Past Events

Spring 17 Lecture Events:

"Tushu 圖書: The Complementarity of Words and Graphic Images in the Exposition of East Asian Thought and Religion"

Speaker: Robert Gimello, Research Professor, Departments of Theology and East Asian Languages and Cultures, University of Notre Dame

11am-12:30pm, Friday, March 24, 2017

Location: National Churchill Library and Center, Gelmen Library, First Floor, George Washington University, 2130 H Street NW, Washington, DC 20052

This lecture explores a late 7th century Sino-Korean Buddhist text -- the 華厳一乗法界圖-- which has as its foundation the “seal-poem (pictured above).” Prof. Gimello will talk about this text, about its place in both Chinese and transcultural traditions of patterned poetry and word-mazes, and about the larger semiotic implications of wedding words to graphic images.

Registration is required for this event. Please RSVP at


"Reading Distance: Port Louis, Cairo, Beijing"

Speaker: Professor Michael Gibbs Hill, University of South Carolina/College of William and Mary

Friday, February 24, 2017, 4:00pm-5:30pm

Location: National Churchill Library and Center, Gelman Library, first floor George Washington University, 2130 H Street NW, Washington, DC 20052

Registration is required for this event. Please RSVP at

Michael Gibbs Hill (Ph.D. 2008, Columbia University), Visiting Associate Professor of  Chinese, comes to William and Mary after teaching for nine years at the University of South Carolina. His research and teaching interests include Chinese literature and cultural history, translation studies, and connections between China and the Middle East. For the 2016– 2017 academic year he will hold an ACLS Frederick Burkhardt Residential Fellowship at the Kluge Center at the Library of Congress.

Fall 16 Lecture Events:

"Hallyu in India and South Asia"

Speaker: Dr. Ravikesh Mishra (Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi)

Monday, October 3, 2016, 4:00pm-5:30pm

Location: Rome Hall 411 (Dean’s Conference Room, 801 22nd St. NW, Washington, DC 20052)

Registration is required for this event. Please RSVP at

Dr. Ravikesh Mishra heads the Centre for Korean Studies at Jawaharlal Nehru University. His area of interest and research include Korean language teaching, modern Korean literature, aesthetics, and literary translation. His talk will focus on the importance of promoting Korean Studies as one of the effective component of ‘Hallyu’ in the South Asian countries in general and India in particular. It also recapitulates the process of reception, adoption and assimilation of ‘Asian’ element that ‘Hallyu’ intrinsically possesses.


"Semantic Structures We Live By: Comparing English and East Asian Languages"

Speaker: Professor Nan Jiang of the University of Maryland

Friday, October 14, 2016, 3:30pm-5:00pm

Location: Rome Hall 459 (801 22nd St. NW, Washington, DC 20052)

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Each and every language has a semantic system underlying its linguistic form. How this system is structured differs across languages. Systematic comparison of semantic structures across languages is importantly pedagogically because accurate and idiomatic use of a second language (L2) is dependent on the development of an L2-specific semantic system (which is often neglected in L2 teaching). It is also importantly theoretically because understanding how semantic differences impact L2 learning may shed light on human learning and cognition. In the lecture, Dr. Jiang will share his observations of how semantic structures differ at both the lexical and sentence level between English and Chinese (and potentially other East Asian languages). The purpose is to enhance the awareness of such differences among L2 learners and teachers.

Spring 16 Lecture Events:

"Women and Buddhist Philosophy: Engaging with Zen Master Kim Iryŏp"

Speaker: Dr. Jin Y. Park, Associate Professor of Philosophy and Religion, American University

Friday, February 19, 2016

This talk considers shared domain of women and Buddhist philosophy: what they share in common and how we characterize it. To this end, Professor Park will explore the life and philosophy of a twentieth century KoreanZen Master, Kim Iryŏp (1896-1971). A daughter of Christian parents, Kim Iryŏp was the first generation Korean feminist and a writer who became a Zen Buddhist nun. Iryŏp’s life and Buddhist philosophy demonstrates a multi-layered encounter between women and Buddhism, and further shed light on the meaning of autobiography, narrative identity, writing as testimony, and meaning construction in our daily existence.

Fall 15 Lecture Events:

"Politeness and Metaphor in Japanese"

Speaker: Dr. Alan Hyun-Oak Kim, Associate Professor of Japanese and Linguistics, Southern Illinois University

Friday, October 9, 2015

In his book Grammatical Encoding of Politeness: Systemic Metaphorization in Japanese, Professor Alan Hyun-Oak Kim argues that Japanese honorifics are organized by a set of relatively simple principles about the Superior, a metaphorized taboo entity. Professor Kim’s lecture, based on his book, will elucidate various honorific patterns in Japanese hitherto separately handled from the unified perspective of metaphorization.

Spring 15 Lecture Events:

"Making of the Korean Honorific System"

Speaker: Young-Key Kim-Renaud, Professor of Korean Language and Culture, George Washington University

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Korean is a typologically unusual “honorific” language. This lecture focuses on some universal politeness strategies that have shaped various honorific markings and continue to affect the Korean linguistic protocol (LP), which is governed by the social norm. Of particular interest are “panmal,” literally meaning ‘half speech,’ gendered language use, and “overdosing” of the subject-honorific form, all manifesting language change in progress.

"Fashioned Exposure: Empress Dowager Cixi's (1835-1908) Photographic Portraits”

Speaker:  Ying-Chen Peng, Assistant Professor, Department of Art, American University

Wednesday, April 1, 2015
This talk analyzes how Empress Dowager Cixi (1835–1908) utilized photography to produce images for different purposes. While Cixi created a formal image for the foreign public, she also projected a provocative personal celebration of female agency in the photographs intended for informal purposes. Regardless of photography’s novel properties, both types of images linger between tradition and innovation. On the one hand, Cixi’s formal photo portraits rigorously adopt the visual language of traditional imperial portraiture to ensure the sitter’s transformation from a single individual to the embodiment of an empire. On the other hand, Cixi appropriated negatively perceived poses in beauty painting, such as looking into a mirror and crossing her legs, to emphasize the power generated from feminine beauty and fecundity. Her appropriation was not to extend the painting’s original meaning but to facilitate a purposeful subversion.

“Every Rock A Universe: The Yellow Mountains and Travel Writing in China"

Speaker: Jonathan Chaves, Professor of Chinese, George Washington University

Friday, March 6, 2015
Poetry and prose inspired by visits to beautiful places, especially the mountains, constitute an important branch of Chinese literature. Jonathan Chaves recently published the first translation into a Western language of Huangshan lingyaolu 黄山領要錄 , "Comprehending the Essentials of the Yellow Mountains," written by Wang Hongdu 汪洪度.--a painter, calligrapher, poet and prose writer--in 1696, during the "Golden Age" of the Yellow Mountains and the art and literature they inspired. In this talk, Prof. Chaves will discuss his research, including his visit to the Yellow Mountains in the company of great landscape photographer, Wang Wusheng, and will show images of the Mountains. He will also read from the original text, and from his translations, of Wang Hongdu's work.

Fall 2014 Lecture Events:

Author Event with Nakamura Fuminori

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

A reading and discussion with the acclaimed Japanese author upon the release of the English translation of his latest work, Last Winter, We Parted, the Winner of the 2014 David L. Goodis Award for Noir Fiction

In Last Winter We Parted (Soho Crime | October, 21st, 2014) a young writer arrives at a prison to interview a convict.

The writer has been commissioned to write a full account of the case, from its bizarre and grisly details to the nature of the man behind the crime. The suspect, a world-renowned photographer named Kiharazaka, has a deeply unsettling portfolio—lurking beneath the surface of each photograph is an acutely obsessive fascination with his subject.  He stands accused of murdering two women—both burned alive—and will likely face the death penalty. But something isn't quite right, and as the young writer probes further, his doubts about this man as a killer intensify...    Evoking Ryunosuke Akutagawa’s “Hell Screen” and Truman Capote’s In Cold Blood, Nakamura has crafted a chilling novel that asks a deceptively sinister question:  Is it possible to truly capture the essence of another human being?  [From Soho Press, NY.] 

Spring 2014 Lecture Events:

“Moonlight and Golden Clouds:  Silver and Gold in the Arts of Japan”.

Speaker: Ann Yonemura, Freer Gallery of Art and Arthur M. Sackler Gallery, Smithsonian Institution

Friday, April 25, 2014

Since the nineteenth century, studies of the arts of Japan have often isolated the crafts, treating them as separable from the mainstream of art history and as minor vehicles of aesthetic ideas. Lacquerware, especially maki-‐e, with its sumptuous designs in gold and silver, is often considered as merely “decorative,” rather than as a primary carrier of aesthetic and cultural values, ideas, and meaning.

Some styles of Japanese painting have been similarly described as  “decorative,” a term that has in recent times tended to trivialize the functions and significance of gold, silver, and the adornment of objects and images in the contexts for which they were designed, made, and used. A hallmark of the Japanese visual arts from the eighth century onward is prevalence of gold and silver not only as adornment, but as a fundamental component of pictorial representation across media. Artists developed an unmatched range of techniques for creating subtle images in gold and silver that imbued their work with the luminosity of reflected light. This paper examines the technical, aesthetic, and cultural significance of gold and silver in Japanese art and argues for an integrative approach to research of the aesthetic history of Japan.

“Asia in the Making of the New World”

Speaker: Prof. Chi-ming Yang, University of Pennsylvania

Friday, Jan. 31, 2014

How did the Asian luxury trade shape new representations of race in Europe and the Americas? By the mid-1600s, the demand for Chinese and Japanese luxury goods was shaping Western tastes across the Atlantic world, and the drive to replicate these commodities spurred numerous innovations in the arts and sciences, in particular, techniques for coloring and coating surfaces. The marvelous, glossy veneers of China trade porcelain and lacquer also provided new media for portraying indigenous peoples of the Americas. Fantastical chinoiserie designs often juxtaposed ethnographic details from travel accounts ranging from Florida to Brazil, rendering consumable the very idea of the global and aestheticizing the violence endemic to long-distance trade. How were bodies racialized through their association with Eastern luxury goods? How did Asian decorative art and ornament feed emerging discourses of slavery, complexion, and racial difference? By tracking the circulation of images of native peoples, plants, and animals between and across different media, we can better understand how an eighteenth-century aesthetics of race relied upon new technologies of representing and understanding a globalized world.

Fall 2013 Lecture Events:

“Studying Abroad: The Ivy League Dream and Chinese Modernity”

Speaker: Andy Chih-Ming Wang, Associate Researcher, Academia Sinica, Taiwan, currently a visiting scholar in the English Department.

Friday, November 15, 2013

In 1854 Yung Wing, who graduated with a bachelor’s degree from Yale University, returned to a poverty-stricken China, where domestic revolt and foreign invasion were shaking the Chinese empire. Since then, generations of students from China—and other Asian countries—have embarked on this transpacific voyage in search of modernity. What forces have shaped Chinese students' migration to the U.S.? What impact do they have on the formation of Asian America? In particular, what does study abroad mean in the context of the globalization of education? Based on Dr. Wang’s new book, the talk opens up discussion about Chinese parents' and students' obsession with the Ivy League schools. Study abroad in the West has always been a project of neoliberal subject formation. By examining the lives and voices of these scholars, we can understand how becoming Asian American has become both the lure and the burden of Chinese modernity and intellectual independence.

Bio: Andy Wang is Associate Researcher in the Institute of European and American Studies, Academia Sinica, Taiwan. His articles appeared in major leading journals, including positions: asia critique, American Quarterly and Cultural Studies. Andy Wang’s first book, Transpacific Articulations: Study Abroad and the Remaking of Asian America was recently published by the University of Hawai'i Press (2013).

Inaugural lecture: The languages of East Asia: What does it mean to be East Asian?”
Speaker: S. Robert Ramsey of the University of Maryland

Friday, October 18, 2013
Abstract: East Asia is not a geographical area—at least for those of us who spend our lives studying it. Rather, “East Asia” is the shorthand term we use in talking about one the world’s great civilizations. In a word, it’s primarily a cultural term for us, not a geographical one, and in that sense East Asian Studies is not area studies at all. It’s about the history and deeper significance of human culture and institutions.

And yet, geography, the lay of the land, is nevertheless an important topic for the East Asianist, because it has shaped the languages and cultures of East Asia to a remarkable degree. How that happened is a topic I plan to explore, at least in a general way, in my talk.

Bio: Robert Ramsey is Professor of East Asian linguistics at the University of Maryland and immediate past chair of the Department of Asian and East European Languages and Cultures. Ramsey’s geographic focus encompasses Japan, China, Korea, and East Asia. He is best known for his work on Korean dialects and the reconstruction of prehistoric stages of Korean.