AP Forum: East Asian Studies MA Thesis Presentations
Quinn Bulkeley, Yuan Wang, Zhushengyuan Wang
During this forum graduating students from the MA in East Asian Studies program will present their culminating work. This event will be made available in a hybrid format; remote attendees should register via Zoom.
In-person attendees should RSVP by 4:00PM on Thursday, March 2 - light refreshments will be served (and we need to confirm the catering order).
Fine Lines: Negotiating Identity and Language in Translation in Lee Yang-ji’s Yuhi and Kazukime
Abstract: This project seeks to examine how identity and language are formulated, negotiated, and destabilized in Lee Yang-ji’s novellas, Yuhi (1989) and Kazukime (1983), particularly when these works are translated into a third language, English. Both stories are deeply embedded in the history of the Zainichi Korean community in Japan, and offer valuable insight into the trials and tribulations faced by Korean-Japanese, especially women, as they struggle between Japan and Korea. These translations and introduction hope to highlight the painful schisms and blurring boundaries in identity that Lee’s characters experience, whether they are Zainichi Korean, Korean, or Japanese. This project also attempts to emphasize the simultaneously mediating and limiting role that language performs in Lee’s works, where the very act or performance of language necessitates a choice between Japanese and Korean, and Japan and Korea.
A Century of Sleeplessness: Zheng Guangzu, Lower Gentry and Religion, 1776-1866
Abstract: In my MA thesis, I probe the extent to which Confucian culture can meet the spiritual needs of common people. I use the word “sleeplessness” both literally and figuratively. My protagonist, a member of a local elite from Lower Yangzi Delta, suffered from insomnia and was perturbed by the corruption of Confucianism by popular Buddhism and Taoism. These were, however, merely an interlude to the great challenge of his life, the spread of the Taiping religion, a heterodox Christian ideology that triggered the mid-19th century civil war. Through a case study, my research highlights the Confucian literati’s daily interaction with local religious practices that are alien to their cultural ethos, and sheds light on Confucian’s responses to the Taiping. More broadly, based on my protagonist’s description of local religion, my thesis evaluates the extent of the state’s success in reaching into local society through the lens of its religious policy. Although it was the greatest patron of Confucianism, the state, I argue, exhibited an ambivalent attitude toward local cults rather than outright rejection.
“Sky Eye”: Infrastructure, Politics and Livelihood in Southern Guizhou
Abstract: This thesis sheds light on rural life in Kedu Town, southern Guizhou. Drawing from the idea of “doubling of infrastructure” (Muehlmann 2019), I see the FAST (Five-hundred-meter Aperture Spherical Telescope) project as a channel to deliver the political importance of scientific research for the “visible” purpose, and as a way for calling social engagement in the local realm for the “invisible” intention. Based on the fieldwork and interviews, the thesis finds that the FAST project unveils its “invisible” intention due to the conflicts between the displaced residents and the local government. Plus, the emergence of COVID-19 becomes another challenge to the livelihoods in the FAST era, which directs the FAST project to an increasingly complicated presence.