11/17/2023 Anthony Stott

PhD Candidate, EALC & Comparative Literature

The Asada Touch: An Archaeology of the Periodical in the Age of ‘New’ Media

Time: November 17th (Fri) from 3:00 to 5:00 pm

Abstract: This chapter undertakes a media archaeology of Critical Space (Hihyō kūkan, 1991–2002), Japan’s preeminent journal of theory and criticism edited by the philosopher-critics Asada Akira and Karatani Kōjin, along with other adjacent periodicals. Critical Space’s launch bore witness to the seismic geopolitical events that closed out the global short twentieth century and punctuated Japan’s transition from its bubble era to its Lost Decade. Particularly germane to this chapter’s concerns is the way in which these shocks ripple through Japan’s mediascape and how a reconsideration of the 1990s, an era identified with the emergence of “new” media, through the lens of the periodical—a form of so-called “old” media—can uncover alternative histories.

To thus excavate this mediascape via the periodical, this chapter focalizes the editorial praxis of Asada in a time where the role of the editor became ever more that of a producer. Situating Critical Space within Asada’s prior editorial endeavors in the bubble era and asking how the media history that emerges can be brought into dialogue with Euro-American periodical studies, it argues for the editorial praxis as inextricable from critique and vice versa. To these ends, this chapter embarks on multiscalar readings of Asada-edited periodicals within an expansively delineated media ecology, charting in particular how these periodicals index problems of patronage and neoliberalization, gender, and translation. Still more, by examining Asada’s editorial praxis within the radiant but forgotten histories of these periodicals, it mines the variegated critical and media-archaeological possibilities that these archives reveal against homogenizing narratives of media obsolescence.

Presenter: Anthony Stott is a PhD Candidate pursuing a joint degree in Comparative Literature and East Asian Languages and Civilizations. Both a Japanologist and comparatist, he specializes in the literature, media, and thought of contemporary Japan, with an emphasis on cultural and intellectual encounters that defy the disciplinary and geographical boundaries of Japan studies narrowly conceived. In particular, his work intervenes at the intersection of the history of criticism and media and periodical studies. His dissertation, “Formations of Critical Space: Japanese Theory, its Media History, and the Contours of Critique Beyond the Bubble,” explores questions of critique and its limits through formations of thinkers and artists around Critical Space (Hihyō kūkan, 1991–2002), Japan’s preeminent journal of theory and criticism.

Discussant: Dr. Paola Iovene is 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).

10/20/2023 Thomas Looser PhD

Chair & Associate Professor of East Asian Studies, New York University

Landscapes After Modernity: The Place of the Universal Human in the (Digital) Art of Xu Bing & Japan

Time: 11am-12:30pm, October 20

Location: Cobb 310

Please note the unusual time and location!

There is no pre-circulated material for this workshop.

★Co-hosted by the Digital Media Workshop

This event is sponsored by the University of Chicago Center for East Asian Studies with support from a Title VI National Resource Center Grant from the United States Department of Education.

Abstract: In contrast to the landscape of the modern individualized humanist subject, the material ecologies of posthumanism still tend to be framed in terms of a digital ubiquity; the first is finite and located, the second is dispersive and multi-sited (or everywhere). Taking this divide only as a starting point, this working paper takes up what might be thought of as the landscape, or architecture, of the contemporary posthumanist subject. Using especially recent artwork from the Chinese artist Xu Bing, as well as a genealogy of work from Japan, the aim is to outline the material contours of a contemporary posthumanist landscape. At stake are some of our most basic categories, including geopolitical geography (including area studies), global ecology, and the grounds of a universal language.

Presenter: Thomas Looser (PhD in Anthropology, the University of Chicago) is Chair and Associate Professor of East Asian Studies at New York University. His areas of research include cultural anthropology and Japanese studies; art, architecture and urban form; new media studies and animation; critical theory and globalities. Previously a senior editor for the journal Mechademia, and now an editor for Asiascape: Digital Asia, and editorial advisory board member of ADVA, he is the author of Visioning Eternity: Aesthetics, Politics, and History in the Early Modern Noh Theater, and has published articles in a variety of venues including Boundary 2, Japan Forum, Mechademia, Shingenjitsu, Journal of Pacific Asia, and Cultural Anthropology.

Discussant: Thomas Lamarre (PhD in East Asian Languages and Civilizations, the University of Chicago) is a scholar of media, cinema and animation, intellectual history and material culture, with projects ranging from the communication networks of 9th century Japan (Uncovering Heian Japan: An Archaeology of Sensation and Inscription, 2000), to silent cinema and the global imaginary (Shadows on the Screen: Tanizaki Jun’ichirō on Cinema and Oriental Aesthetics, 2005), animation technologies (The Anime Machine: A Media Theory of Animation, 2009) and on television infrastructures and media ecology (The Anime Ecology: A Genealogy of Television, Animation, and Game Media, 2018). Current projects include research on animation that addresses the use of animals in the formation of media networks associated with colonialism and extraterritorial empire, and the consequent politics of animism and speciesism.

10/13/2023 Elvin Meng

PhD Student, EALC & Comparative Literature

“The Paleography of Babble”

Time: October 13th, 3-5pm

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

Co-hosted by the East Asian Transregional History Workshop

This event is generously sponsored by the Council of Advanced Studies of the University of Chicago


Abstract: This paper traces out divergent genealogies of discourse around the status of language in relation to nature and culture in second-millennium Chinese and Inner-Asian thought. Focusing on multiple interpretations of a single figure—the newborn child learning to speak—in the intertwined lineages Chinese, Mongolian, and Manchu thought, this paper suggests that divergent conceptions of babbling as an activity that straddles any tentative nature-culture divide tend to reflect divergent conceptions of “culture” in a multilingual world. Dissenting from Sinocentric conceptions of language that have relegated non-(Chinese)-speech to the realm of non-culture, an Inner-Asian lineage can be traced that mobilizes earlier Buddhist semiotic discourses to construct concepts of language diversity (and the natural-ness of cosmic languages) compatible with the multilingual reality of Inner-Asian empires.

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 & musicology, and modernism.

Discussant: Yiwen Wu is a PhD student in the joint program between East Asian Languages & Civilizations and Theater & Performance Studies at the University of Chicago. Her research centers on early modern Chinese and Japanese theater, with a focus on the dynamic relationship between role types, characters, and performance.

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 13th (in-person)

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

“The Paleography of Babble”

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

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

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


October 20th (in-person)

Thomas Looser, Associate Professor of East Asian Studies, New York University

“Landscapes After Modernity: The Place of the Universal Human in the (Digital) Art of Xu Bing & Japan”

Please note the unusual time and location

Time: 11am-12:30pm

Location: Cobb 310

★Co-sponsored by the Digital Media 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


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.