Category: News

NEWS: NEW FACULTY PUBLICATION: Cathy Yeh’s The Chinese Political Novel

March 25th, 2015


Congratulations to Professor Catherine Yeh from the Department of Modern Languages and Comparative Literature at Boston University, who has just published a new book, The Chinese Political Novel: Migration of a World Genre (Harvard East Asian Monographs 380), Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard Asia Center & Harvard University Press,  2015.

Professor Yeh traces the genre of the political novel from Disraeli’s England through Europe and the United States to East Asia. The political novel, which enjoyed a steep yet short rise to international renown between the 1830s and the 1910s, is primarily concerned with the nation’s political future. It offers a characterization of the present, a blueprint of the future, and the image of the heroes needed to get there. With the standing it gained during its meteoric rise, the political novel helped elevate the novel altogether to become the leading literary genre of the twentieth century worldwide.

Focusing on the genre’s adaptation in the Chinese context, this study goes beyond comparative approaches and nation-state- and language-centered histories of literature to examine the intrinsic connections among literary works. Through detailed studies, especially of the Chinese exemplars, Yeh explores the tensions characteristic of transcultural processes: the dynamics through which a particular, and seemingly local, literary genre goes global; the ways in which such a globalized literary genre maintains its core features while assuming local identity and interacting with local audiences and political authorities; and the relationship between the politics of form and the role of politics in literary innovation.

For more information, click here.  


NEWS: Eleven BU scholars in Chicago at Association for Asian Studies Meeting, March 26-29, 2015

March 25th, 2015

This year, eleven scholars from Boston University will participate in panels at the Annual Meeting of the Association for Asian Studies, covering East Asia, Southeast Asia and South Asia, and disciplines such as anthropology, history, political science, art history and literature.

Below is a list of the BU scholars and their panels. For a full program and description of the panels, see


PANEL: ”The Social Production of Tears: Perspectives from Chinese Societies” 

Lucia Huwy-min Liu, Boston University, Anthropology

Chun-Yi Sum, Boston University, Anthropology

ROUNDTABLE: “Thinking across Regions and Disciplines: A Conversation on Inter-Asia Research – Sponsored by Indonesia-Timor Leste Studies Committee”

Robert W. Hefner, Boston University, Anthropology

PANEL: “Urban Religion in China and Taiwan”

Robert Weller, Boston University, Anthropology


PANEL: “The Appreciation, Theory, and Practice of Art Ceramics in Modern Japan – Sponsored by Japan Art History Forum”

Seung Yeon Sang, Boston University, Art of History and Architecture


PANEL: “Peripheral Accounts: South Asian Travel Writing from Burma to Bukhara”

Sunil Sharma, Boston University, Modern Languages and Comparative Literature

PANEL: “Problematic Intimacies: Negative Feelings in Japanese Women’s Writings”

KeithVincent, Boston University, Modern Languages and Comparative Literature

PANEL: “Encountering East Asian Coloniality: Sketching Colonial Boundaries through Literature, 1900s-1940s”

Yoon Sun Yang, Boston University, Modern Languages and Comparative Literature

PANEL: “Words Properly Placed: Commentaries Shaping Literary Writings in the Qing Dynasty”

Suh-jen Yang, Boston University, Modern Languages and Comparative Literature


PANEL: “Revisiting Development in Modern India: Science, Ethics, and the Agricultural Landscape”

Benjamin Siegel, Boston University, History


 PANEL: “China’s Security State: Past, Present, and Future”

Joseph Fewsmith, Boston University, Pardee School of Global Studies


NEWS: Inaugural East Asia Studies Career Development Professorship Awardees

January 31st, 2015

Boston University announced on January 29, 2015 the institution of a new Career Development Professorship in the area of East Asia Studies. Made possible through the generous support of a BU alumnus based in Taiwan, the East Asia Studies Career Development Professorships recognize assistant professors in the College of Arts & Sciences, the College of Fine Arts, the College of Communication and the School of Management whose research is concentrated in areas of inquiry specific to East Asia.

Each professorship provides three years of partial salary support for the awardee’s school or college, plus an annual research fund for the faculty member. Two East Asia Studies Career Development Professorships have been awarded this year with an additional two professorships expected three years from now. Nominations are submitted by academic deans, and awardees are selected by the Office of the Provost.

This year’s inaugural East Asia Studies Career Development Professors have been cited for their extraordinary accomplishments in their areas of study, for their innovative approaches to research and teaching, and for impactful work that bridges disciplines and cultures. Through their hard work and rigorous scholarship, they are demonstrating firsthand BU’s continued and growing commitment as a global research university. This year’s East Asia Studies Career Development Professors are:

  • Edward Cunningham, Ph.D.
    Assistant Professor of Earth and Environment, College of Arts & Sciences
    A China specialist, Edward Cunningham’s research in comparative political economy explores how policy and institutions affect the technology and fuel choices of Chinese and Asian corporations, and therefore the environmental intensity of their development. He is a graduate of Georgetown University and received his Master’s degree in Regional Studies (East Asia) from Harvard University and his doctorate in Political Science from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
  • Lei Guo, Ph.D.
    Assistant Professor of Mass Communication, Advertising and Public Relations, and member of the Division of Emerging Media Studies, College of Communication
    Lei Guo’s scholarship in cross-cultural journalism explores the role of new media technologies as agents of democratic development in China, Hong Kong and Taiwan, utilizing social networks as data science tools to provide a clearer understanding of East Asian culture. She is a graduate of Fudan University in Shanghai and received her Master’s degree and doctorate in Journalism from The University of Texas at Austin.

Congratulations to these talented educators in Asian Studies for this achievement, and in wishing them the best of luck with their teaching and research in the years ahead.


BU in Shanghai: Our Students Write Home

January 30th, 2015

For some years now, Boston University Study Abroad has run a successful program at Fudan University in Shanghai. The current Program Director is Dr. Allison Rottman (Ph.D. in Chinese History, UC Berkeley)  and this Spring semester over 30 students are in Shanghai for the experience of a lifetime!  BUCSA is proud to support our Shanghai Program, through faculty and student engagement.



Below is the testimony of a recent graduate of the BU-Fudan Program, School of Hospitality (SHA) senior Jocelyn Toll (pictured above, center):

I was awakened to the reality that I was about to live in Shanghai for the next three and a half months the moment I got to the Chinese Eastern Airlines counter at the JFK Airport to receive my boarding pass and unsuccessfully attempted to read the luggage restriction sign on the countertop. It was written in Chinese. My previous years of Chinese language studies were struggling to decipher the different radicals that I recognized but could not yet understand their meaning when combined in certain patterns. Admittedly, not even by the end of my semester was I able read the same sign at the Shanghai airport without having to turn to my handy Pleco Chinese dictionary app. The luggage restriction sign was only the beginning…

At the end of every day during my time in Shanghai, my mind felt exhausted. I was mentally drained because everything around me took double the effort to process. The most menial tasks, like wanting to buy shampoo but instead buy hair conditioner by accident, were a challenge. Even as my Mandarin improved and I felt more comfortable in my new environment, the challenges did not get any easier; instead, they were evolving along with the progress I was making. I no longer needed to look up the Chinese word for cucumber before I asked for a few slices in my Danbao wrap at lunch, but I still had difficulty expressing my thoughts to Chinese coworkers when I wanted to comment on a Wechat post that they shared with me. Translating became frustrating when miscommunications occurred, and my translation “hiccups” were certainly not far and in between. Fortunately, China was very forgiving and patient with me, and in turn, I learned to be patient with myself and all the unexpected complications that arise when you are immersing yourself into a new setting.

There is much more that I could write about Shanghai, but to put it plainly, living in Shanghai was an exhilarating experience for my own personal growth. Shanghai became my friend, and my experiences in China my mentor. The crucial part now being back in Boston and only a few months away from graduating is to apply the valuable insights that I learned and continue to let them mature as I go forward in life. 



Biographical note

Jocelyn Toll‘s interests have been influenced by her childhood experiences and growing up in a multilingual home. She was born in San José, Costa Rica, her mother is from Peru, and her dad and her older brother are from the U.S. Her family moved to Connecticut when she was 12 and that has been her home for the past ten years. She will be graduating in May with a degree in Hospitality Administration at Boston University and she hopes to get involved in ecotourism. She is passionate about environmental sustainability and strives to be an active proponent of global sustainable development in any way she can.


NEWS: MLCL’s Wiebke Denecke wins Boston University’s first “New Directions” Fellowship from Andrew W. Mellon Foundation

December 11th, 2014

Wiebke Denecke

Photo by Tim Gray

Wiebke Denecke, Associate Professor of Chinese, Japanese and Comparative Literature in the Modern Languages and Literatures Department has won the first “New Directions Fellowship” from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation ever awarded to a BU faculty member. Only a handful of early career scholars earn the honor each year and Denecke will use it over the next couple of years to expand her expertise in Classical Chinese and Classical Japanese Literatures into Korean language and Literature. Why Korea? Generally interested in bringing people together and working in ambivalent areas, Denecke underlines the importance of Korea as the underappreciated “missing link” in the cultural exchange between China and Japan and also wants to foster dialogue between Chinese, Japanese, and Koreans about their shared cultural heritage. “If you go by the current media,” Denecke says, “East Asia is largely defined negatively through the lingering painful memories of war and Japan’s imperialist expansion, colonial exploitation, and more recently economic and military competition. But in this very historical moment many academics, both in East Asia and the West, make decisive efforts to recover the millennia-old positive shared cultural heritage and undertake projects with an interregional East Asian perspective.” Denecke receives this fellowship just as the MLCL department is developing an innovative graduate program specifically designed to train students in comparing the literary traditions of East Asia. “Most scholars of classical East Asia only study one tradition—Chinese, Japanese, or Korean. But we have a rapidly growing number of Chinese students now studying Japanese or Korean or even non-heritage learners doing several East Asian languages. They are truly interested in this kind of “new” comparative literature as opposed to the Europe-focused older incarnation of the discipline.  So we as faculty need to meet our students’ demands by being equally multilingual and researching multiple traditions in conjunction. I think this demographic development in the US is a very healthy antidote against the strong national divisions that have been keeping the research on premodern China, Japan, and Korea apart.”

Although her passion lies with studying early and medieval East Asia, Denecke admits that her decision to take up the study of Korean language and literature was also inspired by her contemporary artistic tastes: “With the ‘Korean Wave’ so many strikingly creative movies are right now coming out of Korea. It’s great to have yet another excuse to be studying Korean!”

Denecke is enthusiastic about her current Korean language tutor, a former BU colleague, and will also take intensive language courses in a Korean language program in Seoul, probably alongside some BU students. She laughs “I haven’t taken exams in a long while. It will be terrific taking exams again and see my students beat me to it!”

To read more about Professor Denecke’s project click HERE.


NEWS: BU School of Hospitality Freshmen Collaborate with Peers at Chinese University of Hong Kong

December 10th, 2014

During the fall 2014 semester, six freshman students at the BU School of Hospitality (SHA) collaborated with six students at the Chinese University of Hong Kong. Students explored the hospitality customs of their home country, focusing on two topics, wedding planning and “walking a guest” at a hotel. On December 8, 2014 students presented their findings to each other via video conferencing. SHA is excited to continue this shared project during future HF100 classes. Check this link at the SHA website.


NEWS: Frank Korom Receives a BU Arts Initiative Grant to Bring Hindu Deities to Campus

December 9th, 2014

The goddess Sarasvati, patroness of education and the arts, is here portrayed with her “vehicle,” the swan, while playing a vina with two of her hands. She also holds recitation beads in her second left hand and a sacred scripture in her second right hand.

The goddess Sarasvati, patroness of education and the arts, is here portrayed with her “vehicle,” the swan, while playing a vina with two of her hands. She also holds recitation beads in her second left hand and a sacred scripture in her second right hand.

The study of visual piety and material religion has become a topic of immense concern in recent years. To enable his students in his course on Hinduism in the spring of 2015 to appreciate the popular iconography of the Hindu pantheon, Korom will travel to India over the winter break to assemble a variety of chromolithographs to be used in the classroom and displayed strategically around campus. Korom says that the Sanskrit term darshan (auspicious sight)) cannot be appreciated fully without subjectively experiencing the uniqueness of each deity’s visual manifestation. To this end, he wishes to bring the deities to Boston University, so that they can be seen and appreciated not only by students but the general public as well.

Source: Boston University Arts and Sciences Department of Religion


NEWS: Tian’anmen Square, 25 Years Later (11/14/2014)

October 21st, 2014


Organized by Boston University Center for the Study of Asia (BUCSA), on Nov. 14, Boston University commemorated the 25th anniversary of Tian’anmen Square with a lecture and discussion on the aftermath of the violence which erupted when Chinese soldiers attacked protesters in Beijing in June of 1989.

To this day, no one is sure who he was – the man who stood, eye to barrel, before a convoy of Chinese tanks on a street outside Beijing’s Tian’anmen Square.

But that image – taken by AP photographer Jeff Widener just after the government crackdown that claimed the lives of as many as 1,000 democratic protesters and civilians – has become known worldwide as an enduring depiction of courage.

“I spent last year on leave living in China. I remember speaking with a colleague who was working on an oral history, learning stories she could not publish,” said Robert Weller, professor at the Boston University Institute on Culture, Religion and World Affairs. “She said, I haven’t told the truth since 1989. No one in this country has.”

The talk was moderated by Eugenio Menegon, Director of the Center for the Study of Asia,and presented by Weller, Joseph Fewsmith of the Frederick S. Pardee School of Global Studies at Boston University, and Rowena Xiaoqing He of Harvard University. The event was part of the Boston University International Education Week. It was sponsored by Santander Universities and attended by around 50 audience members.

There is more to the story. For more information, click here.


NEWS: Boston Area Japanese Speech Contest at Boston University (11/01/2014)

October 17th, 2014

Time: Saturday Nov. 1, 2014,  2-5pm (Reception following)

Location: Boston University, College of Arts and Sciences, 725 Commonwealth Avenue, Boston, lecture room 211

This year, BU’s Department of Modern Languages and Comparative Literatures and the BU Center for the Study of Asia (BUCSA) are hosting the 2014 Boston Area Japanese Speech Contest. The event has brought together for the last 10 years students and teachers from Japanese language programs at Boston University, Harvard, MIT, Wellesley, Boston College, Tufts, Brandeis, and UMass Boston. BU is the proud host of the 2014 edition.

Two selected students from each college give a 4-minutes speech on a topic of their own choice.  Rather than a competition, this is a warm student exchange opportunity, and offers both students and instructors a venue to learn about other Japanese language programs in the area.

The BU representatives this year will be Michael Li (course LJ 320) and Jiaxing Yan (course LJ 441). Come and cheer them on!!! A reception with Japanese refreshments will follow the event.

'14 S Cons. Speech contest (3) copy

BU students have been represented well at local Japanese speech performances in recent years. In the other major New England speech event, the Consulate General Speech Contest which does have a competitive element, BU students have won prizes most years and impressed the judges and other contestants. In the photo, first and third place finishers in the advanced category celebrate together with their professors and family members in April 2014.


NEWS: NEW FACULTY BOOK: Min Ye on the economic power of Chinese and Indian diasporas

September 8th, 2014

Ye9781107054196Professor Min Ye, a specialist in the political economy of China and India at the Pardee School of Global Studies, and the Academic Coordinator at the BU Center for the Study of Asia, just published (August 2014) with Cambridge University Press a stimulating book titledDiasporas and Foreign Direct Investment in China and India. Both hardback and electronic versions are available. 

This comparative and historical analysis explores the important role of Chinese and Indian diasporas as major players in the economic growth of their respective homelands in recent decades.  Min Ye reveals that, through their foreign direct investments (FDIs), Chinese diasporas, rather than Western nations, have contributed the lion’s share in FDI inflows in that country. She also highlights how returned diasporas were bridges for, and initiators of, Western investment in India.  The book convincingly illustrates that diasporic entrepreneurs helped to build China into the world’s manufacturing powerhouse and that Indian diasporas facilitated their homeland’s success in software services development.

For more information on this new title, please click here.