Translating Premodern Chinese Buddhist Texts

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
Saturday, 5/25, 9AM-12PM, Cobb Hall 110, followed by a catered lunch

Led by Professor John Kieschnick, this workshop will take as its starting point the chapter on recitation from the tenth-century collection Song Biographies of Eminent Monks (宋高僧傳‧讀誦篇).Professor Kieschnick will introduce genres of Buddhist historical writing in China, the composite nature of Chinese historiography, the Buddhist canon in China and other topics useful for understanding the material. The goal is, by focusing on one specific example of Buddhist historiography, to provide an overview of the genre and inspire participants to explore new ways of understanding it.
There is no pre-circulated text for this event. The event will be followed by a catered lunch fromLotus Cafe and Bahn Mi Sandwiches. We look forward to seeing you there!

Jun Hee Lee (PhD Candidate, History)
In Chorus with Cold War Allies: the Rise and Fall of the Utagoe Movement’s National Music Paradigm

Date and Time: Friday, May 24th, 3-5 p.m.
Location: CEAS 319, (1155 60th Street)
Discussant: Sabine Schulz (EALC, PhD Student)

Please join us for the final Arts and Politics of East Asia Workshop next Friday, May 24th at 3-5 PM. We are proud to be hosting Jun Hee Lee (History, PhD Candidate) as he presents a draft of his dissertation chapter, “In Chorus with Cold War Allies: the Rise and Fall of the Utagoe Movement’s National Music Paradigm.” Jun Hee offers us the following abstract:

From its humble origins as a choral group within the Japan Communist Party’s youth association, Nihon no Utagoe gained prominence and notoriety through the 1950s as a singing movement of national scale, giving birth to multitudes of choruses across workplaces and localities in Japan. Since the early 1950s, Utagoe began calling for the creation of “national music” (kokumin ongaku) – a body of music befitting a democratic Japan that was to stand in opposition to “decadent” culture instigated by the mass media and American imperialism. While the term had prewar and even wartime precedents, Utagoe’s national music had both “Japanese” and foreign reference points, including Soviet/Russian songs and later American folk music. In the 1950s and 1960s, Russian and Soviet music served as an example of national music which Utagoe’s leadership figures sought to emulate. American folk music, on the other hand, turned out to be a mixed blessing towards the end of the 1960s, as it caused a serious division within Utagoe over how to treat the “commercialized” version of the genre produced in both the United States and Japan. By examining manners in which individuals and groups from Utagoe translated and incorporated songs from the two Cold War super powers, this dissertation chapter illustrates how the “national music” paradigm informed Utagoe’s musical and political worldview in both domestic and international contexts for the first two decades of the movement (1953-1973), during which Utagoe cultivated its self-image as a part of (socialist) international solidarity against American imperialism and its aggression toward national cultures.

Yiren Zheng

Yiren Zheng (PhD Candidate, EALC)
Listening to Sonic Excess in 17th Century China
Discussant: William Carroll (PhD, CMS & EALC)
Friday, May 10, 3-5PM
Special location: ​EALC Seminar Room, Wieboldt Hall 301N
Followed by a catered dinner from La Petite Folie

On May 10 from 3PM to 5PM, the Art and Politics of East Asia Workshop will host Yiren Zheng (PhD candidate, EALC). Yiren will present a chapter of her dissertation, “Listening to Sonic Excess in 17th Century China.” Yiren offers the following abstract:

This chapter traces an unexplored discourse centered on forms of sonic excess embedded in 17th-century classical Chinese writings. The sonic excess includes both excessive sounding and excessive listening, which urge us to rethink the norms of sound-making and listening. By observing how several writers in the late Ming and the early Qing, including Pan Zhiheng (1556-1622), Chen Ding (1650-?) and Pu Songling (1640-1715) imagined forms of sonic excess, this chapter examines how speech became a problem through accidental and unexpected confrontations with alternative forms of communication. 

Jiayi Chen

Jiayi Chen (PhD Student, EALC)
“The Ghostly Dicing:
Representations of Gambling and Deception in Ming-Qing Short Stories”
Discussant: Yiren Zheng (PhD Candidate, EALC)
Friday, February 15, 3-5PM
Location: CEAS 319 (1155 E 60th St)
On February 15th from 3:00pm to 5:00pm the Art and Politics of East Asia workshop will host Jiayi Chen (PhD Student, EALC). She will present “The Ghostly Dicing: Representations of Gambling and Deception in Ming-Qing Short Stories.” Jiayi provides the following abstract:  

This paper examines the literary representations of gambling in three short stories written by Ling Mengchu 凌濛初 (1580-1644), Li Yu 李漁 (1611-1680), and Pu Songling 蒲松齡 (1640-1715). Rather than novels, it is short stories, both “classical tales” and “vernacular stories,” that offer these authors a possible site to well explore the topic of gambling during a time of anxiety when state laws tried to prohibit the activity in vain. This paper showcases that gambling is frequently figured as a deception in the late imperial literary imagination that is far more complicated than a narrative of mere moral didacticism. Supernatural creatures, be it ghosts or fox spirits, are introduced into the narrative to reverse the gambling’s outcomes or processes. A game largely relying on chance notwithstanding, under these authors’ literary “manipulation,” winning is equal to losing, and gambling is “degambled.” The aim of this paper is two-fold. On the one hand, by tracing the ways in which gambling is intertwined with assorted deceptions, this paper attempts to enrich our understanding of how the late Ming and early Qing short story authors perceive and manifest the complex interrelationship between human agency and forces beyond human control. On the other hand, by breaking the long-established dichotomy between “classical tales” and “vernacular stories” in the history of Chinese literature, it intends to investigate the shared narrative techniques which these authors use to invite readers to experience a gambling game of reading that is simultaneously predestined and unpredictable, ordinary and extraordinary, real and illusory.

Sophia Sherry: Ethnography of Loss

Sophia Sherry (PhD Candidate, English)

“Ethnography of Loss: Fumiko Hayashi’s Postwar Women”

Discussant: David Krolikoski (PhD Candidate, EALC)

Friday, January 18, 3-5PM
Location: CEAS 319 (1155 E 60th St)


On January 18th from 3:00pm to 5:00pm the Art and Politics of East Asia workshop will host Sophia Sherry (PhD Candidate, English). She will present “Ethnography of Loss: Fumiko Hayashi’s Postwar Women,” a chapter of her dissertation. Sophia provides the following abstract:

On one standard account, Western literary “modernism” traces its origins to the metropolitan centers of Euro-America in the fin-de-siècle period. In this genealogy, Jules Laforgue’s symbolist experiments in verse inspire T.S. Eliot’s high-modernist formalism, for instance, and Baudelaire’s squalid Paris of the French Second Empire makes possible James Joyce’s reimagining of Dublin in his Ulysses of the 1920s. On this account, too, that signature, modernist modality of “stream of consciousness” is born in William James’s pragmatist philosophy and it finds its perfect exponents in James’s fellow anglophones Virginia Woolf and William Faulkner. Within the modernist (sub)field of English literary scholarship, such geographically constrained myths of influence and derivation appear at once comfortable (familiar) and increasingly short-sighted.

This paper contributes to the growing field of global modernist study by joining the ranks of current scholars engaged in broadening the latitudes of modernist scholarship and inquiry. Transnational imperatives driving new conceptions of cultural modernism encompass, therefore, not just the ethical and political demands of postcolonial literary emancipation but also, I am wagering, merely alternative epistemes and methodologies which are differently inflected, at either the perpetrating or receiving end, by the violent histories of global imperialism. Modern Japan, which Shu-mei Shih has called a member of the “honorary West,” is one case of the latter in point. Meiji Japan is a late-born empire, an instance of an “alternative” and mostly simultaneous, if accelerated, modernity, and yet still, as part of the global East, it lurks as one piece of the West’s projected Other—a modern Orient of reformed despotism whose essential difference serves, in Said’s classic analysis, to consolidate a foreclosed narrative of Western exceptionalism.

Fumiko Hayashi’s “social-realist” modanizumu is the focus of this paper, especially as it manifests at global scale within the Japanese postwar context. Primary texts include Hôrôki (1930) and Ukigumo (1951). Behaviorist in her rendering of diverse human subjects, Hayashi’s “nomadic” modernism (as Seiji Lippit has called it) partakes of a phenomenological logic of revolutionary inversion (tentô), or more simply of a de-naturalizing of naturalized categories of understanding. Such naturalized intellectual and sensuous tendencies would seek to differentiate human subjects from material objects, say, or make history seamless and inevitable when in fact it is always contingent. In this scrambling of epistemological assumptions (tentô), I borrow from Kôjin Karatani’s 1990s deconstruction of the “origins” of Japanese literature. The paper also draws on Sho Konishi’s recent work on Japanese-Russian anarchist modernity and Ann Sherif’s scholarship on Japan in the global Cold War period.

Refreshments will be served at the workshop. We look forward to seeing you there!

2019 Winter Quarter Schedule

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


Location: Center for East Asian Studies, Room 319, at the Harris School building (1155 E 60th St)

Time: Friday, 3-5PM

Please note special location or time for some events.


1/9  Hye-ryoung Lee (Associate Professor, Academy of East Asian Studies [AEAS] & Dept. of Korean Language and Literature, Sungkyunkwan University)

Presentation Bright Constellations: The Birth and Significance of South Korean Woman’s Literature in the 1980s

Time and location: Wednesday, 1/9, 5-7PM, Regenstein Library, Room 523


1/11  Jin-hee Ryu (Feminist scholar, Ph.D. in East Asian Studies, Sungkyunkwan University) and Hye-ryoung Lee  

Presentation: Shifts in Masculinities Since the 1990s and Contemporary Feminist Issues in South Korea


1/18  Sophia Sherry (PhD Candidate, English)

Ethnography of Loss: Fumiko Hayashi’s Postwar Women

Discussant: David Krolikoski (PhD Candidate, EALC)


1/25  Marjorie Burge (Postdoctoral Fellow in Classical Japanese Literature)

Mock Job Talk: Sinographic Writing in Seventh Century Japan: Before and After the Battle of the Paek River


2/15  Jiayi Chen (PhD Student, EALC)

The Ghostly Dicing: Representations of Gambling and Deception in Ming-Qing Short Stories

Discussant: Yiren Zheng (PhD Candidate, EALC)


3/8  Susan Su (PhD Candidate, EALC)

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


Yuqian Yan: Sorrow for the Fall of the Ming

Yuqian Yan

Sorrow for the Fall of the Ming:
Wartime Representation of the Late Ming on Stage and Screen”

Friday, November 30, 3-5PM
Location: CEAS 319 (1155 E 60th St)
Discussant: Pao-chen Tang, PhD Candidate (EALC & CMS)

On November 30th from 3:00pm to 5:00pm the Art and Politics of East Asia workshop will host Yuqian Yan (PhD Candidate, EALC & CMS). She will present “Sorrow for the Fall of the Ming: Wartime Representation of the Late Ming on Stage and Screen,” an article in preparation for publication. Yuqian provides the following abstract:

This article examines the effect and affect of historical representations in wartime Chinese theater and cinema, and the interplay between the two media. Focusing on one of the most popular historical play during the war Sorrow for the Fall of the Ming and its screen adaptation, the paper teases out the layered concerns behind the representation of the fall of the Ming and the adaptation strategy of the filmmaker. By analyzing how the fall of the Ming became a common trope, a “chosen trauma” that connects the nation’s past with its historical presence, this paper demonstrates that history mattered not just as a reflective mirror of contemporary situation, but provided an affective space that enchanted and reassured people in the midst of national crisis.