The Center for Chinese Studies invites speakers to make presentations to Berkeley’s students, faculty, and the public throughout each year. For a complete list of upcoming and past events, go to the CCS Events page.
Some of the more notable speakers were videotaped and their talks are available here. We hope to add to these online resources in coming years.
Liu Xiaodong: Hometown Boy
Speaker: Liu Xiaodong, artist
Discussant: Winnie Won Yin Wong, Rhetoric Department
Moderator: Andrew F. Jones, Chair, Center for Chinese Studies
September 13, 2013, 4:00–6:00 p.m.
Liu Xiaodong (b. 1963) studied at the Central Academy of Fine Arts in Beijing where he received a Bachelor of Fine Arts and a Masters of Fine Art in oil painting. Currently Liu teaches at the Central Academy of Fine Arts, Beijing, China. In the 1990s Liu became well-known for paintings of his friends, relatives, and daily life that reflect social problems on a wide scale. Liu's Hometown Boy series is a combination of childhood memories and his life journey. In this series of paintings, Liu put his childhood friends onto the canvases created in 2010 in his hometown, Jincheng. For the film, Taiwanese director Hou Hsiao-Hsien accompanied Liu Xiaodong to Jincheng to film the interplay of past and present as seen through the eyes of the artist. Film screening followed by a conversation between Winnie Wong (UCB Rhetoric Department) and Liu Xiaodong.
A Pure and Remote View: Visualizing Early Chinese Landscape Painting—A lecture series
Professor Emeritus James Cahill
29 individual videos
This videotaped and moving-image lecture series, conceived by U.C. Berkeley Professor Emeritus James Cahill, is a legacy of his life's work in the history of the visual arts of China. Composed of short introductions and over 2,200 detailed high-resolution images of selected Chinese paintings and works of pictorial art from the early period up to the end of the Song dynasty in the late thirteenth century, this series was written and narrated entirely by Professor Cahill. For ease of viewing, the lectures contain chapter markers identifying the major works of art discussed. In addition, the names of some artists and works are given in pinyin and traditional and simplified Chinese characters. Lecture notes, which provide further information on the topics discussed as well as suggested readings, accompany the video files.
The Missing Master: "China" in Zuoxiao Zuzhou's Music and Art
Zuoxiao Zuzhou, Musician and author
Discussant: Michael Timmins, Cowboy Junkies
April 4, 2013, 6:00–8:00 p.m.
Zuoxiao Zuzhou's work as a maverick artist and public figure has been multi-faceted. He was one of the founding members and leading figures in the "East Village" artists village of the 1990s — a Beijing based group of artists who fueled the later explosion of Chinese visual and performance art in the global marketplace. His first band, No, was a pivotal experiment in avant-garde rock music, and its influence is still felt in underground and alternative music circles in Beijing. When faced with rampant censorship and music piracy in his solo career, Zuoxiao took the production, product design, and marketing of his music into his own hands, revealing his talent as one of the best studio sound engineers in contemporary China, while also pioneering a controversial new direct business model that eliminated political interference (by removing state-run music companies from the equation) and copyright infringement (by offering his music free on-line). He is also a novelist and memoirist, whose two published books feature wildly creative accounts of the artistic life in a country hell-bent on development at any cost. Whether in his books or his songs or his graphic art, Zuoxiao Zuzhou pushes the envelope artistically and politically, maintaining a tough, humorous, unflinching and clear-eyed empathy for those who have been silenced and marginalized.
Living Without Dignity and Writing with Integrity
March 21, 2013, 4:00–6:00 p.m.
One of China's most successful writers, Yan will talk about writing fiction in China today. He sees the people's loss of dignity within Chinese culture and under Chinese state power and compromises made by authors faced with this lack of dignity and loss of intellectual integrity. The question is how to compromise in life while remaining faithful in one's writing. In the real world, dignified writing can only come from heroic characters. Born in 1958 in Henan Province, China, Yan is the author of many novels and short-story collection, including Serve the People!, and has won China's two top literary awards, the Lu Xun for Nian, yue, ri (The Year, the Month, the Day), and the Lao She for Shouhuo (Pleasure). His most recent book, Lenin's Kisses, was listed as one of the top three books of 2012 by Evan Osnos of the New Yorker. Osnos comments: "This story of a village that decides to buy Lenin's corpse is Yan at the peak of his absurdist powers. He writes in the spirit of the dissident writer Vladimir Voinovich, who observed that 'reality and satire are the same.'"
Rural Roots of Reforms near Shanghai, c. 1971-1989 (Compared to Medial Entrepreneurship in Taiwan, Thailand, and Luzon): The Kwang Siam Lim Memorial Lecture
Lynn T. White, III, Woodrow Wilson School, Princeton University
October 3, 2012, 4:00–6:00 p.m.
"Green revolution" exploded near Shanghai during the late 1960s. By the early 1970s — long before 1978 — field mechanization justified local leaders to run rural factories; evidence of substantive "reforms" then is extensive for some rich parts of China. By the mid-1980s, these factories took most rural inputs; so socialist planning practically ended. Lynn will compare these changes near Shanghai with others in Taiwan and Thailand, and with usual non-growth in Luzon, showing that these cases were all politically and locally led (more than growth in Northeast Asia has been).
Click here for the downloadable notes on which the paper is based.
Solids and Surfaces in Chinese Drama: The Kwang Siam Lim Memorial Lecture
Tina Lu, East Asian Languages and Literatures, Yale University
Discussant: Robert Ashmore, East Asian Languages and Cultures, UC Berkeley
October 28, 2011, 4:00–6:00 p.m.
Is an object really just an idea or is it something beyond an idea? Tina Lu will examine the "marvel tales" (chuanqi) of Chinese drama. Over eighty percent of chuanqi are named after an object passed from one set of hands to another, yet contemporary writings do not address these signature items. In an age marked by anxieties about the nature of money and the liquidity of wealth and status, this question strikes at the heart of the matter.
China in Ten Words
Yu Hua, speaking about his new book, China in Ten Words
October 26, 2011, 4:00–6:00 p.m.
Yu Hua is one of China's best-known novelists. Author of Brothers, To Live, and Chronicle of a Blood Merchant, he will talk about his most recent work. In Chinese with English interpretation.
Inventing a "Chinese" Portrait Style in Early Photography — The Case of Milton Miller (active 1850s-1860s): The Kwang Siam Lim Memorial Lecture
Wu Hung, Harrie A. Venderstappen Distinguished Service Professor, Director, Center for the Art of East Asia, University of Chicago
Discussant: Patricia Berger, Art History, University of California, Berkeley
October 29, 2010, 4:00–6:00 p.m.
Who invented the so-called "Chinese portrait style" in photography after this new visual technology reached China in the mid-19th century? What did such an "invention" mean at this particular historical moment? This presentation speculates on these and other questions by focusing on Milton Miller's career as a transnational photographer and the creation of his China portraits.
Chinese Reforms in Historical and Comparative Perspective: The Kwang Siam Lim Memorial Lecture
Prasenjit Duara, Raffles Professor of Humanities, National University of Singapore
Discussant: Wen-hsin Yeh, Department of History, University of California, Berkeley
November 12, 2009, 4:00 to 6:00 p.m.
The presentation examines the last 30 years of reform in China, in both a global, comparative perspective and a Chinese historical one. Indeed the two perspectives often become inseparable as the particular combination of Chinese historical developments (often generated from international models such as the Soviet or Japanese one) create conditions for unprecedented developments. In particular, Duara explores the long-term role of the cultural nexus of power in creating an entrepreneurial local culture as well as long-term patterns of state-society relations. Additionally, it is argued that the revolutionary model of development often produce unexpected connections with the cultural nexus to enable and nourish local enterprise.
Revalorizing Gendered Self-Worth in China's New Age of Private Property: Elvera Kwang Siam Lim Memorial Lecture in Chinese Studies
Li Zhang, Anthropology, UC Davis
Discussant: You-tien Hsing, Geography, UC Berkeley
November 11, 2008, 4:00–6:00 p.m.
This lecture explores how the privatization of home ownership and a rising material culture of consumerism reconfigure the intimate realm of self-worth, love, and marriage in urban China. Through several ethnographic cases, Li Zhang’s research shows how owning a private house has gradually become the decisive factor in considering marriage and a focal point of contention in dissolving that relationship. In this context, they suggest that self-worth has become more and more individualized and materialized through the idiom of property possession. After thirty years of economic reform, the socially embedded nature of the self that was once at the heart of a moral economy is being eclipsed by an individual-centered, materialistic determinism nurtured by a market economy. This social reconfiguration however is a gendered process. While the meanings of masculinities have shifted toward ones ability to make money, possess desirable material goods, or gain political power, the construction of self-worth among women tends to focus on the body and physical appearance, which serve as the material foundation for constructing femininities.
The Rise of Manchu Power in Northeast Asia (c. 1600-1636) — Local and global dimensions: The Kwang Siam Lim Memorial Lecture
Nicola Di Cosmo, Professor, East Asian Studies, Princeton University
Discussant: Wen-hsin Yeh, Department of History, University of California, Berkeley
October 12, 2007, 4:00–6:00 p.m.
The Manchu conquest of China is arguable the greatest historical event of the seventeenth century, both for the changes it engendered within Asia and for its far-reaching implication in world history. Yet, if we take even the simple phrase "Manchu conquest of China" we see that whether the conquerors were really "Manchu," whether it was an actual "conquest," and whether they ruled a land that could have been defined as "China" at the time are all disputable notions. Indeed, historians have argues against the concept that the Qing state can be identified with a single ethnicity, that the Qing rulers occupied China less as an act of willful conquest than as the result of the Ming dynasty's collapse, and that china under the Ming was very different from that ruled by the Qing. This talk focuses on the process of formation of Manchu power in northeast Asia and on local, regional, and even global dimensions of the rise of the Manchus.