Category: Fall 2013

NEWS: LEISURE PROJECT’s BU-Heidelberg Final Conference, January 2014

December 28th, 2013

A contingent of six Boston University faculty travelled on January 10-11, 2014 to Heidelberg (Germany) to participate in the third and final conference of the Leisure Project , a multi-year research collaborative between Asian Studies faculty at BU and the University of Heidelberg.  Professors Sarah Frederick and Catherine Yeh (BU Modern Languages and Comparative Literatures), Christopher Lehrich (BU Religion), Eugenio Menegon (BU History), Nancy Smith-Hefner and Robert Weller (BU Anthropology) presented on various facets of leisure and social change in China, Indonesia, and Japan between the early modern and contemporary periods. Above is a group portrait of the conference presenters in front of the Karl Jaspers Centre for Advanced Transcultural Studies, seat of the proceedings.

Previous conferences, held at Boston University in 2010 and 2012, were supported by the BU Center for the Humanities and BUCSA. This conclusive  gathering in Germany was coordinated and logistically supported by Professor Rudolf Wagner and his team at the Institute of Chinese Studies and Cluster of Excellence “Asia and Europe in a Global Context” in Heidelberg, and generously funded by the Chiang Ching-kuo Foundation for International Scholarly Exchange.

Entitled “Leisure and Social Change: The Dynamics of the Transcultural Flow of Concepts, Institutions and Practices of Leisure across Asia,” this meeting brought together some of the participants to earlier conferences and new speakers. The program included the following presentations (for detailed schedule and paper abstracts, click here):


Session 1: Leisure and Money

  • Eugenio Menegon (BU): “Who was using whom? Europeans, Leisurely Pursuits, and the Politics of Gift-Giving in Qing Beijing”
  • Rudolf Wagner (Heidelberg): “Advocacy, Commodification and Agency in Leisure Products: The Shenbaoguan, 1872-1890”
  • Yu-Chih Lai (Academia Sinica, Taiwan): “Traditional Leisure in a Globalized Age: Selling and Consuming Japanese Illustrated Books in Shanghai, 1880-1911”
  • Nancy Smith-Hefner (BU): “Leisure and Subjectivity in Java’s New Middle Class”
  • Robert Weller (BU): “Leisure, Ritual and Choice in Modern Chinese Societies”
  • Christopher Lehrich (BU): “Voyeurism in Tōru Takemitsu’s Film Music: Leisure Subverting Leisure”

Session 2: Leisure and Gender

  • Barbara Mittler (Heidelberg): “Feeling Matters: The Pleasures (and Leisures) of Touch, 1890s-1990s”
  • Sarah Frederick (BU):  “Shôjo as Leisure?”
  • Christian Henriot (Université Lumière-Lyon 2): “Spaces of Leisure: Shanghai”

Session 3: Leisure and the State

  • Catherine Yeh (BU): “Political Reform as National Past Time: Staging Peking Opera’s New Tragic Heroines”
  • Timothy Oakes (University of Colorado at Boulder):Leisure as Governable Space: Consumption, Citizenship, and Governmentality in China’s Leisure Developments”
  • Eileen Cheng-Yin Chow (Duke University): “Chiang Kai Shek Tourism for Mainlanders: ‘1,2,3 To Taiwan’”


The Japanese Story at Boston University

December 12th, 2013

If you walk through the back court of the George Sherman Union on any given Friday, you are likely to encounter a sizable group of Japanese and American students laughing and talking in Japanese and English. The weekly language exchanges between CAS (College of Arts and Sciences) and CELOP (Center for English Language and Orientations Program) students allow participants to practice their languages with native speakers outside the classroom. They afford American students a more direct experience of Japanese culture than they are likely to encounter through more traditional means of language study in a classroom setting.

J. House CELOP Porter '13 F. 3The Japanese and English Language Exchange Lunches were started by Mariko Itoh Henstock, Senior Lecturer in Japanese at Boston University, to bring together students taking Japanese language at BU and visiting students from prestigious Japanese universities such as Waseda, Ritsumeikan, and Hosei, in collaboration with Felix Poon, Academic Program Coordinator at CELOP. The lunches offer space for enthusiastic discussions in an informal way, and provide a great way for both groups to make new friends.

Mariko Henstock has been teaching at BU since 2002, after having taught Japanese language and culture at other universities.  Henstock also coordinates the Japanese program’s outreach and co-curricular activities, connecting BU to other universities and communities in the Greater Boston Area and organizing a bi-weekly Japanese film series every semester. While the language exchanges are geared to students studying Japanese, the films are subtitled and open to students with broader interests in Japan or who just want to see a good film. Henstock is also the advisor to the BU Japanese Student Association (JSA), supporting job-related business events and cultural programs and facilitating exchanges with Japanese language students. Each year, she prepares students for the Boston area Japanese speech contests, which motivate students to hone their skills in speaking Japanese.

students 5To put it in Mariko’s own words, “we can potentially change people’s lives, and I think we have succeeded in that regard for a number of students. There are so many problems internationally; if we can make a difference, one person at a time, and help form friendships, then that’s just a wonderful gift.”

Indeed, interest in Japan has been growing since Japanese was established as a major in 2004 at Boston University. More and more students are interested in Japanese culture and language, with many intending to study abroad in Japan or work there after graduation for the JET program where students can be English teaching assistants in Japanese public schools. At BU, there are now about 30 students majoring in Japanese and another 30 students minoring in Japanese, and many signing up for the new joint major in Japanese and Linguistics. This fall 2013, 341 students enrolled in Japanese courses, with a usual number of 500 to 600 students enrolled in Japanese language and literature courses each academic year.J. House CELOP Porter '13 F. 7

Aside from the globalization and growing awareness of Asian cultures around the world, the fast growth of student interest and involvement in the Japanese Program at BU is sustained by the efforts of the BU Japanese program faculty. Many serve not only as teachers of Japanese, but also mentors for students, organizers of student activities, and affiliated faculty at Boston University Center for the Study of Asia (BUCSA).

Sarah Frederick, Associate Chair of the Department of Modern Languages and Comparative Literature and Associate Professor of Japanese at BU, specializes in 20th century Japanese literature, and the relationship among mass media, modern literature, gender and culture. Aside from teaching a Japanese culture and film class this semester and directing an independent study in Japanese literature, Sarah is also on the Board of the BU Center for the Study of Asia (BUCSA), and on the Executive Board of the Kyoto Consortium for Japanese Studies, of which Boston University is a member.

Frederick describes the thriving Japanese Program at BU over the past decade:

“While many expected that the study of Japanese would decline as Chinese became more popular, we have found this not to be the case. In fact, more and more students at BU are studying more than one East Asian language during their time here. As high school programs in the US in Mandarin and Japanese become more established students start to have leeway to reach a higher level of proficiency in college, and take another language, major in Comparative Literature, or do advanced work beyond the basic language program. We have developed greater variety at the advanced language level, and students are learning classical Japanese, taking literature courses in Japanese, studying translation and interpretation, and learning about Japanese culture in the language. Compared to many programs in the US where the literature and language programs are quite separate, we coordinate closely and a major in Japanese language and literature combines a high level of language proficiency with in-depth training in literary analysis. Often I find that students who think they are only interested in the language really love the literature classes, including the general requirement in Comparative Literature where they might study Middle Eastern, South Asian, or European literatures for a semester.”

At BU, there are also a number of important translators on the faculty of the Japanese program, which makes a strong aspect of the BU Japanese program. Anna Zielinksa Elliott, Senior Lecturer and Head of Japanese is Murakami Haruki’s translator into Polish, and she teaches the translation and interpretation course at BU. This fall she taught a class on Murakami, and over the years she has taught all levels of Japanese language. Associate Professor Keith Vincent, along with prolific literary critical work, translates fiction (including Okamoto Kanoko) and cultural criticism (including Natsume Soseki and Saito Tamaki), and has worked to facilitate dialogue on literary translation, queer theory, and feminist studies between the US and Japan. He recently won the Donald Keene translation prize. Another faculty member who bridges cultures and languages in her work is Associate Professor Wiebke Denecke. A Chinese and Japanese literature specialist also proficient in a number of other languages, Denecke has worked on Sino-Japanese poetry, written by Japanese poets in Chinese. Her comparative work on the parallels between Greek and Latin literature, and Chinese and Japanese literature, is groundbreaking. Her passion for pre-modern East Asian literatures is also inspiring to students, who take classical Chinese and Japanese with her in growing numbers.

students 1

While this essay touches upon many aspects of the Japanese program at BU, the information provided here is by no means exhaustive. There are many other faculty members in the Japanese program and Japanese studies faculty in other departments working to build and support the program, together with BU Center for the Study of Asia (BUCSA). With efforts from around the BU campus, the Japanese Program at BU sees a future with more students learning Japanese, and benefiting from acquiring a second language in an internationalizing world.

For a more detailed description of the requirements for the Japanese major and minor, please visit here.

For more information on the courses in Japanese language and culture BU has to offer, please visit here.

J. House CELOP Porter '13 F. 6J. House CELOP Porter '13 F. 7J. House CELOP Porter '13 F. 2 '13 F Xchange lunch 1.g


NEWS: Professor Wiebke Denecke Publishes New Book: Classical World Literatures: Sino-Japanese and Greco-Roman Comparisons

December 10th, 2013



Wiebke Denecke 魏樸和

Associate Professor of Chinese, Japanese & Comparative Literature
Modern Languages and Comparative Literature
Boston University
745 Commonwealth Avenue, Room 638
Boston, MA 02215


EVENT IN REVIEW: China and the City (11/23/2013)

December 8th, 2013

 “China and the City”:

Chinese Students and Scholars discussion at Boston University 

As part of its yearly theme “Asia and the City”, Boston University Center for the Study of Asia co-hosted with the BU Chinese Students and Scholars Association a public event on “China and the City” on November 23, 2013. This workshop discussed the challenges and opportunities of urbanism in China, and gathered around forty BU faculty, undergraduate and graduate students, and BUCSA visiting scholars.

After introductions in the morning by Haisu Yuan, President of the BU Chinese Students and Scholars Association, and workshop coordinator Taiyi Sun (Ph.D. candidate in the BU Department of Political Science), Professors Eugenio Menegon (Director of Boston University Center for the Study of Asia) and Enrique Silva (Urban Affairs and City Planning, BU Metropolitan College) commented on a thought-provoking presentation by Professor Jinhua Zhao (Department of Urban Studies and Planning, MIT).

In his presentation, entitled “China’s Urbanization: Immense, Rapid, but Out of Sync – Is China an Outlier?” Zhao pointed out that China’s urbanization is similar to that in developed countries in terms of its level, its rate of change, its relationship with the economy, and its growth trajectory, following the historical trends of OECD countries.  But China is indeed unique in comparison with other developing countries, in its scale and density, in its internal complexity and in its peculiar institutions, specifically the “hukou” (residence system) and land systems.

In order to make the event both intellectually stimulating and accessible to the general public, the program included a story telling section in addition to the academic panel. Story telling exists ubiquitously among almost all cultures and is one of the best ways to examine cities through a private, micro lens. The workshop, therefore, merged the public and private narratives and provided a fuller, experiential picture of cities in transition in China.

Six Chinese BU students and guests shared their stories on urbanization and their hometowns: Taiyi Sun (Hangzhou); Chen Cheng (Beijing), Xiaopei Luo (Chongqing), Juntao Zhang (Shenzhen), Jianying Zhu (Shanghai) and Yuxi Chang (Shenyang).  Every participant was thrilled about the rapid developments in his or her hometown, but was also sad that a few special places and features of their cities, as recalled in their childhood memories, had vanished.

In his closing remark, Professor Menegon emphasized that local governments in China should protect the individuality of cities during urbanization, avoiding a homogenization of the urban landscape and a loss of cultural, architectural and social diversity.

The online Chinese TV channel Sinovision filmed parts of the event and broadcasted a Chinese-language service on the workshop (波大学生会与亚洲研究中心办论坛 探讨中国城市化进程), available at this link.

IMG_0729 IMG_0731IMG_0809 IMG_0825 IMG_0733 IMG_0745 IMG_0786 IMG_0797 IMG_0800


EVENT: Yong Zhao: The China Paradox–with Charlotte Mason from BUCSA (11/17/2013)

November 12th, 2013


Professor Yong Zhao, Presidential Chair in the College of Education at the University of Oregon, will speak on “The China Paradox: Why China Has the World’s Best and Worst Education” in Boston on November 17, 2013, at a special educational gala organized by Primary Source, an organization that provides high-quality professional development for teachers, and a partner of Boston University Center for the Study of Asia (BUCSA).

Zhao, a native of Sichuan (China), will discuss China’s education system and what we should know about what works (and what doesn’t work) in Chinese education. In his recent books, Zhao has compared  the U.S. decentralized educational model, which strives to foster creativity and critical thinking, to the Chinese and other Asian models, and finds that greater standardization, more emphasis on assessment, and less entrepreneurial spirit in current U.S. educational reforms may in fact be deleterious in the long term.

Yong Zhao’s three recent books are reviewed in an recent essay “Yong Zhao:  Education in the Flat World. An International Perspective” by Charlotte Sanford Mason, a long-time teacher at Newton North High School, and a Visiting Researcher at the Boston University Center for the Study of Asia (BUCSA). Over the past 25 years, Charlotte has visited 150 schools in China, and has met hundreds of Chinese school administrators and teachers, and a few thousand students.  In the fall each year Chinese principals visit the U.S. for a week-long seminar on education followed by a week of ‘shadowing’ a counterpart in a school or school system. In the spring, the American partner principals and superintendents visit China for a parallel experience.  This two-way experience is meant to foster ongoing exchanges of teachers and students between the partner schools.

CEI office jpgCo-founder and former director of The China Exchange Initiative (CEI), an organization based in Newton, Massachusetts that creates U.S.-China school administrator exchanges, and of GEM (Global Education, Massachusetts),  Charlotte is now exploring those elements of Chinese education that are largely unknown in the U.S.  Her research at BUCSA is designed to facilitate understanding of the Chinese educational system, and to foster dialogue between U.S. and Chinese educators.

Charlotte will be at the event “The China Paradox: Why China Has the World’s Best and Worst Education”  on November 17, 2013, in what promises to be a stimulating reflection on the educational future of China and the US.


EVENT: Beyond the Silk Road: Ottoman, Safavid and Mughal Cities and Courts (11/07/2013)

October 31st, 2013


Join us for a joint presentation by Professors Roberta Micallef and Sunil Sharma who will introduce the cultures of the Silk Road and its legacy on the three early modern Eurasian empires: Ottoman, Safavid, and Mughal. The complex literary and political connections between the three courts and capital cities, Istanbul, Isfahan, and Delhi, of these polities will be explored through the viewing and discussion of video clips from popular historical fiction productions. Courtly and Sufi musical traditions, as well as cuisines, will be presented in a comparative perspective. The emphasis will be on the memory of the three great empires in the Middle East and South Asia.

Time: Thursday, November 7, 2013

Location: George Sherman Union (GSU) Terrace Lounge, 775 Commonwealth Ave., Boston University



Events: Dateline Beijing-Mike Chinoy’s Documentary on Journalism in China (10/29/2013)

October 15th, 2013


The Week that Changed the World and Opening Up are two episodes of Assignment China, a multi-part documentary film series on the history of American correspondents in China. It is being produced by the U.S.-China Institute at the University of Southern California. The lead reporter is Mike Chinoy, a senior fellow at the Institute and former CNN Beijing bureau chief and senior Asia correspondent. Chinoy will take questions after each film screening.

Time: Tuesday, October 29th 2013, 12:30pm-3:30pm

Location: Room 209, 640 Commonwealth Ave., Boston University College of Communication


EVENT SERIES: Taiwan Forum (10/7 & 10/21/13)

October 8th, 2013

As part of its yearly theme “Asia and the City,” Boston University Center for the Study of Asia brings to you two Taiwan Forum Lectures  about Asian urbanism and architecture, sponsored by the Taiwan Economic and Cultural Office (TECO, Boston)!

On Monday October 7, join us for our first lecture: Urban Regeneration of Taipei City for Sustainable Development, with Chien-yuan Lin, Professor at the Graduate Institute of Building and Planning, National Taiwan University, and former Deputy Mayor of Taipei City.  Professor Lin will provide an overview of the city development of Taipei, and introduce recent efforts in urban regeneration for sustainability. Paul Mcmanus, Director of the Social Enterprise and Sustainability Initiative at BU’s School of Management will respond. Co-sponsored by the Pardee Center for Study of the Longer-Range Future.

(Click here for more information)

On Monday October 21, join us for our second  lecture: Building on Karma: The NMR Meditation Center (Thai Temple in Raynham) and Global Asian Architecture, with architect Been Wang, Principal at Architectural Resources Cambridge (ARC), who will describe the construction of the Thai Temple in Raynham (Mass.), and how a Taiwanese architect got that important commission. Co-sponsored by the Thai Consulate in Boston.



(Click here for more information)


EVENT: Shaolin Temple Monks Performance (10/07/2013)

October 1st, 2013

1 for poster

The Shaolin Temple Monks of China present:
A Kung Fu/Martial Arts Performance
Monday, October 7, 2013, 7:15 p.m.

Fitzgerald Theater, Cambridge Rindge and Latin School
459 Broadway, Cambridge, MA
Theater entrance may be accessed from Cambridge Street
Free and Open to the Public


EVENT IN REVIEW: Asian Studies Annual Reception (9/25/13)

September 29th, 2013

On September 25, Boston University’s Center for the Study of Asia (BUCSA) and the Asian Studies Initiative at Boston University (ASIABU) held the annual Asia Studies reception. The reception was a great success, with faculty and students from BU Asian Studies, BU administrators from Global Programs, Study Abroad and Alumni Relations, Boston’s Asian consular personnel, and fellow undergraduate and graduate students as guests. The reception was introduced by the Director of Boston University Center for the Study of Asia, Eugenio Menegon, and featured the student group ASIABU, who cohosted the event. The highlight of the reception was the wonderful live music performance from Youth Ambassadors Taiwan ROC, which showcased the beauty of oriental music. With live music, Asian cuisine, making new friends and catching up with old ones through engaging conversations, the Asia Studies reception concludes in a lively atmosphere, looking forward to another fruitful academic year in various areas of Asian Studies.