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Lent Term 2016

Department of East Asian Studies

Postgraduate Research Seminars

Academical Year 2015-2016


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 drinks and nibbles!

The Seminars are generously sponsored by the Chinese Studies Group of the Faculty of Asian and Middle Eastern Studies. The Needham Institute has kindly agreed for the seminars to be held at their location.

Unless otherwise noted, seminars meet on Tuesdays at the Needham Institute, 8 Sylvester Road, Cambridge CB3 9A. (see for location) 

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

For questions, or if you’re interested in presenting or organizing, please contact Hajni Elias ().

Lent Term, 2016

  • Tuesday, 19th January, 2016

    The Embedded Fate: Programming Work in Post-socialist China
    Li Liming, Ph.D. Candidate in Chinese Studies

    This ongoing work aims to explore the interactions between and among market, society and the state. It starts with the debate between Polanyi and Marx over the fundamental driving force underneath capitalist societies, and argues that Polanyi’s concept of “commodification” explains better the experience of production than Marx’s exploitation model given the Chinese context of industrial transformation. However, due to the uncertainties of the “countermovement”, I propose that a closer examination of the production process followed a Marxism tradition, together with the embeddedness of market from the political-cultural perspective, are the key to uncover how labourers in the high-tech industries of China are constructed into the socialist enterprises at the local and everyday level.

    Imitation and Innovation: Chinese Authenticity and Cultural Expression of Sir William Chambers’s Great Pagoda
    Yuan Xinyue, MA History of Art and Archaeology, SOAS, University of London

    In my talk, I am going to present my research on the Great Pagoda at Kew designed by Sir William Chambers (1723-1796), in which I investigated the imitation and innovation of the Great Pagoda through fundamental visual analysis and further contextual interpretation. With an emphasis on its Chinese authenticity, I will firstly trace the pagoda’s potential Chinese sources and assess the accuracy of Chambers’s Chinese design by looking into historical materials which have rarely been examined. On the other hand, I attempt to articulate innovative aspects of Chambers’s design influenced by a whole network of building technologies, topographical accounts and chinoiserie trends. I will further interpret cultural meanings and expressions of the Great Pagoda and the agency of its Chinese authenticity. Acting as masculine power, nationalism discourse and public narrative, the Great Pagoda helps shed light on the contradictory attitudes to Chinese objects which prevailed in eighteenth-century England. Particularly, its Chinese authenticity was utilised to crowd out extravagant effeminate taste and inauthentic continental models, shape the national identity and express the ‘Englishness’ which embodies ambivalences of the age.

  • Tuesday, 16th February, 2016 

    The Image of the Genpei War in the Edo Period
    Naama Eisenstein, Ph.D. Candidate, History of Art and Archaeology, SOAS

    This ongoing research examines how stories and figures of the Genpei War (1180-1185) were retold, adapted and represented during the Edo period (1603-1868), aiming to elucidate the ways in which Edo people understood and used their own history. In this talk I will focus on one of my working themes: female models and their representations. Stories of the Genpei War revolve mainly around men and their heroic - or cowardly - acts, yet several women figures stand out. I will present three examples: Kenreimon'in, Tomoe-gozen and Lady Tamamushi.

    How Tintin met Zhang: The Catholic network in Sino-Belgian Relations from the late 19th century to the early 20th century
    Pan Zhiyuan, Ph.D. Candidate in Chinese Studies

    This is a provisional outline of my project, open to comments and corrections. In 1934 Brussels, a Chinese art student, Zhang Chongren and a Belgian cartoonist, Hergé were introduced to meet up and collaborate. Through their fruitful cooperation afterwards, the bande dessinée The Blue Lotus came into being, which is often regarded as a milestone of The Adventures of Tintin. This encounter at this particular place did not occur as part of a series of random coincidences; instead, tracing down the initiators reveals that the meeting was facilitated by a Catholic network, both from China and Belgium. I attempt to show that untangling the formation of this network on the macro- and the micro-level casts light on the methods of Catholic evangelization, Chinese Catholics' responses to nationalist agitation and previous Sino-Belgian relations before 1930s. I would also suggest that in addition, Zhang and Hergé had a lot in common, through both being Catholics. This similar and shared religious identity also played a role in developing their friendship and fostering their co- partnership.

  • Tuesday, 8th March, 2016

    Music in Literature of Nanbeichao China
    Eleanor Lipsey, Ph.D. Candidate in History of Art & Archeaology, SOAS

    When exploring music cultures dating so far in the past that there are no extant music scores, we have only texts and archaeological artefacts from which to glean hints as to the nature of music practices and ideas about music. My research project addresses the question of what clues to Nanbeichao music culture can be found in the literature of the period. Although few extant Nanbeichao texts focus specifically on music, there are numerous stories and essays on other subjects that refer to music and in doing so provide clues to the range of ideas people had about music at the time. These ideas touch on aesthetics, music as cultural capital, the relationship between music and emotion, and musical sounds as symbols of authority. For context I draw on ethnomusicology discourse on power and identity and on the borders between music and speech. In this presentation I give an overview of my project and then give some examples of how the texts illustrate the music culture of the time.

    Consciousness and Expression: The Chinese Art Song from the Late 19th Century to the End of the 20th Century
    Lu Zhang, Ph.D. Candidate in Modern Chinese Studies, Lanzhou University

    Art song is a dual form of art where text and tone are weighted equally as a fascinating balancing act. At once the most private yet universalising of art forms, the European Lied, or Art song, stood at the forefront of Late Romanticism. Like its European’s counterpart, the Chinese art song is widely known as a great art from and makes for a special part of Chinese modern and contemporary study. It integrates the spirit of Chinese philosophy, the elegant charm of art, the poetic character of literature, and the Chinese musical expression as well as the Chinese national singing repertoire. Through a variety of Chinese cultural prototypes and artistic expression, the Chinese art song presents people’s different perceptions and understanding of the universe and society as well as the pursuit of the ultimate values of spiritual life. In my presentation I intend to offer a précis of what the art song has meant to composers, performers, and listeners during its five stages, and I hope to explain, at least in part, the artistry, national character and the epochal nature of Chinese art song by following the chronological unfolding form the late 19th century to the end of 20th century.

For further information, contact:

Hajni Elias