05/12 Ethan Waddell

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

“Divided Soundscapes and Collective Song: Listening to Military Songs in Literary Fiction of the Korean War

Time: Friday, May 12, 3:00-5:00 pm CT

Location: Wieboldt 408

Please note the unusual location

Abstract: This chapter examines the use of military songs by Korean fiction writers to reconstruct the soundscapes of the Korean War (1950-1953). I define the act of collectively singing military songs as an active mode of reception. This receptive mode, I argue, was key both to the bodily materialization of national belonging in a divided nation and to the reproduction of ideological division. First, I use the novel T’aebaek Mountains (T’aebaek sanmaek, 1983-1989) by Cho Chŏng-nae to explore the pre-existing sonic conditions that Korean War-era military songs territorialized and the theoretical workarounds that the novel offers to the problematic modes of audition associated with the acousmatic situation. Next, I examine the form and function of military songs through a case study of the popular South Korean composition “Comrade-in-Arms, Good Night” (Chŏnuya, chal chara, 1951). Third, I investigate wartime scenes of civilians singing military songs in four works literary fiction by Ch’oe Chŏng-hŭi, Hwang Sun-wŏn, Yun Hŭng-gil, and Yi Mun-gu, respectively. Finally, I present two contrasting portrayals of military songs in the battlefield in the novels Ice Age (Pingha sidae, 1967-1968) and T’aebaek Mountains. Together, the chapter’s readings aim to show how various writers portrayed active reception of military songs in order to reflect, question, or even counter the divisive formation of collective Korean ethnic nationhood.

Presenter: Ethan Waddell is a PhD candidate studying modern and contemporary Korean literature in the Department of East Asian Languages and Civilizations at University of Chicago. His dissertation project, “Listening to South Korean Fiction through Popular Songs, 1950s-1970s,” aims to develop methods for reading modern and contemporary Korean literary fiction through popular music genres.

Discussant: Alex Murphy is currently a Visiting Assistant Professor of Japanese at Kenyon College, and will be starting as an Assistant Professor of Japanese at Clark University in Fall 2023. His research centers on modern Japan with a focus on the relationship between sound, language, and the body across literature, media and performance.

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.

3/24 Yihui Sheng

Ph.D. Candidate, Asian Languages and Cultures, University of Michigan

“Making a New Sound:
The Materiality of the Production of Kunshan Qiang

Time: Friday, March 24, 3:00-5:00 pm CT

Location:  Wieboldt 408

Please note the unusual location!

★Co-Sponsored by Theater and Performance Studies Workshop★

Abstract: Late-Ming China enjoyed an exuberant soundscape of southern arias: people with various levels of literacy sang arias in private studios, touring boats, urban brothels, and public gatherings. Kunshan qiang, a singing style (qiang) of southern arias that originated in the Wu region in southeast China and named after Kunshan, between Shanghai and Lake Taihu, stood out as a dominant new sound. Scholarly discussions about the development of Kunshan qiang have focused on a discourse of ya (orthodox and refined) and su (vulgar and popular), arguing that Kunshan qiang was reformed into a musical manifestation of refined taste. One assumption insinuated in these discussions is that the ya-su division can be clearly defined, so the ways in which Kunshan qiang represents the late-Ming understanding of ya-su are also decipherable. However, as Wai-yee Li has recently pointed out, the ya-su division connotes flexible and sometimes contradictory meanings (Li 2022, 93). For this reason, the representational relation between Kunshan qiang and the cultural conceptions of ya also becomes questionable.

Proposing an alternative framework to the ya-su discourse, I introduce a material perspective to analyze Kunshan qiang. I examine a series of material practices that shaped the reform of Kunshan qiang in the late Ming, including the introduction of melodic instruments, the creation of a singing language through annotating marks, and the promotion of a rhythm technique. I argue that Kunshan qiang hybridized the material practices of northern and southern arias to develop its own musical features. This hybridization is less a top-down process from the cultural elites to the less educated performers than one reflecting mutual influences among practitioners across a broad social spectrum. Such a collaborative effort rendered the reformed Kunshan qiang more accessible and attractive to a broader audience in the late Ming than had previously been the case.

Presenter: Yihui Sheng is a doctoral candidate in the Department of Asian Languages and Cultures at the University of Michigan. Her research focuses on early modern Chinese literature and theater. She has recently defended her dissertation, which is titled, still tentatively, “Performative Reading and Close Listening: Excavating the Media of Chuanqi Song-Drama in Early Modern China (1550s–1750s).” Apart from her academic interests, Yihui has been an amateur singer of Kunqu for almost fifteen years.

Respondents: Judith Zeitlin is William R. Kenan, Jr. Professor in East Asian Languages & Civilizations and Theater & Performance Studies at the University of Chicago. Her most recent book is The Voice as Something More: Essays Toward Materiality, co-edited with Martha Feldman (University of Chicago, 2019).

She is the author of Historian of the Strange: Pu Songling and the Chinese Classical Tale (1993) and The Phantom Heroine: Ghosts and Gender in Seventeenth-Century Chinese Literature (2007), and co-editor of Writing and Materiality in China (2003), Thinking with Cases: Specialist Knowledge in Chinese Cultural History (2007), Chinese Opera Film (2010), Performing Images: Opera in Chinese Visual Culture (2014). She is currently completing a book on the voice, text, and instrument in early modern Chinese entertainment culture. Her next project is to embark on a new, complete, annotated English translation of Pu Songling’s masterpiece Liaozhai’s Strange Tales (Liaozhai zhiyi).

Jacob Reed is a PhD candidate in music theory and history at the University of Chicago. His dissertation project, “Negotiating Grammars: Encounters Between Music and Text” examines domains where language and music supplement, replace, and fight with one another, drawing on examples and tools from sources including hip-hop, pop music, and Kunqu theory. He also performs widely on keyboard instruments, playing organ recitals, collaborative piano, and basso continuo throughout the Chicagoland area.

This event is co-sponsored by the University of Chicago Center for East Asian Studies with support from a U.S. Department of Education Title VI National Resource Center Grant.

Spring 2023 Schedule

Dear colleagues, faculty members, and friends,

The Arts and Politics of East Asia Workshop (APEA) is pleased to announce our Spring 2023 schedule. The workshop will meet on Fridays 3:00-5:00 pm in the Spring quarter unless otherwise noted. As usual, we will send reminder emails with location info prior to every workshop session, along with the link to the pre-circulated papers. Please sign up for our listserv if you have not already received those emails.

Spring 2023 Schedule

March 24th, Friday (in-person), 3:00–5:00 p.m.
Yihui Sheng, Ph.D. Candidate, Asian Languages and Cultures, University of Michigan
“Beyond the Voice: The Materiality of the Production of Kunshan Qiang”
Discussants: Judith Zeitlin, William R. Kenan, Jr. Professor, EALC; Jacob Reed, Ph.D. Candidate, Music
Location: Wieboldt 408
★Co-Sponsored by Theater and Performance Studies Workshop★
This event is co-sponsored by the University of Chicago Center for East Asian Studies with support from a U.S. Department of Education Title VI National Resource Center Grant.

March 29th, Wednesday (in-person), 3:30–5:00 p.m.
Yuwei Zhou, Ph.D. Student, EALC
“Was There a Clan Cemetery in Yinxu? –– A Spatial and Statistical Approach to Mortuary Practices in Late Shang China”
Location: LaSalle Banks Room, Oriental Institute
★Co-Sponsored by Interdisciplinary Archaeology Workshop★

April 28th, Friday (in-person), 4:00–6:00 p.m.
Wu Hung, Harrie A. Vanderstappen Distinguished Service Professor in Art History and EALC; Director, Center for the Art of East Asia; Consulting Curator, Smart Museum of Art
“Outdoor Exhibitions in Beijing, 1979”
Discussant: Paola Iovene, Associate Professor in Chinese Literature, EALC
Location: Room TBD, Cochrane Woods Art Center
★Co-Sponsored by Visual and Material Perspectives on East Asia Workshop★

May 12th, Friday (in-person), 3:00–5:00 p.m.
Ethan Waddell, Ph.D. Candidate, EALC
“Songs to Turn the Tide: Mobilizing Music from the Korean War”
Discussant: Alex Murphy, Visiting Assistance Professor of Japanese, Kenyon College
Location: Wieboldt 408

May 19th, Friday (in-person), 3:00-5:00 p.m.
Alia Goehr, Teaching Fellow, Master of Arts Program in the Humanities
“The Therapeutic Text: Jin Shengtan’s Romance of the Western Chamber Commentary”
Discussant: Pauline Lee, Associate Professor of Chinese Religions and Cultures, Saint Louis University
Location: Center for East Asian Studies 319 (1155 E. 60th St.)


Please feel free to contact Yuwei (ywzhou@uchicago.edu) and Elvin (emeng@uchicago.edu) with any questions you might have, and we look forward to seeing you at APEA this winter!