take place at Flushing Town Hall in Flushing, N.Y. Each lecture will be followed by a signing of her book, Claiming Diaspora.

The year 2012 is the Year of the Dragon, which comes once every 12 years; and is also a Year of the Water Dragon, which occurs once in 60 years. The lunar new year celebrations end Feb. 26.

Read more about the event in this Gazette article.

Schwarcz Invited Speaker in Hong Kong

Vera Schwarcz, the Mansfield Freeman Professor of East Asian Studies, has visited China at least once a year since 1977.

Vera Schwarcz, the Mansfield Freeman Professor of East Asian Studies, presented a paper on Jan. 20 titled “To Honor the Language of Truth: Reflections on F. Nietzsche, H.N. Bialik, Chen Yinke and Zhang Longxi” at the City University of Hong Kong. Schwarcz, who also is a professor of history, professor of East Asian Studies, was an invited speaker at the international conference on “Cross Cultural Studies: China and the World.”

Schwarcz’s essay will be published as part of a book on 2012.

Wesleyan and China: the Beijing Conference

Wesleyan faculty in China.

In China, rapid economic growth and social transformation have stimulated interest there in how societies have dealt with dramatic change. Some of China’s foremost scholars reached out to colleagues at Wesleyan, seeking to discuss the meaning of “tradition” in historical and philosophical perspectives.

“Wesleyan publishes History and Theory, the leading journal on the philosophy and theory of history in the Western world,” says Brian Fay, professor of philosophy, and the journal’s executive editor. “This subject area is intellectually and politically very important in China, and hence the journal was well known to them.”

It was in part because of History and Theory that a delegation from the Social Sciences in China Press, the publishing arm of the Chinese Academy of the Social Sciences, visited Wesleyan in 2010. Fay, his co-editors of History and Theory, and President Roth spent much of a day with the delegation discussing opportunities for scholarly interaction. The result was a commitment to two conferences, one in China and a second in 2013 at Wesleyan.

Five weeks ago the first conference was convened in Beijing, with five Wesleyan scholars traveling to the city to discuss the concept of tradition: Stephen Angle, professor of philosophy, professor of East Asian Studies; Ethan Kleinberg, professor of history, professor of letters; Philip Pomper, William Armstrong Professor of History, Emeritus; Wesleyan President Michael Roth, university professor, who specializes in intellectual history; and Joseph Rouse, Hedding Professor of Moral Science, chair and professor, science in society, professor of philosophy. Five other western scholars also traveled to the conference to make presentations.

The event’s host, Professor Gao Xiang,

Dowdey, Cheong ’12 Researching Prints, Sculptors in China

Pictured at right, Patrick Dowdey, curator of the Freeman Center for East Asian Studies, visits with students and faculty at the Southwest University for Nationalities in Chengdu, Sichuan Province, China on July 6. Dowdey lived on Soutwest University's campus during his dissertation research in 1995-6 and has lectured, attended conferences and met with anthropology students there every year since.

5 Questions With . . . Vera Schwarcz of East Asian Studies

Vera Schwarcz, the Mansfield Freeman Professor of East Asian Studies, has visited China at least once a year since 1977. She's currently writing and documenting the poetic renditions of Chinese historian/poet Chen Yinke for an upcoming book.

This issue we ask “5 Questions” of Vera Schwarcz, who spent the spring semester as a Lady Davis Fellow at Hebrew University in Israel. Schwarcz is the Mansfield Freeman Professor of East Asian Studies, professor of history, professor of East Asian studies.  She returns to campus this fall.

Q: What will you remember most about your recent sojourn in Israel?

A: What lingers most in mind is the vibrant commitment to live fully the values of Jewish tradition. In Jerusalem, each day I witnessed some act of kindness, some conscious effort to reach out to strangers in a way that pays homage to the Torah in a concrete fashion. This ancient city has the power to renew the spirit. My own personal satisfaction was also enhanced by the high level of Chinese Studies in Israel today. I am currently mentoring graduate theses all over the country in addition to having taught an advanced research seminar at Hebrew University. Who could have imagined the close ties between China and Israel a few decades ago? I had not anticipated that my knowledge of East Asia would become so useful in building links between two of the oldest civilizations on earth.

Q: You are an expert on China. Do you get to that country often, and what do you make of the dramatic ways that China’s increasing economic and political power are changing society there?

A: I have been going to China at least once a year since 1977. After my longest sojourns in 1978-79 (as a member of the first group of official exchange scholars) I have not ceased to marvel at the rapid economic reforms launched by Deng Xiaoping. The pace of the transformation has been, simply put, beyond imagination. I still cannot fathom how my Chinese friends have managed to survive in such a rapidly developing society. We speak about this problem often, as well as the burden of mental illness that haunts a society still ravaged by the Cultural Revolution and the unspoken trauma of 1989. I often find myself on a street corner of Beijing

Angle Participates in Book Symposium at Chinese Institute

Stephen Angle

Stephen Angle, professor of philosophy, professor of East Asian studies, tutor in the College of Social Studies, participated in a one-day Book Symposium on his book, Sagehood: The Contemporary Significance of Neo-Confucian Philosophy (Oxford, 2009), at the Institute for Chinese Philosophy and Culture, Academia Sinica, in Taipei, Taiwan, in early June.

Altogether, nine papers were delivered by Taiwan-based philosophers, roughly half in English and half in Chinese. Angle had an opportunity to respond and participated in a general discussion.

The symposium was timed to coincide with an intensive, two-week class that he’s been teaching at Taipei’s Soochow University, also on the subject of his book.