10/6 Devin Fitzgerald

Lecturer in the Department of History and Associate Research Fellow at Beinecke Library at Yale University.

Looking with Intention: the Role of Materiality in East Asian Studies Research

Workshop Description: In this workshop, participants will be introduced to some of the fundamental sensitivities that can help in research with East Asian printed materials. For this session, we will focus on three important skills: 1) identifying editions according to existing bibliographies; 2) signs in printed materials that indicate changes or alterations; 3) the importance of checking multiple copies. By the end of the session, students will have developed some of the sensitivities they need to begin thinking bibliographically.

Location: Joseph Regenstein Library (1100 E. 57th St.)

Speaker Information: Devin Fitzgerald, PhD (Harvard University), is a Lecturer in the Department of History and at Beinecke Library as an Associate Research Fellow at Yale.  Prior to coming to Yale, Devin was the Curator of Rare Book and the History of Printing at UCLA Library Special Collections. Devin is an Andrew W. Mellon Fellow in Critical Bibliography and is currently the Vice President of the Society. He actively uses over a dozen languages in his work and instruction and has taught at both the University of Virginia Rare Book School and the California Rare Book School. His research focuses on global book cultures and intercultural encounters. Some of his publications include, “The Early Modern Information Revolution,” coauthored with Ann Blair, in The Oxford Handbook of Early Modern European History, “Chinese Papers in the Early Modern World” (Ars Orientalis) and “Manchu Language Pedagogical Practices: The Connections Between Manuscript and Printed Books” (Saksaha).  He is currently working on two monograph length studies. The first examines the interconnected histories of the paper codex. The second is a revision of the second half of his dissertation, which investigated the globalization of the idea of China during the early modern period.

This event is co-sponsored by the University of Chicago Library, the Andrew W. Mellon Fellowship for Diversity, Inclusion, and Cultural Heritage at Rare Book School, APEA, and the Center for East Asian Studies at the University of Chicago with support from a Title VI National Resource Center Grant from the U.S. Department of Education.

Fall 2023 Schedule

Dear colleagues, faculty members, and friends,

The Arts and Politics of East Asia Workshop (APEA) is pleased to announce our schedule for the Fall 2023 Quarter. All the in-person events will meet from 3:00 to 5:00pm, unless otherwise noticed. As usual, we will send reminder emails with information for the exact time and location prior to every workshop session, along with the link to the pre-circulation materials. For meetings via Zoom, we will send the registration link prior to the workshop session.


Fall 2023 Schedule

October 6th (in-person)

Devin Fitzgerald, Lecturer, Department of History, Yale University

“Looking with Intention: The Role of Materiality in East Asian Studies Research”

Location: Joseph Regenstein Library (1100 E. 57th St.)

★Co-sponsored by the University of Chicago Library, the Andrew W. Mellon Fellowship for Diversity, Inclusion, and Cultural Heritage at Rare Book School, and the Center for East Asian Studies at the University of Chicago with support from a Title VI National Resource Center Grant from the U.S. Department of Education★


October 19th (in-person)

Elvin Meng, Ph. D. Student, EALC & Comparative Literature

“The Paleography of Babble”

Discussant: Yiwen Wu, Ph. D. Student, EALC & TAPS

Location: John Hope Franklin Room, Social Science Research Building

★Co-sponsored by the East Asia: Transregional Histories (EATRH) Workshop


November 17th (Zoom)

Anthony Stott, Ph. D. Candidate, EALC & Comparative Literature

“The Asada Touch: A Partial Media History of the Japanese Little Magazine and the Periodical as Method”

Discussant: Paola Iovene, Associate Professor in Chinese Literature, EALC


December 1st (in-person)

Nick Ogonek, Ph. D. Student, EALC

“Fujoshi Literature and Cultures of Redemption”

Discussant: Jiarui Sun, Ph. D. Student, EALC

Location: Center for East Asian Studies 319 (1155 E. 60th St.)


We are also planning a joint event with the Digital Media Workshop featuring Thomas Looser, Associate Professor of East Asian Studies at New York University. Please look forward to future updates on the exact time and location of the event.


Coordinators: Danlin Zhang and Hang Wu, EALC

Faculty Sponsors: Professor Paola Iovene and Professor Melissa Van Wyk


Please do not hesitate to contact Danlin (danlinz@uchicago.edu) or Hang (hangwu@uchicago.edu) if you have any questions. We look forward to seeing you at APEA in the new quarter!

5/19 Alia Goehr

 Teaching Fellow, Master of Arts Program in the Humanities University of Chicago

“The Therapeutic Text

Time: Friday, May 19, 3:00-5:00 pm CT

Location: CEAS 319 (1155 E. 60th St.)

Abstract: Jin Shengtan’s (1608–1661) Sixth Work of Genius (1656), his heavily edited and annotated edition of Wang Shifu’s wildly popular play Story of the Western Wing (late 13th c.), has long been appreciated from the standpoint of drama criticism. Literary scholarship’s traditional emphasis on genre, however, tends to relegate the multi-generic and extra-literary features of Jin’s commentary to the sidelines of interpretation or subordinate those features to drama as we know it. This is especially problematic given that Jin Shengtan’s commentary on the Western Wing painstakingly associates this work with other genres of writing and, moreover, with a variety of Buddhist texts, practices, and ideas. Taking Jin’s commentary on book 4, act 2, “Interrogating the Amorous” 拷艷 as a case study, this paper considers what it might look like to read the dramatic text not as a representative of its genre, but as an aesthetic form that affords certain forms of subjective experience. Jin Shengtan’s commentary intrusively reworks the form of this act to engage its latent therapeutic potential through association with other literary works as well as, I argue, the Buddhist practice of repentance (chanhui 懺悔). The outcome of Jin’s commentarial reworking is a hybrid textual form, neither purely literary nor strictly religious, which I describe as the therapeutic text, the potential of which is activated through the reader’s aesthetically mediated apprehension of a certain kind of embodied subjectivity, identifiable with the Buddhist truth-body. This hybrid textual category offers a new lens through which to examine Jin’s commentarial works. At the same time, proposing form as an alternative to genre invites new approaches to engaging with literary works in intellectually and artistically experimental, genre-bending contexts.

Presenter: Alia Goehr received her PhD from the Department of Comparative Literature in 2021 and is presently a Teaching Fellow in the MA Program in the Humanities. Starting in September of this year, she will be an assistant professor in the Department of Asian and Middle Eastern Studies at the University of Minnesota, Twin Cities. Her work, beginning with a book project tentatively titled “Bodies of Truth,” looks beyond the secular humanist assumptions of modern literary studies to consider how Chinese literary works informed by diverse spiritual worldviews might open onto alternate understandings of embodied subjectivity.

Discussant: Pauline Lee is Associate Professor of Chinese Thought and Cultures at Saint Louis University, and co-director for the program Lived Religion in the Digital Age. She is the author of Li Zhi, Confucianism, and the Virtue of Desire (SUNY Press, 2012), and with Rivi Handler-Spitz and Haun Saussy, is co-editor of A Book to Burn and A Book to Keep (Hidden) (Columbia UP, 2016). Her present major project examines changing views of play in China.

05/12 Ethan Waddell

Ph.D. Candidate, East Asian Languages and Civilizations, University of Chicago

“Divided Soundscapes and Collective Song: Listening to Military Songs in Literary Fiction of the Korean War

Time: Friday, May 12, 3:00-5:00 pm CT

Location: Wieboldt 408

Please note the unusual location

Abstract: This chapter examines the use of military songs by Korean fiction writers to reconstruct the soundscapes of the Korean War (1950-1953). I define the act of collectively singing military songs as an active mode of reception. This receptive mode, I argue, was key both to the bodily materialization of national belonging in a divided nation and to the reproduction of ideological division. First, I use the novel T’aebaek Mountains (T’aebaek sanmaek, 1983-1989) by Cho Chŏng-nae to explore the pre-existing sonic conditions that Korean War-era military songs territorialized and the theoretical workarounds that the novel offers to the problematic modes of audition associated with the acousmatic situation. Next, I examine the form and function of military songs through a case study of the popular South Korean composition “Comrade-in-Arms, Good Night” (Chŏnuya, chal chara, 1951). Third, I investigate wartime scenes of civilians singing military songs in four works literary fiction by Ch’oe Chŏng-hŭi, Hwang Sun-wŏn, Yun Hŭng-gil, and Yi Mun-gu, respectively. Finally, I present two contrasting portrayals of military songs in the battlefield in the novels Ice Age (Pingha sidae, 1967-1968) and T’aebaek Mountains. Together, the chapter’s readings aim to show how various writers portrayed active reception of military songs in order to reflect, question, or even counter the divisive formation of collective Korean ethnic nationhood.

Presenter: Ethan Waddell is a PhD candidate studying modern and contemporary Korean literature in the Department of East Asian Languages and Civilizations at University of Chicago. His dissertation project, “Listening to South Korean Fiction through Popular Songs, 1950s-1970s,” aims to develop methods for reading modern and contemporary Korean literary fiction through popular music genres.

Discussant: Alex Murphy is currently a Visiting Assistant Professor of Japanese at Kenyon College, and will be starting as an Assistant Professor of Japanese at Clark University in Fall 2023. His research centers on modern Japan with a focus on the relationship between sound, language, and the body across literature, media and performance.

04/28 Wu Hung

Harrie A. Vanderstappen Distinguished Service Professor, Art History and EALC, University of Chicago

“Outdoor Exhibitions in Beijing, 1979

Time: Friday, April 28, 4:00 – 6:00 pm CT

Location:  Cochrane-Woods Art Center, Room 152

Please note the unusual time and location

★Co-Sponsored by Visual and Material Perspectives on East Asia (VMPEA) workshop ★

Abstract: In most writing about contemporary Chinese art, the primary significance of the Stars Art Exhibition (1979)is believed to lie in its choice of venue: held in the small street park outside of the National Art Gallery of China, it moved the site of art exhibition from indoors to outdoors and from museums to public space, displaying works of young “outsider” artists to street crowds. This emphasis on location is undoubtedly correct, but because many studies discuss this exhibition as a singular event, they ignore its relationship to other artistic activities at the time. As a result, the interpretation is frequently skewed, either overemphasizing its uniqueness or overlooking its specificity. An important artistic phenomenon in Beijing in 1979 was the occurrence of multiple outdoor art exhibitions, which have not yet received sufficient scholarly attention. This study attempts to assemble the available materials to provide a general introduction to these exhibitions, to reflect on their shared historical context and characteristics, and to reexamine the Stars Art Exhibition within this context.

Presenter: Dr. Wu Hung holds the Harrie A. Vanderstappen Distinguished Service Professorship at the Department of Art History and the Department of East Asian Languages and Civilizations at the University of Chicago, and is also the director of the Center for the Art of East Asia at the same university. An elected member of the American Academy of Art and Science and the American Philosophic Society, he sits on multiple domestic and international committees. He has received many awards for his publications and academic services, including the Distinguished Teaching Award (2008) and Distinguished Scholar Award (2018) from the College of Art Association (CAA), an Honorary Degree in Arts from Harvard University (2019), and the Distinguished Lifetime Achievement Award for Writing on Art from CAA (2022).

Wu Hung’s research interests include both traditional and contemporary Chinese art, and he has published many books and curated many exhibitions in these two fields. His interdisciplinary interest has led him to experiment with different ways to tell stories about Chinese art, as exemplified by his Monumentality in Early Chinese Art and Architecture (1995), The Double Screen: Medium and Representation of Chinese Pictorial Art (1996), Remaking Beijing: Tiananmen Square: the Creation of a Political Space (2005), The Art of the Yellow Springs: Understanding Chinese Tombs (2010), A Story of Ruins: Presence and Absence in Chinese Art and Visual Culture (2012), Zooming In: Histories of Photography in China (2016), and Space in Art History (2018). His three newest books from 2022 and 2023 include Chinese and Dynastic time (Princeton University Press), Spatial Dunhuang: Experiencing the Mogao Caves (Washington University Press), and The Full Length Mirror: A Global Visual History (Reaktion Books).

Discussant: Dr. Paola Iovene is an associate professor of modern Chinese Literature in the department of East Asian Languages and Civilizations at the University of Chicago. She is the author of Tales of Futures Past: Anticipation and the Ends of Literature in Contemporary China (2014) and a co-editor of Sound Alignments: Popular Music in Asia’s Cold Wars (2021).

03/29 Yuwei Zhou

Ph.D. Student, East Asian Languages and Civilizations, University of Chicago

“Was There a Clan Cemetery in Yinxu:
A Spatial and Statistical Approach to Mortuary Practices in the Guojiazhuang Cemetery

Time: Wednesday, March 29, 3:30-5:00 pm CT

Location: LaSalle Banks Room at the Oriental Institute

Please note the unusual time and location

★Co-Sponsored by Interdisciplinary Archaeology Workshop★

Abstract: Excavated in 1928, the site of Yinxu in Henan, China marks one of the greatest finds in Chinese archaeology. In addition to being the first scientific excavation in China, Yinxu is identified to be the last capital of the Shang dynasty, a period that is believed to be the start of Chinese civilization and the foundation of the Chinese patrimonial political system. The excavation of Yinxu has yielded impressive finds, inducing a palace complex, a royal cemetery, several residential areas, cemeteries, paved roads, canal systems, craft production workshops, and thousands of inscribed bones (also called oracle bone inscriptions) that mark the earliest evidence of writing system in China. Abundant archaeological and textual sources concerning Yinxu make it a focal point for interdisciplinary study and discussion. In 1979, the publication of nearly 1000 burials at the Western Locus cemetery had an extremely influential impact on the method and theory of burial analysis in Yinxu. This report divided the cemetery into eight clusters based primarily on spatial proximity, but also on tomb orientations, burial styles, and burial goods, arguing that each group represents the cemetery of a clan, and the Western locus was a public cemetery for at least eight clans. Such a practice of tomb grouping (muzang fenqu 墓葬分區) was soon adopted in the analysis of other cemeteries in Yinxu, all of which were consequently determined to reflect clan structures. Today, despite minor skepticism on the validity of the tomb grouping methodology, the archaeologically-confirmed clan-based nature of the late Shang society has made its way into various Chinese archaeology textbooks.

This paper discusses the problem with the current tomb grouping methodology and calls into question the concept of “clan cemetery” in Yinxu through a case study of the Guojiazhuang cemetery. It uses computational tools to examine the statistical reliability of the previously proposed grouping methods regarding this cemetery. This paper then proposes an alternative way to understand the Guojiazhuang cemetery through a spatial-temporal and statistical approach.

Presenter: Yuwei Zhou is a Ph.D. student in the Department of East Asian Languages and Civilizations at the University of Chicago. Her research focuses on the archaeology and paleography of Bronze Age China. She is interested in combining archaeology with computational tools such as statistical, geospatial, and network analysis to investigate regional and local interactions.