Current CEAS Newsletter
Many of our Center’s events this April were devoted to a special celebration of Taiwan’s film, literature, and music: CEAS’s Island of Light series. At the beginning of the month, we hosted special discussions and lectures by Professor Wenchi Lin (Associate Dean of the College of Liberal Arts and Director of Film Studies at National Central University in Taiwan) on recent and classic films from Taiwan. Professor Lin’s visit also coincided with the Wisconsin Film Festival and Taiwanese Cinema: The Next Wave Cinematheque series showings of the first of several films that will be donated to the UW-Madison (see here for a news story on the Division of International Studies website.
Later in April there was a lecture and workshop given by Professor Ming-ju Fan (Professor of Taiwanese Literature at National Chengchi University, and alum of UW’s East Asian Languages & Literature), on “The Two Golden Ages of Women’s Literature in Taiwan”, and “Post-regional Fiction in Contemporary Taiwan”. While here at UW-Madison, Professor Fan also facilitated an impressive donation of books from the National Museum of Taiwanese Literature to our Memorial Library.
Id Kah Mosque in Kashgar, Xinjiang
April also closed a special 2-part series of lectures about the Uyghurs (Turkic-speaking Muslim people of Northwest China). For this brief series entitled Muslims in Inner Asia, CEAS teamed up with Brian White and the American Center for Mongolian Studies (ACMS) to co-sponsor two lectures on recent cutting edge scholarship on Uyghurs of Xinjiang. Rebecca Clothey (Director, MS in Global and International Education Program, Drexel University School of Education) spoke on recent educational issues among Uyghurs in Xinjiang in the first lecture of the series on March 24th, and Rian Thum (Assistant Professor of History, Layola University New Orleans) spoke on the relationship of regional histories at shrine festivals in the Tarim Basin, and what this can show us about premodern Uyghur identity in the second lecture on April 28th. Both lectures were recorded and will soon be online at the
ACMS website. The Muslims in Inner Asia series was funded by the Council of American Overseas Research Centers through a grant from the Carnegie Corporation of New York.
What CEAS Faculty are Reading: William Nienhauser
“This semester I’m teaching Tang tales again, that amorphous assembly of works that bump uneasily back and forth across fictional, historical, and allegorical boundaries. My reading also crosses borders. Marjorie Garber’s Shakespeare after All (New York: Pantheon, 2004) was on my desk (and my syllabus) for the first weeks of the semester. Garber highlights the historical context in looking at Shakespeare’s plays, especially the histories, emphasizing how they ‘can be seen to take place in several time periods at once’ and can ‘be readily juxtaposed to the current events of any time, finding new and startling relevance.’ Thus the Earl of Essex, who was plotting rebellion against Queen Elizabeth I in 1601, paid Shakespeare’s company to revive Richard II in order to help set the tenor for his planned usurpation. Elizabeth was not slow to understand the import of the revised play—‘I am Richard II, know ye not that?’ she was reported to have said—and quickly had Essex’s head. Garber teaches us that although we cannot as easily understand the impact of ‘historical’ Tang tales as we do that of Shakespeare’s works, the shadows that real events, such as Yang Guifei’s execution in 756 or Yang Yan’s economic reforms several decades later, cast on readers of Tang tales cannot be ignored. I found myself (along with my students) next reading Catherine Gallagher’s ‘Counterhistory and the Anecdote’ (from Practicing New Historicism) which led in turn to Jack W. Chen’s ‘Blank Spaces and Secret Histories: Questions of Historiographic Epistemology in Medieval China’ (Journal of Asian Studies, 69 ). Chen’s rich, rambling essay ventures from Confucius’ view of the anecdote to the role of gossip in parallel historical and fictional accounts of the lascivious literatus, Li Yi (ca. 748-ca. 829). At the same time, Chen’s insights on the tale featuring Li Yi, ‘The Story of Huo Xiaoyu,’ prove valid for the study of Tang tales in general."
CEAS Student Profile: Keegan Elmer
Keegan Elmer first developed an interest in China during a year-long study abroad program in Banqiao, Taiwan during his senior year of high school. As a Rotary exchange student, Keegan studied at the National Overseas Experimental Senior High School and took classes in Mandarin Chinese. Keegan lived with two different host families, and learned much of his Chinese through conversations over tea with them. Because of his emersion experience and his dedicated study of Mandarin every night, Keegan tested into third-year Chinese upon entering UW-Madison. Keegan is now a senior triple-majoring in East Asian Studies, Chinese, and Political Science, and expects to graduate this May.
At UW-Madison, Keegan completed Madison’s Chinese program, studied Classical Chinese, and even participated in the Confucius Institute’s “Chinese Bridge” Chinese proficiency competition, placing into the world finals in Beijing, China. Keegan once again left for China to study abroad his junior year, participating in a year-long program at Peking University. Keegan spent the first semester taking advanced Chinese language classes. During his second semester Keegan took classes in the International Relations Department. Two of his favorite classes there were “History of Socialism from West to East” and “Philosophy of Zhuangzi.”.
During his time in China, Keegan met many migrant workers while taking a cross-country hard seat train ride. After striking up a conversation with a migrant worker his own age, Keegan was shocked to hear about the average life of a Chinese migrant laborer. The man Keegan spoke with worked 12 hours a day, slept in temporary housing provided by the contracting company, and was only able to visit his wife and daughter once a year during the Spring Festival. The other migrant workers laughed at Keegan’s shocked reaction as this is the average lifestyle for a migrant worker and they all live this way. There are currently over 200 million migrant workers in China, and Keegan wants to learn more about this phenomenon and understand why migrant laborers must live the way they do in China and other parts of the world. This experience on the train inspired Keegan to explore this phenomenon further as his Senior Thesis under Professor Edward Friedman. His focus is on migrant laborers in China, international human rights, and the international “the race to the bottom” in labor standards.
After graduating, Keegan aspires to eventually teach at a university. He envisions himself talking to students about subjects that his is passionate about, and sharing with them the diverse viewpoints and information that he’s gathered over time. One of his most influential professors was Edward Friedman, who not only provided his own insight on Keegan’s research but also offered many opposing and alternative view points. Professor Friedman drastically changed Keegan’s world view during his class on International Political Economy course. Keegan hopes to have a similarly strong impact on students and widen their horizons in the future. But before he turns to academia, Keegan plans to gain some work experience first-hand and work in non-governmental organizations, International Labor Organizations, or the United Nations in China or elsewhere in East Asia.
To see past newsletters, check our newsletter archive.