Fall 2013 EALC Newsletter
Dear Alumni, Students, and Friends,
Welcome to the inaugural issue of the annual Department of East Asian Languages and Cultures Newsletter! We are launching this newsletter to keep you informed of the exciting developments in EALC. In this issue you will find updates about faculty, students, and alumni. We also invite you to contribute to our next newsletter. Please share stories of your adventures and accomplishments since you graduated from Wake Forest.
EALC has come a long way since it became a department in 2004. Enrollment in Chinese and Japanese classes has increased dramatically. The Department now has two full-time Chinese lecturers. The major curricula are more rigorous and the department’s course offerings are richer than ever. EALC faculty have reached out to their colleagues in History, Political Science, and Religion to promote East Asian Studies at Wake Forest. Professors Wei-chin Lee, Jay Ford, Robert Hellyer, and Qiong Zhang became affiliated members of the Department. In recent years EALC has also increased its efforts to invite speakers and performers to the university to bring greater awareness of East Asian cultures to the campus and local communities. We would like to thank our alumni, faculty, staff, students, and friends. Our accomplishments would not have been possible without your participation and help.
Andy Rodekohr joined the department in Fall of 2012 as Assistant Professor of Chinese Literature and Culture. He received his Ph.D. from Harvard University, where he wrote his dissertation on the literary, visual, and cinematic uses of the crowd image in modern Chinese literature, political propaganda, and film. His interest in China came from his his study of revolutionary and postcolonial fiction in East Asia as a comparative literature major in college at the University of Georgia. Following his Master’s study at Columbia University, Andy lived and worked in Taiwan and China for several years, an invaluable experience that he hopes Wake Forest students can share through study abroad. “One of the strengths of the EALC department at Wake Forest is its commitment to study abroad as a component of language study,” he says. “Language and culture are not just objects of knowledge, but ways of living that need to be experienced to be truly learned.” Besides
furthering his research on crowds in China, Andy has also begun a new project that relates more to contemporary popular culture. He says, “While my previous research on the notion of the masses is inherently political in nature, this project looks at the flip side of mobilizing audiences through feelings and styles rather than political ideology.” He is especially interested investigating and comparing the connections between the popular cultures of Mainland China, Hong Kong, and Taiwan. At Wake Forest, Andy teaches courses on Chinese popular culture, film, and traditional narrative, in which he gives students the option of making creative projects rather than writing papers. “Learning can be expressed in a variety of ways outside the conventional term paper,” he says,” so I really like to see how students can take the ideas and topics we discuss in class and translate them into their own iMovie, script, or performance.”
Fangfang Li joined the department of East Asian Languages and Culture in July, 2012 as a Visiting Lecturer in Chinese. She received her undergraduate degree in Chinese Linguistics and Literature from Shandong University of Science and Technology in China. Upon graduation, she taught Chinese literature In a professional college in Shandong before deciding to pursue a career in teaching Chinese as a second language. In 2007 Fangfang received her M.A. degree in Chinese Language and Pedagogy from Beijing Language and Culture University. While still in graduate school she worked as a tutor at the Harvard Beijing Summer Intensive Chinese Program where she conducted personalized Chinese lessons and facilitated small group dialogues. In 2007 Fangfang began working for Cornell University as an instructor in the Cornell Peking Intensive Chinese Program and was subsequently invited to teach at Cornell University as a teaching associate. Since coming to Wake Forest, she has enjoyed the close interactions with her students. Her fields of interest are Chinese pedagogy and instructional technology. In Fall 2013 Fangfang became a formal member of the Department as Lecturer in Chinese and will teach two intermediate and advanced Chinese courses. In both courses she adopts a student-centered and communication-oriented approach in order to help students lay a solid foundation in language form and gain confidence in using the targeted language.
DEPARTMENT SPONSORED EVENTS
“Labor and Activism in China: A Dialogue with Han Dongfang”
In April 2013 Chinese labor activist visited Wake Forest University as a guest of the Department. Recipient of numerous international awards, including the 1993 Democracy Award from the U.S. National Endowment for Democracy, Mr. Han Dongfang is an advocate for China labor rights. He was an instrumental figure in the first non-state organized labor union in China in the late 1980s. Han Dongfang and his team at the
HK-based China Labor Bulletin, which he co-founded, have been working closely with migrant workers, labor union leaders, and various NGOs to help fight for labors’ rights in China. Apart from his involvement with China Labor Bulletin, Han Dongfang also hosts a program on Radio Free Asia focusing on Chinese labor issues. Mr. Han gave a fascinating talk on collective bargaining in China.
The Department brought a traditional Chinese opera and music ensemble to perform in Brendle Recital Hall in Fall 2012. The concert program included excerpts from the classical Chinese opera The Peony Pavilion and The Butterfly Lovers Concerto for erhu the two-string Chinese fiddle. Written by Tang Xianzu in the 16th century, The Peony Pavilion is a masterpiece of Chinese literature. It tells the story of a sheltered young lady named Du Liniang, who falls in love with a handsome young scholar in a dream. Upon realizing the impossibility of her love, she is grief-stricken, wastes away and dies. The king of the netherworld, however, rules that she is predestined to marry the young scholar Liu Mengmei and allows her to return to earth. Du appears in a dream to Liu, who becomes equally smitten with her. Liu exhumes her from her grave and Du is restored to life. The Butterfly Lovers Concerto is one of the best loved pieces of modern Chinese music. It was originally scored for the violin in the 1950s and
incorporates melodies from a regional Chinese opera of the same name. The opera tells the doomed romance of two young lovers who reunite as butterflies after death. The concert attracted a large turnout from both within the university and the local community and marked the first time classical Kunqu opera was performed in the Triad.
DEPARTMENT SPONSORED EVENTS
Award-winning author Rachel DeWoskin discussing writing and China
In October 2012 the Department invited novelist Rachel DeWoskin to speak on campus. DeWoskin is the winner of the American Library Association’s Alex Award. Her most recent novel Big Girl Small was one of Newsday’s Top Three books for 2011. Her memoir, Foreign Babes in Beijing, about the years she spent in China as the unlikely star of a Chinese soap opera, has been published in 6 countries and is being developed as a television series by HBO. In her lecture DeWoskin addressed questions about difference and language, about how human beings communicate across gaps, whether cultural, linguistic, political, or generational. Rachel DeWoskin spoke about writing and China, about how we think and talk and write about our own culture, and from there, other cultures, what it means to explore someone else’s land and language and to write that exploration down, to an attentive and appreciative audience. The talk was followed by a lively question and answer session. Several students came up to Rachel DeWoskin for more conversation after the talk officially ended. In addition to her talk, DeWoskin visited an advanced Chinese language class and interacted with the students in Chinese for about 40 minutes. She shared her experiences with Chinese mini blogs and encouraged the students to start their own in Chinese.
Workshops on Traditional Japanese Arts
The Japanese Program and the Japanese Studies Club organized two large, campus-wide events. In October 2012 three instructors from the Triangle Nippon Club in Raleigh gave a demonstration and conducted a hands-on workshop on chano-yu (Japanese tea ceremony) and koto (a Japanese string instrument).
In April 2013 the Japanese Studies Club received support from the Student Activities Fund to organize the Asian Spring Festival at the Barn, which featured demonstrations of kendo (Japanese fencing) by a group from Durham and aikido by the Wake Forest Aikido Club, a calligraphy table hosted by the Japanese Program, and authentic Japanese, Chinese, and Korean food from local restaurants. Other activities in 2012-2013 included a booth at the WFU World Cultural Fair, a Japanese film screening co-sponsored with the Multicultural Affairs Office, participation in the Duke University Japanese Speech Contest, Japanese program luncheons at Professor Takata-Rallings’ home, and monthly activities by the Japanese Studies Club.
Professor Yaohua Shi taught a new course Early 20th Chinese Modernism in Spring 2013. The main objective of the course was to introduce students to various modernist experiments in literature, art, architecture, design, and music in the 1920s and 30s. By the end of the course, students were expected to demonstrate an understanding of the historical context of Chinese modernism; identify and describe modernist trends in Chinese literature, art, and design; identify and describe the relationships between Chinese modernist works and their western and Japanese counterparts.
In May 2013 Professor Shi delivered a paper at a conference at Beijing Capital Normal University. The conference’s theme was traumatic memory in modern and contemporary Chinese literature and attracted scholars from China, South Korea, Japan, Europe as well as the United States. Professor Shi’s paper dealt with Yang Jiang’s prose writings. Yang Jiang is a prolific writer and translator. Memory has been a central subject of Yang Jiang’s prolific writings after she reemerged in the public eye three decades ago. In his paper Professor Shi argues that Yang’s acts of remembrance and her insistence on small, intensely personal narratives constitute a form of resistance to the amnesia preferred by the Party as well as to totalizing narratives of any persuasion. By refusing to make grand gestures under any circumstance, she has succeeded in presenting her own alternative histories and reclaiming herself in the process.
Andy Rodekohr, Assistant Professor in Chinese, began teaching at Wake Forest in August of 2012. He submitted the final draft of his dissertation, titled “Conjuring the Masses: The Figure of the Crowd in Modern Chinese Literature and Visual Culture,” in September and received his Ph.D. in Modern Chinese Literature from Harvard University in November. During his first year, he taught five courses on Chinese literature, film, and culture, including a new First Year Seminar titled “Locating China: Stories of Site and City.” In January of 2013, Andy travelled to Wilmington for the annual meeting of the Southeastern Regional Association for Asian Studies, where he presented a paper titled “The Crowd as a Visual Medium: Picturing the Masses in Chinese Propaganda” that looks at the visual techniques of representing the Chinese crowd as a symbol of the ideologically-reified “masses.”
At the end of March, Andy participated in a roundtable workshop with the award-winning Chinese author Yan Lianke. At the workshop Andy presented on an ongoing project titled “Writing in the Party’s Own Voice: The Use of MaoSpeak in Yan Lianke and Mo Yan.” The next week he travelled to Cambridge, Massachusetts, in order to participate in the international conference “Lu Xun and East Asia” at Harvard University. Andy’s presentation was titled “Lu Xun and the Politics of Crowd Representation.” Upon returning to Winston- Salem, Andy served as organizer for the event “Labor and Activism in China: A Conversation with Han Dongfang” on April 9 (see above). Finally, on April 25 Andy organized a screening of the 2010 martial arts film True Legend, which was preceded by his brief introduction to the genealogy of the famous kung fu character of Su Qi’er, the “Drunken Master.” In addition to conference presentation and event organization, Andy’s article “Conjuring the Masses: The Spectral/Spectacular Crowd in Chinese Film” was published as part of the volume The Oxford Handbook of Chinese Cinemas in 2012, and a Chinese translation of his article “Lu Xun and the Figure of the Crowd” will be published in the forthcoming issue of the journal Wenxue (Literature).
Yasuko Takata Rallings, Senior Lecturer in Japanese, continues to be very active in regional and national professional organizations and gave four presentations last year: “Promoting Conversation Skills through Tasks in the Japanese Classroom ” at the Foreign Language Association of North Carolina (FLANC) conference in October 2012 in Winston-Salem; “Write, Speak, Respond: Encouraging Meaningful Interaction through Homework Assignments” at the American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages (ACTFL) conference in November 2012 in Philadelphia; “Assessment of Learning Outcomes for the Japanese Major Program” at the Southeastern Association of Teachers of Japanese (SEATJ) conference in
March 2013 in Charleston, S.C.; and “Dynamic Assessment for Oral Performance Tests in Elementary and Intermediate Japanese” at the spring conference of the American Association of Teachers of Japanese (AATJ) in March 2013 in San Diego. She also has a chapter titled “The Oral Performance Test as a Formative Assessment in an Intermediate-Level College Japanese Language Course” in the upcoming publication “Practical Assessment Tools for College Japanese” from the National Foreign Language Resource Center. Because of her leadership and service to professional teaching organizations, she has been invited to serve on the FLANC executive board and the AATJ board of directors.
Fengyan Hu, Lecturer in Chinese, attended the American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages ( ACTFL) conference in November 2012 in Philadelphia. In March 2013 she gave a presentation “Using Authentic Materials in Advanced Business Chinese Courses” at the 5th Business Chinese Workshop in Ann Arbor, Michigan.
Professor Marc Yamada left Wake Forest University at the end of Spring 2013. Professor Yamada came to the Department in Fall 2010 and helped revitalize the Japanese Program. In his three years at Wake Forest, Professor Yamada taught several new courses including a new senior research seminar, Introduction to Japanese Film, Contemporary East Asian Cinema, and Contemporary Japanese Culture. Professor Yamada was a very dedicated and popular teacher. We are fortunate to have had him be part of the Department. In Fall 2013 Professor Yamada will begin teaching at Brigham Young University. We wish him continued success.
STUDENT & ALUMNI NEWS
The Japanese Studies Club (JSC) is a student run extracurricular organization that explores and discusses Japanese culture. Typical meetings consist of watching a Japanese film, game nights, or cooking nights. The JSC also holds its annual East Asian Spring Festival every April. The JSC hosted taiko (traditional Japanese drumming) October 2011 and sado (Japanese tea ceremony) events October 2012 and plan to do so again this fall. The JSC is open to all students, regardless of whether or not they formally study
Japanese language or culture. The current co-chairs of JSC are Robert “Trey” Coury and Steven Suarez.
The Chinese Studies Club (CSC) received its charter from the university in Spring 2013. The Club has been active since 2011 and has helped organize various extracurricular activities including the Chinese opera and music performance and Rachel DeWoskin’s visit to Wake Forest. The Club has also hosted Chinese movie nights, Chinese dumpling making parties and Chinese language tables. The current president of CSC is Jillian Shuster.
2013 North Carolina Chinese Writing Contest. We want to applaud students in our Chinese classes for participating in this event this past spring. Thanks to everybody’s enthusiasm, Wake Forest University was recognized as Excellent Organization of 2013 NC Chinese Speech/Writing Contests. Honor belongs to all those 18 participants. We are proud of Dorronda Bordley, who won the first place award,
Thi Tepnarumit, Catherine Wright, and Won Geong Jeong who won the third place award, and Julie Chu, Houston Clark, Emily Wikner, who got honorable mentions. We also want to thank our faculty adviser Fangfang Li for her expert coaching.
This year’s homecoming and reunion weekend is taking place October 18th and 19th. We hope you can make it! For a detailed listing of events go to the Homecoming website.
Spring 2014 Workshop and Seminar
The Department will host Professor Shigehisa Kuriyama from Harvard University March 19-20, 2014. Professor Kuriyama will give a talk on his innovative teaching approach and a seminar entitled Picturing Skeletons: Science, Global Trade, and the Roots of Modern Distraction. Professor Kuriyama’s research explores broad philosophical issues (being and time, representations and reality, knowing and feeling) through the lens of specific topics in comparative medical history (Japan, China, and Europe). His recent work includes studies on the imagination of strings in the metaphysics and experience of presence, the visceral fear of excrement in Western medicine, the transformation of money into a palpable humor in Edo Japan, the nature of hiddenness in traditional Chinese medicine,
and the surprising web of connections binding the histories of ginseng, opium, tea, silver, and MSG. To learn more about Professor Kuriyama check out his website.