Nic Wong

Friday, February 5, 3:00-5:00 PM in CEAS 319 (1155 E 60th St.)

Nic Wong, “Whither Ng Kim Chew’s Nanyang People’s Republic?: History, Ethics, and Literary Writing”

Please join us this Friday, February 5, as we welcome Nic Wong (Comparative Literature, University of Chicago), who will be presenting a chapter draft from his dissertation.  As Nic summarizes, “In reading Ng Kim Chew (Huang Jinshu)’s recent fiction and essays, this chapter considers the genre of ‘Malayan communist writings’ (magong shuxie) as the site of the historical entanglement of literary movements of social(ist) realism and modernism in the wake of decolonization and nation-building movements during the Cold War. Ng’s imaginative anti-genealogy of ‘Malayan communist writings’ explores and critiques post-loyalist attachments to the bygone concepts of Nanyang and Malaya, and shrewdly introduces literariness as a form of ethics—a key term left out of discussions of materiality in Sinophone studies and studies of the genre.”

A draft of the chapter is available via this link.  Please do not circulate or cite the chapter without permission of the author.  If you have not received the password for the post, or if you have concerns about accessibility for this meeting, please do not hesitate to email David Krolikoski at davidkroli at or Brian White at bmwhite at

Miriam Wattles


Friday, January 29, 4:30-6:30 PM in CWAC 153 (5550 S. Greenwood Ave.)


Miriam Wattles, “Defining Manga Anew in 1928: Ippei, a Book, and History”

Please join us this Friday, January 29, as we welcome Miriam Wattles (Associate Professor, History of Art and Architecture, UCSB).  A description of Professor Wattles’s talk follows.  No paper will be pre-circulated.


It wasn’t until the explosion of mass media in the 1920s that the word “manga” began to be used for comics and cartoons in Japan. Reformulations of the past were integral to the redefinition of the word. Okamoto Ippei (1886-1948), hugely popular with the public and head of a newly formed manga circle, wove a new historical sensibility into his prescriptions for the future of manga in his book Shin manga no kakikata (How To Make New Manga, 1928). The larger genus he employed was “minshūga,” or “pictures of the people.” In proposing this term at this particular historical moment, Ippei was responding to deep underlying tensions between elite and popular culture, individualism and collectivism, and nationalism and cosmopolitanism. This talk counters present amnesia around Ippei and his definition of manga and gives a surprising history of public ownership of one particular copy of Shin manga no kakikata.


This talk is supported by the Visual and Material Perspectives in East Asia Workshop, the Center for East Asian Studies, and Professor Chelsea Foxwell.


Catering will be provided after the talk.


If you have concerns about accessibility for this meeting, please do not hesitate to contact David Krolikoski at davidkroli at, Brian White at bmwhite at, or Xi Zhang at xizh at

Ling Zhang


Friday, January 15, 3:00-5:00 PM in CEAS 319 (1155 E 60th St.)

Ling Zhang, “When the Left Eye Meets the Right Ear: Cinematic Fantasia and Comic Soundscape in City Scenes (1935)

Please join us this Friday, January 15, as we welcome Ling Zhang (Cinema and Media Studies, University of Chicago).  Ling will be presenting a mock job talk, so no paper will be pre-circulated for this meeting.  She summarizes her talk as follows:

Uchiyama Kanzo (內山完造, 1885-1959), a renowned Japanese bookstore owner in Republican Shanghai, published an essay, Shanghai Soundscape (上海的聲音), in 1939. In this article, Uchiyama vividly depicts a motley mix of mundane sounds in Shanghai, including ambient sounds (birds calling and cicadas chirping) and human voices (peddlers and vendors shouting). This literary rendition of Shanghai sounds corresponds to the 1930s Shanghai sound culture and cinematic soundscape. This paper examines Chinese filmmaker Yuan Muzhi袁牧之 (1909-1978)’s musical-comedy City Scenes (都市風光, 1935)’s incorporation and reinvention of Hollywood and Soviet influence in terms of film sound technique and musical concepts. The film was hailed as “the first Chinese musical comedy” and praised for its audiovisual experimentations, as it was the first Chinese film to commission composers to create musical scores according to the cinematic style and thematic concerns. The film score created by three composers is a mixture of Western classical, Chinese folk, and popular musical genres that reflects the hodgepodge soundscape in semi-colonial Shanghai. These included Fantasia of City Scenes (都市風光幻想曲) by Huang Zi 黃自 (1904-1938), who studied composition at Yale University and was a respected composer in the European classical music tradition, and Song of the Peep-Show (西洋鏡歌) by Zhao Yuanren 趙元任 (1892-1982), who was a famed linguist and musician, versed in local dialects and folk tunes. The remaining music was arranged by He Luting賀綠汀, who composed numerous theme songs for 1930s and 1940s Chinese films, and whose music falls between classical and popular music conventions, with a Soviet-Russian tinge.

The comic and tumultuous soundscape in City Scenes corresponds to the popular sound culture in modern cityscape of Shanghai, which was permeated by popular songs, oral story-telling conventions, street performance and urban noises. I explore how the ingeniously experimental deployment of sound elements in City Scenes obscures and defies the conventionally conceived boundaries between the human voice, sound effects, and music, articulating a sort of “auditory grotesque”, comprised of unruly ironic reverberations and a dynamic soundscape. Moreover, these convoluted sound elements connect different narrative layers within the structure, and are associated with and comment on different characters, frequently through the form of Wagnerian leitmotif and a widely practiced sound technique in 1930s Hollywood animations and films with live actors, Mickey Mousing. Finally, I explore how the interactions between the acoustic and the visual enhance the textual and material heterogeneity in the film and create a sort of cinematic fantasia, which corresponds to the spontaneous film score and the implications of the musical form, fantasia. Consequently, the film’s playful yet rather bleak audiovisual rendition of city life in 1930s Shanghai foregrounds its pungent register as satirical social critique of hegemonic capitalism and consumerism.

If you have concerns about accessibility for this meeting, please do not hesitate to contact David Krolikoski at davidkroli at or Brian White at bmwhite at

Winter 2016 Schedule

Harris School/Center for East Asian Studies, 1155 E 60th St

Harris School/Center for East Asian Studies, 1155 E 60th St

Unless otherwise noted our workshop meets from 3-5 p.m. at 1155 E 60th St (60th and Woodlawn) in Room 319.

Winter 2016 Schedule

January 15 (F), 3:00-5:00, Ling Zhang (Cinema and Media Studies, University of Chicago)

January 29 (F), 4:30-6:30 in CWAC 156, Miriam Wattles (Associate Professor, History of Art and Architecture, University of California, Santa Barbara) (co-sponsored by Visual and Material Perspectives on East Asia) * note time and location

February 5 (F), 3:00-5:00, Nic Wong (Comparative Literature, University of Chicago)

February 9 (T), 5:00-6:30, Michiyoshi Sato (Contemporary Tsugaru-jamisen performer) (co-sponsored by EthNoise!) * note time

March 4 (F), 3:00-5:00, Roundtable on “Space and Region,” Scott Aalgaard (East Asian Languages and Civilizations), Susan Su (East Asian Languages and Civilizations), and Nic Wong (Comparative Literature)

If you are interested in presenting at the workshop, please contact David Krolikoski (davidkroli at or Brian White (bmwhite at