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Faculty News

The Chinese Dreamscape 300 BCE – 800 CE by Rob Campany wins Joseph Levenson Prize!

Book cover for The Chinese Dreamscape, 300 BCE–800 CE

The Joseph Levenson Prize (pre-1900 category) was awarded by the Association for Asian Studies for The Chinese Dreamscape 300 BCE – 800 CE . This award is for the English-language books that make the greatest contribution to increasing understanding of the history, culture, or society of China, with special consideration for books which through comparative insights or groundbreaking research promote the relevance of scholarship on China to the wider world of intellectual discourse.

From the ASS announcement of the prize - "Robert Ford Campany’s The Chinese Dreamscape 300 BCE – 800 CE is a brilliant and deeply empathetic study of how people in China thought about dreams. Besides bringing a wide array of texts into conversation with studies of dreams across the globe, Campany also invites us to turn the lens back on ourselves. As we try to understand these materials, what are our own ideas about dreaming? Campany draws on his deep knowledge of the sources as well as his profoundly humanistic approach to the study of Chinese culture and religions. It is an exemplary piece of scholarship and a beautifully written book."

Rob Campany awarded Endowed Chair in the College of Arts & Science

Rob Campany shaking hands with Dean Geer

We congratulate Rob on his new title - Gertrude Conaway Vanderbilt Chair of Humanities - and celebrate his continued scholarship and contributions to the Department of Asian Studies

Pengfei Li receives Course Improvement Grant from the Office of the Provost for “Empowering students through digital games”

Prof Li

Read more here!

Asami Nakano Receives CFT Course Improvement Grant

Prof Nakano

Team Japan is on a roll! Asami Nakano joins Nozomi Imai in being spotlighted for teaching innovations she has worked on with the support of a Course Improvement Grant from the Center for Teaching. She is featured on the CTF blog post for November 4, which includes an interview of her describing the ways she has incorporated Japanese cultural experiences within language teaching. You can check out it here

Congratulations, Asami!

Nozomi Imai Receives CFT Course Improvement Grant

Prof Imai

To support further innovations in Japanese language teaching that she devised during the 2020-2021 academic year, Nozomi Imai has been awarded a Course Improvement Grant from the Center for Teaching. She was recently interviewed for the CFT blog to discuss how she adapted to online teaching last year and what from that experience has proven effective to implement for a flipped classroom format. You can watch the interview here and information about CFT teaching grants can be found here.

Congratulations, Nozomi!

Vivian Shaw Joins Department; Asian American Studies Launches

Prof Shaw

The Asian Studies Department is elated to welcome sociologist Vivian Shaw among its ranks in a three-year appointment as Mellon Assistant Professor of Asian American Studies. Dr. Shaw earned her PhD at University of Texas at Austin and comes to Vanderbilt via Harvard University where she was a Postdoctoral Fellow in the Weatherhead Center for International Relations’ Program on U.S.-Japan Relations from 2018-2019 and a College Fellow in the Department of Sociology from 2019-2021. Her research and teaching interests embrace issues of race, gender, sexuality, and culture, particularly in the contexts of disasters, the  environment, human rights, and social movements, which she studies within global-comparative frameworks. She is also the Lead Researcher (co-PI) for the AAPI COVID-19 Project, a multi-method investigation into the impacts of the pandemic on the lives of Asian American and Pasifika communities, housed in the Department of Sociology at Harvard University. Her hire represents the first step in establishing an Asian American & Diaspora Studies track in the Department in support of its Global Asia Initiative.

Welcome Vivian!

Yoshi Igarashi Publishes Third of Postwar Japan "Trilogy"

Book cover Japan, 1972

Yoshi Igarashi's third book on postwar Japanese history—Japan, 1972: Visions of Masculinity in an Age of Mass Consumerism—has just come out from Columbia University Press (May 2021). It completes a splendid trilogy that started with Bodies of Memory: Narratives of War in Postwar Japanese Culture 1945-1970 (2000) and continued with Homecomings: The Belated Return of Japan's Lost Soldiers (2016). Maybe it will become a tetralogy? In any case, congratulations, Yoshi! From the press pageBy the early 1970s, Japan had become an affluent consumer society, riding a growing economy to widely shared prosperity. In the aftermath of the fiery political activism of 1968, the country settled down to the realization that consumer culture had taken a firm grip on Japanese society. Japan, 1972 takes an early-seventies year as a vantage point for understanding how Japanese society came to terms with cultural change.

Yoshikuni Igarashi examines a broad selection of popular film, television, manga, and other media in order to analyze the ways Japanese culture grappled with this economic shift. He exposes the political underpinnings of mass culture and investigates deeper anxieties over questions of agency and masculinity. Igarashi underscores how the male-dominated culture industry strove to defend masculine identity by looking for an escape from the high-growth economy. He reads a range of cultural works that reveal perceptions of imperiled Japanese masculinity through depictions of heroes’ doomed struggles against what were seen as the stifling and feminizing effects of consumerism. Ranging from manga travelogues to war stories, yakuza films to New Left radicalism, Japan, 1972 sheds new light on a period of profound socioeconomic change and the counternarratives of masculinity that emerged to manage it.

Tony Stewart Awarded  2021 Coomaraswamy Prize

Book cover for Witness to Marvels: Sufism and Literary Imagination

Tony Stewart, Gertrude Conaway Vanderbilt Chair in Humanities and Professor of Religious Studies, has been awarded the 2021 Ananda Kentish Coomaraswamy Prize for his 2019 book, Witness to Marvels: Sufism and Literary Imagination. The Coomaraswamy Prize  "honors a distinguished work of scholarship in South Asian Studies that promises to define or redefine the understanding of whole subject areas" and is the top award for a publication in the field. The award will be presented at the 2021 AAS Virtual Conference on March 24. The entire Asian Studies faculty toasts Tony on this well-earned honor!

About the book from the UC Press website:

There is a vast body of imaginal literature in Bengali that introduces fictional Sufi saints into the complex mythological world of Hindu gods and goddesses. Dating to the sixteenth century, the stories—pir katha—are still widely read and performed today. The events that play out rival the fabulations of the Arabian Nights, which has led them to be dismissed as simplistic folktales, yet the work of these stories is profound: they provide fascinating insight into how Islam habituated itself into the cultural life of the Bangla-speaking world. In Witness to Marvels, Tony K. Stewart unearths the dazzling tales of Sufi saints to signal a bold new perspective on the subtle ways Islam assumed its distinctive form in Bengal.

Rob Campany named 2020 Guggenheim Fellow

Rob Campany

Rob Campany, Professor of Asian Studies, is one of 175 scholars, artists and scientists in the United States and Canada to be awarded 2020 John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation Fellowships. Campany was selected from a group of nearly 3,000 applicants in the foundation’s 96th competition. Guggenheim Fellows are chosen on the basis of prior achievement and exceptional promise. John Geer, Dean of the College of Arts & Sciences at Vanderbilt, says, "Robert has become a prominent researcher in Chinese religious and literary history by blending his expertise, methodological savvy and intellectual creativity to produce many highly respected works. He has played an important role in bringing more global attention to the study of Chinese religions and culture.” Congratulations to Rob!

Read more about Rob and the Guggenheim Fellowship here

New Faculty Join Department

Welcome icon

The Asian Studies Department welcomes three new additions for 2020-21: Mabel Gergan, Assistant Professor of Asian Studies; Pengfei Li, Lecturer in Chinese; and Ji You Whang, Lecturer in Korean. Bravely joining us in the midst of the pandemic, their on-boarding and starts at teaching have been non-traditional, to say the least, but they are gradually acclimating themselves to Nashville and Vanderbilt and are enthusiastic about being here. We intend a proper welcoming reception for them toward the end of this challenging academic year. To learn a little more about each of them, please check out their pages linked to their names above.

Guojun Wang's First Book Published

Book cover for Staging Personhood: Costuming in Early Qing Drama

Guojun Wang 's first monograph, Staging Personhood: Costuming in Early Qing Drama , is officially out from Columbia University Press and it looks stunning.

From the press page: "Staging Personhood uncovers a hidden history of the Ming–Qing transition by exploring what it meant for the clothing of a deposed dynasty to survive onstage. Reading dramatic works against Qing sartorial regulations, Guojun Wang offers an interdisciplinary lens on the entanglements between Chinese drama and nascent Manchu rule in seventeenth-century China. He reveals not just how political and ethnic conflicts shaped theatrical costuming but also the ways costuming enabled different modes of identity negotiation during the dynastic transition. In case studies of theatrical texts and performances, Wang considers clothing and costumes as indices of changing ethnic and gender identities. He contends that theatrical costuming provided a productive way to reconnect bodies, clothes, and identities disrupted by political turmoil. Through careful attention to a variety of canonical and lesser-known plays, visual and performance records, and historical documents, Staging Personhood provides a pathbreaking perspective on the cultural dynamics of early Qing China."

For more about the book, check out Guojun's blog about it on the Columbia University Press website.

Rob Campany's Latest Book Published

Book cover for Dreamscape

Rob Campany's latest monograph, The Chinese Dreamscape, 300BCE - 800CE is out from Harvard University Asia Center this October with an appropriately cool cover for a cool topic. From the press page:

Dreaming is a near-universal human experience. But there is no consensus on why we dream, or how we should approach dreaming. This book investigates what dreams meant to people in late classical and early medieval China. It maps a common dreamscape—an array of divergent ideas about what dreams are, and how they should be responded to—that underlies texts of diverse persuasions and genres over several centuries. These include manuals of dream interpretation, scriptural instructions, essays, treatises, classics, poems, recovered manuscripts, histories, and anecdotes of successful dream-based predictions.

What was thought to happen when we dream? Do dreams foretell futureevents? If so, how might their imagistic code be unlocked to yield predictions? Could dreams enable direct communication between the living and the dead, or between humans and animals? By answering these questions, The Chinese Dreamscape, 300 BCE–800 CE sheds light on how people in a distant age negotiated dream experiences. Yet it also brings Chinese notions of dreaming into conversation with studies of dreams in other cultures ancient and contemporary. Ultimately this book investigates how Chinese people wrestled with—and celebrated—the strangeness of dreams, and reflects on how we might reconsider our own notions of dreaming.

Congratulations Rob!

We Jung Yi Selected as Robert Penn Warren Center Fellow

Prof Yi

The Robert Penn Warren Center for the Humanities has selected Professor We Jung Yi as one of its Fellows for its 2019-20 theme "Borders and Belonging."  She will participate in regular seminars and share work with other Fellows at the RPW Center throughout the year. 

New Team Japan Moving Forward from Fall 2019

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The Asian Studies Program is excited to welcome a new team of full-time Japanese language instructors following the retirement of Keiko Nakajima and the departure of Michiru Ichihara Lowe. Asami Nakano, who had been teaching part-time for the past two years, is now a full-time Lecturer. She is joined by Senior Lecturer Dr. Hideko Shimizu, who is returning to Vanderbilt after nearly twenty years teaching in Colorado and Tokyo, and by Lecturer Nozomi Imai, who is coming from Indiana University where she completed her Masters degree in Japanese  Pedagogy in Spring 2019.

Divya Chaudhry Joins Growing Hindi-Urdu Program

Prof Chaudhry

After single-handedly jump-starting the Hindi-Urdu Program two years ago, Dr. Elliott McCarter will finally have a much-needed colleague to meet the needs of an expanding South Asian languages and culture program. Dr. Divya Chaudhry left her position at Rice University to join the Asian Studies Program faculty at Vanderbilt as full-time Lecturer in Hindi-Urdu. Divya received her PhD in Linguistics and Certificate in Second Language Acquisition and Teaching from the University of Florida in 2016. With her teaming up with Elliott, the Program can now offer Sanskrit and South Asian culture courses in addition to Hindi-Urdu language.

Korean Language Teaching Fellow Arrives for 2019-2020

Prof Jang

Student response to the introduction of Korean language courses in 2018-19 was so overwhelming for sole Senior Lecturer Dr. Seok Bae Jang that the Program has established a Korean Language Teaching Fellowship with Yonsei University's graduate program in Korean Language Pedagogy to help meet demand. Our first Korean Language Teaching Fellow, Ha Eun Choi, will be teaching part-time in the beginning level courses this year. Ha Eun received an M.A. in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages at the USC Rossier School of Education and she is currently pursuing an M.A. in Korean Language and Literature with Korean Language Teaching Certification at Yonsei. Stop by and say hi to her—she'll be in Prof. Guojun Wang's this year while he is on research leave.

Yoshi Igarashi Receives Honorable Mention for 2018 John Whitney Hall Book Prize

Book cover for Homecoming

Homecomings: The Belated Return of Japan's Lost Soldierswas given Honorable Mention for the 2018 John Whitney Hall Prize for Best Book on Japan. More information can be found on the Association for Asian Studies announcement.