729 Elm
Norman OK 73019-2105
(405) 325-3580
FAX: (405) 325-7738
uschina at ou dot edu

‘First Wednesdays’ China Faculty lunch talks

Frazaneh (Hester) Hall Room 145, 12 noon – 1:15 pm, lunch provided.
Open to OU Faculty, staff and students.
Please rsvp to Andrew Fox @

Fall 2016 Schedule

September 7
Garret Olberding, Associate Professor of History, OU
“Spiritual Sovereignty:  Designing Strategic Borders in Early China”

Specialists of early China often seem to attempt to define state borders in a modern mode, as martially defended lines. Yet early Chinese borders were not so clear-cut as the construction of walls might suggest.  In this talk, I will contend that the notion of boundary “lines” is anachronistic, a notion generally inappropriate to early polities.  I argue that early Chinese state boundaries, frequently demarcated by artificial and natural obstacles to movement—whether walls, mountains, or other hindrances— should more crucially be treated as symbolic, projecting ritual, moral, and even administrative influence, not simply toward the interior but also beyond their positions, into the outer regions.  In light of this, I reconsider the possible administrative efficacy of early Chinese notions of sovereignty, such as de , and suggest that sovereignty extends efficaciously and deeply beyond any martial line.  This re-evaluation of the sovereign boundary could have manifold consequences for how the Chinese domain should be constructed, both conceptually and physically, and its various powers analyzed.


October 5
Jonathan Stalling, Professor of English, Editor of Chinese Literature Today, OU
“Pinying: Learning English through Chinese Characters”

In this lecture, Dr. Stalling, Professor of English, Editor of Chinese Literature Today, and Curator of the Chinese Literature Translation Archive will discuss his latest Chinese-English interlanguage project: pinying 拼英: Spelling English through Chinese Characters. Starting just after his Sinophonic English Opera Yingelishi was staged in China in 2010, Dr. Stalling began a process of re-imagining ways of fusing the English and Chinese languages resulting in a totally novel way to teach English in China exclusively through Chinese characters.  Stalling's Chinese-English interlingual learning app can be downloaded for free at and his interlingual work can be seen on two TEDx talks: here and here.

Jonathan Stalling is Professor of English at the University of Oklahoma where he also serves as the Curator of the Chinese Literature Translation Archive and as the Editor of Chinese Literature Today magazine and book series. Stalling is the author of 5 books including most recently "Lost Wax: Translation through the Void" (Tinfish, 2015) and is a co-editor of the forthcoming volume "By the River: Seven Contemporary Chinese Novellas (OU Press, 2016) and is the Founder of Pinying learning apps and texts. 

November 2
Jesse Chapman, Visiting Lecturer of History, OU
“Turning Bad Fortune to Good: Arguments from Precedent in Eastern Han Memorials”

Explaining how inauspicious omens came into being was a powerful suasive technique in the Eastern Han (24-220), but only insofar as actions could be taken to avert ill fortune. Claims that baleful signs were subject to change rested on authoritative precedents. Memorialists cited baleful signs under exemplary rulers to show how the correct response to such events could ultimately turn calamities into good fortune. In extant sources, three precedents proved particularly valuable in making arguments concerning celestial signs: King Wuding of Shang’s (trad. r. 1250–1192 BCE) self-rectification after a pheasant appeared on the ear of his tripod; King Cheng of Zhou’s (r. 1042–1021 BCE) acknowledgment of the hidden virtue of the Duke of Zhou (11th cent. BCE) following an omen in which wind blew over trees; and Duke Jing of Song’s (r. 517–452 BCE) selfless refusal to sacrifice his chief minister, his subjects, or the bounty of the harvest to exorcise an ill portent. Exemplary rulers responded properly to the appearance of baleful signs and reaped the rewards. Eastern Han memorialists cited these precedents to advance arguments regarding policy and ritual in response to omens in their own time.


Spring 2016 Schedule

March 2
Hsin-I Sydney Yueh, Assistant Professor of Communication Studies, Northeastern State University, OK
Sajiao as Metaphor: Portraits of Taiwan’s Political Leaders in Public Discourse”

When observing Taiwan’s experiment with democratic governance, many political commentators in the Mandarin-speaking world often mention the native term, sajiao, to describe Taiwan’s political leaders and the issues they are facing. For example, both former Presidents Lee Teng-hui and Chen Shui-bian are identified as sajiao players in manipulating the US-Taiwan relations. President Ma Ying-jeou is caught on camera drunk, choking, or winking, and all these are considered signs of sajiao. Two female presidential candidates, Tsai Ing-wen and Hung Hsiu-chu, are also associated with the term sajiao when the media examine their election campaigns and public speeches.

The term sajiao refers to a set of actions that involve the imitation of a child’s gesture, body movements, and ways of speaking. The actions of sajiao are informal, feminine, childish, and irrational. Why are political leaders in Taiwan often labeled with the term that is supposed to describe intimate interactions between parent and child, spouses, and close friends? In this presentation, I focus on how Taiwan’s political leaders are portrayed in public discourse and in what contexts they are coined as performing sajiao. First, I will display the sajiao scenes of nine political figures that have run for ROC presidential elections. Second, I will analyze how these political figures are evaluated and understood in the sajiao discourse. Finally, I will offer an initial interpretation that enables a closer view of the society and the symbolic meaning derived from the specific usage of sajiao metaphor.


February 3
Kevin Carrico, Postdoctoral Fellow in Modern China, OU Institute for US-China Issues
“Producing Purity: Gender, Nationalism, and Tradition in Urban China”

Ladies’ education (shunü jiaoyu) programs have emerged in Chinese cities in recent years, promising to transform contemporary women into “proper ladies” through immersion in traditional culture. This study of one such institution presents a critical reinterpretation of the search for the traditional lady in an era of social insecurity. Female students, who come from all over China, pass their days in this Ladies’ Academy reading the classics, painting traditional paintings, learning to cook, playing guqin, and sewing, embodying an image of “five millennia of tradition.” Yet interviews with the all-male teaching staff locate students’ activities within a highly constraining image of the traditional lady as pure, reserved, loyal, and aware of her “proper place” within the family, society, and nation. Citing mythology, dynastic history, and the classics, instructors ideologically naturalize and culturalize a fundamental difference between male and female, while at the same time declaring this balancing difference lost in modernity. Numerous contemporary social ills are then attributed to the intrusion of the purportedly culturally imperialist concept of gender equality, producing a narrative of decline which portrays the Chinese male as at once an innocent victim as well as the sole potential savior capable of recapturing tradition and revitalizing past national grandeur. The exaltation of the pure yet lost traditional lady is thus ironically an imaginary purification and deification of contemporary nationalistic masculinity; yet students at this Ladies’ Academy nevertheless come to be invested in this narrative on their path to a normative yet marketable “lady-hood.”

Fall 2015 Schedule

October 7
Yiming Jing, Postdoctoral research fellow (2015-16), OU Institute for U.S.-China Issues
“Are Chinese Less Trusting than North Americans? A Social Psychological Perspective”

Trust is a key component of social capital. It plays an important role in promoting civic cooperation, government effectiveness, and economic growth, as well as individual success and well-being. Past research has suggested that Chinese society fosters less interpersonal trust than Western societies (e.g., North American society) do. In this talk, I present findings from my own research that challenge this argument. In particular, I demonstrate that social distance (e.g., close others vs. distant others) moderates cultural comparisons of trust between Western and East Asian cultures, such that Chinese are not always less trusting than North Americans. I present data suggesting that the dynamics of social exchange and trust differ between China and U.S. as well. Lastly, I report findings from the World Values Survey, suggesting that the Chinese “deficits” for developing societal trust (e.g., trust of strangers) may have something to do with developing countries’ economic and child socialization contexts.    


November 4
Todd L. Sandel, Associate Professor of Communications, University of Macau; Visiting Scholar (fall 2015), OU Institute for US-China Issues
“Online Chinese-Cantonese Language Mixing: Implications for Young Adults’ Personal and Group Identity in China’s Pearl River Delta Region”

In the late 1990s, as respective British and Portuguese colonial administrations came to an end, Hong Kong (1997) and Macau (1999) were granted a high degree of local administrative control and designated “Special Administrative Regions” (SARs) of China. This arrangement was scheduled to end in 50 years, by which time it was believed that differences of language, culture, and identity would cease, and the need for a border—both physical and cultural—end. Yet as the third decade of SAR status approaches, and from observing recent events—namely the 2014 “Umbrella Revolution” of youth-led protests in Hong Kong—it seems that a shared identity as “Chinese” is not increasing, but decreasing. In this presentation I look at the issue of identity from the grounded, micro level. From data collected among young adults in Macau—via WeChat messages and interviews with local participants—we see the development of distinct linguistic practices perceived by participants to index a “Macanese” way of communicating, and one that differs from the way “Mainlanders” communicate. Such communication is characterized by the mixing of multiple linguistic and communicative codes, including Cantonese, Chinese (traditional and simplified characters), English, Korean, and Emoji. Social media is a platform for the novel and creative inventions evident at the level of text, vocabulary, syntax, image, and mixing. Participants explain and interpret emergent rules for the proper use of this mixed code, including such issues as repair, addressivity, and humor. Finally, implications for identity construction within and across Greater China is discussed.


Spring 2015 Schedule

February 4
Paul B. Bell, Jr. Dean Emeritus, CAS, & Chairman of the Board, OU Confucius Institute
“Confucius Institutes”

The Confucius Institute (CI) initiative was launched by Hanban (汉办),a division of the Chinese Ministry of Education, in 2004 to promote the teaching of Chinese language and culture abroad. CIs are seen by the Chinese government and outside observers alike as an exercise in soft power. CIs are a partnership between an educational entity abroad and a Chinese university, with funding from Hanban. The model has proved wildly popular and there are currently over 470 CIs in 126 countries. The University of Oklahoma Confucius Institute (OUCI) was established in 2006 in partnership with Beijing Normal University. Critics of CIs accuse them of interfering with academic freedom and exerting undue foreign political influence on host institutions. The experience at OU of working with Hanban is not consistent with these criticisms.

April 8
Erik Braun, Associate Professor of Religious Studies, OU
“On Monks, Mines, and Muslims:  Buddhism and Nationalism in Myanmarr”

In this presentation, I will explore the ways in which Buddhism has shaped and been shaped by its close connections with the birth and development of nationalist movements.  The paper will take a broad view, looking at the roots of modern nationalism in the colonial period within Buddhist organizations.  The goal is to enrich our understanding of current issues affected by nationalist/Buddhist sentiments, including the protests centered on the Chinese-backed Letpadaung mine and the ongoing tensions between the Buddhist and Muslims communities of the country.  

Fall 2014 Schedule

October 1
Kevin Carrico, Postdoctoral Fellow in Modern China, OU Institute for US-China Issues
“Self-Immolation in Tibet: Causes and Consequences”

Since 2009, 135 Tibetans have engaged in self-immolation, setting their bodies alight, in protest against the current situation in their homeland. This presentation asks why. How has this previously unknown form of protest become the primary symbol of political opposition in Tibet today? Noting the lack of a tradition of self-immolation in Tibetan Buddhist culture, this presentation finds the origins of this seemingly incomprehensible act within the current political and social context, with particular reference to the enhanced restrictions on protest in the aftermath of the spring of 2008.

Although self-immolation is a fundamentally new phenomenon within Tibetan society, this extreme form of protest has achieved significant symbolic resonance within the span of just a few years. This presentation further analyzes political, somatic, and religious meanings employed by Tibetan communities in interpreting this act, demonstrating how bystanders make sense of this phenomenon’s intertwined power and horror. Finally, beyond the Tibetan community, I look at other parties’ responses to this means of protests as a means of thinking through new directions on the Tibetan plateau: a challenge presented to us all by the act of self-immolation.

November 12 (second Wednesday of the month)
DIAO Daming, Assistant Professor, Visiting Scholar from the Institute of American Studies,CASS
“A Chinese Perspective on U.S. Congressional Politics”

As the legislative branch of the American federal government, the U.S. Congress is one of the world’s most powerful legislative bodies. This bicameral institution plays a pivotal role in making U.S domestic and foreign policy, including issues related to the increasingly vital bilateral relationship between the U.S. and China. Over the last decade, Chinese scholars have begun to pay closer attention to Congress. What does the Chinese academy think about Congress? And what do the recent midterm elections mean to China? I will offer a Chinese perspective on these issues, and provide answers to these questions. 

Spring 2014 Schedule

February 5
Kevin Caricco, Postdoctoral Fellow, Center for East Asian Studies, Stanford University
“Reimagining the Real China: Dilemmas (and Solutions) of Han-ness and Tradition in Today's China”
What, when, and where is the “real China”? According to a growing group of young people in cities across the country, the real China is not to be found in the reality of the present. Instead of the now familiar images of skyscrapers, mega-events, new fashion, and globalization, the groups discussed in this talk envision courtyard homes, sacred rituals, traditional robes, and a homogenizing ethnic purity as embodying the proper essence of China, an eternal “land of rites and etiquette.” Drawing upon ethnographic research conducted with members of the Han Clothing Movement and other traditionalist associations in the Pearl River Delta and beyond, this talk examines the rise of social movements dedicated to a fundamentally conservative vision of Chineseness within an increasingly complex society.

What are these movements’ main ideals, objectives, and practices? Why have they emerged at this historical moment? Who joins these movements, and what do they derive from their involvement? Yet most importantly, is their essentialist “real China” of the past any more real than the present? And what are the repercussions of these tensions between reality and imagining, or between actuality and ideals, in the experience of national identity in general?

March 5
Emily McRae, Assistant Professor of Philosophy, OU
Equanimity as a Virtue of Relationship in Tibetan Buddhism
In this paper, I make the case that the Buddhist concept of equanimity (Tibetan: btang snyoms) – like love and compassion – is a fundamental virtue of relationships, especially intimate ones. The account of equanimity that I develop is based on the Tibetan Buddhist philosopher Patrul Rinpoche’s (1808-1887) account in his influential text, The Words of My Perfect Teacher (kun bzang la ma'i zhal lung) and the commentary on this text by Khenpo (“Abbot”) Ngawang Pelzang (1879-1941) entitled A Guide to the Words of My Perfect Teacher (kun bzang la ma'i zhal lung zin bris). I locate three themes in their accounts of equanimity: (1) equanimity involves giving up craving and aversion, especially in the context of relationships with others, which is distinct from indifference, (2) equanimity is an affective state (and not the absence of affect) that is characterized by feelings of calmness, tranquility and freedom, (3) the achievement of equanimity depends on the achievement of love, compassion and sympathetic joy (the other boundless qualities (tshad med bzhi)) and the achievement of these three qualities likewise depends of the achievement of equanimity. Given these features of equanimity, I argue that equanimity is best conceived, like the other boundless qualities, as an affective virtue of relationship and not as detachment from relationship. I conclude by suggesting the implications of conceiving of equanimity as a foundational virtue of relationship for some contemporary Western philosophical accounts of the ethics of interpersonal relationships.

April 2
Robert Edmondson, OU College of Liberal Studies
“Collective Memory and Identity Formation: A Cyber-ethnography of Taiwanese Student Associations”

During four decades of martial law in Taiwan (1947-1987) overseas students in the U.S. were integral to the Taiwanese independence movement.  Clandestine groups and networks of individuals with a living memory of the Japanese colonial era and the 1947 February 28th Incident developed core narratives of Taiwanese national identity and influenced subsequent generations of overseas students and US-born Taiwanese Americans.  Although research on nationalism and collective memory with early activists relied heavily on in-depth interviews, subsequent generations making extensive use of the Internet for collective action and expression presented new opportunities and challenges for research.  The wealth of new types of data, such as student-designed web pages of new perspectives on Taiwanese history, personal essays describing the choice between Taiwanese- or Chinese-American identity, photos of an anti-China campus protest during the 1995-1996 Taiwan Straits crisis, and the strategic use of visual content to express groups’ political orientation, requires innovative research methods.  This presentation will discuss the significance of historical narratives among Taiwanese student association members, the use of the Internet as a space of Taiwanese students’ collective action and identity formation, and the adaptations and innovations required to conduct web-based ethnographic research.                    

Fall 2013 Schedule

September 4
Jonathan Benney, OU Institute for US-China Issues Postdoctoral Fellow
“Stability maintenance at the grassroots in urban and rural China”

The idea of stability as a necessary principle of Chinese social and political organization (as deemed by the party-state), and the consequent setup of a ‘stability maintenance’ apparatus, are both well known. Given the enormous number of stability maintenance offices, their high levels of resourcing, and the diversity of their role, however, understanding what actually happens from day to day in local stability maintenance offices is a far more substantial challenge.

This presentation explores some recent developments in the field of local stability maintenance. In particular it addresses two hypotheses: first, that the stability maintenance apparatus has had novel effects on local conflict resolution; and second, that the pressures and complexities of the stability maintenance process have stimulated innovation in local governance. In both these cases -- within reason -- it can be seen that the stability maintenance process does not necessarily reflect the oppressive character it is normally deemed by Western observers to possess. Furthermore, it is also evident that the academic and public debate within China about what stability maintenance means conceptually, what practical processes it should involve, and how local stability maintenance offices should function, is having concrete effects on the grassroots administration of conflicts.

October 2
LIU Nian, OU Department of Modern languages, Literatures, and Linguistics
When Tuesday comes before Threesday: The effect of naming systems on the acquisition of and reasoning about time”

Time concepts are named differently across the world's languages. In English, the names for days of the week (DOW) and months of the year (MOY) are opaque—to people learning and using English, there's no obvious reason why Friday or September have the names they do. But in other languages, like Chinese, time concepts have numerically transparent names—the days of the week and months of the year are named using sequential numbers (e.g., in Chinese, Monday is “weekday one”; January is “month one”). This study investigated whether languages that use numerical terms provide an advantage to their speakers, both as children acquiring the temporal terms of the language and as adults reasoning about time, when compared to speakers of languages that use arbitrary symbols to encode time-related terms. Results show that children who learn Chinese as a native language are able to comprehend and use terminology for the DOW and MOY developmentally before their English-speaking counterparts. Also, Chinese speakers are more likely to spontaneously employ arithmetic when doing temporal calculations, which in turn improves the speed and accuracy of time calculations. English speakers appear to use other strategies, such as sequential recitation. This research offers a new piece of evidence for the pervasive influence of language on thought, in the specific domain of cognition of time, by showing that the way calendars are coded can have a substantial effect on the employment of strategies in non-linguistic problem-solving processes.

November 6
KONG Bo, OU Department of International and Area Studies
“A Carbon Market in China: Pipe dream or potential path?”

In November 2011, the Chinese government launched pilot carbon emissions trading schemes (ETS) in five municipalities, including Beijing, Tianjin, Shanghai, Chongqing, and Shenzhen, and two provinces, including Hubei and Guangdong. These pilots are all slated to begin carbon emissions trading in 2013, with plans for the launch of an integrated and nationwide carbon market in 2015. However, the timing could not be worse. Externally, the partisan gridlock in Washington and a weak domestic economy have dimmed if not doomed prospects for a national CO2 cap-and-trade program while the European Union ETS appears to be in serious trouble. Internally, in addition to its incomplete energy market liberalization and lack of progress in its futures market, the country’s economic slowdown casts further doubt on its readiness for a carbon market. This presentation aims to shed light on the motivation behind China's carbon market experiment, assess its implementing strategy and associated risks, and draw out its implications for the country's effort to meet its global climate commitment. 

Spring 2013 Schedule

February 6
Jie Zhang, OU Modern Languages, Literatures, and Linguistics
“Epistemic Stance in Chinese Heritage Learners’ Writing”
Epistemic stance refers to how people express personal feelings, attitudes, value judgments, or assessment. Chinese heritage learners are those who have a Chinese family background but have received formal education mostly in the United States. Their stance taking in writing Chinese is particularly interesting because heritage learners tend to have higher speaking proficiency but limited writing knowledge, and their choice of stance markers might be under the influence of English. This study explores three research questions: What are the stance expressions chosen by first-year college Chinese heritage learners? What is the nature of their stance taking? How can we effectively teach stance expressions to heritage learners? To address these questions, I investigated a learner corpus consisting of 629 essays written by first-year heritage learners. Combining statistical measures and qualitative discourse analyses, this study identified the primary means of epistemic stance chosen by Chinese language learners, and explored the sophistication of their use in range and subtlety of meanings, linguistic accuracy, and appropriateness in discourse. The results speak to a need for explicit instruction of a written genre to Chinese heritage learners. Pedagogical suggestions will be discussed.    

March 6
Jennifer Feeley, Assistant Professor of Chinese Literature, the University of Iowa
Plath in China: Gender and Confessional Poetics in Post-Mao China”
American confessional poetry first was translated into Chinese in the late 1970s and early 80s, with the work of Sylvia Plath (1932-1963) leaving the greatest impact.  In the PRC, this mode launched a decade-long literary phenomenon nicknamed the “black hurricane,” igniting a bold poetic discourse that defied previous stereotypes of how a woman should write.  This presentation investigates the introduction, translation, and reception of Plath’s poetry in Mainland China in the 1980s, focusing on translations printed in unofficial journals that circulated among Sichuan poetry circles such as Selections of Modern Foreign Poetry (Waiguo xiandai shixuan) (1982-1983) and Journal of Modern Poetry Materials for Internal Circulation (Xiandai shi neibu jiaoliu kanwu) (1985), as well as later publications including Selected Poems of the American Confessional School (Meiguo zibaipai shixuan) (1987) and Witch Burning (Ranshao de nüwu) (1992).  Drawing on Lawrence Venuti’s scholarship on translation and intertextuality, I explore how Plath’s poetic legacy is both decontextualized and recontextualized in post-Mao China, concluding with her influence on women poets such as Zhai Yongming (b. 1955), Lu Yimin (b. 1962) and Tang Yaping (b. 1962).  I contend that despite certain crucial misunderstandings, these translations are linked closely to the emergence of a powerful new gendered poetics in post-Mao China. 

Spring 2012 Schedule

February 1
Peter Gries, OU Institute for US-China Issues
“Taiwan’s 2012 Presidential Election: Implications for Cross-Strait Relations”
With Ma Ying-jeou’s victory in Taiwan’s recent presidential election, pundits and the media have widely hailed the results as an endorsement of the Kuomintang’s cross-strait policies. This may be contributing to an expectation in Beijing that a second Ma administration will be in position to push for a more “pro-China” policy favoring reunification. Is this interpretation of the election results warranted? This talk will present selected results from a November 2011 survey conducted in Taiwan that explores the China attitudes and cross-strait policy preferences of the Taiwan people. It suggests that while “blue” and “green” partisans maintain distinct attitudes towards China, few Taiwanese support reunification. Policy implications for cross-strait relations will be discussed.

March 7
Man Fung YIP, OU Film and Video Studies
“The Difficulty of Difference: Some Reflections on the Woman Warrior Figure in Hong Kong Martial Arts Cinema”
One of the unique features of Hong Kong martial arts cinema has been, and continues to be, the prominence given to the woman warrior figure. While there is a long history of such fighting heroines in traditional Chinese literature and opera, their reincarnation in a modern visual medium such as the cinema has raised new questions about women’s bodies and identities in contemporary time. Does the woman warrior offer, by virtue of her martial prowess and her ability to destabilize gender boundaries, an empowering figure for women in an increasingly more liberal society? Or is she a fantasy image conjured up by men, a mere replication of the excessive masculinity that has pervaded and characterized Hong Kong cinema since the late 1960s? In exploring these questions in relation to some Hong Kong martial arts films of the 1970s, I hope to highlight the social significance of the woman warrior figure and bring a more nuanced understanding of the different, and often conflicting, meanings associated with her.

April 4
Harold M. Tanner, Department of History, University of North Texas
“Chinese Ways of War: Beyond the Myths of Sunzi and Mao”
Concern about China’s increasing strength has inspired both professional and amateur students of China to seek ways of understanding how China would use military force. Historians have debated Chinese “ways of war,” while political scientists have proposed models of Chinese “strategic culture.” Both approaches typically draw on Sunzi’s Art of War and/or Mao Zedong’s writings on guerrilla warfare. The resulting models of Chinese “ways of war” or “strategic culture” have the virtue of simplicity, but they tend to be based on abstract theory and on over-simplified, mechanistic understandings of culture. Investigation of actual military operations can give us a deeper understanding of the ways in which Chinese have in fact both conceived of and used military force. This presentation will focus on one specific issue as an example: the People’s Liberation Army’s transition from guerrilla to conventional warfare in the Northeast (Manchurian) theater during China’s civil war, as seen in selected operations. This transition, beginning in the autumn of 1945 and culminating in the Liao-Shen Campaign (September-November 1948) suggests an approach to warfare that involves adaptation, learning, and an appetite, not only for Sunzi-style stratagem and Maoist guerrilla operations, but for decisive battle.

Fall 2011 Schedule

September 7
Lu Tao, OU Political Science
“The Diaoyudao Island Dispute between China and Japan: An Historical and Legal Analysis.”
In the dispute between China and Japan over the Diaoyu Islands, both sides defend their sovereignty over the uninhabited islands referring to international law. However, international law is interpreted in two very different ways. I present and analyze this dispute from a historical perspective, focusing on the international legal principles involved at different stages in the history of the dispute. Considering recent tensions in the South China Sea, this discussion offers a framework for understanding other islands disputes between China and its neighbors.

October 5
Virginia Harper Ho, Associate Professor of Law, University of Kansas
“Corporate Social Responsibility, Law, and the State: The PRC Approach in Comparative Perspective”
Over the past five years, governments at various levels across China have introduced new measures to promote corporate social responsibility (企业社会责任) (CSR) as an explicit policy objective.  The multifaceted and dynamic nature of CSR represents an ideal context in which to explore the potential for new relationships between the state, the business community, and civil society organizations in China.  Based on recent field work in China, Professor Harper Ho will explore the role of governments at the national and subnational level in advancing CSR from a comparative perspective and consider the potential impact of CSR on corporate conduct in a weak regulatory environment.  These findings shed light on important questions about the meaning and viability of “new governance” and CSR in emerging markets and on the intersections between CSR and the law in the Chinese context.

November 2
Randy Keller, OU Professor and Edward Lamb McCollough Chair in Geology and Geophysics
“Geoscience Research in China: OU, “SinoProbe,” and China’s Ambitious Effort to Predict Earthquakes”
Several ambitious efforts are underway in China in the geosciences, and even in U. S. dollars, the funding levels are huge. OU has been substantially involved in the largest one called SinoProbe, which presently involves several deep (2-2.5 km) drill holes and a wide variety of geophysical and geological measurements. The challenge for the Chinese geoscientific community is to use these sudden large increases in funding wisely and in a coordinated way to achieve scientific results that are as impressive as the funding levels. These efforts are more pragmatic than the programs of the National Science Foundation and focus on natural resources and earthquake hazards, but they have the potential to produce spectacular results.

Spring 2011 Schedule

March 2
Guoqiang Shen, Regional and City Planning, OU College of Architecture
“The Politics and Socioeconomics of Rapid Urbanization in China: China’s Emerging Planning and Design Process”
This presentation provides a concise overview of rapid urbanization in China over the past 30 years. It also reviews the emerging Chinese planning and design process in comparison with that commonly used in the U.S. Well-known architecture and urban design projects in Beijing, Shanghai, Hangzhou, Suzhou will be discussed, as well as a some of the author’s own work. Some important social-economic and political issues associated with rapid urbanization and the planning and design process in China will also be discussed.

April 6
Jonathan Stalling, OU Department of English
“Yíngēlìshī 吟歌丽诗 (Chanted Songs, Beautiful Poetry): Sinophonic English Poetry and Poetics.”
When read aloud,Yíngēlìshī (pronounced yeen guh lee shr) sounds like an accented pronunciation of the word “English,” while the Chinese reader sees the Chinese characters for “chanted songs, beautiful poetry.” In a new book by Jonathan Stalling, he coins the term “Sinophonic English” to give a positive name to an increasingly wide-spread variation of English created by combining the two dominant languages of globalization (Mandarin Chinese and English). With over 350 million English speakers in China (more than there are Americans alive) many of whom speak English by recombining existing Chinese sounds into English words and sentences, this new hybrid language is already overwhelmingly present, yet its aesthetic potential has not yet been explored. Stalling’s book complicates any easy dismissal of so-called “Chinglish” by creating a genuinely uncanny poetry written entirely in Sinophonic English. Stalling rewrites a common English phrasebook into haunting Chinese poetry (which is all translated into English) that when sung, becomes an uncannily accented libretto, a story of a Chinese tourist’s one-way journey into this interstitial language and its sonorous, if disastrous consequences.

(rescheduled to) May 4
Thomas Buoye, Department of History, University of Tulsa
“Sanctimony and Self-deception: The Eighteenth-century Origins of Western Misperceptions of Chinese Capital Punishment”
For a variety of complex reasons—cultural, intellectual, political and economic—Western observers have historically misunderstood, misrepresented, or deliberately distorted the Chinese legal heritage and judicial practice.  Although subsequently embellished and extended, the long train of Western misperceptions was forged in the protracted struggles over the adjudication of capital crimes involving Europeans. Blistering rebukes of Chinese judicial administration were common in the decades leading up to the Opium War.  In particular, Western versions of several bitterly disputed capital cases have provided ample fodder for high-minded condemnation of Chinese criminal justice.  For Western critics the conduct of these capital cases was emblematic of all that was despicable about Chinese law. More importantly, these notorious incidents and the acrimonious jurisdictional disputes between the Western community and the Qing court became rhetorical touchstones for a long line of critics of Chinese law.  Deeply imbedded in the popular Western imagination, intellectual discourse, and political rhetoric, distortions of traditional Chinese law have continued to inform the twenty-first-century discussions of capital punishment and human rights in the People’s Republic of China. 

Fall 2010 Schedule

September 1
 Miriam Gross, OU Department of History
“Chasing Snails: Anti-Schistosomiasis Campaigns in the People’s Republic of China”
The 1950’s schistosomiasis health campaign has been touted by China as one of its most successful attempts at eliminating an endemic disease, becoming a model for addressing current diseases such as SARS and Bird Flu.  At the time this parasitic disease affected 10.6 million people with another 100 million at risk and occurred primarily in China’s key rice growing regions.  Based on reasons of military and economic security, the new Communist regime designated the campaign as a political, rather than a health campaign and promoted it as one of its earliest efforts at transformation of the rural environment.  Although the campaign was hindered by lack of funding, material resources, technical and medical skills, and the recalcitrance of the putative participants – both villagers and local cadre; the Party was still able to use the campaign to realize beneficial goals and build positive connections at the bottom level.  To understand the complex dynamics of resistance, assimilation, and attempts to assert authority played out against a background of impoverished resources and power struggles within the new regime, my project examines how the campaign unfolded in three case studies: a rural county in Jiangxi Province, a suburban county in Jiangsu Province, and in the urban environment of Shanghai.  In particular, the project explores how the Party deployed scientific and medical aspects of the campaign to justify the selective disruption and reconstitution of local patterns of social life in order to consolidate power at the bottom level in the early years of Communist rule.

October 6
Jessica Sheetz-Nguyen, History Department, University of Central Oklahoma
“Teaching Women’s History in China: Engaging faculty and graduate students in course development”
The Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching emphasizes that course designers, developers, and researchers need to work in close collaboration with educational practitioners. With this philosophy in mind, during the summer of 2010 faculty and graduate students at the University of Central Oklahoma collaborated to develop a new course on the history of women in China from Confucius to State Capitalism. The graduate students, Kevin Yang and Fiona Huang, will explain their research questions and outlines, frameworks for analysis, and their writing and editing processes. Jessica Sheetz-Nguyen will discuss the overall vision and design for the class. The presentation will demonstrate the value of blending scholarship with the best practices in pedagogy, highlighting how graduate education should treat teaching as an ongoing conversation with our students.

November 3
Zhu Ping, OU Department of Modern Languages
“Woman and Nihil: Reading Lu Xun’s ‘Regrets for the Past as an Allegory of the Modern Chinese Revolution”
Ever since the mid 1920s, the “Chinese Nietzsche” Lu Xun (1881-1936) had been grappling with nihilism as nothingness or emptiness in his literary writings. Lu Xun’s “Regrets for the Past” (shangshi, 1924), a story of the sublimation, derogation and eventually disappearance of a female body, can be read as an allegory of the aesthetic journey taken by a revolutionary individual in modern China. The woman Zijun embodies the unexorcisable specter of despair and nothingness that frequently visits the writer; her metamorphosis demonstrates the limits of symbolic representation and the writer’s traumatic encounter with the nihil in his own subjectivity. Lu Xun’s doubts and disillusionment about revolution is concomitant with his heightened combative revolutionary spirit.

Spring 2010 Schedule

February 3
Amy Olberding, OU Philosophy Department
“Human Nature, Moral Theory, and the Analects”
Recent efforts to describe the moral theory implied in the Analects (Lunyu) have inclined toward reading the text as a species of virtue ethics.  The standard virtue ethics theories in currency, however, seem to require that we locate a consistent and coherent account of human nature in the Analects.  Such an account is judged necessary both because it will justify the text’s moral claims and because it will provide the link that renders this ancient text relevant to contemporary audiences.  However, despite the incentives to find an account of human nature in the Analects, it is not at all clear that the text can yield an account of the sort standard virtue ethics theory requires.  I argue both that the text does not offer an account of human nature and that, where we adapt our theoretical model to what the text does offer, it does not require one.  

March 3
Du Yongtao, Oklahoma State History Department
“Inside the Notion of Local Distinctiveness: A Case of Huizhou”
 Recent scholarship on local history in China has highlighted the notion of local distinctiveness held by late imperial literati elites. Yet scholars studying the political significance of localism also noticed its ideological weakness: local customs never held irreducible values and local elites’ status depended on their connection to a universal and higher Kultur. This talk explores an alternative approach to understanding local distinctiveness: how it participated in, and thus shaped, elite localist activities. Taking the case of Huizhou (Anhui) during the 13th through 15th centuries, I will try to demonstrate that the notion of local distinctiveness, which was enhanced by a widely held belief in the organic unity between a place’s people and its topology, enabled local elites to imagine the local as a self-sustainable and morally autonomous social space. For example, the practice of associating a clan with a prefecture name (hence strengthening the clan’s prestige at the national level) during the medieval period was replicated in the local space of Huizhou, with each clan being associated with a village name.  Imitating the medieval officially-compiled clan lists at a national level, Huizhou literati compiled prefecture- and county-level clan lists to rank all the local clans. Yet the criterion of ranking was clearly local: it was the time of a clan’s migration to Huizhou that determined its position in the list. This carefully constructed, distinctive local space explains late imperial elite’s commitment to lineage building and their engagement in lineage politics in local society.  

April 7
Ge Xun, OU College of Education
“Inquiry-Based Learning in a Chinese High School Chemistry Course”
In this presentation, I will share my experience of working with a group of chemistry teachers in a middle school on designing, delivering, and researching inquiry-based learning activities in five chemistry classes of 9th graders during my sabbatical in China, fall 2008. While I will report the research process and preliminary findings of a quasi-experimental study, I would also like to share something more intriguing from an anthropological perspective: accounts, stories, and anecdotes from teachers, students, and administrator regarding inquiry-based learning in China. Discussion will follow on a) the need for a supporting mechanism and environment to encourage teachers to implement innovative instructional methods; and b) issues and challenges in carrying out educational reforms in China as related to the complexity of a changing political, cultural, and social context.

Fall 2009 Schedule

September 2
Yu Ning 於宁, Professor of Modern languages and International and Area Studies
“The Beijing Olympics and Beijing Opera: The Promotion of National Pride and Civil Behavior in a CCTV Olympics Commercial”
This talk is a cognitive semantic analysis of a CCTV Olympics commercial, which is one of a series designed and produced in preparation for, and in celebration of, the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games. The commercial converges on the theme: “To mount the stage of the world, and to put on a show of China”. That is, China sees her hosting of the 2008 Olympics by Beijing as a great opportunity for her to step onto the international stage to perform a show of China. This important theme, which alludes to China’s globalization and retention of cultural identity, is conveyed in terms of a central metaphor of theatrical performance: hosting the beijing olympics is performing beijing opera on an international stage. This talk will analyze how this metaphor is manifested multimodally, i.e. through visual and aural as well as verbal discourse. The talk will also offer a linguistic perspective on the Chinese cultural model for understanding various aspects and events of life. At the core of this cultural model is the widespread life is a stage metaphor, which has a specific manifestation within the Chinese cultural context.

October 7
Li Xiaobing 李小兵, Director, Western Pacific Institute, University of Central Oklahoma
“How China Balances Its Military Modernization and Peaceful Rise”
Military affairs have played an incessant role in China’s “reform and opening.” The Chinese military has experienced both growth and change over the past 30 years.  Scholarship on the Chinese military has largely focused on the question of whether there is a “China threat.”  Based on Chinese sources, we examine the changes in the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) in the new century.  We explore the social and political reasons for change, domestic and international constraints on the implementation of military modernization, and the outcomes of these efforts.  Why does the Chinese military increase its defense budget by double digits every year?  What kind of changes have taken place in the PLA?  And what are the future implications of such developments for the United States and the international community?

November 4
Cai Huajian 蔡华俭 (OU), Fang Xiang 方向 (OSU), and Song Hairong 宋海荣 (OU)
抵制日货! Implicit Consumer Animosity and Chinese Consumption of Japanese Products”
Consumer boycotts have long been a weapon of political protest in China. As recently as April 2005, huge numbers of anti-Japanese protestors in China pledged to boycott Japanese products the next month. But the May boycott largely fizzled. Does the animosity between nations impact actual consumer behavior? The present study validated implicit animosity as a unique determinant of consumer behavior in the context of Chinese animosity toward Japan. The Implicit Association Test (IAT) was employed to measure implicit Chinese animosity toward Japan. The results showed that 1) implicit animosity was distinct from consumer ethnocentrism, 2) implicit animosity was significantly correlated with war animosity, but not with economic animosity, and 3) implicit animosity exerted negative impacts on purchase intentions, independent of explicit animosity, consumer ethnocentrism, and product judgment. Taken together, these findings provided initial evidence of discriminant, convergent, and predictive validity for implicit animosity, highlighting the importance of taking implicit animosity into account in future animosity research.

Spring 2009 Schedule

Febuary 4
Liu Yuanling 刘元玲, visiting scholar, Renmin University of China, School of International Relations
“‘Going Out’: China’s Pursuit of Natural Resources and its Implications for Sino-American Relations”
China’s “Going Out” Energy Strategy was implemented in the context of the development of China’s economy, politics, and society. It was also a result of globalization. China’s “Going Out” Energy Strategy has many characteristics which include the signal actors, the business strategic thinking, high pressure, and risk. The “Going Out” energy strategy has a significant impact on Chinese energy diversification, and increases China’s influence in international energy markets. Meanwhile, China’s “Going Out” energy strategy entails vulnerability to external energy markets, with implications for Sino-American relations. Therefore, how to balance the advantages and disadvantages of China’s “Going Out” strategy, and deal with the related risk of Sino-American relations is a serious challenge for China.

[March 4 no talk due to Mo Yan visit and Newman Prize for Chinese Literature conference ]

April 1
Garret Olberding 歐經朋, Assistant Professor of History
“How Did Ministers Err?:  The Use of Facts in Early Han Address”
Much of recent analysis on the contents of early Chinese ministerial addresses to the autocrat centers around the minister’s attention to and use of canonical sources, whether as an indication of the use of ritualized norms (禮) or a logic of signs.  This paper will take a different tack in the study of ministeral address by evaluating the types of evidence the addresses marshalled to shape public policy debates.  Focusing on those Former Han addresses relating to military affairs, such as Zhao Chongguo’s address to Emperor Xuan, my analysis will speak specifically to the ways in which error or “fault” was discussed in the court setting and how such might point to the standards by which a minister’s presented evidence could be taken to be flawed or mistaken.  The interest of this paper is not merely to describe the court environment but also to carefully evaluate the general standards of evidence used in the early Han.

Fall 2008 Schedule

September 3
Todd Sandell, Associate Professor of Communications
“I bought a bride: Advertising and the perception of Taiwan’s Foreign Brides”
As Taiwan has liberalized its politics and economy, and opened its borders to the world, one unanticipated effect has been the rise in transnational marriages, notably marriages between Taiwanese men and Southeast Asian or Chinese (PRC) women. The number of so-called “foreign brides” has reached nearly 400,000, meriting some to call them “Taiwan’s fifth ethnic group.” While many of these women came to know their husbands through personal contacts, or from contacts with Taiwanese men who went abroad for business, most were introduced through professional marriage brokers. This was facilitated in part by advertisements which were placed on billboards, newspapers, and cable television stations. However, a law passed in 2004 banned advertising for women from mainland China, as it was claimed that women should not be advertised as a “commodity” on a level with other products. A second law was passed in 2007 that put further limits on marriage brokerage agencies and restricted advertisements. This talk will discuss the discourse around matchmaking advertisements. It will explain reasons for banning such types of advertisements. It will also present findings from a study of transnational families in Taiwan, funded by the Fulbright Foundation, that explores how advertising affects the perceptions of foreign brides in Taiwan.

October 1
Peter Gries 葛小伟, Director, OU Institute for US-China Issues
Partisanship and American Attitudes towards China
It is well known that the elite politicians within the Democratic and Republican Parties are both internally divided on China. Much less is known, however, about how the political orientations and affiliations of typical Americans impacts their perceptions of China’s rise, attitudes towards the Chinese government, prejudice towards the Chinese people, and preferred US China policies. National opinion polls have generally lacked a sufficient quantity of nuanced questions about attitudes towards China to discern any impact of political orientation. Based on our own surveys, we find that political orientation does indeed impact American views of China. Self-reported “conservatives” perceive significantly greater threat in China’s rise, hold more negative views of the Chinese government, exhibit more prejudice towards the Chinese people, and advocate a much tougher US China policy than self-reported “liberals” do. In terms of party affiliation, Republicans perceive significantly greater threat from China and advocate tougher China policies than Democrats do, but party affiliation had no impact on prejudice scores. Simultaneous multiple regressions including education, gender, and age revealed that while each had an impact on American views of China, that impact was negligible compared to the impact of political orientation.

November 5
Tze-yue G. Hu, Adjunct Lecturer, OU SIAS
Letter from China: ‘First Eastern Animated Feature Film – Princess Iron Fan’
At the height of the Second World War, China’s pioneer animators, the Wan brothers created an animated feature film, Princess Iron Fan which surprisingly became very popular in Japan. This presentation discusses a recently discovered letter written by the Wan brothers at the request of the Japanese animation fans in September 1941. Ironically, the film contains a subtle anti-Japanese message and yet, it was and still is a highly popular film in Japanese memory. What are the contents of the letter? In what state of mind did the Wan brothers write the letter? The presentation also uses music ethnologist, Glenn M. Hudak’s theoretical analysis in Sound Identities (1999) in interpreting the issue of art and culture appreciation vis-à-vis the film, Princess Iron Fan (1941)

Spring 2008 Schedule

February 6
Elena Songster, Assistant Professor of History
“Panda Diplomacy: Animal Ambassadors, the World, and the Wild”
The People’s Republic of China began offering state-gift pandas to non-socialist countries in 1972 after President Nixon’s visit. This short-lived, but highly popular trend was very effective in assisting the normalization of relations between China and the international community. The use of giant pandas as animal ambassadors, however, had a negative impact on the wild panda population and provoked new PRC wildlife policy during the 1970s. Panda diplomacy continues to reenter the world news as China attempts to find new ways to negotiate its tense relations with Taiwan and respond to the crescendo of cries from environmentalists. Through panda diplomacy I will examine China’s relationship with its own wilderness and China’s place in the world.

March 5
Jonathan Stalling, Assistant Professor of English
“Ernest Fenollosa: Buddhism, Classical Chinese Poetics, and the Chinese Written Character as a Medium for Poetry.”
Ernest Fenollosa’s ‘The Chinese Written Character as a Medium for Poetry,’” is considered by many to be the most important poetry manifesto of the Twentieth Century and certainly the most important document in East-West literary criticism in the last century. Yet Fenollosa’s name is nearly a dirty word in Sinology due to his misguided notions of Chinese characters. Yet in this talk I will discuss my recent archival discoveries which include the missing half of the essay to show that Fenollosa was far more knowledgeable about Chinese poetics than previously thought.

April 2
Ruan Jiening 阮杰宁, Associate Professor, Literacy/Reading Education; Director, OU Reading Clinic
“Curriculum Reform in Basic Education in China.”
This presentation will address some key components in the curriculum reform recently implemented in basic education in China.  Issues related to curriculum structures, standards, materials, and assessments will be discussed. 

Fall 2007 Schedule

September 5
Gui Mingchao 桂明超, Associate Professor of Modern Languages, Literatures, and Linguistics 
“Are all Chinese dialects really Chinese?”
Based on the unique and peculiar features of many so-called Chinese dialects, some scholars have recently challenged the traditional classification of these dialects.  It is intended in this presentation to give an overview of all the major arguments including the presenter's own stand and personal viewpoint. 

October 3
Mark Frazier, ConocoPhillips Professor of Chinese Politics & Associate Professor of International and Area Studies
“Popular Attitudes toward China’s New Welfare State”
Mark Frazier discusses his research on how urban Chinese citizens view the transformation in China’s social safety net, especially regarding pensions and retirement. 

November 7
Luo Yiqi 骆亦骐, Professor of Ecology, Department of Botany and Microbiology
“Deserts and Desertification in China”
Desertification has rapidly developed in the past 50 years in Northern China, covering an area of 385,700 square km by 2000, affecting nearly 170 million people, and causing direct and indirect economic losses of about USD $6.75 billions per year. I will present evidence demonstrating that human activities guided by policy shifts have been a major force driving eolian desertification via changes in land-use patterns and intensity. It follows that the desertification can be curbed or even reversed by adopting prevention and control measures with ecologically sound land-use practices in China.