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Walker Institute of International and Area Studies

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May 10-11, 2024: Transpacific Intercultural Collaboration Research Symposium

Compared to its transatlantic counterpart, the transpacific has been relatively little studied as a space of cultural and political exchange, and it is this emerging field to which our group seeks to contribute. Most generally, Transpacific Studies investigates the various interdependent relations of Asia and the Americas through time. As Viet Thanh Nguyen and Janet Hoskins write in their introduction to Transpacific Studies: Framing an Emerging Field (2014), it seeks to “illuminate the traffic in peoples, cultures, capital, and ideas” between these regions, helping us see how such movements have informed histories and identities on either side of the ocean. In this way it serves as a critique of and compliment to disciplines defined by national boundaries. Yunte Huang, a scholar of American literature whose Transpacific Displacement (2002) was among the field’s pioneering works, wrote that he sought “an articulation of an American literature that transcends cultural and linguistic boundaries, a national literature rooted in transnationalism and committed to translingual practices.” More recently, this commitment to exploring the interconnectedness of the Pacific Rim has drawn scholars from a wide range of humanistic disciplines, and Transpacific Studies is emerging as a fertile area for interdisciplinary dialogue. In our current moment of resurgent nationalisms and anti-Asian xenophobia in the U.S., such conversations are needed more than ever.

The Transpacific Intercultural Collaboration (TIC) Research Symposium is the culmination of a multi-year, interdisciplinary research group at the University of South Carolina. The TIC Research Group consists of faculty belonging to four different programs across campus, specializing in fields of literature, visual arts, and musicology, and over the past two and a half years has fostered a lively cross-disciplinary dialogue on Transpacific Studies. Our ongoing interdisciplinary project investigates how writers, musicians, and visual artists established connections across the Pacific, and worked within and against the political exigencies of their troubled times. The symposium is broadening the conversation to include national and international experts in this emergent field of research. Intended to foster active scholarly exchange on the subject of transpacific interdisciplinary cultural exchange and collaboration, the symposium will be held in person on the University of South Carolina campus on May 10-11, 2024, and will be open to the general public.

Event Program

Friday, May 10, 2024

Location: Graduate Hotel, 1619 Pendleton St, Columbia, SC, 29201

Location: Hollings Library, accessed through the main level of Thomas Cooper Library, 1322 Greene Street, Columbia, SC.

Participants will share a group meal at a location off campus.

Saturday, May 11, 2024

Gregory Patterson, University of South Carolina

Translating the Childlike Heart: The Jade Mountain as Transpacific Collaboration

This paper examines the story behind The Jade Mountain (1929), one of the twentieth century’s most widely read, yet now largely forgotten, translations of classical Chinese poetry. The dominant influence of Imagist aesthetic values has led to the neglect and disparagement of The Jade Mountain, but it deserves another look. The fruit of an improbable, decade-long collaboration between Witter Bynner, a prominent American poet, and Kiang Kang-hu, a classically-trained scholar active on the stormy political scene of Republican China, it was the first translation into English of a complete Chinese poetry anthology: The Three Hundred Tang Poems, or Tangshi sanbaishou. The Tangshi sanbaishou had been the standard poetry primer in China since its first publication in 1763, and through their translation, Bynner and Kiang introduced American readers to the poems the Chinese considered the finest and most accessible in their own tradition. In deliberate contrast to the Imagisms of Pound and Amy Lowell, Bynner did not foreground the foreignness of the Tang poets, but on the contrary represented them, in his light, unobtrusive free verse, as voicing universal human virtues lacking in the crisis-ridden West. Thus, both in content and in style The Jade Mountain pursued an ideal of transpacific communication modeled by its producers’ collaboration. 

Timothy Billings, Middlebury College

The Chinese Sonnet: Re-inventing the Invention of Chinese Poetry for Our Time 

In 1928, T.S. Eliot called Ezra Pound the “inventor of Chinese poetry for our time.” Not for all time, as Ben Jonson might say, but for an age, an era only. And yet the “Pound Era,” as Hugh Kenner boldly put it half a century ago, is apparently still “our time” since it is still true (as I am not the first to observe) that translations of Chinese poetry that do not sound like Pound do not sound like Chinese poetry to most readers. In Chinese, however, Tang poetry sounds nothing like Pound. 

The aim of this talk is to make a polemical case for (at least provisionally) using the term “sonnet” to describe the most prevalent and distinctive verse form in the Tang dynasty: the lüshi 律詩, or “regulated verse poem,” as it is (regrettably) known in English. Despite their obvious differences, they have uncanny similarities—some of which are precisely what translations for the last century of the Pound Era have prevented readers from seeing and appreciating in Tang poetry. Nor was the onset of this era simply ignorance on Pound’s part since the records of his “distant” collaboration with multiple Japanese sinologists via Ernest Fenollosa’s notebooks show that he knew exactly the sort of sonnet-like form he was unmaking in favor of the new poetic idiom of imagism. This talk will thus discuss the fundamental characteristics of the “Chinese sonnet” and how an anti-Poundian mode of translation might compensate for the typical losses. 

Christopher Bush, Northwestern University

Collaborating Apart? The Modernist Haiku as World Literature

In 1920, the most prominent literary journal in France, the Nouvelle Revue Française, published a short collection of original French-language haiku by over a dozen authors, including the avant-garde journal editor Pierre-Albert Birot, soon-to-be surrealist Paul Eluard, and the editor of the mini-anthology, Jean Paulhan. Although more or less unknown today, within a year or so of its publication the journal issue inspired translations and/or original haiku around the globe, by writers as diverse as Lorca, Rilke, and Zhou Zuoren. My presentation will consider the reception of this journal issue as emblematic of the haiku’s global spread in the modernist era, focusing on translation, retranslation, and emulation as modes of collaboration.

Location: Gambrell Hall, Room 429, 817 Henderson Street, Columbia, S.C. 29208

Amanda Wangwright, University of South Carolina

Picturing Transpacific Unity on the Eve of the Pacific War

A shining centerpiece of the San Francisco International Exposition (1939-1940), the Pacific House featured a multimedia array of fairground attractions: monumental cast-stone sculptures, a half-dozen map-themed murals, a fountain in the shape of a three-dimensional map of the world, a living history display replicating a Chinese village, and an exhibition of Asian art curated by esteemed art historian Langdon Warner. Although organizers initially envisioned the site and its “Pageant of the Pacific” theme enshrined as a permanent installation, the specter of world war prematurely shuttered the enterprise and led to the dismantling of its contents, largely erasing the exposition from memory. Nancy Lutkehaus, perhaps the only scholar in the past eight decades to have published research about the site, characterizes the Pacific House as “a moment in the history of the United States when the idea of the nation’s transpacific connections was made manifest.” Lutkehaus’ analysis, however, narrows to a focus on the mural program and its creator, Miguel Covarrubias. In this paper, I broaden examination of the Pacific House to include as much of its contents as may be discerned today. In so doing, I will pose and attempt to answer the following questions: What was the professed intent of the Pacific House and its displays? What strategies lay behind the exhibitions and the selection of participants? What dialogues were created in the process and to what extent were they truly transpacific and collaborative?

Ian Shin, University of Michigan

“The most monumental bluff”: Eastern Art Journal and U.S. Imperial Stewardship Before World War II

This paper examines a scholarly journal titled Eastern Art that museum curators in the United States launched in 1928 to compete with more established European art journals like the Ostasiatische Zeitschrift in Germany and T’oung Pao, a French-Dutch collaboration. Eastern Art signaled the rise of the United States as a leading center for producing knowledge about Chinese art globally. Its editors foregrounded scholarly rigor as the criterion by which they would select, evaluate, and publish writings about Asian art. Eastern Art won the praise of curators and collectors around the world even as its editors excluded Chinese authors from publishing on Chinese art. Although the journal was discontinued after only four years, its influence lives on in publications like Archives of Asian Art and Ars Orientalis that shape the field of Asian art history today.

In exploring the entanglement of academic knowledge and U.S. imperialism, scholars have paid scant attention to scholarly journals as a platform for the extension and maintenance of U.S. hegemony. By tracing the creation, financing, editorial process, circulation, and reception of Eastern Art, I argue that scholarly journals were one of the key knowledge projects for consolidating an ideology and practice of guardianship, curiosity, and care—what Melani McAlister calls “imperial stewardship”—by the United States over Chinese art before World War II. The history of the Eastern Art journal thus shows how a transpacific enterprise that was intercultural and collaborative could be simultaneously competitive and exclusionary.

Yang Wang, University of Colorado Denver

Transpacific to the Mountain West: Diversity in Frank Muramoto’s Images of Rural Colorado

Despite the depth of Asian American history in Colorado established through such historical chapters as mining, railroad construction, and WWII internment camps, little is known about the artistic contributions of Asian Americans in Colorado in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. This project aims to restore the history of Asian Americans in the Mountain West through the lens of visual culture. Recent efforts made by the Pueblo County Historical Society (PCHS) and History Colorado have shed light on the photography of Frank Muramoto (1884–1958), an issei Japanese American immigrant who operated the De Luxe photography studio in the southern Colorado town of Pueblo. While Muramoto’s biography as a successful businessman has been partially established by the PCHS, his images have yet to be analyzed through an art historical framework. Muramoto’s commercial and personal photography reveals the underrecognized diversity of rural Colorado in the early twentieth century through its documentation of Japanese American, Native American, and white residents engaged in agriculture and industry. Moreover, Muramoto was unconventionally committed to photographing and filming his family’s travels to scenic locations in the American West, documenting human interactions with nature in sweeping vistas. This project suggests that Muramoto’s photographic perspective imbued his subjects with dignity and agency regardless of their ethnicity and status, and portrayed them as contributors to the changing American landscape. This new project examines available archives to learn about Muramoto’s life as a Japanese immigrant in Colorado and a photographer whose personal history intersected with transpacific history in the American West.

Location: Gambrell Hall, Room 429, 817 Henderson Street, Columbia, S.C. 29208

Boxed lunches will be provided to participants.

Eileen Cheng-yin Chow, Duke University

A Local Accent /Xiangyin 鄉音: On Location and Translation, and Sonic Confinement and Sonic Mobilities in Diaspora

Location: Gambrell Hall, Room 429, 817 Henderson Street, Columbia, S.C. 29208

Yayoi Uno Everett, Hunter College

Toshio Hosokawa’s Voiceless Voice in Hiroshima 

Because the atomic bomb remains a sensitive subject in modern Japanese history, only a few other native composers have written pieces to commemorate it; these include, but are not limited to, Hikaru Hayashi’s Scenes from Hiroshima for mixed choir (1958-2001), Yasushi Akutagawa’s opera Orpheus in Hiroshima (1960), and Fumiko Koujiba’s Hiroshima Requiem for string orchestra (1980). This paper examines how Toshio Hosokawa interweaves disparate cultural texts and musical elements in providing a poignant commentary on the atrocities of war in his large-scale work for orchestra and choir, called Voiceless Voice in Hiroshima (1989-2001). What is the acoustical and symbolic significance of the enigmatic title, “voiceless voice”? How does Hosokawa transform the traditional symphonic genre through his distinctive style of orchestration? Finally, how does this work reflect the shift in aesthetic consciousness of Japanese composers that took place after 1980 and offer commentary on cultural memory and trauma of war? Like other western-trained composers who have spent significant years abroad, Hosokawa’s transcultural experiences have shaped his musical setting of this work, evidenced by a compositional strategy that seamlessly merges contemporary European musical idioms with traditional Japanese aesthetics in the expression of his cultural hybridity.

The formal conception of this work is motivated by nature imagery, although the scenes of night, winter, spring, and evening mix elements taken from different cycles. Rather than adhere to the traditional symphonic form, the five movements are arranged by contrasting moods, tempo, and a poetic/narrative shift from fear, suffering, to contemplative disengagement. This expressive shift from darkness to lightness is brought about by the shift in the sung text from the Requiem mass, Paul Celan’s poem about the holocaust, to Matsuo Basho’s haiku. These seemingly incompatible texts are woven together into a distinctive musical narrative; the fourth movement brings lightness and a sense of relief from suffering, similar in the affective quality of the “Urlicht” movement from Mahler’s Symphony No. 2. However, in lieu of a bombastic finale, the work ends with a deeply meditative movement characterized by Hosokawa’s bonsho style of orchestration, which simulates the sound of temple bells being struck over and over again, as a form of prayer to the dead. 

Kunio Hara, University of South Carolina

Transpacific Butterflies: Collaborative Refashionings of Puccini’s Madama Butterfly

Since the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, innovative and critical productions of Giacomo Puccini’s 1904 opera Madama Butterfly have appeared in the United States. This was, however, not the first time that Puccini’s opera received such “makeovers” responding to the various social, political, and cultural pressures of the time. The outbreak of the Pacific War, the U.S.-led Allied Occupation of Japan, as well as the trade war of  the 1970s and 1980s shaped the way musicians, critics, and audience members understood the work on either side of the Pacific Ocean. In this presentation I examine key productions of Puccini’s Madama Butterfly in the United States using a synthetic analytical framework based on the works of David Levin (2007) and Kar Ho Toby Wong (2023). The framework assesses different productions’ degrees of fidelity to the performing materials  as well as to the historical events and conditions presented on stage. The resulting historical overview points to the existence of two pivotal transformations in the reception of the opera in the United States. The first one emphasized the work’s “authentically” Japanese elements as, while the second attempts to reconceive Madama Butterfly as expressions of Asian American experience.

Mari Yoshihara, University of Hawai`i at Manoa

Staging Prayer for Peace: Leonard Bernstein in Hiroshima

In August 1985, Leonard Bernstein, the most iconic figure in American music of the twentieth century, conducted the Hiroshima Peace Concert in commemoration of the fortieth anniversary of the atomic bombing of the city. Featuring young artists from Japan, the United States, and Europe–including conductor Eiji Oue, violinist Midori, African American soprano Barbara Hendricks, chorus members from the Kyoto-Osaka region, members of the European Community Youth Orchestra–the concert gave a deeply moving and meaningful experience for both the artists and the audience. This event was a product of Bernstein’s long-standing commitment to nuclear disarmament, the global mobilization of the antinuclear movement, and transpacific and transatlantic musical collaboration of many individuals and organizations. At the same time, the planning and execution of the concert was enabled by Berstein’s global fame supported by both state and corporate power and involved various forms of political maneuvering at the local, national, and international levels. Using this concert as a case study, this presentation will consider what “collaboration” looks like in presenting a universal message of peace on a stage with very particular history. The Hiroshima Peace Concert offers us a critical example to reflect on what the stakes are and who the stakeholders are in such collaborations and to consider the dynamics among the arts, politics, economics, and social movements. 

Location: Gambrell Hall, Room 429, 817 Henderson Street, Columbia, S.C. 29208

Byeongwon Ha, University of South Carolina

Make America Great Again and Again: An Internet Art Project in the Transpacific Context

Internet art emerged during the .com bubble, captivating audiences with its innovative digital expressions. After the sensational phenomenon calmed down, one of the main streams of internet art evolved into open-ended participatory art as a form of installation art. Through a political and social lens, internet art projects including The Listening Post (2002-2005), Graffiti@Google (2012), and (2022) examine two main topics: information decentralization and circulation. They contribute significantly to the deep development of interactive art as a participatory art form. In this paper, a new internet art project, Make America Great Again and Again (2024), is showcased in the transpacific context. The creation of public platforms fostering transpacific interaction becomes paramount in this pursuit, facilitating a dynamic exchange of ideas and experiences across the vast expanse of the Pacific Ocean. By encouraging visitors to actively participate by crafting their own video clips on the Internet, the project extends beyond the physical confines of galleries, fostering an enduring and ever-evolving participatory genre of internet art. This transpacific internet art project vividly demonstrates global connectivity and creative expression, heralding a transpacific approach to innovation and collaboration in the digital arts landscape.

Hye Yeon Nam, Louisiana State University

In-Between Space

Space takes on multiple definitions. I understand space as the sum of cultural and social forces that act upon me. In this way, space is highly personal and, therefore, directly impacts us on a bodily level because we can feel changes instantly and intimately. From my autobiographical experiences from Korea to America, my body became a gauge that intensely felt my displacement and recognized not only the conformity and the standards inflicted upon me in America but also allowed me to deconstruct the rituals from my homeland that I had taken for granted as “normal.”

As an immigrant, I often feel as if I live in a different skin. Many of the simple tasks that seemed innate to me in Korea are often completely foreign in America. My body, as a result, feels different. I feel like it occupies both Korea and America and my arms and legs feel incredibly elongated, as if I cannot see the end of my body. Through my work, I attempt to show what this displacement feels like in the space of being neither here in America nor there in Korea. I also suggest a way of embracing others and being harmonious through my creative projects. Art should not merely be aesthetics; instead, it can be a question, an argument, a proposal, a resolution, or a reflection of the problems that we encounter in our world. 

Mina Kim, University of Alabama

Transpacific Consilience in Korean American Art

The exchange between countries has been a part of human history, and today, cultural exchanges are further accelerated by the diversification and universalization of media. This study explores how Korean American art addresses the values of multicultural exchange, academic consilience between science and art, and communication with people and the world in a wide range of regions worldwide, including the Trans-Pacific. For example, the artworks of Nam June Paik visualize how artworks combine art, science, and technology and introduce a new way of media art in which works of art are reflected in multiple parts of the world through mass media. The art of David Y. Chung and Michael Joo exposes the meaninglessness of dichotomous thinking between Korea, the United States, and the East and West and emphasizes the importance and respect for communication and exchange in cultures. Ik-Joong Kang’s works show the significance of communicating with people, the Earth, and the universe. Thus, this study provides Korean American art that converges on the importance of understanding, respect, and mutual exchange between humanity and the world and brings about the consilience of various fields such as science, philosophy, religion, anthropology, and history.

Location: Gambrell Hall, Room 429, 817 Henderson Street, Columbia, S.C. 29208

 Participants will share a group meal at a location off campus.


This event is sponsored by the Humanities Collaborative and the Walker Institute of International and Area Studies. Additional support has been provided by the School of Visual Art and Design, the School of Music, and the Department of Language, Literature, and Culture.

Challenge the conventional. Create the exceptional. No Limits.