The CU Boulder Asian Studies Graduate Association (CUBASGA) held its annual graduate student conference on February 23rd and 24th, 2018. Since 1998, the organization has presented this conference to provide graduate students from CU Boulder and elsewhere with a forum to present their original research on East Asia, particularly on China and Japan. This year, the conference featured twenty-two graduate student presenters from nine different universities. Their research topics covered a wide range of time periods and of regions. Thanks to the generous support from the Center for Asian Studies, the CUBASGA organizing committee was also pleased to welcome two keynote speakers to Colorado—Professor Michael Nylan from The University of California, Berkeley and Professor David Atherton from Harvard University.
The panels on Friday focused on premodern China and Japan. We heard presentations on ancient Chinese philosophy, classical Chinese and Japanese poetry and prose, pre-modern Japanese cartography, as well as Chinese historiography. In the afternoon, Professor Michael Nylan gave an inspirational keynote speech titled “On the Politics of the Common Good in Early China,” in which she not only convincingly argued that the early Chinese empire should be viewed as a consultative empire, but also encouraged graduate students to reflect on their methodology when approaching early texts.
On Saturday, while we continued to hear papers on early China, other panels also focused on a wider range of topics, ranging from post-war Japanese literature and contemporary Chinese poetry to 20th century Korean authors. Professor David Atherton’s keynote address, “Creative Destruction: Disaster Literature and the Making of Early Modern Japan,” provided an in-depth reading of several narratives concerning the Great Fire of Meireki, shedding light on the complex relationship between these accounts and Japan’s transition from what we call the medieval period to the early modern era.
Kangni Huang, Co-Chair, 2018 CUBASGA Conference Planning Committee