Chair's Newsletter

FALL 2020

Dear EALC Colleagues, Students, and Friends,

Last January, I wrote in this space about the pleasure of returning to campus and to our educational mission in an “ever more fractious and precarious world.” Little did we know then that the Covid-19 pandemic would turn our world upside-down soon after. Now, months later and still beset by uncertainty, we are returning once again to teaching and learning, if only remotely. The cost in human lives across the world has been steep and incalculable. Our daily lives remain locked-down, our community has been scattered, and all the while, we have had to collectively rethink and remake every aspect of what we do as a university, from teaching to learning to making sure that all of us are accounted for and supported throughout this public health emergency. We have also been through a difficult and momentous summer, during which the brutal murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis touched off massive protests against police brutality, and a profound reckoning with this country’s ongoing anti-Black racism. We have seen a disturbing outbreak of anti-Asian and anti-immigrant incidents in the US, promoted and tacitly encouraged by officials at the highest levels of the US government. Our university and our departmental community, finally, was caught up in this senseless cruelty in July, when the immigration authorities briefly threatened to deny visas to international students in the midst of a global pandemic, before coordinated resistance from colleges and universities across the country forced them to reverse the ruling.  

And yet, despite everything, I have been heartened by the resilience and creativity and generosity of our community. Our faculty and GSIs made the transition to remote teaching almost overnight, and have been working all summer to make sure that we make the best of an unfortunate reality this fall. Our students have been nothing short of inspiring — showing up, and showing their unquenchable intellectual curiosity and commitment to their own education despite myriad disruptions. Our departmental staff, facing a seemingly endless cascade of crisis management measures, have been unflappable and indomitable, working tirelessly to make sure that our educational mission can continue, and that everyone in our community gets the support and the care that they need. We’ve been having productive conversations with one another all summer about how to respond to the call of the Black Lives Matter movement. And our students rallied together in the wake of the (thankfully rescinded) ICE ruling, organizing a moving and very well-attended on-line roundtable about the history, experiences, and predicament of international students at Berkeley entitled “International Students at a Crossroads” in late July. (See for the program).

Thanks to all of you.

The good news is that even in the midst of all of this, academic life hums on, and our accomplishments seem all the more precious in the face of these troubles. I want first of all to congratulate the class of 2020! We dearly hope to be able to welcome them back in 2021 for the proper commencement ceremony that was denied them by the pandemic this past May. James Kennerly, a Chinese and Anthropology double major, was the winner of the Department Citation and class valedictorian. Sarah Ziyi Lin was awarded the EALC Book Award in recognition of her high achievement in the Japanese major. Blue Fay, a double major in Chinese and Legal Studies, was awarded the inaugural Y.R. Chao Undergraduate Essay Prize for his submission, “The Thirteenth Beauty of Jinling: Suppression and Ephemerality in the Dream of the Red Chamber.” Michelle Chang, one of three recipients of our renewed Huang Scholars Opportunity Program, spent the summer in Taiwan learning UX Design firsthand at a company called LucidPix. Tianyi Liu (Chinese) and Christopher Tong (Japanese) were also awarded Huang scholarships for summer research, but their projects have been deferred as a result of Covid-19. Ishani Ghosh, a Korean minor, was able to spend the spring and summer as an Undergraduate Research Apprentice Program (URAP) fellow, researching “the presence, treatment, significance, and impact of foreign K-pop artists in the Korean entertainment industry.” Congratulations to all of you!

EALC and EALC-affiliated graduate students also continued to thrive. Lawrence Zi-qiao Yang (Ph.D. 2018) has just taken up a tenure-track position at the National Chiao Tung University in Taiwan. Keru Cai (Ph.D. in Comparative Literature, specializing in Chinese, 2020) filed her dissertation on "The Poverty of Fiction: Russia in the Making of a Modern Chinese Realism” this summer, and will be taking up a postdoctoral fellowship at Magdalen College in Oxford, before moving on to a tenure-track position at Pennsylvania State University.

Continuing EALC students also won a wide variety of competitive intra- and extra-mural fellowships. Wendy Wan-ting Wang has been awarded the Dr. and Mrs. James C.Y. Soong Fellowship. Jiaqian Zhu will be studying this year at the IUC Yokohama Center with the support of a Nippon Foundation Fellowship, while also coordinating a University of California Humanities Research Institute Multi-campus Graduate Student Working Group on "Syncopating East Asia.” Xiaoyu Xia will be researching her dissertation with the support of both the SSRC-IDRF and the Chiang Ching-kuo Foundation. Chris Elford was the recipient of a Townsend Center Dissertation Fellowship (declined), a David N. Keightley Fellowship, and a 2020-21 Mellon/ACLS Dissertation Completion Fellowship. Allyson Tang, finally, participated this summer in Berkeley’s Remote Teaching Innovation Fellowship program, and worked assiduously to learn about and develop more effective on-line pedagogical practices — and she has graciously offered to share what she learned with any of colleagues who may be interested. Big up yourselves, and apologies to those of you who may have similarly distinguished themselves but whom I have inadvertently neglected!


Scholars in EALC continued to expand the boundaries of knowledge in our fields. Hayato Saito  published an article entitled "Political cartoons portraying the Musha Uprising in Taiwan under Japanese rule: Use of the great chain multimodal metaphors and conceptual blending" in Metaphor and the Social World, pp. 76-99, John Benjamins Publishing Company, 2020. Here is an abstract of the paper: Daryl Maude has recently published "Queer Nations and Trans-lations," a review of Akiko Shimizu's visit to Berkeley in Postmodern Culture (30:2). You can link to Daryl’s work here: Xiangjun Feng’s latest essay, "The Travels of Lao Can as Book of Prophecy," is forthcoming in Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society.

Among our faculty, H. Mack Horton, in addition to his forthcoming book from Columbia University Press on Linked Verse in Medieval JapanHistory, Commentary, Performance, also has published his “Making It Old: Premodern Japanese Poetry in English Translation” in Asia Pacific Translation and Cultural Studies; and his “Early Translations of Waka into English,” is in press as part of a volume entitled Exploring Waka Culture: Japanese Poetry Across Genres, Media, and Periods.

Alan Tansman has recently published "Natsume Sōseki: A Japanese Writer's Global Literary Community of Grief" in The Wiley-Blackwell Companion to World Literature (2020). His contribution to the Oxford Very Short Introduction series on Japanese Literature is forthcoming. He has also written a new essay called "Responding to Suffering, Without Figuration” that will appear in a forthcoming volume edited by Valery Vinogradovs entitled Aesthetic Literacy: A Book for Everyone

Mark Csikszentmihalyi has also contributed to the The Wiley-Blackwell Companion to World Literature with a piece on “Echoes of the Classics in the Voice of Confucius.” He is completing an edited volume with Michael Nylan of the History Department on Early China, which will be published by the State University of New York Press. This past year, he has been the author of the new “Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy” entry on Confucius:  and is the subject of an interview with Polish journalist Tomasz Stawiszyński: on the “philosophy” of Daoism.

Lanchih Po has published her work on “Women’s Land Activism and Gendered Citizenship in the Urbanising Pearl River Delta” in Urban Studies, vol. 57, no. 3 (February 2020).

Robert Ashmore’s complete and annotated translation of the poetry of Li He is now available on-line at

Andrew F. Jones has also published a pair of translations of Chinese fiction: Ge Fei, “Oyster Shells” in Renditions 93 (Spring 2020) and Wang Zengqi, “The Boy Who Fished for People.” Renditions 94 (Winter 2020).

Other Academic and Curricular News

— The Group in Asian Studies Masters Program has moved under the administrative umbrella of EALC and the Group in Buddhist Studies, with Grant Tompkins generously taking over as Graduate Student Affairs Officer, and Andrew Jones as Faculty Chair. We want to extend a very warm welcome to current students in the MA program who will be joining our community!

— Jinsoo An has returned to campus from a Fulbright year in Korea, and has taken up the reins of the Center for Korean Studies.

— Professor An will also be chairing our long-awaited search, funded in part by the Korea Foundation, for a new professor in Korean literature this year.

— Professors Dan O’Neill and Yoko Hasegawa will be on sabbatical leave this Fall — we look forward to seeing you both when you are back in the Spring!

— Thanks to the efforts of Kelvin Chi Leung Chan, our new Cantonese language program has been growing apace, and we will be offering Chinese 3X-Elementary Cantonese for Heritage Speakers for the first time this semester!

Building Community

Finally, precisely because we are socially distanced, we need to make sure to find ways to maintain and nurture ourselves as a community. We will be hosting our annual Fall reception on-line on Wednesday, September 16 between noon and 2pm— look out for the flyers! I will also be hosting a series of “EALC Coffee Hours” throughout the year.

I would also like to let everyone know about two new initiatives:

First, we will be kicking off a series of occasional (and for now, virtual) brown-bag lunches this semester in which EALC lecturers, students, and faculty present their work in an informal setting. Please let me know if any of you would like to volunteer to take part in these “EALC Talks.”

Second, a group of dedicated graduate students, including Hardy Stewart and Lani Alden have worked tirelessly to organize a "Race and Geopolitics Town Hall," which will be held on Friday, November 6th, 2020. The townhall will serve as a forum for all of us to think through — along with a stellar group of speakers from Berkeley and beyond — questions of anti-racism and Blackness in Asian Studies, as well how to engage, critically, productively and with empathy, with the increasing fractious geopolitical divides that face us, especially with respect to current events in East Asia.

I look forward to seeing all of you over the course of the semester. Until then, take care, give thanks, and take pleasure and pride in the important work we do — through our teaching and learning and being there for each other — to shine some much-needed light into our world.

Fiat Lux.