Amy Tan

Author Amy Tan will speak at the Wooster Forum on Sept. 30. (Photo by Michael Childers)


2014 Wooster Forum to Reflect on East Asia

Six speakers and exhibition at art museum scheduled for fall series

6 August, 2014 by John Finn

WOOSTER, Ohio — East Asia will be the focus of the 2014 Wooster Forum hosted by The College of Wooster this fall. A noteworthy lineup of speakers has been scheduled along an exhibition at The College of Wooster Art Museum (1220 Beall Ave.). Each of the lectures will be held in McGaw Chapel (340 E. University St.) beginning at 7:30 p.m.

First-year students have been preparing for the Forum this summer by reading Yu Hua's China in Ten Words, a series of essays that reflect upon China's past, present, and future. The book also raises questions that extend beyond the Chinese context to social transitions, politics, ethics, labor, and income inequity in general. The reading is intended to prompt a more personal and internal examination of how individuals respond to the particular dilemmas in their lives.

New York Times critic Ligaya Mishan says Hua's essays "depict a morally compromised nation, plagued by escalating unemployment, class polarization, and endemic corruption and waste," and she applauds the author for being able to "speak his mind without bringing down the ire of the government."

The first Forum event will be held on Thursday, Sept. 4, when Michael Berry, professor of Contemporary Chinese Cultural Studies at the University of California, discusses "Chinese Cinema with Hollywood Characteristics." Berry's research focuses on modern Chinese culture, particularly literature, film, and pop culture. He is also known for his work translating contemporary novels by various writers, including the works of Yu Hua.

The next event will be on Thursday, Sept. 25, when Michael Puett, the Walter C. Klein Professor of Chinese History in the Department of East Asian Languages and Civilizations at Harvard University, provides a historical context for understanding the dynamic changes within China and how these changes are affecting the global political and economic situation. Puett is the author of The Ambivalence of Creation: Debates Concerning Innovation and Artifice in Early China and To Become a God: Cosmology, Sacrifice, and Self-Divinization in Early China.

Novelist Amy Tan will present "The Heart of a Writer" at the third Forum event on Tuesday, Sept. 30. A prolific writer and author of The Joy Luck Club and New York Times bestsellers The Kitchen God's Wife, The Hundred Secret Senses, The Bonesetter's Daughter, and Saving Fish from Drowning, Tan is well known for her work on the experiences of immigrants and intergenerational relationships, particularly between mothers and daughters.

Two weeks later (Oct. 14), Pulitzer-Prize winning journalist and College of Wooster graduate Susan Q. Stranahan will discuss her book, Fukushima: The Story of a Nuclear Disaster (and It's Aftermath). Initially hired by The Plain Dealer in Cleveland, Stranahan spent most of her career at The Philadelphia Inquirer. Her other honors include receiving a Distinguished Alumni Award from Wooster in 1996.

On Thursday, Oct. 30, Eleana Kim, an anthropologist who specializes in the examination of the social and political dynamics that have shaped the natural environment of the Korean Demilitarized Zone, will present "Making Peace with Nature: The Ecological Value of the Korean DMZ." Her talk is based on her recent book, Making Peace with Nature: The Greening of the Korean DMZ, an analysis of the transformation of one of the most heavily militarized borders in the world into one that has become a haven for biodiversity.

The final Forum event will feature Leslie Chang, who will present "The Lives and Loves of a Chinese Factory Girl" on Tuesday, Nov. 4. Chang is the author of Factory Girls: From Village to City in Changing China, which examines the rapid urbanization within China and its impact upon women and the social structure of China.

In addition to the lectures, The College of Wooster Art Museum will present concurrent exhibitions (Aug. 19-Sept. 28) that explore the perceptions of East Asia through contemporary and traditional Chinese and Japanese artists. "The Jay Gates Collection: Art of China and Japan" will be on display in the Burton D. Morgan Gallery, while "Selections from PROJECT 35 VOLUMES 1 & 2" will be in the adjacent Sussel Gallery. Additional information about the 2014 Wooster Forum is available by phone (330-263-2132) or e-mail. 

More information about individual Forum events, including detailed speaker biographies, can be found here.