2019 TAGS-Conference

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Sixth Annual Trans-Asia Graduate Student Conference:

Within and Beyond Asia

Friday, April 12 to Sunday, April 14, 2019
Ingraham Hall, 1155 Observatory Dr, Madison, WI 53706
University of Wisconsin-Madison

We are pleased to announce the sixth annual Trans-Asia Graduate Student (TAGS) Conference to be held at the University of Wisconsin-Madison on Friday, April 12, 2019 – Sunday, April 14, 2019. The aim of this conference is to facilitate greater communication among disciplines, approaching Asia from multiple viewpoints. Participants will have a valuable opportunity to share work and receive feedback from peers and professors, as well as to gain insight into recent developments in Asia-related research across various disciplines.

The TAGS Conference was established by graduate students of East Asian Languages and Literatures (now part of the Asian Languages and Cultures) and History Departments in 2013. It is a forum where graduate students and advanced undergraduates studying Asia can present their research.

The theme of the conference this year is “Within and Beyond Asia.” This year’s conference aims to invite critical examinations into the past and present of “Asia” that bridges local and global, and transcends regionalism and nationalism. The theme speaks to the recent paradigm shift of Asian studies in general, driven by the increasing exchange of bodies, ideas and capitals that move within and beyond various forms of conventional borders. Therefore, our goal is to open up a broader horizon for reimagining different “Asias” in the global context. Taking the participants’ specific fields of study as a starting point, we want to look for various opportunities of transregional and transdiscipline conversations and cooperations.


Dr. Erin Collins (School of International Service, American University)

Friday, April 12, 12:05-1:30pm, 206 Ingraham Hall


Brief Biography:

Dr. Erin Collins is a human geographer. Her work focuses on the political economy and cultural politics of transformation in Southeast Asian cities. Her current research looks at how people claim and defend space in Cambodia’s capital city of Phnom Penh, in and through moments of political, social and economic remaking. Professor Collins has recent publications in Environment and Planning and Development and Change. In the School of International Service, she teaches courses on Geographies of Uneven Development, Critical Social Theory, Development in Theory and History and Qualitative Methods for Studying the City. In her research and teaching Dr. Collins draws on post-colonial, critical race, feminist and global urban theory.


This speaker is invited by the 6th Trans-Asian Graduate Student Conference as keynote speaker. The Center for Southeast Asian Studies is the co-sponsor of this event.

Dr. Rivi Handler-Spitz (Asian Languages and Cultures, Macalester College)

Saturday, April 13, 3:15-4:45pm, 115 Ingraham Hall

Li Zhi’s Pedagogy of Provocation

The outlandish actions of the sixteenth century Chinese maverick intellectual Li Zhi (1527-1602) shocked contemporaries. A retired Confucian official, he moved into a monastery, shaved off his hair in conformity with Buddhist practice, but grew a long beard and violated monastic codes by eating meat and consorting with women. His writings too proved scandal: in them he flouted Confucian orthodoxy by overturning established judgments and excoriating and publicly humiliating high officials. His writing style abounds in paradox, irony, and contradiction, rhetorical flourishes that cause readers to stand still in their tracks and wonder “Did Li Zhi really mean this?!” My talk addresses the question of whether Li Zhi’s judgments function primarily as authoritative or provocative. Did he aspire to promote a counter-dogma to state-sanctioned Neo-Confucian orthodoxy, or to promulgate a method of incessant questioning, skepticism, and doubt? The talk focuses on two texts, A Book to Burn (Fenshu), one of the most influential books by Li Zhi, and “Conversations in the Oak Forest” (Zuolin jitan), authored by one of Li Zhi’s most outstanding students, Yuan Zhongdao. The latter text, rendered in dialogue form, provides an account of Li Zhi’s pedagogy that corroborates the view that Li Zhi’s goals were more provocative than doctrinal.

Brief Biography:

Rivi Handler-Spitz is an associate professor in the department of Asian Languages and Cultures department at Macalester College. She holds degrees in comparative literature from the University of Chicago (PhD) and Columbia University (AB). Her monograph, Symptoms of an Unruly Age: Li Zhi and Cultures of Early Modernity (University of Washington Press, 2017), analyzes writings by the late-Ming Chinese radical intellectual Li Zhi (1527-1602) in the context of contemporaneous Chinese and European social, material, literary, and intellectual history. Points of comparison include Shakespeare, Montaigne, and Cervantes. Together with Haun Saussy and Pauline C. Lee, Handler-Spitz co-edited a volume of translations from Li Zhi’s writings, A Book to Burn and A Book to Keep (Hidden) (Columbia University Press, 2016). In 2018 she drew and published her first article in graphic-novel format in Inside Higher Ed. She is now studying recorded conversations between masters and disciples as well as co-editing a collection of critical essays on Li Zhi, titled The Objectionable Li Zhi: Writing, Virtues, and the Social World in Sixteenth Century.



[Ingraham 206] OPENING REMARKS – 12:00-12:05 pm

KEYNOTE SPEECH – 12:05-1:30 pm  

Dr. Erin Collins (School of International Service, American University)

Anti-Archive: Contesting Authoritative Claims to Space and Power in Phnom Penh”

SESSION 1 – 1:45 -3:15 pm  


  • Pin-yi Li (University of Wisconsin-Madison)

“Singapore’s Multiculturalism: Ethnography on the National Museum of Singapore”

  • Zhaoshen Wang (University of Wisconsin-Madison)

“Immigrants or Loyalists? Attitudes of Chinese Emigrating to Southeast Asia after 1644 towards China”

Discussant: Pearly Wong (University of Wisconsin-Madison)

[Memorial Union] SOCIAL HOUR – 3:30 pm


SESSION 2 – 9:00-10:30 am


  • Kevin Inks (University of Wisconsin-Madison)

“Braided River as Borderscape: Land Tenure and Disaster Relief in the Brahmaputra River Valley”

  • Ayal N. Weiner-Kaplow (University of Wisconsin-Madison)

“Improving Disaster Preparation, Response, and Recovery in Nepal and Japan”

  • Pearly Wong (University of Wisconsin-Madison)

“Development Experiences in Changing Nepal”

Discussant: Wanjing Chen (University of Wisconsin-Madison)


  • Aki Tanaka (Tokyo University of Foreign Studies)

“Re-assessing the Writings of Khái Hưng of the Self-Reliant Literary Group”

  • Matthew Werstler (Northern Illinois University)

“The Geography of Song: Place, Identity and Practice of ‘Named Melodies’ in Southwest China”

Discussant: Kenia Avendaño-Garro (University of Wisconsin-Madison)

SESSION 3 – 10:45-12:15 pm


  • Hao Chen (University of Cambridge)

“Resisting Bandung? Taiwan’s Struggle for Legitimacy in the Rise of the Asian Peoples’s Anti-Communist League, 1954-57”

  • Shan Huang (King’s College London)

“The Contradictions Before and After the Reform- A Qualitative Research on Workers at State-owned Enterprises in China”

  • Maryam S. Khan (University of Wisconsin-Madison)

“Unpacking the ‘Legal Blackhole’: Political Origins of Pakistan’s Constitution”

Discussant: Seungyop Shin (University of Wisconsin-Madison)


  • Teresa Görtz (University of Wisconsin-Madison)

“Networks of Rulin waishi: Making a Case for the Use of Software-Based Visual Reading Aids”

  • Wenting Ji (University of Wisconsin-Madison)

“What to Eat? Whose Taste? – Exploring Taste in Zhang Dai’s Tao’an mengyi (Reminiscences in Dreams of Tao’an) and Xihu mengxun (Search the West Lake in Dreams)”

  • Yi Liu (University of Arizona)

“Space and Sanctity: A Study of Mogao Grottoes Cave 172”

Discussant: Alicia Foley (University of Wisconsin-Madison)

[Ingraham 336] LUNCH – 12:15-1:15 pm

SESSION 4 – 1:30-3:00 pm

[Ingraham 115] VISUAL CULTURES

  • Kim Young (University of Wisconsin-Madison)

“Auspices from Nature: Re-direction in Understanding Auspicious Images at the Qing Court”

  • Wint Thu Thu Maung (University of Yangon)

“Common Character of Foreign Styles that Created Cross Cultural Connection in Saku’s Art: Myanmar in 18th to 19th Century, through Archaeological Aspects”

  • Michael Toole (University of Wisconsin-Madison)

“Boy’s Love Gone Bad: Gender Ambiguity and Negativity in Tezuka Osamu’s MW”

Discussant: Teresa Görtz (University of Wisconsin-Madison)


  • Yanwen Wu  (University of Wisconsin-Madison)

“A Comparison of Tonal Prosody in Yongming Style Verse and Recent Style Verse: Evidences from Statistical Tests”

  • Han Yan (University of Wisconsin-Madison)

“Stress-Driven or not: From the analysis of Metrical, Syntactic and Musical Features of Pentasyllabic Yuefu Poems”

  • Bo Zhan (University of Wisconsin-Madison)

“The Problem of the Authorship of Honglou meng by Examining Two Types of Interrogatives”

Discussant: Yangtian Luo (University of Wisconsin-Madison)

[Ingraham 115] KEYNOTE SPEECH – 3:15-4:45 pm

Dr. Rivi Handler-Spitz (Asian Languages and Cultures, Macalester College)

“Li Zhi’s Pedagogy of Provocation”

[Ingraham 336] DINNER – 5:00-6:00 pm


[Ingraham 336] BREAKFAST – 9:00-9:30 am

SESSION 5 – 9:30-11:15 am


  • Yixuan Cai (University of Wisconsin-Madison)

“During This Endless Night”: Su [spending the night] in Du Fu’s poetry”

  • Josiah Stork (University of Wisconsin-Madison)

“Dù Fǔ’s Confrontation with Yán Wǔ in Poetry, Prose, and Historiography”

  • Zheyu Su (University of Wisconsin-Madison)

“Standards of Annotating: Original Preface of Dushi Xiangzhu

  • Christine Welch (University of Wisconsin-Madison)

“Longing for Paradise: A Genealogy of Penglai in Du Fu’s Poetry”

Discussant: Wenting Ji (University of Wisconsin-Madison)

SESSION 6 – 11:30-1:00 pm


  • Lingyu Li (University of Wisconsin-Madison)

“Making Special Education Inclusive in China”

  • Jun Wang (University of Wisconsin-Madison)

“The Role of L2 English in L3 Chinese Learning”

  • Rui Wang (University of Wisconsin-Madison)

“Prosodic Word in Jiangyin Dialect”

Discussant: Hae Ree Jun (University of Wisconsin-Madison)


Teresa Görtz (PhD student, Chinese literature, Department of Asian Languages and Cultures)
Wenting Ji (PhD candidate, Chinese literature, Department of Asian Languages and Cultures)
Hae Ree Jun (PhD candidate, Japanese linguistics, Department of Asian Languages and Cultures)
Kelly Wanjing Chen (PhD candidate, Department of Geography)
Joe Yizhou Xu (PhD student, Media & Cultural Studies, Department of Communication Arts)

Contact us at: tagsconference@rso.wisc.edu


The Trans-Asia Graduate Student Conference Organizing Committee would like to express our gratitude to the people and organizations that donated time, money, resources, and energy. The conference would not have been possible without their dedication and generosity.

We are extremely grateful for generous financial support from:

  • The Associated Students of Madison
  • The Wisconsin Experience Grant
  • The Center for East Asian Studies
  • The Center for Southeast Asian Studies
  • The ALC Department and the UW Foundation

Special thanks go to:

  • Hieyoon Kim, Faculty ALC Department; Faculty Advisor for the TAGS Committee
  • Haiyan Wei, Financial Specialist, ALC Department
  • Rachel Weiss, Undergraduate Advisor & Graduate Program Coordinator, ALC Department
  • Laurie Dennis, Assistant Director, Center for East Asian Studies
  • Mary McCoy, Outreach and Communications, Center for Southeast Asian Studies; Faculty Associate, Department of Communication Arts

Last but not least, we would like to thank our panel moderators for their time and valuable input!