Chair's Newsletter

Autumn 2019

Welcome back to campus, and to another exciting year of teaching and learning East Asian languages and cultures at Cal! 

We have a lot to be thankful for here at EALC, from our talented, kind, and tireless staff, to the world-class scholars and dedicated teachers who make the department such an exceptional community. 

Most of all, we are blessed with bright and accomplished students at both the undergraduate and graduate levels. I want to begin this newsletter by celebrating some of their accomplishments, and then fill you all in on what's been going on in the department, and some of the things you can look forward to over the next academic year. 

At our commencement in May, four Chinese majors, four Japanese majors, and two majors in East Asian Religion, Thought, and Culture received their degrees. Congratulations to the class of 2019! 

We are also happy to report that our Department Citation award winner and valedictorian, Yisheng Tang, will continue on in the department as a doctoral student in modern Japanese literature. Hanyu Hou, who graduated from Cal in 2017 and went on to earn a Masters degree at the University of Michigan, will also be rejoining us as a graduate student in Chinese literature. 

Graduate Program 

Three of our graduate students (Tae Hyun Kim, Brendan Morley, and Lawrence Zi-qiao Yang) have recently completed their dissertations. Tae Hyun will be staying on at Berkeley this year to teach Korean literature; Brendan will be taking up a visiting position at George Washington University; and Lawrence will be a Hou Family Postdoctoral Fellow in Taiwan Studies at Harvard University. In addition, Jon Pitt will join the faculty at the University of California, Irvine as an assistant professor. 

An unprecedented seven graduate students have passed their Ph.D. qualifying examinations over the past few months, and will now move on to producing new research in their respective fields. Congratulations! 

Our graduate students have also been remarkably successful in winning fiercely competitive national and international fellowships to support their work. In just this past year alone, they have garnered no fewer than four Fulbright and Fulbright-Hays Fellowships, as well as grants from the Chiang Ching-Kuo Foundation for Scholarly Research, the Nippon Foundation, and the Japan Society for the Promotion of Science. 

Closer to home, Wendy Wan-ting Wang and Julia Keblinska were awarded University of California Humanities Research Institute awards (, for a cross-campus collaborative working group on "Memory, Agency, and Posthumanity" in Taiwanese literature and media, and for research on "New Era, New Media: the Postsocialist Chinese New Media Ecology," respectively.

Our graduate students have also been busy this year publishing new scholarship in their respective fields:

Ezra Toback's essay "Kôda Rohan's Fûryûbutsu: Semiotic Polyvalency and 'Salvific' Prose" appeared in the Journal of Japanese Studies, vol. 45, no. 2 (Summer 2019).

Xiaoyu Xia recently published an article in Chinese entitled, “Birth of an Old Crow: New Poetry and May Fourth,” in a volume co-edited by David Der-wei Wang and Song Mingwei, May Fourth @100: Culture, Thought, History, (Taipei: Lianjing chubanshe, 2019). 

Lawrence Zi-qiao Yang's essay "Soil and Scroll: The Agrarian Origin of a Cold War Documentary Avant-Garde" will appear in an upcoming special issue of Modern Chinese Literature and Culture on "Reportage and Its Contemporary Variations." 

Look out also for Linda Zhang's essay, "The Animated Worlds of Piercing I, iMirror, and RMB City: Decoding Postsocialist Reality through Virtual Spaces," in the next issue of The Journal of Chinese Cinemas

Our graduate students are not only producing new knowledge about the East Asian humanities but also working with imagination and verve to share their expertise with other Cal students as Graduate Student Instructors.

Notably, Matt Wild was honored this past spring with a well-deserved Outstanding GSI award. Congratulations to all!

Language Programs 

Our wonderful faculty in the Chinese, Korean, and Japanese language programs continue to innovate, developing a suite of groundbreaking new courses in Business Korean, Korean in Popular Media, Supplementary Chinese Conversation, and Intermediate Reading in Chinese and Japanese. Check out the course listings on our web page for all the details: 

We are delighted to welcome Kelvin Chi Leung Chan to campus — he will be offering for the first time a regular course in elementary Cantonese in our Chinese program! Mingzhe Zheng has also joined the teaching staff this fall, augmenting our offerings in Chinese and bringing his talent and energy to the program. 

We would also like to celebrate the arrival of two talented and accomplished lecturers to the Japanese program: Hayato Saito and Yukiko Tsuchiya. Saito-san studied linguistics and culture at Kyoto University and comes to us via National Taiwan University; Tsuchiya-san joins us from across the Bay, where she has taught at both San Francisco State and the University of San Francisco. We are so happy that you are all here!  

Faculty News and Honors 

Paula Varsano has begun a three-year appointment as Chair of the Department of South and Southeast Asian Studies (SSEAS). 

Sophie Volpp has recently taken up the helm at the Center for Chinese Studies. We look forward to working closely with the CCS in the next few years. 

Weihong Bao and Ling Hon Lam have come home after a year of research and writing at the National Humanities Center in North Carolina. We're glad you're back! 

Jonathan Zwicker has been honored with the Agassiz Professorship in Japanese Literature. 

Jinsoo An has won a prestigious Fulbright award that will allow him to pursue his research on film and media in Korea this coming year. We wish him safe and productive travels. 

Faculty Publications 

H. Mack Horton has two new books on the way! The Rhetoric of Death and Discipleship in Premodern JapanSôchô's Death of Sôgi and Kikaku's Death of Master Bashô has just been published here at Berkeley in the Institute of East Asian Studies' Japan Research Monograph series. In addition, Professor Horton's latest opus, Linked Verse in Medieval JapanHistory, Commentary, Performance is forthcoming this spring from Columbia University Press. 

Robert Ashmore's annotated translation of the complete works of the Tang poet Li He will soon be published as The Poetry of Li He (790-816) in the DeGruyter "Library of the Chinese Humanities" series. 

Andrew F. Jones' Circuit Listening: Chinese Popular Music in the Global 1960s will also 'drop' early in 2020. 

Administrative Changes

Professor Mark Blum has taken on the important role of Head Graduate Advisor and will work closely with Grant Tompkins to provide assistance to our graduate students as they progress through the program. 

I am also beginning a three-year term as Departmental Chair this fall, and look forward to working along with all of you to make our Department an even better place to teach, work, and learn. 

On the Horizon 

New Graduate and Undergraduate Major Handbooks: 

Grant Tompkins and Presi Diaz performed yeoman work over the summer, researching and writing brand new handbooks that will help guide EALC graduate students and undergraduates alike through all aspects of their academic experience here at Berkeley. We deeply appreciate their initiative in taking these projects on. Look for the Handbooks later this fall. 

Y.R. Chao Essay Prize: 

We are happy to announce that the Department will be instituting an annual prize for the best essay or academic project written by an EALC major. The prize will be called the Y.R. Chao Essay Prize in honor of the department's rich historical lineage. Dan O'Neill and Weihong Bao have agreed to serve as the Prize Committee for this inaugural year. 

(Y.R. Chao, for those of you who don't know, was an eminent linguist, poet, songwriter, and a pivotal figure in the making of the modern Chinese vernacular. He taught at Berkeley from 1947 to 1960. He and his wife, the physician Buwei Yang Chao, collaborated in writing the cookbook, How to Cook and Eat in Chinese, that gave the world the now commonly used neologisms "stir fry" and "pot sticker"!). 

Improvements to our Common Spaces: 

This fall, and during the winter break, we will be working to renovate and upgrade our common departmental spaces, including the EALC Library in 287 Dwinelle, the Chinese, Japanese, and Korean Language Program tutorial rooms, and EALC's GSI offices. Many of you have helped identify necessary changes and to facilitate this work — thanks to one and all. 

With all best wishes for the new academic year,  

Andrew F. Jones

Chair and Agassiz Professor of Chinese