Mirae kh RHEE, “Collecting Crave: Curiosity Cabinets from Saxony to Joseon”

We are very excited to invite you to the next VMPEA workshop taking place TuesdayFebruary 13, from *5-7pm* at CWAC 152. This workshop will be featuring:

 

Mirae kh RHEE

Artist-Researcher, Museum für Asiatische Kunst and Ethnologisches Museum, Staatlichen Museen zu Berlin

 

Who will be presenting the paper

“Collecting Crave: Curiosity Cabinets from Saxony to Joseon”

 

For those who would like to participate on Zoom, please register through this link. The abstract and bio for this presentation can be found below.

 

~We hope to see many of your faces in CWAC 152~

 

 

Image: Choi Chul Lim, Incheon Art Platform

 

Abstract

RHEE’s artistic project invites us into the long history of the collector and collections from both East Asia and Western Europe. The artist’s interest in princely collections coupled with the critical examination of European acquired ethnographic objects takes us along the historical path of Jesuit priests who landed in the Portuguese colony of Macao to journey to the Beijing court of Ming Dynasty, the site of cultural exchange with Joseon Korea in the 17th-18th century. Interrogating presentation and collection practices of the male ruling elite and examining works from collections that extend from the famed Green Vault in Dresden to the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, the artist fashions her own Wunderkammer. Wunderkammern, or cabinets of curiosities, arose in mid-16th century Europe as repositories for wondrous objects but gradually appeared in 17th-18th century Qing China and Joseon Korea in the form of Chinese treasure boxes (Duobaoge) and Korean still-life genre painting of books and the scholar’s room (Munbangdo). This project is not just an intervention into the European, patriarchal, and colonial collection but a reinvention of the Korean version, called Munbangdo. From this jumping off point, RHEE collects objects from her network and communities, which are presented in various forms including drawing, painting, photography, ceramics, and augmented reality, engaging in hybrid analog and digital installations. Presenting objects in forms other than the original evokes the Confucian values of austerity and humility, since Koreans did not publicly display their collectibles, preferring painted screen portrayals. New forms of representation also imagine a new aura of objecthood to rethink beyond the Walter Benjamin argument that the artifact loses its aura through reproduction, and instead offering a unique way to experience aura beyond local, national, and geopolitical boundaries.

 

Bio

South Korean born social practice artist (이미래/李未來) Mirae kh RHEE’s transracial life experiences led her to work between the United States, South Korea, and Germany, where learning foreign languages, code-switching, and cultural traditions and customs continuously inform her artwork. Through the lens of transnational feminism, she creates complex research-based Gesamtkunstwerk(e) that tell autoethnographical narratives. RHEE received her MFA in Studio Art at the University of California-Irvine, where she was a Graduate Studies Diversity Scholar and Jacob K. Javits fellow. As the current Artist-in-Residence at the Museum für Asiatische Kunst and Ethnologisches Museum, Staatlichen Museen zu Berlin, she is preparing for a solo exhibition. In 2025 the project will be on view at the Residenzschloss (Dresden Castle) as part of the Transnational Academy of the Staatliche Kunstsammlung Dresden. www.mirae-kh-rhee.com.

Chelsea Foxwell, “Photography/Realism/War: The Case of the First Sino-Japanese War, 1894-95”

We look forward to welcoming you to the next VMPEA workshop, with a very special presentation by the department’s own and director of the Center for East Asian Studies, Professor Chelsea Foxwell.

 

Professor Foxwell will be presenting on Photography/Realism/War: The Case of the First Sino-Japanese War, 1894-95.

The respondent will be Dr. Joel Snyder, Professor Emeritus on the History of Photography and Film.

 

The workshop will be held in Room 152 of the Cochrane Woods Art Center on Wednesday, February 7th from 4:45 to 6:45 PM. This will be an in-person talk.

 

Please see below the flyer, abstract, and bio for Professor Foxwell’s presentation.

And, as always, we look forward to seeing you there!

 

Abstract:
The first Sino-Japanese War (1894-95) was the first Japanese war with embedded photographers to document the conflict. The crisp photographs, once they had been developed and printed in Japan, seemed to testify to what an Illustrated London News reported called the “essentially modern and business-like method” of the Japanese offensive. [1] Shortly after the war’s conclusion, the Japanese government sent a monumental hand-woven tapestry to the Aoi Matsuri (Aoi Festival) to the widow of the Secretary of State Walter Q. Gresham, the American diplomat who had facilitated the treaty negotiates with Qing China. While the tapestry and the surviving corpus of war photographs might seem to represent opposite ends of the spectrum of art of the Meiji era (1868-1912), together they help us evaluate the truth claims and political agendas of late nineteenth-century Japanese art.
[1] ILN quoted in Rhiannon Paget, “Imagery of Japanese Modern Wars in the Western Media,” in Conflicts of Interest: Art and War in Modern Japan (St. Louis Art Museum, 2016), 57.
Bios:
Chelsea Foxwell’s scholarship ranges from the medieval through modern periods of Japanese art with special emphasis on the 19th and 20th centuries. She is the author of Making Modern Japanese-Style Painting: Kano Hōgai and the Search for Images (2015). In 2012 she co-curated the exhibition Awash in Color: French and Japanese Prints with Anne Leonard at the Smart Museum of Art. Her work focuses on Japan’s artistic interactions with the rest of East Asia and beyond, nihonga and yōga (Japanese oil painting); “export art” and the world’s fairs; practices of image circulation, exhibition, and display; and the relationship between image-making and the kabuki theater. A member of the Committee on Japanese Studies and the Center for the Art of East Asia, she is a contributor to the Digital Scrolling Paintings and the Reading Kuzushiji projects.
Joel Snyder is Professor Emeritus of the History of Photography and Film in the University of Chicago’s Art History Department. Publications of his range from the essays to book publications, and interests of his include the history of photography, theory of photography and film, history and theory of perspective, Medieval and Renaissance theory of visions; critical theory, aesthetics, and the theory of representation. He was the Co-Editor of the journal Critical Inquiry, a quarterly devoted to critical theory in the arts and human sciences.

Lisha He, “Emperor Qianlong and His Alcove Daybed with Wall-filling Mirrors”

We cordially invite you to join us for our next meeting of VMPEA, taking place *Friday, November 17* from 4:45-6:45pm CT at CWAC 152, featuring:

 

Lisha He

Visiting PhD Candidate, Art History, UChicago

School of Architecture, Tianjin University

 

Who will be presenting the paper

Emperor Qianlong and His Alcove Daybed with Wall-filling Mirrors”

 

Discussant: Yan Jin

PhD Student, Art History, UChicago

 

*Please note the special date of this event.* For Zoom participants, please register at this link (password: 000000). And please see the abstract and bio of our presenter below.

We hope to see many of you in CWAC 152!

 

Image: Alcove Daybed in Changchun shuwu, Yangxindian.

 

Abstract

With the breakthrough of plate glass-making technology in the West, and Sino-Western material exchange in the 18th century, glass mirrors were introduced to the Qing Court, and were widely used in interior design. An alcove daybed with one or two wall-filling mirrors was a unique spatial pattern created and favored by Emperor Qianlong. This design was not only found in his commissions within the Forbidden City but also in the gardens of western Beijing suburbs and the summer residence in Jehol.

As most of these buildings were destroyed, I will first provide a brief overview of the reconstruction results. While the quantity and placement of glass, along with its interaction with individuals on the daybed, may vary across cases, they consistently reflect Emperor Qianlong’s intention to construct a room enclosed by mirrors.

Finally, I will focus on the Bilin Gloriette (碧琳館) in the Garden of Jianfu Palace, where this spatial pattern was first applied. The spatial context of the Bilin Gloriette, Emperor Qianlong’s interaction with mirrors, and his insights on self-cultivation imply that this room is designed for cultivating inner vacancy. Presumably, it embodies Zhuangzi’s metaphorical concept of Vacant Room (虛室) through the strategic use of mirrors.

 

Bio

HE Lisha is a PhD Candidate in the School of Architecture, Tianjin University. Her research focuses on non-structural carpentry and interior space of Qing palace buildings. With special interest in the Qianlong Period, she is currently working on interior space with glass and glass mirrors commissioned by Emperor Qianlong.

 

Yan JIN is a PhD student in Art History at UChicago studying visual and material culture of late imperial China, with a special focus on the art of Qing court. Her research explores issues of cross-regional exchanges, intermediality, as well as objects and agency.

Alice Casalini, “The Malleable Space of Gandhāran Art”

We cordially invite you to join us next Wednesday, May 10, from 4:45-6:45 pm CT for a VMPEA & RAVE joint workshop, featuring:

 

Alice Casalini

PhD Candidate, Art History, UChicago

Who will be presenting the paper

“The Malleable Space of Gandhāran Art”

Discussant: Andrew Ollett

Neubauer Family Assistant Professor, South Asian Languages and Civilizations, UChicago

Wednesday, May 10, 2023

4:45–6:45 pm CT, CWAC 152

*You can also use this link to join the talk on Zoom. No registration is required. The password is “malleable”.

A light reception will follow at the department lounge.

 

“Three architectural elements from Gandhāra,” digital collage, 2023.

 

Abstract

The monasteries of Gandhāra were teeming with an incredible array of images that adorned virtually every available surface. From carved panels that covered the walls, to icons and stelae that were installed in chapels and encroached the space of corridors and passageways, every monument was adorned with stone and stucco reliefs, while statues were meticulously gilded and painted. These objects, along with the perishable materials that did not survive in the archaeological record, came together to create an aesthetic of visual abundance.

The talk seeks to explore the role of this aesthetic in the context of the early Buddhist schools of Gandhāra. While textual sources are often used to shed light on these debates, the visual program in the monasteries  played a significant role in shaping the Buddhist path to liberation in its own right and in a parallel fashion to the textual sources.

 

Alice Casalini received her BA and MA in Languages and Civilizations of Asia and Mediterranean Africa from Ca’ Foscari University of Venice and studied Buddhist archaeology at the School of Archaeology and Museology of Peking University. She has conducted archaeological work in Italy, China, and Pakistan. Her research focuses on early Buddhist art and architecture of Northern India, Central Asia and Western China. Her dissertation, tentatively titled “Paradigms of Beholding: the architecture of religious experience in Gandhāra,” explores the ways in which sacred spaces and religious objects create avenues for spiritual transformation. Alice is also a visual artist and illustrator.

 

Andrew Ollett is Neubauer Family Assistant Professor in the Department of South Asian Languages and Civilizations. He studies the literary and intellectual traditions of South Asia, including works composed in Sanskrit, Prakrit, Apabhramsha, and Kannada, mostly falling within the first millennium of the common era. His research has focused on the “question of language”: the availability and choice of certain languages for certain purposes, and the role of language in cultural production and change.  He is the author of Language of the Snakes: Prakrit, Sanskrit, and the Language Order of Premodern India (2017). His current projects include an edition and translation of the Prakrit romance Lilavai a book on the beginnings of manuscript literacy in South Asia, a book on context-dependency in South Asian philosophies of language and, with Sarah Pierce Taylor, an edition and translation of The Way of the Poet-King, a ninth-century manual of poetics in Kannada.

Wang Zonghui, “An Exploration on the spatial composition of the mKhar rdzong Cave in mKhar rtse Valley, mNga’ ris, Tibet”

Please join us on Monday, April 10, from 4:45 pm-6:45 pm CT for the second VMPEA workshop this spring, featuring:

 

Wang Zonghui

Visiting PhD Candidate, UChicago

Who will be presenting the paper

“An Exploration on the spatial composition of the mKhar rdzong Cave in mKhar rtse Valley, mNga’ ris, Tibet”

西藏阿里卡孜河谷帕尔宗坛城窟图像程序研究

*This event will be conducted in English.

Discussant: Xiaotian YIN

PhD Candidate, Harvard University

Monday, April 10, 2023

4:45–6:45 pm CT, CWAC 152

*Please note the date change. You can also use this link to join the talk on Zoom. No registration is required. The password is “arth”

North wall of mkhar rdzong cave (Photo: Wang Ruilei)

 

 

Abstract

mKhar rdzong cave is a Buddhist site located on the cliff of rdzong mountain in the mnga’ ris Region of the Tibet Autonomous Region in China. Discovered by archaeologists from Sichuan University and the Cultural Relics Administration Committee of Tibet Autonomous Region in 1996 and 1999, the cave is renowned for its stupa relics and distinctive visual program, which includes unique mandalas and intact ceiling decorations. This makes it a valuable subject for art historical research. In my previous work, I established that the cave is a “relic stupa (gdung rten) cave” that was created as part of Buddhist monks’ funeral rituals. In this paper, I will examine the iconographical program of the cave’s murals and argue how they express the concept of deliverance from suffering by this program. Furthermore, I will explore possible sources for such a design structure. Through this analysis, I hope to contribute to our understanding of the spiritual and artistic significance of this remarkable cave and to the broader study of Buddhist art and ritual practices in the region.

 

Wang Zonghui is a PhD candidate at the Center for Buddhist Art, School of Art and Archaeology, Zhejiang University in Hangzhou, China. Her research focuses on Sino-Tibetan Buddhist art, with a particular interest in the Western Himalayas, especially the mnga’ ris district of China.

 

Xiaotian YIN 尹筱天 is a doctoral candidate at Harvard University specializing in Buddhist art in Inner Asia and China from the tenth to the fourteenth century. Her dissertation, “Collecting Embers: Buddhist Art in Central Tibet in the Age of Fragmentation, from the tenth to the twelfth century,” investigates the transcultural entanglements of Buddhist art across Central Tibet, Song China, Tangut-Xixa, Nepal, and India during Tibet’s “Dark Age.”. Xiaotian is also interested in the Buddhist publishing and printing culture in Song, Liao, Tangut-Xixia, and Mongol-Yuan states. In 2022-2023, Xiaotian is a visiting scholar and a lecturer in the Department of Art History at Dartmouth College.

 

Hope to see many of you there,

Lucien Sun and Li Jiang

VMPEA Coordinators, 2022–2023

Ranxu Yin, June 1

Speaker: Ranxu Yin (visiting graduate student)

“Re-Presencing the Past? Rethinking the Exhibition History Behind the Object’s Lives and Human’s Experimental Interactions in Premodern China”

Wednesday, June 1st 2022

4:45 – 6:45 pm CT, Hybrid event (In-person at CWAC 152 + livestream via Zoom)


※online: Please use this link to register for the zoom meeting. password: museum61

※For this event, we will be having dinner after the talk. For those who would like to join this gathering after the event, please complete this form by Sunday (May, 29th) 11:59 p.m. so that we can order enough food for everyone.


These photographs serve as examples of the different lives of objects in museums and in the places where they have been rediscovered. 20221968

Abstract

 This presentation will start with the social lives of objects and the corresponding human experiences with them, raising the possibility of incorporating some pre-modern ritual experiences into the history of exhibitions. For example, collective human experiences in tombs and temples (or caves) to a great extent share the same “media system” with the contemporary exhibitions, including objects, spaces, information, and emotions. In all three spaces, one finds a similar touching relationship between humans and the mediums described as “contemporary inter-built relationship,” opposite to the “temporary encounter relationship.” In this light, collective human experiences with “exhibitionary spaces” are closely connected across time and space. I propose this connection to be one of the responses to the issue of “re-presencing the past” in media archaeology, prompting us to reconsider or redefine “exhibitions” as a concept and space for staging the human experiences.

 I will use the ritual processes in the tombs and human religious experiences in the temples/caves,focusing on the display of objects and the structures of corridors, as the primary cases of analysis for this presentation.

*********************

Ranxu Yin is currently a visiting graduate student in the Department of Art History, the University of Chicago. She is a PhD student in the School of Humanities at the Central Academy of Fine Arts in China, where she majored in art museology. Ranxu studied visual culture and received her MA from CAFA. She is interested in the theories and methods that art history studies absorb and transform from media research of cultural studies. Her research mainly deals with the interactions between art history studies and the history of museum and exhibition.

Xu Jin, May 6

Speaker: Xu Jin ( Assistant Professor of Art History and Asian Studies, Vassar College)

“Comparing Acts, Matching Images: Filial Sons and Reclusive Sages on the Funerary Couch of a Sogdian Immigrant in 6th-Century China”

May 6th, 2022 (Friday)

4:30 – 6:30 pm CT. Hybrid (In-person at CWAC 152 + livestream via Zoom)


※ Please use this link to register for the zoom meeting if you would like to attend remotely. password: sogdian56


(Liu Ling, One of the Seven Sages of the Bamboo Grove, Di Yu Couch. Eastern Wei Dynasty. Stone couch from Anyang, Henan Province. Shenzhen Museum)

Abstract:

Filial sons and reclusive sages (Seven Worthies of the Bamboo Grove and Rong Qiqi) were among the most esteemed figural subjects in Chinese art. They also appear on the stone funerary couch of Di Yu 翟育 (?-538), a Sogdian diplomat who immigrated to North China in the early sixth century. The Di Yu couch is the earliest known of over ten sarcophagi made for Sogdian leaders active in sixth-century China. This talk demonstrates how the quintessential Chinese subjects were selectively adopted and meticulously modified to address the Sogdian family’s life experiences. Moreover, I argue that Sogdian immigrants employed the images of reclusive sages to reconcile their Central Asian origin with the art and culture of native Chinese elites.

 

**************
Xu Jin is an Assistant Professor of Art History and Asian studies at Vassar College. He received his PhD in art history at the University of Chicago. His research has been focusing on religious and cultural exchanges on the Silk Road as reflected in Chinese art during the 6th and 7th centuries. His publications appear in the Burlington Magazine, the Journal of Asian Studies, and Journal of National Museum of China. Currently he is writing a book manuscript titled “Beyond Boundaries: Sogdian Sarcophagi and the Art of An Immigrant Community in 6th Century China”.

Hang Wu, April 15

Speaker: Hang Wu (PhD Student, Department of Cinema and Media Studies/ Department of East Asian Languages and Civilizations)

“Information Processing: On Asian Cyberscapes in the Cyberpunk New Wave”

Friday, April 15th, 2022

5:10 – 7:10 pm CT, Hybrid (In-person at CWAC 152 + livestream via Zoom)

**This event is co-sponsored with the Digital Media Workshop**


*Please use this link to register for the zoom meeting. The password to this zoom session is “cyber0415.”


Abstract: The new wave of cyberpunk animation, cinema, short video, and games that proliferated after the 2010s encourages us to reconsider the relationship between the cyberscapes rendered in cyberpunk media and the cityscapes of Asia. Since the release of a series of cyberpunk films and TV animation in the 1980s, scholars have developed the concept of “techno-orientalism” to critique the imagination of Asian cityscapes in the cyberized future. However, this approach views “Asia” only in terms of a racialized imagination external to it. Aiming to go beyond the East-West dichotomy that is implicit in the techno-orientalism critique of cyberpunk media, I examine the relationship between the cyberpunk cyberscape and the Asian cityscape through the lens of information processing. In particular, I look at the staging of information interfaces (hologram projections and screens on high-rise buildings) and lighting effects (neon lights and LED lighting) in cyberpunk media that suggest the city processes information as a medium. Blending cinema & media studies and critical area studies, I argue that cyberpunk media draws to the fore the city in its information processing role and intensifies our perceptions of it as a global space located in Asia. Information processing serves as a key concept in this paper for thinking about (1) media infrastructures and aesthetics that afford an immersive viewing experience in the age of the digital; and (2) the emergent and open futures that the Asian cyberscapes evoke.

Hang Wu (She/They) is pursuing the joint Ph.D. degree in the Department of Cinema and Media Studies and the Department of East Asian Languages and Civilizations at the University of Chicago. Their research mainly focuses on how the more-than-human may help expand the understanding of media and sovereignty in the context of East Asia, especially China and Japan. Their work has appeared in journals and edited volumes such as Animation: an interdisciplinary journal and Sound Communities in the Asia Pacific.

Toby Wu, December 3


 Arts and Politics of East Asia (APEA) & Visual and Material Perspectives on East Asia (VMPEA)

★ Co-Sponsored Workshop ★


Toby Wu (MAPH)

“Reconstituting the Japanese Housewife: Idemitsu Mako’s Charged Televisual Fields in Kiyoko’s Situation (1989)”

Discussant: Thomas Lamarre (Professor in the Department of Cinema and Media Studies, East Asian Languages and Civilizations, University of Chicago)

Friday, December 3, 2021

3:00 – 5:00 pm CT, Remotely via Zoom [note the different time and the online format]

(Please use this link to register for the zoom meeting.)


Please find the pre-circulated paper for this Friday’s VMPEA-APEA joint event HERE with the password: idemitsu. Please do not circulate the paper without permission. (Note: Please enter the password twice).


Abstract:

Subverting the housewife melodrama form, Idemitsu Mako’s shufu (housewife) series (1972-1989) deftly manifests the radical potential of a domestic television set to reconfigure the shufu’s subconscious. Placidly observing the austere environment of the household, Idemitsu’s televisual videos frame her shufu protagonists and the television set within the seemingly un-intruded domestic space, allowing for their repressed subconscious to emerge through the television’s charged field.

This paper provides a centripetal tracking (Joselit, After Art) of Kiyoko’s Situation (1989), Idemitsu’s penultimate televisual video work, in which Kiyoko (the protagonist) is compelled by the television set to confront the trauma of being a shufu. Through the unravelling of her past and psyche (exemplified in the television set and Kiyoko concurrently), we witness how the television set reconstitutes Kiyoko’s subjecthood, no longer just a conduit for mediation or transmission.

This paper considers the viability of extant Euro-American video art narratives to account for and explicate Idemitsu’s practice, consulting Thomas Lamarre’s notion of the technosocial charged field to expand upon the work’s medium and socio-political context. Specifically, the paper suggests why it is crucial to consider both media and cultural specificity in Idemitsu’s form of media art, reconciling how a media ecology might consider the discrete objecthood of domestic television sets. The paper proposes that Idemitsu’s televisual videos formulate a media art practice that envisages the media effects of television, while concurrently activating her feminist ideology.

Idemitsu Mako, Kiyoko’s Situation, 1989, video, color, sound, 24:40 min, (still of) 17:10.

Toby Wu is a Master’s candidate at the University of Chicago reading Art History and Media Studies. He is interested in the emergence of time based media practices in the Global Contemporary, specifically through Transpacific exchanges between Japan, Southeast Asia, and the United States of America. His Master’s thesis examined Idemitsu Mako’s techno-social reconstitution of the Japanese housewife’s subjecthood through the media effects of television. Toby is an inaugural (2021) Asia Art Archive in America & PoNJA GenKon fellow and the Graduate Curatorial Intern for Transpacific Art Histories at The Smart Museum. He has previously worked with KADIST Art Foundation (San Francisco), National Gallery Singapore and Museum of Contemporary Art and Design (Manila).

Thomas Lamarre is a scholar of media, cinema and animation, intellectual history and material culture, with projects ranging from the communication networks of 9th century Japan (Uncovering Heian Japan: An Archaeology of Sensation and Inscription, 2000), to silent cinema and the global imaginary (Shadows on the Screen: Tanizaki Jun’ichirō on Cinema and Oriental Aesthetics, 2005), animation technologies (The Anime Machine: A Media Theory of Animation, 2009) and on television infrastructures and media ecology (The Anime Ecology: A Genealogy of Television, Animation, and Game Media, 2018). Current projects include research on animation that addresses the use of animals in the formation of media networks associated with colonialism and extraterritorial empire, and the consequent politics of animism and speciesism. His work as a translator includes major works from Japanese and French: Kawamata Chiaki’s novel Death Sentences (University of Minnesota, 2012); Muriel Combes’s Gilbert Simondon and the Philosophy of the Transindividual (MIT, 2012); and David Lapoujade’s William James: Pragmatism and Empiricsm (Duke University Press, 2019). He has also edited volumes on cinema and animation, on the impact of modernity in East Asia, on pre-emptive war, and formerly, as Associate Editor of Mechademia: An Annual Forum for Anime, Manga, and the Fan Arts, a number of volumes on manga, anime, and fan cultures. He is co-editor with Takayuki Tatsumi of a book series with the University of Minnesota Press entitled “Parallel Futures,” which centers on Japanese speculative fiction. Current editorial work includes a co-edited volume on Chinese animation with Daisy Yan Du and a co-edited volume on Digital Animalities with Jody Berland. He previously taught in East Asian Studies and Communications Studies at McGill University. As James McGill Professor Emeritus of Japanese Media Studies at McGill University, he continues to work with the Moving Image Research Laboratory, funded by the Canadian Foundation for Innovation, and partnered by local research initiatives such as Immediations, Hexagram, and Artemis.

Zhengqian Li, December 1

 Zhengqian Li (MAPH Student)

“Objects as Political Symbols: Imperialist Merchandise in Mu Shiying and Shi Zhecun’s Modernist Fiction”

Discussant: Haun Saussy (Professor of Comparative Literature, East Asian Languages & Civilizations, and Committee on Social Thought, University of Chicago)

Wednesday, December 1, 2021

4:45 – 6:45 pm CT, Hybrid (In-person at CWAC 152 + Remotely via Zoom)


*Please use this form to sign-up for attending the event in-person, so that we could better keep track of the number of attendees; If you would like to attend remotely, you may register here to receive the zoom link

* Based on the university policy on COVID, we will only be able to allow maximum 25 people inside the venue, and mask will be required throughout the event. Light, individually-packed snacks and drinks will be provided to be taken after the workshop. 


Abstract:

Based on Fredric Jameson’s Marxist hermeneutics, this research investigates how imperialist and colonialist presence in Mu Shiying and Shi Zhecun’s semi-colonial Shanghai are visible through symbolic objects. As ways to examine the Reality reflected in Mu and Shi’s short stories, relevant studies juxtapose primary texts with local and global cultural contexts, domestic and international politics, as well as historical research on the city of Shanghai (See Sean Macdonald, “‘Modernism’ in Modern Chinese Literature”; Yomi Braester, “Shanghai’s Economy of the Spectacle”; and relevant chapters in Leo Lee’s Shanghai Modern and Shu-mei Shi’s The Lure of the Modern). While this research still takes Shanghai as the background for discussion, the core focus is on the art and commercial history of imperialist and colonial politics implied by the objects in public space. With the application of the concept of the political unconscious, this study discovers politically symbolic elements in the merchandise (Johnnie Walker whiskey, Lucky Strike, Ruby Queen, Victory cigarettes) appeared in Mu and Shi’s stories. Such findings demonstrate that the imperial authority’s influence on the semi-colonized is tangible not only when an authority figure exerts power, but also culturally and socially observable when the authority is physically absent. Rather than depending upon the presence of a person, e.g., royalty, the imperial power of late 19th and early 20th century Great Britain, and of industrialized western countries broadly speaking, exist in multiple forms and constantly project their influence on the Shanghai residents and the people of less “modernized” areas around the globe.

 

“Ruby Queen” advertisement on Chinese newspaper Business News.Wing Tai Vo Tobacco Corp. Business News no.0002, April 19, 1924. 永泰和煙草股份有限公司 《工商新聞》 1924年4月19日 [0002版]

 

Zhengqian (Ian) Li is currently a MAPH student at the University of Chicago and has received a Comparative Literature BA from Middlebury College. His short story “The Smothering” is published in Chicago Quarterly Review (volume 34). His poem “The Road Ahead” was published in China Poetry in 2013 and the non-fiction collection Sometimes was published the same year. Ian has worked at the online magazine US-China Today as an editor in 2018 and presented at Beijing International Studies University in 2017 and Johns Hopkins University’s Macksey Symposium in 2021.

Haun Saussy is University Professor at the University of Chicago, teaching in the departments of Comparative Literature and East Asian Languages & Civilizations as well as in the Committee on Social Thought. His work attempts to bring the lessons of classical and modern rhetoric to bear on several periods, languages, disciplines and cultures. Among his books are The Problem of a Chinese Aesthetic (1994), Great Walls of Discourse (2001), The Ethnography of Rhythm (2016), Translation as Citation: Zhuangzi Inside Out (2017), Are We Comparing Yet? (2019), The Making of Barbarians: Chinese Literature in Multilingual Asia (forthcoming, 2022) and the edited collections Sinographies (2007), Comparative Literature in an Age of Globalization (2008), and Partner to the Poor: A Paul Farmer Reader (2010). As translator, he has produced versions of works by Jean Métellus (When the Pipirite Sings, 2019) and Tino Caspanello (Bounds, 2020), among others. He is a former Guggenheim Fellow, a fellow of the American Academy in Berlin, and a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.