2020 was a chaotic year in America, with the presidential election, the pandemic, and so on. I designed and offered a new course titled Overseas Encounters: Reading the World through Students Abroad. We read and discussed the history and literature about international students in the world from the seventh century China to the 21st century America. We also explores themes related to those experiences: religion, culture, gender, language, etc. Below are some projects my students created to document their discoveries.
The Legend of the Red Lantern is one of the eight modern operas during the Cultural Revolution (1966-1976). It was based on movies and novels produced in the preceding decades. It was a work of art as well as propaganda for decades in contemporary China. The episode performed by Isaiah Degen features the interrogation of a Communist army member by a Japanese military official. Isaiah innovatively plays both roles by himself.
Peony Pavilion is a Chinese opera composed by Tang Xianzu (1550-1616). It is often compared with Romeo and Juliet due to their shared themes of love and death. After discussing part of the drama with a focus on the protagonist Bridal Du’s death caused by lovesickness, a group of students came up with their own ways to dress up and read/perform the encountering in dream between Bridal Du, her lover Student Liu, at the presence of a God of Flowers.
The Orphan of Zhao is a canon in the repertoire of classical Chinese drama. Composed by Ji Junxiang during the 13th century, it is arguably the best “tragedy” in premodern China. It was also the first Chinese drama ever translated into European languages.
During the spring semester of 2020, a group of students in US and Asia collectively produced this play on the platform of Zoom. Because most of the could not meet in person, they made the best use of the online platform to present a virtual version of the ancient historical play.
The Injustice to Dou E is a Chinese opera written by Guan Hanqing during the Yuan dynasty (1279-1368). the story is about a widow who is wrongfully accused of murdering her father-in-law. The original play was composed for performance with dialogues and arias. A group of students produced an animated version of this play during fall 2020. Because of the pandemic, many of the students could not meet in person so they communicated online and completed this amazing project.
During the Covid19 Pandemic, students in my class Self and Society in Premodern Chinese literature created a group of StoryMap projects to explore issues such as gender, ghosts, and poetry of seclusion.
My student Lanny Sichen Huang singlehandedly completed this Storymap project (Manifold Romanticism in Chinese Literature) to outline “romanticism” as artistic movements and styles of literary representation in different stages of Chinese and European history.
A few students in my course “Romancing the Nation in Modern Chinese Literature” (2019) created this wonderful website titled Loving the Nation from Afar (click the panel on upper left corner to see pages). It selects from materials discussed in the course and showcases the complicated relations between China as a nation-state and “Chinese” people living in different parts of the world in the past century.
Credits: Xianzhen Deng, Kayla Johnson, Alexandra Triko
In a very short time, my students in the class of Chinese drama prepared and presented a remarkable reading and performance of Cao Yu’s Thunderstorm 雷雨. It is a memorable experience for everyone!
My students in the class of “Self and Society in Premodern Chinese Literature” (2018 fall) used Story Map to present some fascinating projects about religion, gender, and dynastic changes in premodern China.
The projects are not possible without the help from Stacy Curry-Johnson, Vanderbilt Librarian for Geospatial Data and Systems