MAPH Research Embarkment

Presenters: Simon Lenoe, Amber Qi, Lucia Wang, Jinhee Kim, Rena Zhang
Discussants: Danlin Zhang, Nick Ogonek, Yeti Kang, Ethan Waddell, Ellen Larson

Time: Friday, January 26, 3:00-5:00 pm CT

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

Abstract: How does one embark upon a research project? What are the means, ways, and parameters by which one defines and engages with an object of study, especially within the realm of area studies? In what way should one go about making their research legible to other scholars across geographical regions and disciplinary boundaries? This thesis proposal workshop is designed for MAPH students working on projects related to East Asian area studies. Our goals are to provide a space for students to discuss their work while it is still at a conceptual stage, to facilitate an opportunity to share projects which engage with the themes of APEA, and to encourage collaborative feedback from APEA’s regular attendees, including other graduate students and professors across various disciplines and specialties related to East Asia.

01/26 Graeme Reynolds

Instructor, History

Block and Type: Publishing Official Histories of Koryŏ in the Chosŏn

Time: Thursday, January 26, 4:00-5:30 pm CT

Location: John Hope Franklin Room, SSR Building

(please note the noncanonical meeting location and time)

★Co-Sponsored by East Asia: Transregional Histories Workshop★

Abstract: The History of Koryŏ and the Essentials of Koryŏ History are two early Chosŏn (1392–1910) court histories about Chosŏn’s predecessor, the Koryŏ (918–1392). This paper examines the manufacture and publication of these two official histories, arguing that the motives and means for publishing and circulating each history varied over the course of the dynasty and that court support for reproducing these texts was not guaranteed. In addition, this paper shows how economics, politics, and ideology informed the employment of different technologies—movable type and woodblock—as a means of production and circulation of court histories in Chosŏn’s non-commercial book economy. There were conflicting impulses within the early Chosŏn court about the distribution of these histories; some officials supported the circulation of histories on Koryŏ while others worried about leaking information abroad. Such court concerns joined with enthusiasm for metal movable type, an expensive prestige technology in the early Chosŏn, to bring about the modest print runs of the fifteenth and sixteenth-century typographic editions of the History and the Essentials. In contrast, the late Chosŏn court, simultaneously less inclined to either promote or fear the distribution of the histories of Koryŏ and motivated by the fear of loss due to the catastrophic damage of the Imjin war, sponsored the production of long-lasting woodblocks for the History (although the Essentials did not receive such attention). At the same time, the court did not embark on a campaign to distribute copies of the woodblock edition of the History. Instead, circulation was driven by literati interest as increasing numbers of scholars and schools used the woodblocks to print their own copy, resulting in a robust circulation of historical materials that substantially underwrote a boom in private history writing in the late Chosŏn.

Presenter: Graeme R. Reynolds is a historian of early modern Korea with interests in the production and circulation of knowledge, the history of the book, and historiography. He is currently working on a book examining the production, circulation, and reception of official histories of the Koryŏ in the Chosŏn dynasty.

Respondent: Hoyt Long is a Professor of Japanese Literature in the Department of East Asian Languages and Civilizations. He has research and teaching interests in modern Japanese literature, digital methods, sociology of culture, and media studies.

Winter 2023 Schedule

Dear colleagues, faculty members, and friends,

The Arts and Politics of East Asia Workshop (APEA) is pleased to announce our Winter 2023 schedule. The workshop will meet on Fridays 3:00-5:00 pm in the Winter quarter unless otherwise noted. As usual, we will send reminder emails with location info prior to every workshop session, along with the link to the pre-circulated papers. Please sign up for our listserv if you have not already received those emails.

Winter 2023 Schedule

January 13th, Friday (in-person), 3:00–5:00 p.m.
Yukun Zeng, Ph.D. Candidate, Anthropology
“The Cultural Revolution in a Confucian School: Autonomy, Discipline, and Schismogenesis in the Dujing Movement in Contemporary China”
Discussant: Jacob Eyferth, Associate Professor in Chinese History, ELAC
Location: Center for East Asian Studies 319 (1155 E. 60th St.)

January 26th, Thursday (in-person), 4:00–5:30 p.m.
Graeme Reynolds, Instructor in History
“Publishing Official Histories of Koryŏ in the Chosŏn”
Discussant: Hoyt Long, Professor of Japanese Literature, EALC
Location: John Hope Franklin Room, SSR Building
★Co-Sponsored by East Asia: Transregional Histories Workshop★

January 27th, Friday (in-person), 3:00–5:00 p.m.
MAPH Research Embarkment Workshop
Presenters: Simon Lenoe, Amber Qi, Lucia Wang, Jinhee Kim, Rena Zhang
Discussants: Danlin Zhang, Nick Ogonek, Lilian Kong, Ethan Waddell
Location: Center for East Asian Studies 319 (1155 E. 60th St.)

February 17th, Friday (format TBA), 3:00–5:00 p.m.
Dahye Kim, Assistant Professor, Asian Languages and Cultures, Northwestern University
“The Crisis and the Rise of the Non-Linear Alphabet: The Cultural Technique of Hangul Only Writing in the Age of Information”
Discussant: Thomas Lamarre, Gordon J Laing Distinguished Service Professor in CMS, EALC, and the College
★Co-Sponsored by Digital Media Workshop★

March 3rd, Friday (in-person), 3:00-5:00 p.m.
Yueling Ji, Ph.D. Candidate, EALC
“Wind from the East: Classical Poetics in Mao Zedong’s Yan’an Talks”
Discussant: Qiyu Yang, Ph.D. Student, EALC
Location: Center for East Asian Studies 319 (1155 E. 60th St.)


Please feel free to contact Yuwei ( and Elvin ( with any questions you might have, and we look forward to seeing you at APEA this winter!

12/9 Elvin Meng

PhD Student, Comparative Literature and EALC

“Cataloguing the Media Ecology of Qing Multilingualism: Patterns and Highlights”

Time: Friday, December 2, 2:30-4:30pm CT

Location: Hanna Holborn Gray Special Collections Research Center Classroom (Regenstein Library Room 136)

Please note the unusual place and time!

Before arriving, please familiarize yourself with the guidelines of the Special Collections.

Abstract: The University of Chicago Library is home to one of North America’s largest collections of Manchu, Mongolian, and Tibetan rare books and manuscripts from the early modern period, acquired by the Library in several waves in the first half of the twentieth century. These non-Han (or at least, not-solely-Han) xylographs and manuscripts are important sources for understanding the necessarily-plural cultural, political, social, and intellectual histories of the Qing (Mnc. Daicing gurun; Mon. Dayičing ulus), a period whose cultural multiplicity partakes in a long tradition of Inner Asian modes of governance and whose legacy continues to this day.

Approaching this corpus of textual artifacts—and in particular the 71 Manchu language titles that have recently received an updated catalogue—through analytical bibliography and codicology (lato sensu), this presentation gives an introduction to the collection and explores the challenges its various material aspects (format, paper, inserts, ductus, marginalia, reading marks, manuscript composition) pose to the history of reading in a multilingual context. Thinking of this corpus as partaking in a media ecology consisting of interlinked and multi-modal practices of multilingual production, circulation, and consumption, conventional aggregates such as language and genre give way to more local, ambiguous forms of (multi-)languaging. This recognition of more-than-Chinese textual/material practice as overlooked loci of early modern thought, in turn, enables a renewed thinking on familiar questions such as the relationship between literacy and literature, or the nature of linguistic knowledge in the age of kaozheng xue.

Presenter: Elvin Meng is a joint PhD student in the Department of Comparative Literature and the Department of East Asian Languages & Civilizations at the University of Chicago. His research interests include East Asian & European thought, media history & theory, translation, Manchu studies, history of linguistics & mathematics, and modernism.

12/2: Paola Iovene

Associate Professor, East Asian Languages & Civilizations

“Reading Beyond Books: Radio Fiction Series and Lu Yao’s Ordinary World

Time: Friday, December 2, 3:00-5:00pm CT

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

★Co-Sponsored by Sound and Society workshop★

Abstract: Largely unappreciated by critics when its first volume came out in 1986, Lu Yao’s novel Ordinary World (Pingfan de shijie) was awarded the Mao Dun literary prize in 1991 and went on to become one of the most beloved works of contemporary Chinese fiction. Today, Lu Yao himself epitomizes the rural other rejected by urbanites, the common readers’ writer whose aesthetics are staunchly antithetical to those of academic elites, and ultimately a martyr who was killed by his writing.

While no single factor alone can account for the multifaceted development of Lu Yao’s persona and the extraordinary success of his work, neither might have been possible without the radio program Fiction Series (Xiaoshuo lianbo), which broadcast Ordinary World several times. It would be an overstatement to say that the radio created the author. Nonetheless, the radio narrator Li Yemo profoundly shaped Ordinary World’s reception, bringing Lu Yao’s work to many more readers than books alone would have reached, to the point that Li’s voice came to be perceived as that of Lu Yao himself. How exactly this happened is the main question addressed by this chapter.

The “talking books” broadcast by Fiction Series, I suggest, were an important component of socialist Chinese literary culture, facilitating a “reading situation” that differed both from academic criticism and from leisure reading in print and other visual media. The series played a considerable role well into the late 1990s, offering a different angle from which to reconsider the enduring appeal of realist modes of writing and non-elite forms of literary appreciation.

Does listening to a fiction broadcast constitute a reading act, which in the context of the volume where this essay will appear is defined as the “interaction of individuals (or groups of individuals) with text through which they generate meaning from texts” (Henningsen 2021)? Proposing the notion of “model reading-listening situation,” this chapter aims to rethink reading as a collaborative and multisensorial process that generates feelings and actions, but no interpretations.

Presenter: 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).

Respondents: Siting Jiang is a PhD student in the Department of East Asian Languages and Civilizations at University of Chicago. Her research interests include modern Chinese literature, sound studies and cultural studies. Dr. Neil Verma is Assistant Professor of Sound Studies at Northwestern University. His books include Theater of the Mind: Imagination, Aesthetics and American Radio Drama (2012), and the edited anthologies Anatomy of Sound: Norman Corwin (2016) and Media Authorship and Indian Sound Cultures, Indian Sound Citizenship (2020).