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Vol. 16, no. 2 (1999) through current issue
Asian Theatre Journal is dedicated to the performing arts of Asia, focusing upon both traditional and modern theatrical forms. It aims to facilitate the exchange of knowledge throughout the international theatrical community for the mutual benefit of all interested scholars and artists. It offers descriptive and analytical articles, original plays and play translations, book and audiovisual reviews, and reports of current theatrical activities in Asia.
With the advent of computers and the rise of East Asian economies, the complicated character-based writing systems of East Asia have reached a stage of crisis that may be described as truly millennial in scope and implications. In what is perhaps the most wide-ranging critique of the sinographic script ever written, William C. Hannas assesses the usefulness of Chinese character-based writing in East Asia today.
Social Relations and the Aesthetics of Emotion in Sri Lankan Monastic Culture
An idealized view of the lifestyle of a Buddhist monk might be described according to the doctrinal demand for emotional detachment and, ultimately, the cessation of all desire. Yet monks are also enjoined to practice compassion, a powerful emotion and equally lofty ideal, and live with every other human feeling—love, hate, jealousy, ambition—while relating to other monks and the lay community. In this important ethnography of Buddhism in Sri Lanka, Jeffrey Samuels takes an unprecedented look at how emotion determines and influences the commitments that laypeople and monastics make to each other and to the Buddhist religion in general. By focusing on "multimoment" histories, Samuels highlights specific junctures in which ideas about recruitment, vocation, patronage, and institution-building are dynamically negotiated and refined. Positing a nexus between aesthetics and affect, he illustrates not only how aesthetic responses trigger certain emotions, but also how personal and shared emotions, at the local level, shape notions of beauty. Samuels uses the voices of informants to reveal the delicately negotiated character of lay-monastic relations and temple management. In the fields of religion and Buddhist studies there has been a growing recognition of the need to examine affective dimensions of religion. His work breaks new ground in that it answers questions about Buddhist emotions and the constitutive roles they play in social life and religious practice through a close, poignant look at small-scale temple and social networks. Throughout, Samuels makes the case for the need to account for emotions in making intelligible the behavior of religious participants and practitioners. Drawing on a decade of fieldwork that includes numerous interviews as well as an examination of written and visual sources, Attracting the Heart conveys the manner in which Buddhists describe their own histories, experiences, and encounters as they relate to the formation and continuation of Buddhist monastic culture in contemporary Sri Lanka. The book will be of interest to scholars and students of religion, Buddhist studies, anthropology, and South and Southeast Asian studies.
Transnational Film Culture in Imperial Japan
Japanese film crews were shooting feature-length movies in China nearly three decades before Akira Kurosawa’s Rashomon (1950) reputedly put Japan on the international film map. Although few would readily associate Japan’s film industry with either imperialism or the domination of world markets, the country’s film culture developed in lock step with its empire, which, at its peak in 1943, included territories from the Aleutians to Australia and from Midway Island to India. With each military victory, Japanese film culture’s sphere of influence expanded deeper into Asia, first clashing with and ultimately replacing Hollywood as the main source of news, education, and entertainment for millions. The Attractive Empire is the first comprehensive examination of the attitudes, ideals, and myths of Japanese imperialism as represented in its film culture. In this stimulating new study, Michael Baskett traces the development of Japanese film culture from its unapologetically colonial roots in Taiwan and Korea to less obvious manifestations of empire such as the semicolonial markets of Manchuria and Shanghai and occupied territories in Southeast Asia. Drawing on a wide range of previously untapped primary sources from public and private archives across Asia, Europe, and the United States, Baskett provides close readings of individual films and trenchant analyses of Japanese assumptions about Asian ethnic and cultural differences. Finally, he highlights the place of empire in the struggle at legislative, distribution, and exhibition levels to wrest the "hearts and minds" of Asian film audiences from Hollywood in the 1930s as well as in Japan’s attempts to maintain that hegemony during its alliance with Nazi Germany and Fascist Italy.
Vol. 1 (2007) through current issue
Azalea aims to promote Korean literature among English-language readers. The first volume includes works of several contemporary Korean writers and poets, as well as essays and book reviews by Korean studies professors in the United States. Azalea will introduce to the world new writers and also promising translators. The journal will provide the academic community of Korean studies with well-translated texts for college classes. Writers from elsewhere in the world will also share their experience of Korean literature or culture with wider audiences.
Politics and Public Service
Backstage in a Bureaucracy provides a first-hand day-to-day look at running a large bureaucracy. Susan Chandler candidly shares her experiences while serving as director of the Hawai‘i State Department of Human Services for eight years, while Dick Pratt, a public administration professor and advisor to numerous public and private organizations here and abroad, offers his thoughts on what these experiences tell us about the inner workings of government agencies. Their stories—some sad, some funny, but all educational—reveal the challenges and rewards of public service.
On a spring afternoon in 1509 a local bandit found himself in the emperor's private quarters deep within the Forbidden City and in the presence of the Son of Heaven himself. This bizarre meeting was the doing of the eunuch Zhang Zhong, the emperor's personal servant and companion. In time court intrigue between competing palace eunuchs would lead to the death of this bandit-turned-rebel, setting off a massive uprising that resulted in China's largest rebellion of the sixteenth century. To understand how this extraordinary meeting came about requires a consideration of the economy of violence during the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644). Here, for the first time in any language, is a detailed look at the role of illicit violence during the Ming. Drawing on court annals, imperial law codes, administrative regulations, private writings, and local gazetteers, David Robinson recreates in vivid detail a world where heavily armed highwaymen and bandits raided the boulevards in and around the Ming capital, Beijing. He then convincingly traces the roots of this systemic mayhem to economic, ethnic, social, and institutional factors at work in local society.
It is 1969 and China is in the throes of the Cultural Revolution. The Tao family is banished to the countryside, forced to leave comfortable lives in Nanjing to be reeducated in the true nature of the revolution by the peasants of Sanyu village. The parents face exile with stoicism and teach their son to embrace reeducation wholeheartedly. Is this simple pragmatism, an attempt to protect the boy and ensure his future? Or do the banished cadres really cling to their belief in their leaders and the ideals of the Revolution? These questions remain tantalizingly unanswered in this prize-winning first novel.
The Institutions and Cultures of Philippine Sugar
This innovative ethnography takes a new approach to the study of Philippine sugar. For much of the late colonial history of the Philippines, sugar was its most lucrative export, the biggest employer, and the greatest source of political influence. The so-called "Sugar Barons"--wealthy hacendero planters located mainly in Central Luzon and on the Visayan island of Negros--gained the reputation as kingmakers and became noted for their lavish lifestyles and the quasi-feudal nature of their estates. But Philippine sugar gradually declined into obsolescence; today it is regarded as a "sunset industry" that can barely satisfy domestic demand. While planters continue to think of themselves as wielding considerable power and influence, they are more often seen as vestiges of a bygone era. Michael Billig examines sugar's decline within both the dynamic context of contemporary Philippine society and the global context of the international sugar market. His multi-sited ethnographic analysis focuses mainly on conflicts among the various elite sectors (planters, millers, traders, commercial buyers, politicians) and concludes that the most salient political, economic, and cultural trend in the Philippines today is the decline of rural, agrarian elite power and the rise of urban industrial, commercial, and financial power. His reflections on his relationships with informants in the midst of the politically charged atmosphere that surrounds the sugar industry provide a candid look at the role of the observer who, try as he might to remain impartial, finds himself swept into the vortex of policy debates and power plays.
The Zhuangzi and the Transformation of Haikai
Although haiku is well known throughout the world, few outside Japan are familiar with its precursor, haikai (comic linked verse). Fewer still are aware of the role played by the Chinese Daoist classics in turning haikai into a respected literary art form. Bashō and the Dao examines the haikai poets’ adaptation of Daoist classics, particularly the Zhuangzi, in the seventeenth century and the eventual transformation of haikai from frivolous verse to high poetry. The author analyzes haikai’s encounter with the Zhuangzi through its intertextual relations with the works of Bashō and other major haikai poets, and also the nature and characteristics of haikai that sustained the Zhuangzi’s relevance to haikai poetic construction. She demonstrates how the haikai poets’ interest in this Daoist work was rooted in the intersection of deconstructing and reconstructing the classical Japanese poetic tradition. Well versed in both Chinese and Japanese scholarship, Qiu explores the significance of Daoist ideas in Bashō’s and others’ conceptions of haikai. Her method involves an extensive hermeneutic reading of haikai texts, an in-depth analysis of the connection between Chinese and Japanese poetic terminology, and a comparison of Daoist traits in both traditions. The result is a penetrating study of key ideas that have been instrumental in defining and rediscovering the poetic essence of haikai verse. Bashō and the Dao adds to an increasingly vibrant area of academic inquiry—the complex literary and cultural relations between Japan and China in the early modern era. Researchers and students of East Asian literature, philosophy, and cultural criticism will find this book a valuable contribution to cross-cultural literary studies and comparative aesthetics.