Scott Aalgaard



Thursday, December 1, 3:00 – 5:00 p.m. in CEAS 319 (1155 E. 60th St.)

Scott Aalgaard, “Untimely Voices: Hearing Critique in Japanese Cultural Production”

Please join us this Thursday for a mock job talk by Scott Aalgaard (PhD Candidate, EALC). Scott summarizes his talk as follows:

In 2012, historian and Area Studies critic Harry Harootunian warned that our field was drifting toward what he sees as an uncritical sort of identity studies, wherein hitherto excluded voices of differences were finding inclusion in analysis in a manner that served merely to complete existing socioeconomic structures of power. Attending to Otherness, for Harootunian, is not a spatial exercise, but a temporal one: by attending to the non-contemporaneity of voices embedded in the social, heterological temporalities and histories can be uncovered that challenge normative temporality and consider what he terms “missed opportunities and defeated possibilities.” This talk will propose what I am terming “critical temporality” as a counterbalance to Harootunian’s “normative temporality,” and will suggest that the conjuring of such temporality is a critical tactic that is deployed intentionally by cultural figures, and that can be revealed through combined analyses of texts of cultural production and the contexts in which they are deployed. By attending to the untimely voices of poets, musicians, and social critics like Ryo Kagawa, Takada Wataru, and Soeda Azembo, and to the ways in which these figures make use of text – their own and others’ – in specific historical moments, I will show how analytical methodologies from Area Studies and ethnomusicology can combine to reveal precisely the sorts of productive challenges to “normative temporality” that Harootunian insists are essential components of critical reimagining of the social. Close attention to these voices will show how they resist a simple internal negation of the status quo, and endeavor to imagine what Harootunian would call “other histories.”

Please note the amended date for this event. Also note that there will be no pre-circulated paper for the talk. Drinks and refreshments will be served. We look forward to seeing you there!

Yuqian Yan


Friday, November 18, 3:00 – 5:00 p.m. in CEAS 319 (1155 E. 60th St)

Yuqian Yan, “From History Films to Ancient Costume Films: Representations of the Chinese Past in the Late 1920s”

Discussant: Pao-Chen Tang (EALC/Cinema and Media Studies)

Please join us this Friday to welcome Yuqian Yan, a PhD candidate in EALC/Cinema and Media Studies. Yuqian will present a draft of the first chapter of her dissertation. She summarizes the chapter as follows:

This chapter focuses on the first wave of Chinese ancient costume films (古装片) that started roughly around 1926 and died out in the early 1930s. The genre of ancient costume films was largely under discussed in Chinese film history. It was either dismissed as a countercurrent in modern time or a profit-driven practice that catered to the low taste of petit urbanities. Reexamining the genre through film advertisements, critical discussions and its relation to theater, this chapter argues that the concerns in why and how to make ancient costume films were shaped by the very condition of modernity at the time. It reflected a strong epistemological rupture between past and present, but also demonstrated the instability of such separation in reality. The desire to represent the ancient in cinema should not simply be seen as a retreat to the past, but reflected the filmmakers’ enthusiasm for the potential of the new cinematic media in providing an unprecedented experience of the past. It was treated, at least initially, as a chance to advance the Chinese film industry in a global scope.

The paper 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 Alex Murphy at



David Andrew Knight

David Andrew Knight, “Plain Becomes Patterned: Li Deyu and the White Lotus”

Discussant: Yiren Zheng (EALC)

Friday, November 11, 4:00 – 6:00 p.m. in CEAS 319 (1155 E 60th St)

We are delighted to host David Andrew Knight next Friday, 11/1, in co-sponsorship with the East Asia Transregional Histories workshop. Below is a brief abstract of the work:

This paper is part of a larger project that situates the fu poetry of the ninth century minister Li Deyu 李德裕 (787-850) within the context of his life. Through the focal point of a fu poem about a white lotus flower written by Li Deyu, one of the most powerful men of his day, I will demonstrate how this poem captures a retrievable moment of poetic creation. I have discovered that Li Deyu’s fu poem on the white lotus is a literary recreation of his encounter with the fifteen year old Xu Pan who was soon to become his concubine. By analyzing a key stanza in the poem, I will illuminate the links between Li’s literary life and his real life.

The paper 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 Alex Murphy at

Marianne Tarcov

 Marianne Tarcov, “Poets as Benshi: Navigating and Subverting Censorship in Wartime Japanese Poetry and Mass Media”

Thursday, October 27, 12:00 – 1:30 in Wieboldt 301N

This Thursday, we are pleased to host a mock job talk by Marianne Tarcov (Visiting Lecturer, EALC, University of Chicago). She summarizes her talk as follows:

This talk discusses several Japanese 1930s lyric poets’ use of formal motifs drawn from mass media in their works of propagandistic nationalism during the Pacific War, and argues that these writers endued their works of nationalistic poetry with oblique criticism of wartime censorship. Their strategies include reinventions of techniques to evade the censors once employed by silent film narrators, or benshi. In oral performances for recordings and radio, the writers discussed here broadcast their ambivalence towards their place as nationalized poets enlisted in a militaristic enterprise.

Please note the special time and location of this event. This is a lunchtime talk, and pizza and refreshments will be served. We hope to see you there!

Mi-Ryong Shim


Friday, October 21, 3-5 p.m. in CEAS 319 (1155 E 60th St)

Mi-Ryong Shim, “Aesthetics of New Regionalism and Korean Local Color in the Wartime Japanese Empire”

Discussant: Hyun Hee Park (EALC)

Please join us this Friday to welcome Mi-Ryong Shim, Assistant Professor of Korean Literature and Culture in the Department of Asian Languages and Cultures at Northwestern University. Professor Shim will present a chapter-in-progress from her current manuscript project. She summarizes the chapter as follows:

The years that followed the outbreak of the Second Sino-Japanese War have long been remembered in Korean national history as the period of imperialization (Korean: hwangminhwa, Japanese: kōminka), a wartime campaign that targeted the transformation of the colonized population into loyal subjects of the Japanese empire. It included infamous policies, such as the push for “Japanization” of Korean names and the promotion of Japanese language as the “national language” for Koreans. These measures have long been remembered as the colonial authorities’ attempts to fundamentally eliminate Korean cultural identity. However, when looking at the journals and newspapers published in colonial Korea in the 1940s, one finds that the topic of “Korean literature” (J: Chōsen bungaku) and “Korean culture” (J: Chōsen bunka) continued to be hotly debated well into the wartime years, even as venues for Korean language publication and instruction were being systematically shut down at this time.


In this paper, I examine the debates about Korean cultural identity from the late colonial period to argue for an understanding of “Koreanness” as a contested site where contradictory frameworks within the wartime Japanese imperial discourse – namely assimilationism and Pan-Asian regionalism – competed and intersected. In relation to this broader context, I analyze two of the Japanese-language local color fiction written in the early 1940s by Yi Hyo-sŏk, one of the most celebrated writers of nativist aesthetics in the Korean literary canon. Through close reading, I shed light on how the aesthetics of regionalism and local color constructed the imperial subject by continually redrawing the boundary between the foreign and the native. I also demonstrate how these texts, even as they were part of the wartime imperial discourse, articulated moments of disruption and rupture by pointing to spaces of irony and ambivalence from within.

A draft of Professor Shim’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 Alex Murphy at

Friday 10/7: A Conversation with Ryo Kagawa

October 7, 3:00-4:00 PM
CEAS 319 (1155 E 60th St.)

Join us this Friday, October 7 for an informal conversation with visiting Japanese singer-songwriter Ryo Kagawa. Debuting in 1970 in the midst of Japan’s folk music boom, Kagawa has released more than a dozen albums over a forty-six-year career, and continues to tour extensively in Japan, where he plays around 100 shows annually. A highly eclectic musician and accomplished lyricist, Kagawa strenuously resists the label of ‘folk singer,’ despite his clear association with that genre and its moment. What is music for Ryo Kagawa? What is important to him in performance and in composition? How has music in Japan changed between 1970 and today? We invite you to come and meet Ryo Kagawa, and to engage him in conversation on these topics and more.

More on Kagawa From the Asahi Shinbun (Japanese)