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Easter Term 2015

Department of East Asian Studies

Postgraduate Research Seminars

Academical Year 2014-2015


Please join us for the DEAS Postgraduate Research Seminars, designed for graduate students in Chinese, Japanese, and Korean studies to regularly meet, discuss your ideas, and present your projects – all in front of an interested and supportive audience! Some sessions will be period-specific while others will be region-centered, but all are intended to bring together DEAS graduate students to talk about your research in friendly surroundings while consuming wine and nibbles!

The Seminars are generously sponsored by the Chinese Studies Group of the Faculty of Asian and Middle Eastern Studies.

Unless otherwise noted, seminars meet on Tuesdays in the Rushmore Room, St Catharine’s College.

The seminar starts at 5:00pm and ends at 6:30pm

For questions, or if you’re interested in presenting or organizing, please contact Rudolph Ng ().  Extra sessions may be added during 2015.

Easter Term, 2015

  • Tuesday, 21st April, 2015

    Note: This session will take place in Room 7 at the Faculty of Asian & Middle Eastern Studies (instead of the Rushmore Room, St Catharine's College)

    Boxed or Out of the Box: Sinophone Poetics with Singapore as Method
    Teck Seng CHOWPhD Candidate in Chinese Studies

    This is a presentation on some of my findings regarding the emerging field of Sinophone Studies. Through contrasting some of the current focuses in the discipline, I will briefly share my conceptual approaches and reflections: 1) focusing on the "mediums"( "boxes") including the Chinese languages and scripts, 2) emphasizing the importance of close reading (especially in poetry), and 3) intervening via what I named as "Singapore as method".

    There are various paradigmatic perspectives to look at what poetics is, such as through its evolution through time, either joining the important poets or literary canons of poems together, or narratives that are "China-centric", "Taiwan-centric", or "Euro-centric" . With a belief in pluralistic paradigms, I would like to argue that reconstructing Sinophone poetry from different discourses is important: this allows us to re-imagine "Chinese-language" "poetry" and "poetics" from a bird-eye view, in addition, from a micro view-which in my case is "Singapore poetics"- redraw the map of this "smaller narrative of poetics" in relation with the "larger poetics".

    Through 1-2 network of poems as case studies, I will knit texts that initially seemed unrelated, to recover the multiple layers of poetics hidden within, and then identify where the agency of poetics lie. This will include examples of contemporary Singapore poetry, classical and present-day Chinese poetry from other Sinophone communities, and poetry that challenges or transcend the boundary of language, form or medium/media. In the analysis, I will highlight the circulatory characteristics of "poetics" and "Chineseness"/"Sinophone-ness", which are more fluid than we have imagined. I will discuss how the evolving media, the field, institutions, readers, poets and the texts all help shape and challenge what we understand by "Chinese poetry" and "Chinese poetics”.

    Shunpon: sex and humour in rewriting early Edo period literature
    Mario L. BUGNO, PhD Candidate in Japanese Studies

    Shunga (literally translated as spring pictures) and shunpon (books containing shunga pictures) normally refer to texts and images with explicit sexual contents, produced in Japan throughout the Edo period (1600-1868). The quantity of published shunga books and prints that circulated in Edo Japan is believed to be truly vast, but despite their popularity, until recently they have seldom, if ever, been the object of academic study. Moreover, only a small fraction of the whole shunpon literary panorama has been transcript to date and very few studies until these days have focused on their textual dimension. After revising the whole textual panorama in the realm of shunga and shunpon, it is possible to say that we deal with a considerable number of shunpon rewritings of various prose texts that in their original version do not contain any explicit sexual reference. Therefore, in order to understand the aims and the influence of this production, I will focus on the importance of rewriting in a sexually explicit way the early Edo period literature and I will analyze the case study of the Meijo nasake kurabe (1681) and its shunpon rewritings, above all Genji on iro asobi (1681)

  • Tuesday, 19th May, 2015

    Note: This session will take place in the OCR, St Catharine's College (instead of the Rushmore Room)

    Finance, Power and Globalisation: German Bankers and China's Financial Internationalisation (1885-1919)
    Ghassan MOAZZINPhD Candidate in Chinese Studies

    Between the 1880s and the First World War German bankers played a crucial role in connecting China to German financial markets and spurring on capital circulation between Europe and China. In my dissertation I follow the history of the Deutsch-Asiatische Bank (德华银行DAB) – the main German bank active in China at the time- during this period and investigate the role the DAB and its interaction with Chinese officials, bankers and businessmen played in the internationalisation of China’s public finance and Chinese local financial markets. In doing so, I hope to complicate previous views of foreign banks in modern China that have been dominated by narratives of imperialist domination and exploitation. Instead, my dissertation attempts to show that a more balanced perspective that takes into account both transnational networks and cooperation on the one side and conflict and competition among Western and Chinese actors on the other side can help us gain a better understanding of China’s integration into the international financial system of the first global economy. As China has again become an active player in the global financial markets during the last several decades, such an understanding is an important key for making sense of China’s economic development and its integration into the global economy today.

    A Century in the Furnace: Living with Heat in Wuhan, 1911-2015
    Dr Chris COURTNEY, Research Fellow, Gonville & Caius College

    The city of Wuhan is infamous for its ferocious heat. Although temperature has had a profound impact upon the way that humans live their lives, few scholars have engaged with the social implications of living in an extreme climate. In this paper I will provide a sketch of a new research project in which I plan to trace a history of the human response to heat in Wuhan over the last century. We will travel from the ice-factories and electric fans of the treaty port Hankou, to the bamboo beds and communal street sleeping of the Maoist era, ending up in the air conditioned public and private spaces of contemporary Wuhan. Along the way we will examine how heat has influences the social experience of politics, technology, time, and nature.

    EAS Postgraduate Seminar 2015-05-19-2
    EAS Postgraduate Seminar 2015-05-19-3
    EAS Postgraduate Seminar 2015-05-19-1

  • Thursday, 4th June, 2015

    Note: This session will take place in the Ramsden Room, St Catharine's College (instead of the Rushmore Room)

    Financial Crisis and Zhao Xin Bonds in the Late Qing Dynasty
    Dr LI Wenjie, Visiting Scholar, Faculty of History

    Large scale wars always brought about financial crisis as well as financial reforms in Chinese history. Domestic debt, just like external debt, was used during the First Sino-Japanese War to deal with the payment of the war indemnity to Japan. Zhao Xin Bonds(昭信股票), the first Chinese domestic bonds were issued by the Financial Board of the Qing Government taking Chinese external bonds as model. However, owing to a lack of experience, national credits and modern financial institution, these bonds soon became a way of extorting common people and collecting donations from wealthy people in exchange for honours from the government. The Qing government not only failed to collect enough money from the civil society by Zhao Xin Bonds, but also lost its credit, by a sharp contrast to the Chinese external bonds issued through foreign banks.

    Kōyasan and local power: Sacred space and political influence in medieval temple land
    Dr Philip Garrett, Japanese Studies

    In this talk, I look at the political and spiritual role of the Shingon Buddhist temple complex Kōyasan in central Japan in the early medieval period. During the medieval period, Kōyasan built up an extensive domain of proprietary estates in northern Kii Province which, by the fourteenth century, stretched over an area equivalent to half of modern Greater London. In contrast to the scattered, distant estates of many other major temples and Kōyasan's own distant estates, a close and often fractious relationship developed between the community atop the mountain and those of the estates in the valleys below. I will introduce some aspects of my research into the interaction between the temple and local society, and the means by which this relationship was expressed and controlled, focusing on the construction of temporal authority through the projection of sacred space and divine support. In particular, the talk looks at the troubled reciprocal relationship between warrior families and Kōyasan’s monastic councils through kinship and ASBO-like holy vows.

    Why are some linguists hunting down people who can speak two or more languages?
    Manyun LIU, PhD Candidate in Chinese Studies

    As a PhD student focusing on language acquisition, my peers and I are constantly looking for some 'bilinguals' for our research. What is the rationale behind such studies? In this interactive talk, I would engage my audience in one case of linguistic inquiries on bilingualism to give them a taste of the study of bilingualism and language acquisition.

    EAS Postgraduate Seminar 2015-06-04-1 EAS Postgraduate Seminar 2015-06-04-2
    EAS Postgraduate Seminar 2015-06-04-3 EAS Postgraduate Seminar 2015-06-04-4

  • Tuesday, 9th June, 2015

    Note: This session will take place in the Ramsden Room, St Catharine's College (instead of the Rushmore Room)

    Echoing Rulership – Understanding Musical References in the Huainanzi
    Avital ROM, MPhil Candidate in Chinese Studies

    The Huainanzi text (淮南子presented in 139 BCE compiled by Liu An劉安 179-122 BCE), while defining itself as a political guide, is replete with references to music (yue樂) itself and music-related terms. This gives rise to the question: Which functions could music possibly have in such an overtly political text? The interactions between music and the social and political spheres in the Huainanzi are what I wish to examine in my dissertation, presented in this talk. While no chapter of the work’s twenty-one chapters is specifically dedicated to the subject of music, no single chapter of it completely lacks musical references. An analysis of these references reveals an intriguing, multidimensional attitude towards music, touching upon moral discourses, discourses on political power, cosmological perceptions, and much more. Indeed, in the court of Huainan, discussions on tradition and change seem to receive their own rhythm, composition and timbre. By collecting the musical references in the text, placing them side by side, and analysing them, I hope to unfold the overall function music serves in the Huainanzi, and examine the ways in which it may contribute to our understanding of the Western Han era.

    The Second Language Acquisition of Chinese 'bei' Passive Constructions
    DAI Ruyi, PhD Candidate in Chinese Studies

    In this seminar, I will present the progress of my PhD project to date, which investigates Mandarin Chinese 'bei' passive constructions and their second language acquisition by English speakers. Passive constructions are commonly used worldwide, yet languages vary in their ways of forming them. For example, Chinese and English passive constructions have different word orders and formation strategies: in English, they are typically formed with the combination of an auxiliary verb 'be' and a passive participle, taking the passive suffix -en (or -ed); by contrast, Chinese employs an individual passive marker, typically 'bei', to mark passive sentences. In line with the main goals of generative linguistics and second language acquisition research, which aim to explain why languages have the properties they do and how knowledge of language is acquired, I provide an analysis of Chinese passive constructions based on features, which are postulated as the atomic properties of words (Adger, 2003). I will also introduce the Feature Reassembly Hypothesis (Lardiere, 2008; 2009), which proposes that the burden of second language acquisition boils down to the reconfiguration of lexical features into feature bundles appropriate to the second language.

    EAS Postgraduate Seminar 2015-06-09-1 EAS Postgraduate Seminar 2015-06-09-2 EAS Postgraduate Seminar 2015-06-09-3

For further information, contact:

Rudolph Ng