Professor Sung-Yoon Lee of Tufts University gave an erudite talk today on a rather gruesome subject: the true nature of the North Korean regime that we so often mock but rarely take seriously. I was especially moved by his account of the country’s 1990s famine, which could have been eradicated for $100 million, if only the North Korean regime had thought millions of lives were worth cutting a slice off its $7 billion military budget.
I was left reconsidering my own attitude towards the “Hermit Kingdom.” Do we patronize North Korea when we laugh at its leader’s haircut? If we reward the North Koreans — again — for pausing their nuclear tests, are we giving them the tools to continue oppressing their population? Do we lose sight of the true nature of the North Korea problem if we get so caught up in negotiations that we overlook the sheer viciousness of the regime?
But no doubt you have your own responses to Professor Lee’s talk. What did you hear that changed the way you think about the problem of North Korea’s nuclear weapons program?
Please feel free to make any comments, especially on the last lecture, here below. And thanks for joining us for one the most successful Mandel lecture series we’ve enjoyed!
David Wang’s lecture this afternoon about ghosts in contemporary Chinese fiction was another tour de force. Such a wonderful exploration of intriguing question: if China became an atheistic and realist society after 1949, why is are its writers now so fascinated by spirits and the transmigration of souls?
The lecture left me with a lot of questions about the life of the imagination in China today, but also had me wondering about alternative histories — the particular kind of haunting sense that the world could have been different. So you can answer either of the following two questions:
- What story of imaginary hauntings intrigued you the most, and why? Is there a novel you will now read based on Professor Wang’s suggestions? Or…
- In what sense do you imagine the world we have studied is in some way haunted by an historical legacy? If you could write a novel with a haunting or an alternative history, what would it be? Which of the styles that Prof. Wang mentioned would your novel resemble?
The Global Greentalk Society is a new student organization on campus centering around the effect of pollution and climate change, specifically on China. The society is hosting a variety of events throughout the month of March, including moving screenings and guest speaker panels. The first event is going to be March 8th, and involve the viewing of the 2016 documentary “Plastic China”in Lown 301.
Come out to support this new student-run organization and learn about the consequ-
ences of plastic use in China. Additionally visit there Facebook event page below to stay updated with other events happening this month.
We all thought Professor David Wang’s lectures on contemporary Chinese literature would be interesting. But from the first one last night, we now know:
- The talks will touch on a lot of themes IGS 10a has discussed in class and…
- Prof. Wang is very funny.
Last night’s talk, on “Red Star Over America: The Politics of Transgression” got me thinking about the relationship between literature and national identity. Professor Wang noted that the current Chinese government wants its citizens to “tell the good China story.” He described this as a nationalist request, and contrasted it to the many examples of current literature that tell all kinds of other stories.
So I started wondering: what is the relationship between narrative fiction and nationalism? Does nationalism always come from the government? Is there something nationalist about telling the “xiao shuo” — the small stories — of ordinary people? Or is the freedom to tell one’s own story the opposite of collective nationalism?
There are two more lectures in the series:
Tuesday, March 6: 4:30-6 pm
“Life and Death Are Wearing Me Out: The Ghost in Socialist Transmigration.”
Thursday, March 8: 4:30-6 pm
“The Dark Night Gives Black Eyes: The Art of Transillumination.”
All lectures are in Mandel G03. I’ll have questions for each of these as well.
Prof. Wang will also give a lunch seminar on Thursday, March 8 at 12 noon in Mandel 303. If you want to attend the lunch seminar on Thursday, please read this as background first.