Jiarui Sun

Ph.D. Student, EALC
“‘ALMIGHTY ME RABBIT!’
Méng Cuteness, Danmu Semiotics, and Cyber Nationalism in Year, Hare, Affair

 

Time: Friday, March 6th, 3-5 pm

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

Discussant: Alex Murphy, Ph.D. Candidate, EALC

 

The Art and Politics of East Asia (APEA) workshop is proud to host Jiarui Sun (Ph.D. Student, EALC), who will present her paper “‘ALMIGHTY ME RABBIT!’ Méng Cuteness, Danmu Semiotics, and Cyber Nationalism in Year, Hare, Affair” next Friday. She summarizes her paper as follows:

Around mid-2000s, Chinese internet users picked up méng(萌),[1] etymologically meaning “to sprout,” as a slang that roughly translates into “cuteness.” Despite its daily interchangeable usage with ke’ai or cuteness, méng has an additional affective layer that can be incorporated for nationalist agenda. I focus on the nationalist animation Year, Hare, Affair, whose méng animal characters and emotionally-charged fandom reactions popularized a nationalist narrative in line with the party-state’s socialist ideology on Chinese internet. As a derivative category of cuteness, méng has its anachronistic impulse that probes the subject to both embody an infantile performance of a child and project the childlike mentality into the future. The méng elements in the animation engage viewers with sadomasochist feelings mixing both vulnerability and violence, harmlessness and manipulation, sincerity and playfulness. By watching the animation and typing in real-time comments, viewers of the animation are becoming both supporters of the méng characters and a part of the méng spectacle itself. In this way, méng serves as an affective mechanism that allows online nationalists to come across as cute fan girls or méng rabbits on social media. Unlike its Japanese synonyms kawaii (commonly used in real life) and moe (usually used in anime and manga fandom), méng resides between real life and virtual world. Weaving real-life passions with cyber avatars, méng is particularly convenient for China’s propaganda apparatus to incorporate and accommodate a bottom-up nationalism that is powerful enough to manipulate public attention, docile enough to surveillance, and intimate enough to appeal to viewers. Thus, méng in the production and consumption of Year, Hare, Affair formulates and sustains a nationalist semi-virtual presence that coordinates the state’s quest for soft persuasion and the internet’s inclination for decentralization.

[1] I’m using a diacritic to mark méng(萌) here in order to differentiate it from the mèng in Zhōngguó Mèng (the Chinese Dream,中国梦), a phrase put forth by Xi Jinping since 2013 as a set of ideals for the Chinese society. Because Zhōngguó Mèng as a governmental discourse has already caught attention among scholars interested in Chinese nationalism, I find it necessary to mark the bottom-up méng subculture differently for the sake of clarity.

 

Refreshments will be provided. We look forward to seeing you at the workshop!

Jiayi Chen and Sabine Schulz
Co-coordinators, Art and Politics of East Asia Workshop

For questions related to accessibility or accommodations for those who may need assistance in order to participate, please contact jiayic@uchicago.edu and sabines@uchicago.edu.

2/14 Justyna Jaguscik @ APEA

Justyna Jaguscik

Lecturer, University of Zurich

“Configurations of Gender and Class: On Zheng Xiaoqiong’s Poetry”

Time: Friday, February 14th, 3-5 pm 

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

Discussant: Yueling Ji (Ph.D. Student, EALC)

The Art and Politics of East Asia (APEA) workshop is proud to host Justyna Jaguscik (Lecturer, University of Zurich), who will present her book chapter “Configurations of Gender and Class: On Zheng Xiaoqiong’s Poetry” this Friday. She summarizes her chapter as follows:

This chapter brings a discussion of texts by Zheng Xiaoqiong, who is one of the most acknowledged female poetical voices from the generation of authors born in the 1980s. To date, Zheng’s texts have been primarily discusses as examples of the so-called “writings by the lower rungs” (diceng xiezuo). This broad category entered the literary discourse in the first decade of the twenty-first century and is, most generally, used to point to the social background of authors who belong to the lower strata of the Chinese society in its current shape. Zheng, who is a former migrant worker, is also one of the first writers from the bottom, who successfully entered the field of professional highbrow literary production. Her texts have been mostly discussed as portraying the precarious working and living conditions shared by silent contributors to the Chinese economic miracle, the migrant workers, and sometimes also as a proof of this group’s rising collective class consciousness, but they have only rarely been studied as feminist articulations. This chapter focuses on Zheng’s gender-conscious outlook and eco-feminist sensibilities in her writing. Furthermore it scrutinizes her texts for their connections to the discourse of women’s poetry.

Refreshments will be provided. We look forward to seeing you at the workshop!

Jiayi Chen and Sabine Schulz
Co-coordinators, Art and Politics of East Asia Workshop

Julian Yi Cao
Masters Program in the Humanities
“Visualizing Japan’s Wartime Pan-Asianism: The Ideological Landscape in Triumphal Entry into Nanjing

 

Left: Kanokogi Takeshirō 鹿子木孟郎. Triumphal Entry into Nanjing 南京入城図. Oil on canvas. 205.0 x 495.0 cm. 1940. The National Museum of Modern Art, Tokyo.

Right: Japanese General Iwane Matsui 松井石根, enters Nanjing, China, December 17th, 1937. Photo by Universal History Archive/UIG via Getty Images.

 

Time: Friday, February 7th, 3-5 pm
Location: Center for East Asian Studies 319 (1155 E. 60th St.)
Discussant: Jiakai Sheng (Ph.D. Student, History)

 

The Art and Politics of East Asia (APEA) workshop is proud to host Julian Yi Cao (Associate Professor, UNIST, Korea), who will present his thesis “Visualizing Japan’s Wartime Pan-Asianism: The Ideological Landscape in Triumphal Entry into Nanjing” this Friday. He summarizes his thesis as follows:

This thesis examines Kanokogi Takeshirō’s (1874-1941) painting, Triumphal Entry into Nanjing (1940), as a visual representation and witness of Pan-Asianism at its critical transformation in wartime Japan. A tribute to the Japanese army and the Yasukuni Shrine, the painting depicts the scene in which the army, after taking over China’s capital on December 13th, 1937, held an official ceremony of the city entry on the 17th. Nanjing invites a new way of looking at Japanese wartime art produced in the 1930s and 40s, most of the existing research on which focuses only on the representation of either the establishment or disintegration of the human figures. This thesis argues that Nanjing shifts the visual emphasis from the representation of human figures to the identified landscape elements, thus inverting the pictorial construction by giving both visual and ideological primacy to the compositional background instead of the foreground. It successfully overcomes the circumscriptions of both objectivity and a mere record of war. Instead, the painting actively witnesses the historical event by involving its viewers into a nationalistic participation, through which the notion of a communal body is given form.

This thesis, while providing a detailed visual examination of Nanjing and its comparison with photographs and architecture, combines different types of media and literature—including news reports, memoirs, and travelogues—in order to demonstrate Nanjing’s capacity as an ideologically charged symbolism that uses the landscape to generate a specific interpretation—of the occupied territory and its national icons—that fits with Japan’s own Pan-Asian and colonial ideals. In general, this thesis intends to shed light on the art historical understanding of the subtlety and ambiguity of Japan’s wartime ideology, one that consists of both violence and a (re)imagination of Asia that overcomes borderlines and modernity.

1/24 Jae-Yon Lee @ APEA

Jae-Yon Lee
Associate Professor of Korean Literature, UNIST, Korea

Thematic Mapping of Kaebyŏk (The Opening, 1920-1926) and the Rise of the Prophetic Critic in Korea 


Time: Friday, January 24, 3-5 pm
Location: Center for East Asian Studies 319 (1155 E. 60th St.)
Discussant: Ethan Waddell (Ph.D. Student, EALC)
 
Friday, January 24, The Arts and Politics of East Asia (APEA) workshop is proud to host Jae-Yon Lee (Associate Professor, UNIST, Korea), who will present his book chapter “Thematic Mapping of Kaebyŏk (The Opening, 1920-1926) and the Rise of the Prophetic Critic in Korea ” He summarizes his chapter as follows:
This talk is about part of the book manuscript I am working on, Networking the Repetition: Formation of Collective Authorship through 1920 Korean Magazines. For situating the chapter better, I spare the first part of the talk to briefly outline the book. It aims to revisit the seemingly meaningless lexical, literary, and social repetitions in literary production, and examine how 1920s magazines mediated those patterns to shape the process of collective authorship-making, during the formative years of modern literature in Korea. In the second part, I trace the rise of the particular author figure, the prophetic critic, through the general interest-magazine for intellectual masses, Kaebyŏk (The opening, 1920-1926) by means of both qualitative and quantitative approaches. The latter approach particularly includes topic modeling, among others, as a means to investigate the semantic relations of the words in question and their co-occurring words based on a probabilistic model. The focus here is how quantitative methods can stretch our understanding of the magazine’s proto-leftist literature to connect its ideas about the Ch’ŏndogyo (the Heavenly Way religion) and to those of social reforms.
Refreshments will be provided. We look forward to seeing you at the workshop!

Jiayi Chen and Sabine Schulz
Co-coordinators, Art and Politics of East Asia Workshop

1/17 Yuanxie Shi @ APEA

Yuanxie Shi

PhD Student, EALC

Divination for “Alternative” Healing:

A Preliminary Study on Divination Medicine in the Long Twentieth Century China

Time: Friday, January 17, 3-5 pm
Location: Center for East Asian Studies 319 (1155 E. 60th St.)
Discussant: H.S. Sum Cheuk Shing (PhD Student, EALC)
On January 17, The Arts and Politics of East Asia (APEA) workshop is proud to host Yuanxie Shi (Ph.D. Student, EALC), who will present her paper “Divination for ‘Alternative’ Healing: A Preliminary Study on Divination Medicine in the Long Twentieth Century China.” She summarizes her paper as follows:

“This paper examines the practice of yaoqian or divination medicine based on a close reading and comparison of the woodblocks collected from Hunan Province and Suzhou in Jiangsu Province during the long twentieth century.

Though the divination for healing is regarded as a popular religion similar to demonic divination or divining for family affairs, I would argue that yaoqian in my sample is distinct in its content. A discovery of possible sources of medical knowledge reveals how vernacular healing tried to incorporate the popular medicinal knowledge into its business and how minor schools of medicine together with vernacular practices have been overlooked and excluded from what is nowadays known as the Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM).

Though TCM has been regarded as the orthodox and prior way of medical practice, for people in rural China throughout the long twentieth century or even earlier, due to various possible reasons (e.g. inaccessibility to doctors or modern Western medicine, efficacy of any healing methods), what methods they would choose to use in their everyday practice questions what we might perceive as the priority and the alternative. For many Chinese, all means serve the same end. The paper implies that there is no absolute priority or alternative: multiple methods of healing coexisted in China. ”

Refreshments will be provided. We look forward to seeing you at the workshop.

Jiayi Chen and Sabine Schulz
Co-coordinators, Art and Politics of East Asia Workshop