Tag Archive for Schwarcz

Schwarcz Delivers 40th Annual Mansfield Freeman Lecture

Vera Schwarcz, the Freeman Professor of History and East Asian Studies, professor of history, delivered the 40th Annual Mansfield Freeman Lecture on April 16. She spoke in Daniel Family Commons on “The Human Dot on Yellow Mountain: Re-thinking 45 Years of China Study.” (Photos by Dat Vu ’15.)

For more than four decades, Schwarcz has grappled with intellectual dilemmas surrounding a changing reality in China. She has written extensively about comparative history, trauma and memory, as well as the role of intellectuals in the pursuit of the truth.

For more than four decades, Schwarcz has grappled with intellectual dilemmas surrounding a changing reality in China. She has written extensively about comparative history, trauma and memory, as well as the role of intellectuals in the pursuit of the truth.

In her lecture, Schwarcz offered a retrospective gaze upon the turning points in Western understanding of China, and upon the impact of the Freeman Legacy in East Asian Studies at Wesleyan. She also examined the cultural context that shapes our shifting views of China today.

In her lecture, Schwarcz offered a retrospective gaze upon the turning points in Western understanding of China, and upon the impact of the Freeman Legacy in East Asian Studies at Wesleyan. She also examined the cultural context that shapes our shifting views of China today.

Since 1976, the Mansfield Freeman Lecture has featured an outstanding scholar or other luminary in the field of East Asian Studies.

Since 1976, the Mansfield Freeman Lecture has featured an outstanding scholar or other luminary in the field of East Asian Studies.

Schwarcz Addresses Moral Dilemma, Ethics in China in Colors of Veracity

Vera Schwarcz, the Mansfield Freeman Professor of East Asian Studies, professor of history, is the author of a new book titled Colors of Veracity: A Quest for Truth in China, and Beyond, published by the University of Hawai’i Press in November 2014.

In Colors of Veracity, Schwarcz condenses four decades of teaching and scholarship about China to raise fundamental questions about the nature of truth and history. In vivid prose, she addresses contemporary moral dilemmas with a highly personal sense of ethics and aesthetics.

Drawing on classical sources in Hebrew and Chinese (as well as several Greek and Japanese texts), Schwarcz brings deep and varied cultural references to bear on the question of truth and falsehood in human consciousness. The book redefines both the Jewish understanding of emet (a notion of truth that encompasses authenticity) and the Chinese commitment to zhen (a vision of the real that comprises the innermost sincerity of the seeker’s heart-mind). Works of art, from contemporary calligraphy and installations to fake Chinese characters and a Jewish menorah from Roman times, shed light light on the historian’s task of giving voice to the dread-filled past.

Following in the footsteps of literary scholar Geoffrey Hartman, Schwarcz expands on the “Philomela Project,” which calls on historians to find new ways of conveying truth, especially when political authorities are bent on enforcing amnesia of past traumatic events.

Schwarcz, who was born and raised in Cluj, Romania, was one of the first exchange scholars to study in China in 1979 and has returned to Beijing many times since then.

For more information on the book or to order, visit the University of Hawai’i Press website.

Schwarcz will be speaking about her book at 4:15 p.m. Nov. 19 at the Wasch Center. The event is open to the public.

Schwarcz Explores Contemporary China through New Book of Poetry

Book by Vera Schwarcz.

Book by Vera Schwarcz.

Vera Schwarcz, the Mansfield Freeman Professor of East Asian Studies, professor of history, is the author of Ancestral Intelligence, published by Antrim House Books in 2013.

In Ancestral Intelligence, Schwarcz depicts the cultural landscape of contemporary China by creating “renditions” of poems by a mid-20th century dissident poet, Chen Yinke, and by adding a group of her own poems in harmony with Chen Yinke’s. Like his, her poems show a degradation of culture and humanity, in this case through comparison of classic and modern Chinese logographs.

In the tragic yet inspiring story of Chen Yinke, Schwarcz finds her own powerful way of articulating the horrors of political oppression, and also the smaller but no less difficult personal afflictions of growing old, seeing loved ones suffer. The book’s front cover design by Andy Youlieguo Zhou depicts the degradation of one’s culture and language.

Schwarcz was born and raised in Cluj, Romania, where she began her explorations of poetry in several languages. Her mother tongues include Hungarian and Romanian, with Yiddish, German, Hebrew, Russian and French added along the way. After emigrating to the United States in 1962, she pursued degrees in East Asian studies and history at Vassar, Yale and Stanford. A member of the first group of exchange scholars to be sent to China in the spring of 1979, she has returned to Beijing repeatedly during the past three decades. All along, her corpus of scholarly writing has been accompanied by the publication of poems in several languages in the United States, Europe and Asia. The daughter of Holocaust survivors, Schwarcz has made the quest for remembrance a central theme in all her works. Her writing has been nominated for the National Jewish Book Award and has been accorded several major grants, including a Guggenheim Fellowship.

Read Ancestral Intelligence poem samples online here.

Schwarcz Volunteers to Pack Paratrooper Bags in Israel

 Vera Schwarcz packed duffle bags at a paratroopers' reservist base in Israel.

Vera Schwarcz packed duffle bags at a paratroopers’ reservist base in Israel.

During Wesleyan’s winter recess, Vera Schwarcz, the Mansfield Freeman Professor of East Asian Studies, worked on a paratroopers’ reservist base in Israel through Volunteers for Israel. The 30-year-old program seeks volunteers to promote solidarity and goodwill among Israelis, American Jews, and other friends of Israel.

Each day, Schwarcz and 13 other volunteers in her group, reported for work in a warehouse overseen by a female officer, the mother of two young children.

“We, the American volunteers worked alongside young soldiers (mostly 19-year-old girls) and male reservists in their late 20s – all sent to this base to help out with the massive task of repairing and resupplying the paratroopers’ tanks, jeeps and field uniforms.  The mixture of backgrounds and races on our team was astonishing: Russian, Yemenite, Ethiopian, Moroccan and American. We worked side by side using a mélange of tongues that included French and Spanish along with English and Hebrew,” Schwarcz said.

 Vera Schwarcz in an old chopper.

Vera Schwarcz in an old chopper.

Schwarcz’s group spent their time sorting uniforms according to size and packing duffle bags with blankets, helmets, utensils, canteens, and ammo vests. Since Schwarcz is fluent in Hebrew, she was put in charge of final bag checking.

“This was a huge and humbling responsibility—beyond what I had imagined when I set off for this service trip,” she said. “In the base, it all made sense. I gladly breathed in the dust and swept the floor to get rid of strings, tags and mouse droppings at the end of the workday. In a miniscule way I was making a difference.”

Schwarcz to Promote Solidarity, Goodwill with Volunteers for Israel

Professor Vera Schwarcz will spend her holiday vacation working with Volunteers for Israel.

Professor Vera Schwarcz will spend her holiday vacation working with Volunteers for Israel.

After visiting Israel several times to lecture about Chinese and Jewish history, Vera Schwarcz, the Mansfield Freeman Professor of East Asian Studies, professor of history, decided to do something different during her next trip abroad.

“I wanted to let go of the ‘specialness’ of my training and skills and do something more basic, something more grounded and more urgently needed at the moment,” she says.

On Dec. 16, Schwarcz will begin a two week service trip with “Volunteers for Israel,” a 30-year-old program that promotes solidarity and goodwill among Israelis, American Jews, and other friends of Israel. Since 1982, more than 30,000 American civilians have joined Volunteers for Israel and signed on as short-term volunteers doing noncombatant civilian work with the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) on bases throughout Israel.

Schwarcz and her fellow volunteers may pack medical supplies, refurbish electronic equipment, repair machinery, and perform logistic assignments wherever they are needed.

Watching Israeli civilians cower in bomb shelters during ‘Pillar of Defense’ convinced Schwarcz that she must help with her own two hands.

“This a moment in time, when I can help Israel without a Ph.D. in Chinese history,” she says. ” What is needed are good will and the desire to rebuild the one and only democracy in the Middle East.”

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.

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

Schwarcz Participates in U.S. Speakers Program in China

Vera Schwartz is pictured on the website chinaculture.org.

Vera Schwarcz, the Mansfield Freeman Professor of East Asian Studies, professor of history, was selected by the United States’ Department of State to serve in the Speakers Program Oct. 20-24.

She lectured at several universities in Chongqing and Beijing—on the subject of the 150th anniversary of the destruction of the old summer palace of Yuan Ming Yuan, in 1860.

Having been selected by the State Department as a member of the very first group of American exchange scholars to live and study in China in 1979, Schwarcz has been returning regularly to China for the past three decades. This was the second time she served in an official capacity.

On Oct. 22, she was interviewed by China Daily in a lengthy conversation that took place at the United States in Beijing. This interview was posted on eight news organization websites and has gathered considerable attention in the wake of discussions about globalization of China studies in the 21st century.

Her interview was posted on chinaculture.org, China Daily, ifeng.com, among others.

Schwarcz Reads Poetry to Literary Arts Center

Vera Schwarcz

Vera Schwarcz, the Mansfield Freeman Professor of East Asian Studies, director of the Freeman Center for East Asian Studies, chair and professor of East Asian Studies, professor of history, was a guest author at the Farmington River Literary Arts Center’s “Readings by the River” series April 18.

Schwarcz read from her book of poetry titled Chisel of Remembrance. The daughter of Holocaust survivors, Schwarcz has made the quest for remembrance a central theme in all her works.

Her writing has been nominated for the National Jewish Book Award and has been accorded several major grants, including a Guggenheim Fellowship.

Schwarcz Reads From New Book of Poems

Vera Schwarcz, the Mansfield Freeman Professor of East Asian Studies, professor of history, professor of government and chair and director of the Freeman Center for East Asian Studies, offered a poetry reading and informal discussion March 31 in Russell House. Her new book of poems, Chisel of Memory (2009) is a personal collection which blends Chinese and Jewish themes in an original way.

Vera Schwarcz, the Mansfield Freeman Professor of East Asian Studies, professor of history, professor of government and chair and director of the Freeman Center for East Asian Studies, offered a poetry reading and informal discussion March 31 in Russell House. Her new book of poems Chisel of Memory (2009) is a personal collection, which blends Chinese and Jewish themes in an original way. Pictured with her in the photo is Robert Rennie McQuilkin.

SchwarczBorn in Romania trained as a sinologist, she brings to poetry an ear attuned to history, memory and the grace of unexpected discovery. (Photos by Andy Zhou '09)

Born in Romania trained as a sinologist, Schwarcz brings a poetic ear attuned to history, memory and the grace of unexpected discovery. (Photos by Andy Zhou '09)