04/28 Wu Hung

Harrie A. Vanderstappen Distinguished Service Professor, Art History and EALC, University of Chicago

“Outdoor Exhibitions in Beijing, 1979

Time: Friday, April 28, 4:00 – 6:00 pm CT

Location:  Cochrane-Woods Art Center, Room 152

Please note the unusual time and location

★Co-Sponsored by Visual and Material Perspectives on East Asia (VMPEA) workshop ★

Abstract: In most writing about contemporary Chinese art, the primary significance of the Stars Art Exhibition (1979)is believed to lie in its choice of venue: held in the small street park outside of the National Art Gallery of China, it moved the site of art exhibition from indoors to outdoors and from museums to public space, displaying works of young “outsider” artists to street crowds. This emphasis on location is undoubtedly correct, but because many studies discuss this exhibition as a singular event, they ignore its relationship to other artistic activities at the time. As a result, the interpretation is frequently skewed, either overemphasizing its uniqueness or overlooking its specificity. An important artistic phenomenon in Beijing in 1979 was the occurrence of multiple outdoor art exhibitions, which have not yet received sufficient scholarly attention. This study attempts to assemble the available materials to provide a general introduction to these exhibitions, to reflect on their shared historical context and characteristics, and to reexamine the Stars Art Exhibition within this context.

Presenter: Dr. Wu Hung holds the Harrie A. Vanderstappen Distinguished Service Professorship at the Department of Art History and the Department of East Asian Languages and Civilizations at the University of Chicago, and is also the director of the Center for the Art of East Asia at the same university. An elected member of the American Academy of Art and Science and the American Philosophic Society, he sits on multiple domestic and international committees. He has received many awards for his publications and academic services, including the Distinguished Teaching Award (2008) and Distinguished Scholar Award (2018) from the College of Art Association (CAA), an Honorary Degree in Arts from Harvard University (2019), and the Distinguished Lifetime Achievement Award for Writing on Art from CAA (2022).

Wu Hung’s research interests include both traditional and contemporary Chinese art, and he has published many books and curated many exhibitions in these two fields. His interdisciplinary interest has led him to experiment with different ways to tell stories about Chinese art, as exemplified by his Monumentality in Early Chinese Art and Architecture (1995), The Double Screen: Medium and Representation of Chinese Pictorial Art (1996), Remaking Beijing: Tiananmen Square: the Creation of a Political Space (2005), The Art of the Yellow Springs: Understanding Chinese Tombs (2010), A Story of Ruins: Presence and Absence in Chinese Art and Visual Culture (2012), Zooming In: Histories of Photography in China (2016), and Space in Art History (2018). His three newest books from 2022 and 2023 include Chinese and Dynastic time (Princeton University Press), Spatial Dunhuang: Experiencing the Mogao Caves (Washington University Press), and The Full Length Mirror: A Global Visual History (Reaktion Books).

Discussant: 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).

03/29 Yuwei Zhou

Ph.D. Student, East Asian Languages and Civilizations, University of Chicago

“Was There a Clan Cemetery in Yinxu:
A Spatial and Statistical Approach to Mortuary Practices in the Guojiazhuang Cemetery

Time: Wednesday, March 29, 3:30-5:00 pm CT

Location: LaSalle Banks Room at the Oriental Institute

Please note the unusual time and location

★Co-Sponsored by Interdisciplinary Archaeology Workshop★

Abstract: Excavated in 1928, the site of Yinxu in Henan, China marks one of the greatest finds in Chinese archaeology. In addition to being the first scientific excavation in China, Yinxu is identified to be the last capital of the Shang dynasty, a period that is believed to be the start of Chinese civilization and the foundation of the Chinese patrimonial political system. The excavation of Yinxu has yielded impressive finds, inducing a palace complex, a royal cemetery, several residential areas, cemeteries, paved roads, canal systems, craft production workshops, and thousands of inscribed bones (also called oracle bone inscriptions) that mark the earliest evidence of writing system in China. Abundant archaeological and textual sources concerning Yinxu make it a focal point for interdisciplinary study and discussion. In 1979, the publication of nearly 1000 burials at the Western Locus cemetery had an extremely influential impact on the method and theory of burial analysis in Yinxu. This report divided the cemetery into eight clusters based primarily on spatial proximity, but also on tomb orientations, burial styles, and burial goods, arguing that each group represents the cemetery of a clan, and the Western locus was a public cemetery for at least eight clans. Such a practice of tomb grouping (muzang fenqu 墓葬分區) was soon adopted in the analysis of other cemeteries in Yinxu, all of which were consequently determined to reflect clan structures. Today, despite minor skepticism on the validity of the tomb grouping methodology, the archaeologically-confirmed clan-based nature of the late Shang society has made its way into various Chinese archaeology textbooks.

This paper discusses the problem with the current tomb grouping methodology and calls into question the concept of “clan cemetery” in Yinxu through a case study of the Guojiazhuang cemetery. It uses computational tools to examine the statistical reliability of the previously proposed grouping methods regarding this cemetery. This paper then proposes an alternative way to understand the Guojiazhuang cemetery through a spatial-temporal and statistical approach.

Presenter: Yuwei Zhou is a Ph.D. student in the Department of East Asian Languages and Civilizations at the University of Chicago. Her research focuses on the archaeology and paleography of Bronze Age China. She is interested in combining archaeology with computational tools such as statistical, geospatial, and network analysis to investigate regional and local interactions.

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.

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.