In Memoriam: Makoto Ueda, 1931-2020

In Memoriam: Makoto Ueda, 1931-2020

Professor Emeritus Makoto Ueda.

Professor Emeritus Makoto Ueda

The EAS Department regrets to announce that Professor Emeritus Makoto Ueda died on August 19, 2020. Professor Ueda, a specialist in Japanese poetry and literature, taught in the department from 1961-1971. He left to teach at Stanford University, where he remained until his retirement in 1996.  

Professor Ueda came to the University of Toronto at a critical juncture. The department was beginning to grow beyond its origins in the study of Chinese antiquities at the Royal Ontario Museum, and Ueda was responsible for developing all aspects of the Japanese program. In addition to his administrative accomplishments, he also in his time at the university published pathbreaking books on Japanese poetry, including Zeami, Bashō, Yeats, Pound: A Study in Japanese and English Poetics (1965) and the much-cited study, Matsuo Bashō (1970). He also wrote a foundational work on Literary and Art Theories of Japan (1967).

Interim Chair, Professor Thomas Keirstead, took classes with him at Stanford University in the early 1980s. He remembers Ueda as a devoted teacher with an incisive wit.

He enjoyed his time as a professor at the University of Toronto and the EAS Department is deeply grateful for his many contributions.  

If you’d like to learn more about Professor Ueda’s life and legacy, and how to donate to his memorial, please read the obituary written by his family.

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Welcome to the 2020-21 Academic Year!

Welcome to the 2020-21 Academic Year!

A red backpack, grey U of T hat, and blue U of T mask placed on a window ledge.

Photo by Johnny Guatto.

The EAS Department would like to extend a warm welcome to our new and returning EAS students for the start of the 2020-21 academic year!  

The Fall & Winter terms will be like no other due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. The EAS Department is committed to providing as much support as we can, along with our partners in the larger U of T community. Whether you are looking for COVID-19 resources and information, online office hours, or answers to undergraduate inquiries, we are here to help. Be sure to also check out our “Writing Resources” page for helpful tips and workshops to help improve your academic writing skills.

The department is currently open remotely. During business hours, please email eas@utoronto.ca or call 416-978-0023 for assistance. The administrative office will be physically open on a limited basis beginning September 10, 2020. Visits to the department are by appointment only. Please email eas.undergrad@utoronto.ca with your request. 

We wish everyone safety and good health for the upcoming year.

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EAS Language Student Dazzles at the 19th “Chinese Bridge” Chinese Proficiency Competition for College Students Worldwide (Ontario & Manitoba)

EAS Language Student Dazzles at the 19th “Chinese Bridge” Chinese Proficiency Competition for College Students Worldwide (Ontario & Manitoba)

The 19th “Chinese Bridge” Chinese Proficiency Competition for College Students Worldwide (Ontario & Manitoba) was held virtually on June 27, 2020. Ontario and Manitoba were one of many Canadian regions to participate in the international contest. The event provided students with the opportunity to demonstrate their linguistic competence and cultural appreciation. It was presented by the Chinese Consulate General of the People’s Republic of China in Toronto and the Confucius Institute of Seneca College.

One of the EAS Department’s former Chinese language students, Chiki Ogawa, participated as a special guest in the competition and performed a flawless piano rendition of the song, “I Love You, China” (below). Chiki is a second-year Faculty of Music student who took EAS401H: Modern Standard Chinese IVa last year with Professor Hsiao-wei Rupprecht.

The department congratulates Chiki on a beautiful performance!

Please find the transcript of Chiki’s video below:

[00:04-00:23 CHIKI OGAWA introduces herself in Chinese]: I am Chiki Ogawa from the University of Toronto, St. George campus. In the pandemic, we cannot gather together. I hope that I can bring you happiness and strength through music. I dedicate “I Love You, China” to all of you. Let’s watch out and help each other in times of difficulties.

[00:29-04:40 She plays the piano.]

[04:45 She concludes the video in Chinese]: Thank you, all!

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Professor Amanda Goodman & Other Collaborators Win SSHRC Insight Grant

Professor Amanda Goodman & Other Collaborators Win SSHRC Insight Grant

Amanda Goodman.

Photo: Lisa Sakulensky

The EAS Department is excited to announce that a project involving Professor Amanda Goodman (pictured on the left) and other collaborators from across the humanities has won an Insight Grant from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC).

The project is titled “Practices of Commentary” and grew out of a Reading Group hosted at the Jackman Humanities Institute in 2017. It is funded for a five-year period (2020-2025). In addition to Professor Goodman, the project is also led by Professors Walid Saleh (Department of Near and Middle Eastern Civilizations), Markus Stock (Germanic Languages and Literatures) and Jeannie Miller (Department of Near and Middle Eastern Civilizations), with the active participation and support of Suzanne Akbari (Institute for Advanced Study, Princeton). The project also unites participants from many other departments at the University of Toronto, including the Department of Classics, Department of English, Centre for Medieval Studies and Department of Philosophy. It also brings together world-leading scholars from Carleton University, McMaster University, the Bernard Revel Graduate School of Jewish Studies, the Goethe University Frankfurt, Johann Wolfgang Goethe-Universität, Needham Research Institute, and the National University of Singapore.

A yellow graphic with black Arabic letters. Text in English reads: "SSHRC Insight Grant: Practices of Commentary 2020-2025."

For more information about the project, please read the summary below from Professor Saleh and Dr. Jessica Lockhart:

“Our primary goal is to set new research agendas for the longue durée of an interpretive mode that has been used in a diversity of cultures, has never ceased to shape opinions and worldviews, and continues to serve as a prime site for the perpetuation and innovationand, sometimes, willful distortionof knowledge, as seen in social media-infused digital spaces. The project seeks to develop a global perspective on practices of commentary, de-siloing regionally-focused work while simultaneously offering fine-grained and nuanced accounts of the function of commentary in cultures and communities of the pre-modern world. Thus, this project has a global scope, bringing together both senior and junior scholars with expertise in various European, Near Eastern, South and East Asian traditions to debate the theory and practice of commenting and commentary in humanistic studies today.

We hope that this grant’s collaborations, and in particular the students and other early career scholars who will participate in it, will bring about a transformation and develop a deep comparative background to our individual disciplines.”

If you would like further information about the project or to get involved, please contact PI, Professor Saleh (walid.saleh@utoronto.ca) or Dr. Jessica Lockhart (jessica.lockhart@utoronto.ca).

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Statement in Support of the Black Lives Matter Movement

Statement in Support of the Black Lives Matter Movement

The Department of East Asian Studies, University of Toronto

“Not everything that is faced can be changed, but nothing can be changed until it is faced.” James Baldwin

  1. The Department of East Asian Studies (EAS) at the University of Toronto in Ontario, Canada, wishes to express our collective support of, and political solidarity with, the Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement. EAS for BLM!
  1. The Black Lives Matter movement originally emerged in the U.S. in August 2014 to protest state-sanctioned violence and the racism endemic to police brutality, most clearly visible in the fatal killings by the police of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri and Eric Garner in New York City. Six years later, the Black Lives Matter movement today has re-emerged not only in the U.S., but also on a truly world-wide scale, to protest state-sanctioned violence and racist police brutality, symbolized by the ruthless murder, on May 25, 2020, of George Floyd, at the hands of a multi-racial squad of four Minnesota policemen. These state mercenaries kneeled on Mr. Floyd’s neck, pressing him into the ground for 8 minutes and 46 seconds until he died. “I can’t breathe” Floyd’s last known utterance, which now stands in for his singular life itselfreverberates in a world-wide chorus demanding the end of the state racism and police violence against Black people and other racialized bodies and populations. EAS for BLM!
  1. What is the meaning of the Department of East Asian Studies supporting BLM? Why should members of our department care about and support BLM, which originally developed as a call to protest state-sanctioned violence and anti-Black racism? It means that we are recommitted to struggling together, in our immediate community, to create everyday spaces where collective life and cooperative work are free of anti-Blackness, and where every Black person has the social, economic and political power to thrive. This means that the spaces we need to build are ones where all Black lives are seen, heard from, and celebrated, regardless of the various intersections within Black identities, such as sexual and gender identity, gender expression, economic status, religious affiliation, ability, disability, or immigration status. Moreover, we must foster a community that is inclusive, diverse, and free of the assumptions of heteronormativity. EAS for BLM!
  1. As teachers and researchers of East Asian studies, we also support BLM by fortifying our critical awareness of how the academic field—one established during WWII and the Cold War, primarily to aid U.S. Far Eastern foreign policies and U.S. militarismhas never fully addressed the issues that BLM has been raising in North America. This is despite the history of how anti-Black racism and white supremacy have profoundly shaped capitalist modernity of East Asia, and how that history has been integral to the ongoing state and police violence fueling labour exploitation and social precarity, xenophobia, racism, sexism, homophobia and Islamophobia in East Asia, and in its diasporas. Moreover, South Korea, Japan and Okinawa cannot talk about their relation to Blackness (positively or negatively) without questioning the ubiquity of U.S. military presence. We support BLM based on this history. As several Asian-American activist groups have argued, white supremacy and the systematic violence against Black, brown, Indigenous, and queer people are intimately entangled with U.S. imperialism and militarism (for which Canada provides the primary humanitarian arm). These critical observations have led to positive changes in the methods and scholarship within East Asian studies itself in North America. For example, some parts of Korean studies developed out of a deep reflection of the 1992 civil unrest that defined the aftermath of the Rodney King verdict on April 29, 1992, which acquitted the police’s use of excessive force, and in which the U.S. white settler ruling classes pitted the Black community against Koreans while the state apparatuses protected transnational Japanese capital and private property. The current diversity of Southern California protests grew out of that history, and so did the transnationalization of some aspects of the study of East Asia itself. We thus support BLM by changing the many assumptions, methods, and pedagogies by which much of East Asian studies has been complicit with and the still dominant transpacific formation led by U.S. imperialism and militarism. We join in the renewed condemnation of their structural violence against Black people and other racialized bodies and populations. EAS for BLM!
  1. As the BLM movement has already clearly demonstrated around the world in just two weeks, state racism and police brutality against racialized populations, while currently so egregiously visible and tragic in American society, are not simply phenomena that are unique to the history of that particular country alone. The fact that the BLM movement has spread like wildfire around the world in just two weeks—amidst and despite the COVID-19 pandemic, and as a movement to protest state racism and police brutality in differing national contexts—shows that the historical and material conditions, out of which these cruel and sadistic symptoms of police brutality in America appear, are now simultaneously recognized in countless countries around the world, including Canada, and thus in differing contexts. Yet, despite these different national contexts, they inevitably produce the same universal result, namely: the inseparability of state racism and police brutality against Black people and racialized bodies and populations. This inseparability has proven, time and again, that it is just as virulent and deadly, if not more ruthless, than the COVID-19 virus. For it is not the virus itself that kills by discriminating according to race, it is the state-funded policing system—combined with the criminal justice system, semi-feudal remnants of slavery, the dispossession of Indigenous agricultural producers from their land, the commodification of labour power that propels the exploitation of workers of all races and inevitably produces capitalist crises, depressions, and state-led imperialist wars— that carries out this kind of racist killing. EAS for BLM!
  1. In the face of compulsively repeated and ubiquitous state racism and police brutality, it is right to rebel against these iniquitous problems in various ways publicly, and to collectively demand, for example, the public defunding of the police as an important political and economic element in the struggle to realize the eradication of state racism and police brutality from our societies, here, now and everywhere in the world. This demands collective action and inventive thinking, but first of all, more concretely, it demands from each and every one of us that we practice non-cooperation with racist discourse and the economic and political conditions that produce it, especially in our own field of East Asian studies, and simultaneously critique and historically analyze racist discourse and racist state acts in relation to—and as desperate reactions to—capitalist crises, which inevitably accompany capitalist development around the world, and which directly impact the social basis of society and its mode of (re)production. EAS for BLM!
  1. For all of these reasons, EAS must listen to, learn from, and support BLM. We must introduce BLM’s beliefs and principles into EAS itself, inevitably and out of necessity. Our solidarity with BLM recognizes how the long history of Black empowerment has influenced and inspired countless Asian and Asian-American struggles for justice and equality, especially in the post-WWII period. At the same time, we could also say that various struggles of East Asian countries in the 19th, 20th and now 21st centuries—for independence and liberation from semi-slave-like conditions, colonial oppression, military occupation, ideologies of white supremacy, and so on—have also inspired and shaped Black struggles.

EAS for BLM!

For more resources on anti-Black racism, please check out our Community Resources page.

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Congratulations, EAS Class of 2020!

Congratulations, EAS Class of 2020!

A group of graduating students throwing their caps into the air.

The EAS Department extends its warmest wishes to the EAS Class of 2020! To hear messages from our faculty members, please check out our YouTube video.

As a reminder, please join our alumni network on LinkedIn and follow us on social media. Be sure to update us on what you’re up to as you move forward in your journey ahead and confirm that the University has your updated email preferences on hand, so you can receive invitations to alumni events and future issues of our departmental newsletter.

Photo by Emily Ranquist from Pexels.

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Professor Jotaro Arimori Awarded the 2020 A&S Outstanding Teaching Award

Professor Jotaro Arimori Awarded the 2020 A&S Outstanding Teaching Award

The EAS Department is proud to announce that Professor Jotaro Arimori, who teaches Japanese, has won the 2020 Faculty of Arts & Science Outstanding Teaching Award. The award “recognizes teaching excellence in undergraduate and graduate education with a focus on classroom instruction and course design and/or curriculum development.”¹

Professor Arimori holds an MA in East Asian Studies from the University of Toronto and has been teaching in our department for the last 13 years. His primary research interest is the intersection of gender, sexual diversity and Japanese language education. He currently serves on the organizing committees for both the Ontario Japanese Speech Contest and the Canada National Japanese Speech Contest.

We offer our most sincere congratulations to Professor Arimori on a well-deserved award!

¹The Faculty of Arts and Science Teaching Awards – Outstanding Teaching Award

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Coming to a Screen Near You: The Canada National Japanese Speech Contest

Coming to a Screen Near You: The Canada National Japanese Speech Contest

The Canada National Japanese Speech Contest was created in 1989 by the Japanese Embassy in Ottawa to promote Japanese language education across the country.1 Every year, many provinces hold their own speech contest and the 1st place winners from each of the four categories (beginner, intermediate, advanced and open) are sent to compete at the national level. This year, there are representatives from seven provinces.

The contest provides an opportunity for people to connect, test their Japanese proficiency and showcase their public speaking skills. Multiple sponsors such as the Japan Foundation and the Department of East Asian Studies at the University of Toronto help to make each contest better than the last.

This year, due to COVID-19, the contest will be streamed on YouTube. It will be held on March 29, 2020 at 1:00pm (EDT). For more information about the contest, please visit the contest’s website.

Note: A&S News published an article covering The Canada National Japanese Speech Contest on May 14, 2020.

¹Canadian Association for Japanese Language Education – Canada National Japanese Speech Contest

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10th Chinese Speech and Skit Contest

10th Chinese Speech and Skit Contest

101 students of the Chinese Language Program participated in the 10th Chinese Speech and Skit Contest on November 16, 2019.  Throughout the competition, the contestants demonstrated their Chinese speaking skills enthusiastically.  The first-prize winners in the category of speech are Cynthia Li from EAS 300 and Yunqi Shi from EAS 401.  The first-prize winners in the category of skits are Victoria Lor, Ariani Mooney and Mika Wrightson-Rivard from EAS 100; Jerry Li and Lucy Lu from EAS 101; Carlos Arceo, Josephine Brooks and Daniel Feijo from EAS 200; Mary Ao, Matthew Cao, Yueqi Huang and Kaori Kuwahara from EAS 201.  Congratulations to the above and all other contestants in a fun-filled and challenging event!

Crowd of students and instructors eating and talking.

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New Book by Yurou Zhong — Chinese Grammatology: Script Revolution and Literary Modernity, 1916–1958

New Book by Yurou Zhong  Chinese Grammatology: Script Revolution and Literary Modernity, 1916–1958

We are excited to announceCover of Professor Yurou Zhong's new book. The cover is green with black and white Chinese letters. The title of the book is in yellow and white text. that Professor Yurou Zhong,
who teaches Chinese culture and literature, has released
her first book, Chinese Grammatology: Script Revolution and Literary Modernity, 1916–1958.

The book was published on November 12, 2019 by Columbia University Press. Chinese Grammatology is a groundbreaking work that brings together the history of writing, literature, and cultural modernity in China and beyond.

(Photo courtesy of Columbia University Press.)

“I have mostly been interested in and consumed by this curious thing called modern Chinese script revolution – the movements at the turn of the twentieth century to eliminate Chinese characters and implement a Roman-Latin alphabet – and its impact on Chinese writing, literature, and culture. I want the readers to join me in working through a series of puzzles triggered by the script revolution: Why did it happen? How did it unfold? Why was it contained? Together we will make sense of the intertwining of script and literature, writing and politics in modern China as an encounter between alphabetic and non-alphabetic writings and worlds.” – Yurou Zhong

Please visit Columbia University Press for a full summary Professor Zhong’s new book. If you order online through cup.columbia.edu, you can use the discount code “CUP30” for a 30% discount.

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2019 “Chinese Bridge” Chinese Proficiency Competition

2019 “Chinese Bridge” Chinese Proficiency Competition

Natalie Bell won the second prize in the Toronto Final of the 2019 “Chinese Bridge” Chinese Proficiency Competition.

Students from EAS’s Chinese language courses participated in the 18th “Chinese Bridge” Chinese Proficiency Competition Preliminary Competition (Toronto Final) on Saturday, May 18, at the Confucius Institute at Renison University College, University of Waterloo. At the competition, each contestant had to give a speech on “天下一家 One World, One Family” and present a talent performance related to Chinese culture. Our EAS200Y student Natalie Bell ranked second among all the participants after both the speech and the talent show; she won the second prize. Our EAS200Y exchange student Ryutaro Nakamura ranked the seventh and received the excellence in participation prize. Natalie will represent the University of Toronto as an observer at the 2019 “Chinese Bridge” Chinese Proficiency Competition for Foreign Students in China in the summer. Congratulations to Natalie Bell and Ryutaro Nakamura!

Natalie Bell stands in front of a microphone to give a speech in Chinese.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Natalie Bell is giving her speech, “Do not talk to a stranger.”

Ryutaro Nakamura delivers his speech on stage.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ryutaro Nakamura is doing his speech, “A Trip to China.”

The U of T St. George Team at the 18th Chinese Bridge, which include instructors Zheng Mingyu, Yanfei Li, Contestant Natalie and Ryutaro, and Instructor Wang Jing.
The U of T St. George Team at the 18th Chinese Bridge. From left to right: Instructors Zheng Mingyu, Yanfei Li, Contestant Natalie and Ryutaro, Instructor Wang Jing.

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37th Annual Ontario Japanese Speech Contest

37th Annual Ontario Japanese Speech Contest

Students and parents gathered at the University of Toronto on Saturday, March 2nd for the 37th Annual Ontario Japanese Speech Contest.

Among the contestants, Yi (William) Yang, a Ph.D student at the Faculty of Pharmacy, U of T, who has previously taken EAS220Y  in 2016-2017,  won the first prize of the intermediate category. He also won the Shinkikai-Sagamihara City prize, and will be officially invited to the City of Sagamihara, Kanagawa Prefecture. In addition, he has been invited to participate in the 30th Annual National Japanese Speech Contest on Sunday, March, 24th, which will be held at the Embassy of Japan in Ottawa.

Group photo of EAS students, Chenhao Gong and Fengjia Zhang, alongside other contest officials. Both students are holding the certificates they won.

As well, two students who are currently taking the EAS Department’s Japanese language courses have won special prizes in the contest: Chenhao Gong, who is currently in EAS220Y, won the Humour Prize, and Fengjia Zhang, currently in EAS120Y, has won the Special Effort Prize.

Group photo of contest officials with Chenhao Gong, a student in EAS220Y, who won the Humour Prize. Group photo of contest officials with Fengjia Zhang, a student in EAS120Y, who won the Special Effort Prize. He is holding the certificate he won.

The Department congratulates the winners in their accomplishments, as well as all the participants for their great speeches.

Group photo of all the winners and contest officials on a grey stage.

Photos belong to OJSC.

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EAS’s Renovated Space Now Open

The EAS Students’ Lounge is now open after renovations

The new lounge has a modern design, with individual couches as well as conference tables for students to work from. To ensure students’ comfort at the lounge, the ceilings have been raised and re-designed, and the lighting has been brightened. The EAS Department Office has also been renovated, and can now be accessed outside the lounge. EAS students are welcome to come in to study and work quietly.

EAS Lounge, which features large red and dark blue chairs, small round tables, and a white desk with grey desk chairs in the corner. Corner view of the EAS Lounge, right behind the podium, which is brown and grey. Corner view of the EAS Lounge with grey, flat cushions towards the side. Bookshelves mounted on the wall in the EAS Lounge. Bird's eye view of the EAS Lounge. Bird's eye view of the EAS Lounge. The EAS Department's front reception area, which includes a large desk with a computer against a blue wall. Corner view of the EAS Department's office that points to the kitchen area.

 

 

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2019 EAS Chinese Speech Contest

2019 EAS Chinese Speech Contest

Students from EAS’s Chinese language courses participated in the 2019 EAS Chinese Speech Contest on Saturday, February 2, in the renovated EAS Lounge. Seven groups of students from EAS100, EAS101, and EAS200 competed for the Best Skits. Six individuals from EAS300 and EAS401 participated in the speech competition. Two groups won the Best Skits. Nolan Terrell, Dong Hyung Kim, and Jiwon Lee won by their excellent performance in “Green Hat.” Natalie Bell, Ryutaro Nakamura, and Ryan MacDonald won by their humorous story in “Two Boyfriends.” Man Wang grabbed the Award of Best Speech by her clear elaboration of the meanings of colours in the Chinese culture.

2019-chinese-speech-contest

Judge and the Best Skit winners. From Left to right: EAS300 course instructor Dr. Mingyu Zheng, Contestants Jiwon Lee and Dong Hyung Kim

2019-chinese-speech-contest2

Judge and the Best Skit winners. From left to right: EAS200 course instructor Yu Wen, Contestants Natalie Bell, Ryan MacDonald, and Ryutaro Nakamura

2019-chinese-speech-contest3

Group photo of the contestants, judges, and community friends

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Remembering Professor Vincent Shen

Remembering Professor Vincent Shen

With heavy hearts we have to convey the news that Professor Vincent Shen passed away in the early hours of the morning on Wednesday November 14, after being taken suddenly ill on Monday. He was surrounded by his loving family, who had travelled from all over the continent, and he was at peace.

Professor Shen joined the East Asian Studies Department in 2000, as the Lee Chair in Chinese Thought and Culture and served as Department Chair from 2007 to 2010. He held a joint appointment in the Department of Philosophy. A specialist in Chinese philosophy, specifically Daoism and Confucianism, Professor Shen was a prolific and widely admired scholar, the author of 29 books (with another forthcoming) and 150 articles and book chapters. He was greatly respected in his field. Professor Shen was the Executive Director and past president of the Chinese Philosophical Association, the Executive Director of the International Society for Chinese Philosophy and a Vice President of the Council for Research in Values and Philosophy.

Alongside Professor Shen’s commitment to research we witnessed everyday his great care and devotion to his students. Many of those students now occupy research positions throughout Asia, Europe and North America. But Professor Shen generously shared his passion for Chinese philosophy with students of all levels. His warm guidance and encouragement has left a deep impression on many University of Toronto students over the years and set a high standard for his colleagues to follow.

Professor Shen was planning to retire at the end of this academic year and we were preparing a party to celebrate his many years of research, teaching and service to the department. Sadly, he has left us too soon, but we will be sure to find an occasion to celebrate his profound commitment to scholarship, his dedication to his students and his joyful interactions with us all as colleagues. He was a true philosopher and teacher.

The funeral service for Professor Shen will be held this coming Monday, November 19, at 10am at St. Basil’s Church (50 St Joseph St, Toronto, ON M5S 1J4). The family has made arrangements for flowers; if you would like to make a donation in his memory, please consider donating to St. Basil’s Church.

Further tributes and information on ways to remember Professor Shen will be posted here and we have created an online memorial page for people to share memories.
Faculty of Arts & Science In Memoriam: Vincent Shen (1949-2018)

In the meantime, please hold Professors Shen and Johanna Liu and their family in your thoughts over the coming days.

Yours in sadness,
Janet Poole, Acting Chair
Department of East Asian Studies

Photo credit: New Asia College, Chinese University of Hong Kong
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Translating Korean Literature: A Conversation and Book Launch

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Students and faculty members gathered at the Cheng Yu Tung East Asian Library on Thursday, October 4th to attend the event, “Translating Korean Literature: A Conversation and Book Launch,” hosted by the East Asian Library and the Centre for the Study of Korea. The event celebrated the recent publication of Dust and Other Stories, by Yi T’aejun, translated by Dr. Janet Poole (University of Toronto). Dr. Poole was joined by Dr. Samuel Perry (Brown University). The two speakers shared their experiences translating Korean literary works.

After introductions, Dr. Poole and Dr. Perry began the event by discussing the historical context in which Yi T’aejun lived. Yi T’aejun was born in 1904 in northern Korea. He lived, and wrote his influential works, throughout the periods of colonial and post-liberation Korea. Dr. Poole described various instances where the situation under which the work was written had a significant influence in the way the story was presented. Although certain characteristics in his work never changed—his interest in marginal figures, for example—political influences such as literary censorship greatly impacted the style of his works. It is through this historical lens that Dr. Poole composed the anthology. She also explained that it is by focusing on one author and his works specifically, that she was able to examine the changes in style that were brought forth by the historical context.

Dr. Poole read two short excerpts from her book to the audience. She first read a few paragraphs from the end of the “A Tale of Rabbits,” a tale that speaks of a family in financial crisis raising rabbits. The tale describes the struggles between morality and sustainment faced by many native Koreans during the colonial period. She then read a part of “Tiger Grandma,” which is a tale about a kind and helpful, but stubborn old woman in a village. Dr. Poole explained that “Tiger Grandma” was written for a campaign promoting literacy, but the majority of the story was spent describing the character, Tiger Grandma. This tale was classic in demonstrating Yi T’aejun’s unique style of focusing on characters more than a central plot.

Dr. Perry and Dr. Poole also shared some stories behind the translation process. They both agreed that a part of the fun in translating modernist literary works is in trying to decipher the enigma of “what did the author try to convey?” Dr. Poole explained that it took her 17 years to translate this anthology, because the translation process involved a lot of re-drafting of previous translations she made. She also stated that it is vital to take that time to re-draft as translators have a responsibility toward the original authors, as well as to the audiences that engage with their texts.

The event ended with a brief Q & A session, during which she shared more information on the cultural-historical contexts Yi T’aejun lived in, some stylistic decisions she made when translating, and the composition of her book. It was Dr. Perry that asked the last question, one that was on everyone’s mind: Which author is Dr. Poole looking to translate next?

After the panel, a reception was hosted. Students and faculty members enjoyed some refreshments while they discussed about Dr. Poole’s new book. Dr. Poole also kindly gifted two copies of her book to two lucky students in the audience.

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EAS Department Undergoing Renovations during Summer and Fall, 2018

The Department is excited to be undergoing renovations to our lounge and administrative spaces, as well as many faculty offices. The end result will be a lighter, updated, more user-friendly space with better, much-needed directional signage!

During renovations, you will find EAS reception in RL14211. From the elevator, turn right and follow signs to the room.

If you have any questions or concerns about the renovations, please do not hesitate to contact EAS’s Office Manager, Natasja VanderBerg at natasja.vanderberg@utoronto.ca

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Tour the East Asian Library

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Did you know the University of Toronto has its own library dedicated to the Studies of East Asia?

The Cheng Yu Tung East Asian Library is located on the eighth floor of Robarts Library. It  contains rich materials covering various topics in relation to China, Japan, Korea and Tibet, as well as in Asian Canadian studies. You can find publications written in Chinese, Japanese, Korean and Tibetan on literature, history, religion, international relations, arts, pop cultures, social sciences and more. The Mu Rare Books Collection and  Tibetan Collections within the library also offer precious historical primary sources unique to this library. With over 600,000 volumes of print publications and a variety of scholarly electronic resources, it is one of the most extensive East Asian Studies collections in North America.

The library is open for all to use, no TCard check is required. And if you are still hesitant about visiting, you can learn more about the library by watching the video below.

This video is composed of an interview with Hana Kim, the director of the Cheng Yu Tung East Asian Library, along with a visual tour of the library to give you a sense of what it can offer you. Much more remains to be seen and it is up to you to discover it.

playlibrary

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The 17th “Chinese Bridge” Chinese Proficiency Competition: U of T Preliminary Finalists

Students from EAS’s Chinese language courses participated in the 17th “Chinese Bridge” Chinese Proficiency Competition Preliminary Competition – Toronto Final on Saturday, March 24, at the Confucius Institute at Brock University. At the competition, each contestant had to give a speech on  “天下一家 One World, One Family” and present a talent performance related to Chinese culture. Our EAS200Y student Benjamin McDonald won second prize; our EAS402H student Moon Yong Zong won third prize. Benjamin will represent the University of Toronto as an observer at the 2018 “Chinese Bridge” Chinese Proficiency Competition for Foreign Students in China in the summer. Congratulations to Benjamin McDonald and Moon Yong Zong!

 

You can watch their talent performances here:

Benjamin McDonald

Moon Yong Zong

 

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CIE Information Session: Akita International University

The Centre for International Experience is inviting a delegation from Akita International University to host an information session for students on Monday, February 12 at 11 amIt is a great opportunity for you to pose questions you have regarding the exchange program, get to know the University, and network with other students who are going.

Students who are interested can register for the event at the Student Life Calendar

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