Chair's Newsletter

Spring 2020

Welcome back for another semester of study of the East Asian humanities!

In what seems to be an ever more fractious and precarious world, it's a particular pleasure to come back to the Cal campus: a place characterized by light, learning, and open intellectual inquiry. I saw some graffiti on the streets of Paris a few years ago that seemed to speak poignantly to this moment in history, as we grapple with climate crisis, dizzying technological change, and the steady deterioration of previous political and social norms: "It is no longer enough to transform the world; before all else, it's necessary to preserve it."  And I think that, in our small but steadfast ways, that's what we do together at a place like this: preserving what's precious about our university, and creatively preserving the richness of the East Asian past through our scholarship and teaching and learning, while engaging fully with our own complex present. 


A quartet of conferences coming up this semester, all organized by EALC faculty and graduate students, reveal the scope of these various engagements. A conference entitled "Imagining Post 3.11 Futures and Living with Anthropogenic Change," organized by Professor Dan O'Neill, will bring together artists, activists and scholars for a series of conversations on the 3.11 disasters in Japan, and the effects of climate change, exploring how people in northeastern Japan are living with the consequences of the 3.11 disasters. The conference will take place on February 14th and 15th. 

Professor Robert Sharf has organized a conference called "Buddhism, Physics, and Philosophy Redux" that will bring together prominent quantum physicists with scholars of Buddhist texts and philosophy on April 17 to probe their underlying affinities and epistemological quandaries.

Also in April, look out not only for the 11th annual "Berkeley-Stanford Graduate Student Conference in the Modern Chinese Humanities" (affectionately known among its many alumnae as "Berkistan"), but also its counterpart, the 7th annual Stanford-Berkeley Graduate Student Conference In Premodern Chinese Humanities ("Stanley"?). Organized by our graduate students and faculty in collaboration with their colleagues at Stanford, these workshops bring exceptional and innovative graduate students from all over the world into intense and productive conversation about all aspects of Chinese literature, history, culture, and the arts.

Publications, Projects, and Awards

Scholars in EALC also continue to push scholarship forward through their many publications across various fields of enquiry.

John Wallace, Senior Lecturer in the Japanese Program, has recently published a digital monograph through the UC Berkeley Library Office of Scholarly Communication Services (OSCS) entitled Interpreting Love Narratives in East Asian Literature and Film: The Status of Traditional Worldviews and Values. The book is available here: (

Lihua Zhang, Senior Lecturer in Chinese, has been awarded the Modern Language Association of America's thirty-fifth Kenneth W. Mildenberger Prize for her book (written in collaboration with Claire Kramsch), The Multilingual Instructor: What Foreign Language Teachers Say about Their Experience and Why It Matters, published by Oxford University Press.

Weisi Cai's Berkeley Language Center-sponsored research project on "Understanding China Through Media: Teaching Advanced Chinese with Multimedia Materials" is available online at:

Brian Baumann has continued his research into scientific epistemology in the context of Mongolian history, publishing a pair of articles on “Animal Signs: Theriomorphic Intercession between Heaven and Mongolian Imperial History” (in Animals and Human Society in Asia, Palgrave Macmillan, 2019: 391-419) and “The White Old Man: Géluk-Mongolian Canopus Allegory and the Existence of God" (Central Asiatic Journal 62 (2019): 35-68).

Dan O'Neill's essay "Rewilding Futures: Japan’s Nuclear Exclusion Zone and Post 3.11 Eco-cinema" appeared this year in the Journal of Japanese and Korean Cinema. 

Andrew Jones published an essay entitled "Chrysanthemum Fields Forever: Folk Rock and the LP Form in Taiwan," in Eva Tsai and Tung-hung Ho, eds., Made in Taiwan: Studies in Popular Music (Routledge, 2019), as well as a new piece on “The Duppy in the Machine: Voice and Technology in Jamaican Popular Music,” in Martha Feldman and Judith Zeitlin, eds. A Voice as Something More: Essays Toward Materiality, (University of Chicago Press, 2019).

Yoko Hasegawa has a forthcoming piece in Japanese entitled "Disfluency in conversation: From a speech-style perspective," in Mayumi Usami  (ed.), An Analysis of Naturally Occurring Conversations Based on the BTSJ Corpus, out soon from Kurosio Publishers in Tokyo.

Alan Tansman's essay "The Rise and Fall of the House of Narrative: The Tale of Genji," will be featured in the new The Norton Critical Edition of The Tale of Genji.

Xiaoyu Xia's “Exclamation Marks and Elliptical Hope: Reading Wild Grass against Modern Chinese Punctuation Reform,” will appear in Modern Chinese Literature and Culture, in the Spring 2020 issue.

Xiangjun Feng will also publish an essay on "Rhythm Revolution: How Music Modernized China" in the Fall 2020 issue of Modern Chinese Literature and Culture.

Meanwhile, continue to look out for the imminent publication of a book-length study by H. Mack Horton on Japanese linked verse, Robert Ashmore's complete translation of the poetry of Li He, and Andrew Jones' account of Chinese music in the global 1960s.

News Flashes

In other news, Jon Pitt filed his dissertation, "Becoming Botanical: Entanglements of Plant Life and Human Subjectivity in Modern Japan," and has taken up an assistant professorship at UC Irvine. Congratulations, Jon!

H. Mack Horton is back on campus, and will be offering a class on "Highways and Byways in Premodern Japanese Literature."

Dan O'Neill will be on sabbatical leave for the Spring 2020 semester.

Professor Paula Varsano will be featured this Spring on the BBC World Service's "The Forum" program, speaking with novelist Ha Jin and scholar Wilt Idema about the life and legacy of the poet Li Bai.

New Courses

Two cross-listed courses are being offered in EALC this semester: Professor Edward Tyerman's EA Lang C134: "Russia and Asia," which offers a cultural history of encounters between Russia and Asia in literature, film and visual art; and Chinese C118, Professor Esther Bianchi's "Buddhism in Modern China," exploring the ways in which this ancient spiritual tradition has grappled with modernity.

Kelvin Chan is also offering Chinese 3B: "Elementary Cantonese" this semester — the second semester of our new Cantonese language sequence.

New Initiatives

An inaugural cohort of three EALC undergraduate majors have been selected as finalists for the Huang Scholars Opportunity Program, and will receive stipends that allow them to pursue internship and research opportunities this coming summer in Japan, mainland China, and Taiwan. Congratulations!

Graduate students in the Department have been working together with faculty to build up a new reference collection in the EALC Departmental Library, housed in 287 Dwinelle. The collection will feature not only works that are necessary for qualifying exam preparation, but also a representative selection of works by past and present faculty in the department, so as to maintain and preserve a sense of our collective lineage and academic legacy as a department.

Renovations to the Department's GSI offices and Tutorial rooms are underway, and will result in a more comfortable working environment for lecturers, GSIs, and students alike.

Best wishes for a happy and healthy Spring semester!

Andrew F. Jones

Chair and Agassiz Professor of Chinese