03/03 Yueling Ji

Ph.D. Candidate, East Asian Languages and Civilizations

“Wind from the East: Stylistics in Mao Zedong’s Yan’an Talks

Time: Friday, March 3, 3:00-5:00 pm CT

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

Ma Hezhi (fl. c. 1131-1162). Illustrations to the Odes of Chen 陳風圖. Date unknown. Handscroll, Ink and colors on silk. (The British Museum, London, UK). https://www.britishmuseum.org/collection/image/134893001.

Abstract: This chapter studies Mao Zedong’s theory and criticism of writing style during the Yan’an Rectification Movement in 1942. The Rectification Movement is literally called, in Chinese, “the rectification of the winds.” The word “wind,” which means “style,” originates from classical Chinese literary thought and is a core concept in classical theories of writing style. By highlighting Mao’s use of “wind” and tracing its etymology, this chapter argues that classical poetics continued to inform literary theory in the socialist era. Meanwhile, I also connect Chinese socialist literary theory to Soviet political thought of the early Stalinist period, because concepts such as “style of work” and “formalism” were first discussed in the Soviet Union in the 1920s and spread to China in the next two decades. By uncovering these various channels of influence, I argue that the concept of style occupies a central position in the intellectual history of socialist China.

Presenter: Yueling Ji is a Ph.D. candidate in EALC and a dissertation completion residential fellow at the Franke Institute for the Humanities. Her dissertation, A History of Style: Literary Criticism in Cold War China, studies the history and methodology of Chinese literary criticism with the aim of understanding the concept of “style” in literature. More broadly, she has also studied gender, sexuality, Sino-Soviet relations, and modern writing about ancient China.

Respondent: Qiyu Yang is a Ph.D. student in the Department of East Asian Languages and Civilizations at the University of Chicago. His research concerns the intersection between early Chinese poetics and historiography, with a focus on how ancient Chinese classical commentators utilized the Classic of Poetry to construct their ideal past. Furthermore, he is interested in how a poetic past could be taken as a battlefield for different understandings of humanity.

02/17 Dahye Kim

Assistant Professor, Asian Languages and Cultures, Northwestern University

“Korean Writing in the Age of Multilingual Word Processing:
A History of the Non-Linear Alphabet and the Cultural Technique of Writing

Time: Friday, February 17, 3:00-5:00 pm CT

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

★Co-Sponsored by Digital Media Workshop★

Abstract: In 2016, South Korean Prime Minister Hwang Kyoan reflected that hangul “has been the foundation of the country as an IT powerhouse.” Claiming that the almost 500-year-old script of hangul was “well suited for the age of information,” the Prime Minister emphasized that the “glorious national culture” has prospered based on this “ingenious and scientific” national script. He was right that the information boom of the 1980s and 1990s played a crucial role in the final abolishment of the Chinese script and the ascendance of hangul in South Korea. But contrary to the Prime Minister’s claim, the non-Western alphabet of hangul posed various technological difficulties whenever new information technology appeared, and the technology of the digital computer was no exception. But the crisis that the Korean writing system encountered cannot be properly grasped based on Thomas Mullaney’s criticism of the “false universalism” where “all alphabets and syllabaries against the one major world script that is neither: character-based Chinese writing.” Nor can it be fully grasped with Yurou Zhong’s criticism of Western phonocentrism. Although, she is correct to cite Walter Ong’s observation that there have been “many scripts but only one alphabet” as she challenges the hidden assumption of the alphabetic universalism where the Roman-Latin alphabet occupies the top floor of the “grammatological hierarchy.” Focusing on the history of the 1980s, I argue that the central problem that the Korean and East Asian writing system at large faced was rather closely related to “the principle of linearity.” This was one of the two major theoretical principles undergirding the Geneva school of linguistics and what various “Western” information technologies have been long founded upon even before Saussure’s theorization. A marginal/borderline object in my analysis will be how phonemes in the Korean alphabet do not only combine with one another linearly, but both vertically and horizontally much like the Chinese script. 

Presenter: Dahye Kim is an assistant professor of Asian languages and cultures at Northwestern University. Her research interests include modern Korean literature and media culture, critical approaches to media history, and the cultural dimensions of communication technologies in Korea. She is especially interested in changing the significance and signification of literature and literacy in the evolving media studies landscape.

Respondent: Thomas Lamarre 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).

02/10 Emily Jungmin Yoon

Post-doctoral Scholar, EALC

Mock Job Talk

“Ko Chŏng-hŭi’s Enclosed Reading: (Re)Constructing History and Sisterhood for Feminist Poetic Creation

Time: Friday, February 10, 3:00-5:00 pm CT

Zoom link: https://uchicago.zoom.us/j/96867343582?pwd=UkNnbWxBOXFkOHQ2eHN5bHEzV3QvUT09

Abstract: This presentation investigates the feminist writing of Ko Chŏng-hŭi, a vocal and prominent feminist South Korean poet most active in the mid-1980s to her sudden death in 1991. It delves into Ko’s authorial stance and radical feminist imperative to produce poems that are specifically about, for, or by Korean women. Publishing poetry was one part of her larger literary and feminist activism, as Ko was also a critic, newspaper editor, and public speaker. However, poetry was the primary space in which she explored the ways in which she could enact a revision/re-vision of history through women’s voices. Thus, this presentation examines Ko’s various poetic strategies to 1) excavate and erect women’s literature and literary culture against the patriarchal domain of the Korean literary establishment, and 2) invoke pan-Asian feminist solidarity across the countries “victimized” by imperialism and capitalism. The latter project demonstrates that Ko was starting to add another intersectional dimension, ethnicity, to her class- and gender-conscious poetry, and to meditate on her Korean woman’s identity outside of the Korean context.

Presenter: Emily Jungmin Yoon is the Abigail Rebecca Cohen Postdoctoral Scholar at the University of Chicago, where she received her Ph.D. in East Asian Languages and Civilizations in 2022. As a poet, Yoon has published collections A Cruelty Special to Our Species (Ecco|HarperCollins, 2018) and Ordinary Misfortunes (Tupelo Press, 2017). She also serves as the Poetry Editor for The Margins, the digital magazine of the Asian American Writers’ Workshop.