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AP Forum: Student Presentations, October 20


Mingkang Hao, Huiyin Zhou, Yuming Shi

At this first AP Forum of 2023, the following students will share information about the research they conducted during the summer with support from APSI:

Mingkang Hao—Finding New Insights in the Old Paper Piles and Life Histories: My Archival-searching Journey in the Summer of 2023

From mid-May to mid-August 2023, I spent nearly three months in Tianjin, Zhengzhou, Hangzhou, and Taiwan. What made my summer memorable were archival work, academic discussions, interviews, and life experiences. My archival-searching trip was accompanied by surprise and frustration. This not only helped me enrich and delve more into my two ongoing research projects but also motivated me to think further about the "open access" issue regarding historical resources. In the talk, I will share more about what I have gained and collected during the archival research and how such materials will help me develop my research projects. Additionally, through all the unforgettable surprises, communications, events, and experiences, I have gained a brand new and better understanding of what constitutes history, what a historian could and should do, the relationship between history research, life experience, and imagination, and what key questions might remain lifelong inquiries for me to contemplate and explore. 

Huiyin Zhou—The aesthetics and politics of affective intimacies in transnational Chinese queer feminist organizing

In this talk, I will share some preliminary insights from my ongoing (auto)ethnographical fieldwork and organizing involvement with a grassroots Chinese diasporic art and organizing group, co-founded by several Chinese queer feminists including myself. Through analyzing durational performances, collective poetry-writing workshops, and how these spaces and communally shared knowledges are mediated by digital technologies such as Zoom, I attempt to address these questions: What does intimacy look, sound, or feel like with or without physical proximity to each other? What is the aesthetics and politics of the sense of play, collectivity, and spontaneity in communal art and collective narrativizing? I go beyond what is usually considered “public” or explicitly “political” acts of protest and focus on intimate spaces where collective play, narrativizing and relational building empower an alternative vision for queer feminist survival. Drawing on queer feminist affect theory, I will share my embodied experiences as an organizer, documentarian, and researcher theorizing from the ground.

The research component of this community-based project is funded by the Janet B. Chiang Grant, Gender & Race Research Award, Dean’s Summer Research Fellowship, and URS Independent Study Grant.

Yuming Shi—Colonial Melancholia at the Marginal Frontier: Yu Dafu, Weng Nao, and Mei Niang

“Colonial Melancholia at the Marginal Frontier: Yu Dafu, Weng Nao, and Mei Niang” is the honor thesis project that I am currently working with AMES, for which my research conducted during the summer in Peking and Harvard University offers important theoretical tactics as well as primary sources. In this research, I am going to look at Yu Dafu, Weng Nao, and Mei Niang as three prominent examples of (semi)colonial intellectuals who demonstrate the conundrum of writing modernism in the metropole of Japanese Empire as the “literary frontier”. Using Freud’s formulation of melancholia as a tactic of intervention, I argue that it is Freud’s notion of the sustained and unutterable experience of loss—as the profound ambivalence inscribed between the persistent desiring of, (dis)identifying with, and the resentment towards the lost object and the resulted introjection of that process as self-disparagement turned upon the ego—that most sharply resonates with the racial and national imaginary of (semi)colonial intellectuals under the ideology of Japanese Empire. Through three different chapters, with each offering a close reading of how the literary works inscribe melancholia as an imaginary and pathological formation of colonial modernity, I argue how the theme of modernity can only be examined by looking in conjunction with the racial and national ambiguities repressed underneath. These ambiguous modern/colonized literary characters that can obviously be seen from the writings of Yu Dafu, Weng Nao, and Mei Niang, as I will demonstrate in the following chapters, become an “excess” that was incorporated into the Republican, Taiwan, and Manchurian national literary circle with inevitable tensions and oxymorons. This project in this sense offers a transnational perspective that seeks to compare and closely read in conjunction the three writers from different historical and cultural configurations.