Matt Lowenstein

Above image: The “Asia Realty” building, Frank Raven’s offices on Sichuan Rd.

Matt Lowenstein (PhD Student, History)
“An American Banker in Shanghai: Frank J. Raven in Historiographical Perspective”
Friday, October 20th, 3-5 p.m. Wieboldt 301N🍊
Discussant: Spencer Stewart (PhD Student, History)

Please join us Friday (10/20) from 3-5pm, as we host Matt Lowenstein (PhD Student, History). He will present a draft of his article in progress, which he summarizes as follows:

In 1904, a 29-year- old veteran of the Spanish-American War arrived in Shanghai to take up work as an engineer. It was the beginning of a brilliant career and a charmed life. Frank Raven would go on to form a number of financial and property ventures, most notably the American-Oriental Banking Corporation. His reputation and social standing were ratified in accolades from the Shanghai American School, the Rotary Club, the American Club, and, his crowning glory, election to the Shanghai Municipal Council. But in 1935, silver poured out of country. With depositors lining up at the door, Raven was forced into liquidation. In the subsequent proceedings, the courts discovered criminal improprieties and sentenced Raven to five years in federal penitentiary. The literature treats Raven as the archetypal Great American Huckster, heir to a long tradition of confidence men, snake oil salesmen, and patent medicine cranks. For some, Raven represents American imperialism at its ugliest: greed unvarnished by higher ideals. For sympathetic scholars, he was a victim of a federal government intent on disciplining Americans abroad. This historiographical essay, relying on archives in Washington, Shanghai, and New York, and on Raven’s personal diaries, seeks to present Raven in his own terms. By taking him seriously as a financier, it hopes to open a new perspective on the history of Chinese finance during the Republican period.

The paper is available directly below, or at this link. If you have not received the password, or have questions about accessibility, please feel free to contact Helina Mazza-Hilway ( or Susan Su (

Fall Quarter 2017 Calendar

Flowering Cherry and Autumn Maples with Poem Slips. Tosa Mitsuoki (c. 1617-1691) on a six-panel screen; ink, color, gold, and silver on silk.

10/6    Will Carroll, PhD Candidate in Cinema and Media Studies and EALC
“I don’t masturbate; I fight!”: The Specter of Kita Ikki in Suzuki Seijun’s Fighting Elegy
Time & location: 3:30pm in Wieboldt 301N

10/20   Matthew Lowenstein, PhD Student in History
“An American Banker in Shanghai: Frank J. Raven in Historiographical Perspective”
Time & location: 3pm in Wieboldt 301N

10/27   Reiko Abe Auestad, Professor, Department of Culture Studies and Oriental Languages, University of Oslo
“Tsushima Yūko (1947-2016): Calling Upon the Dead”
Time & location: 3pm in CEAS 319

11/3     Nicholas Wong, PhD Candidate in Comparative Literature
“Literary Collectives and “Minor” Time in Late 1950s Mahua Autobiographical Fiction and Reportage”
Time & location: 3pm in CEAS 319

11/10    Yuqian Yan, PhD Candidate in Cinema and Media Studies and EALC
“Embodying the Ancient: The Body and its Costume”
Time & location: 3pm in CEAS 319
Co-hosted with the Mass Culture Workshop

11/17    Sohye Kim, PhD Candidate in EALC
“Zhang Lu’s Landing in South Korea: The Fashioning of Spectatorship in a Globalizing and ‘Multicultural’ Society” (working title)
Time & location: 3pm in CEAS 319




Fall 2016 Schedule

All meetings will be held in Room 319 in the Center for East Asian Studies (CEAS 319).

CEAS is located in the Harris School of Public Policy, 1155 E. 60th St.

9/30 Orientation and Planning Meeting

3:00 – 4:00 PM

10/7 A Conversation with Ryo Kagawa

3:00 – 4:00 PM

10/21 Presenter: Mi-Ryong Shim

Assistant Professor of Korean Literature and Culture, Northwestern University

Title: Aesthetics of New Regionalism and Korean Local Color in the Wartime Japanese Empire

3:00 – 5:00 PM

11/11 Presenter: David Andrew Knight

University of Chicago, co-sponsored with EATRH

Title: “Li Deyu and the Golden Pine”

4:00 – 6:00 PM

11/18 Presenter: Yuqian Yan

Cinema and Media Studies/East Asian Languages and Civilizations, University of Chicago

Title: “Bringing the Past to the Silver Screen: The Burgeoning of Chinese Costume Films in the 1920s”

3:00 – 5:00 PM

12/1 Presenter: Scott Aalgaard

East Asian Languages and Civilizations, University of Chicago

Title: “Untimely Voices: Hearing Critique in Japanese Cultural Production”

3:00 – 5:00 PM

Anne Rebull

Friday, May 20, 3-5 p.m. in CEAS 319 (1155 E 60th St)

Friday, June 3, 3-5 p.m. in CEAS 319 (1155 E 60th St)

Anne Rebull, “Locating Theatricality on Screen: Performance Practice and Xiqu Film in the Changing Tides of Reform”

Anne Rebull will present a work-in-progress version of one of her dissertation chapters. If short on time, she asks that readers concentrate on the second half of the file, starting from page 24. Anne summarizes the chapter as follows:

In this chapter, I ask what role, if any, opera film played in influencing the outcomes of the Opera Reform Movement. In the mid-50s, the theater world was forced to take a serious look at its objectives and progress when it became apparent that the restrictions on the repertoire–meaning both the canon of plays and the embodied knowledge of how to perform them–were causing audiences to abandon traditional theater. The contours of this reassessment can be traced through the re-evaluation of traditional performance practice, or theatrical gesture, in high level governmental critiques between 1954 and 1956. In those same years, opera film directors were engaging in debates that asked should there be a genre of opera film? And how should such a genre render an expressionistic art in a realist medium? How should theatricality and especially theatrical gesture be used in film? These questions and the crisis in the theater world all came to a head in 1956, unfolding right along with the smash hit kunqu production Fifteen Strings of Copper. Using this play and its film adaptation as a springboard, I explore the connection between opera film and the fate of theatrical gesture in opera reform.

A draft of Anne’s chapter is available at this link. If you have not received the password for the post, or if you have concerns about accessibility, please feel free to contact David Krolikoski at davidkroli at or Brian White at bmwhite at

Han Zhang

Han Zhang, “Philological Jiangnan: The Practice of Wu Dialect in the Works of Drama in Late Imperial China”

Han Zhang will present a work-in-progress version of one of her dissertation chapters. She summarizes the chapter as follows.

In 1684, after winning a complete victory over the revolt of the three Han feudatories and consolidating Manchu rule over mainland China, Emperor Kangxi soon launched his first southern inspection tour. In Suzhou, the emperor grabbed the earliest opportunity he had to indulge in a Kunqun opera performance. The emperor’s infatuation with Kunqu, captured in a contemporary Shanghai native and Ming sympathizer’s diary, obviously contains extravagant historical and political implications worthy of decoding. This paper focuses on the dual indexicality of Kunqu as a unique art and cultural genre in the Qing dynasty. Kunqu, in the historical trajectory, is a highly refined, artistic representation of the classic and entertaining cultural inheritance passed down from the late Ming, while in the geopolitical dimension, it bears an inseverable philological connection to Jiangnan, the thorny area that once held the most persistent resistance to the Manchu conquest. By examining the practice of the Wu dialect, the alleged linguistic foundation of Kunqu composition and vocalization, in the works of drama in late imperial China, this paper intends to gain a further understanding of the actual use of the Chinese language(s) in a multi-lingual and multi-media context. Moreover, this study aims to complicate and challenge the prevailing time-dominant narrative of the vernacularizing history of the Chinese language(s) and literary writing, bringing the discussion of language into intrinsically connected spatiotemporal formations.

A draft of Han’s chapter is available at this link. If you have not received the password for the post, or if you have concerns about accessibility, please feel free to contact David Krolikoski at davidkroli at or Brian White at bmwhite at

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