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.

Chenxin Jiang

Chenxin Jiang (PhD Candidate, Social Thought)
Philhellenism and Philosophy in 1920s China
Discussant: Yanxiao He (PhD Student, Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations)
Friday, April 12, 3-5PM
Location: CEAS 319 (1155 E 60th St)

On April 12th from 3:00pm to 5:00pm the Art and Politics of East Asia workshop will host Chenxin Jiang (PhD Candidate, Social Thought). She will present “Philhellenism and Philosophy in 1920s China,” a chapter of her dissertation. Chenxin offers the following abstract:

This paper is about the 1920s journal Xueheng (Critical Review) and its translations of Plato and Aristotle into Chinese. Specifically, I read Xueheng’s translation practice as an intervention into the question of how the Chinese cultural tradition should be understood in light of global history, focusing on two critical questions: the place of Chinese thought in a global history of philosophy, and the Renaissance as a keenly contested historical parallel for contemporary China.

Spring 2019 Schedule

Art and Politics of East Asia Workshop (APEA) is excited to announce the Spring 2019 schedule.


Location: Center for East Asian Studies, Room 319, 1155 E 60th St

Time: Friday, 3-5PM

Please note special location or time for some events.


April 12

Chenxin Jiang (PhD Candidate, Social Thought)

Philhellenism and Philosophy in 1920s China

Discussant: Yanxiao He (PhD Student, Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations)

Followed by a catered dinner


April 19

Professionalization Workshop with EALC Alumni Anne Rebull and Carly Buxton

Please note special time and location: 12-2pm in Cobb 302


April 26-27

Panel on East Asian Literary Histories
With PhD students Emily Yoon, Nicholas Wong, and Brian White
Discussant: Professor Paola Iovene (EALC)
Please note special time and location: Walker Museum 302, 1115 E. 58th St, Chicago, IL 60637; coffee and light refreshments at 3:30PM and panel at 4PM.


May 10

Yiren Zheng (PhD Candidate, EALC)

Voices that Are Not Fully Human

Discussant: William Carroll (PhD Candidate, EALC)

Please note special location: EALC Seminar Room, Wieboldt Hall 301N, followed by a catered dinner


May 17

Alia Breitwieser (PhD Candidate, Comparative Literature)

The Topography of the Text: Rethinking Jin Shengtan’s Reading Methods (dufa 讀法)

Discussant: Yiying Pan (PhD Candidate, EALC)


May 24

Jun Hee Lee (PhD Candidate, History)

Kindling Healthful Singing Across Tokyo: Utagoe Cafe Tomoshibi’s Cultural Ventures, 1962-1984


May 25

Public Lecture on Translating Premodern Chinese Buddhist Texts: Five Ways of Reading Chinese Buddhist History

Professor John Kieschnick, Stanford University

Please note special time and location: 9AM-12PM, Cobb Hall 110, followed by a catered lunch


Susan Su

Susan Su (PhD Candidate, EALC)

“Beyond Censorship: Language and Literary Networks in Tibetan-Language Online Literature Websites of the 2000s”

Discussant: Sabine Schulz (PhD Student, EALC)

Friday, March 8, 3-5PM

Location: CEAS 319 (1155 E 60th St)


On March 8th from 3:00pm to 5:00pm the Art and Politics of East Asia workshop will host Susan Su (PhD Candidate, EALC). She will present “Beyond Censorship: Language and Literary Networks in Tibetan-Language Online Literature Websites of the 2000s,” a conference article that will also become a chapter of her dissertation. Susan provides the following abstract:

In this paper, I ask how the diverse and shifting uses of Tibetan language on the website Chodme intersect with conceptions of ethnicity and culture in contemporary Tibetan cultural production to understand how websites and online networks ask us to reconceptualize the role of online media in producing and mediating Tibetan language and culture. I will first briefly summarize existing arguments on the relationship between language and media in the contemporary Tibetan cultural production before going on to analyze the Tibetan-language literature website Chodme with respect to its form and language and its role in fostering an online community.

Lilian Kong

 Lilian Kong

Wolf Warrior II: Chinese Nationalism in the Popular Culture and Media Age

Friday, October 26th: 1 p.m*

Location: CEAS 319 (1155 E. 60th St.)

Poster of Wolf Warrior II (2017)

Discussant: William Carroll, PhD Candidate

Cinema and Media Studies + East Asian Languages and Civilizations

*Screening of Wolf Warrior II [战狼2] (2017, 126 minutes) begins at 1 p.m.

with a discussion of Lilian Kong’s paper to follow.

Lunch will be served during the film screening.

On November 2nd, the Art and Politics of East Asia workshop will host Lilian Kong (Master of Arts Program in the Humanities). She will present a draft of an essay intended for publication entitled, Wolf Warrior II: Chinese Nationalism in the Popular Culture and Media Age.” Lilian offers the following abstract:

Amidst economic reforms in the 1980s, the State Administration of Press, Publication, Radio, Film and Television (SPPRFT or SARFT) initiated and financially supported main melody (zhu xuanlü) films to reunify public opinions at a time of national transition toward a capitalist China. Since the beginning of the 21stcentury, these films have solidified their nationalist agenda, attracting China’s young consumer generation with hyper-commercialization, but rarely deviating from state-administered political ideologies and Han Chinese glorifications of socialist history. Wu Jing’s military-action drama Wolf Warrior II (2017), China’s largest grossing domestic film to date, represents a new development in the Chinese main melody genre. Scholars have paid particular attention to the film’s setting in Africa instead of China, arguing that the film embodies a bold expansion of nationalist power to the international arena (Liu, Amar, Osnos). On the premise of this current scholarship, my paper explores Wolf Warrior II’s character formations and its construction of inter-racial relationships to reveal how the film has altered the foundational components of China’s contemporary nation-state. I argue that ambiguities of nation and state manifested in Wolf Warrior II signal a transformation in main melody films’ nationalist agenda due its surfacing of the contradictory, entangled relations between international commercial media networks, particularly in the film’s collaboration with the American superhero franchise Marvel Studios, and the continuous surveillance of domestic state-administered networks that structures its production process.