Brown University prof discusses film and Asia at upcoming YCAR conference

The Andrew W. Mellon Professor of the Humanities at Brown University, Rey Chow, will discuss the language of film and Asian studies in her keynote address for the upcoming York Centre for Asian Research (YCAR) conference “Transformations: Researching Asia”. Chow’s address is presented by the Department of Film’s Norman Jewison Series at York. 

This is YCAR’s first international graduate student conference on Asian Studies and it runs from Sept. 26 to 27.

Chow’s talk, “Film as Heterolingual Address: Some Remarks about Studying Asia in Postwar North America,” will explore the possibilities of Asian Studies in a global context in which the US has been occupying the status of super power. Among the issues Chow will discuss are the utopian notion of the heterolingual address, the legacy of war, mourning and the ways of engaging with the specifics of film language.

"As one of the most insightful and influential critics of our times, Rey Chow has shaped our mode of thinking, reading and writing since the publication of her book, Woman and Chinese Modernity (1991), a landmark contribution to cultural studies and critical theory," says York sociology Professor Hyun Ok Park.

Right: Rey Chow

"She has since then written widely on modernity, post-colonial theories, gender and sexuality, ethnicity and diaspora," Park says. "She has commanded our theoretical and political sensibility to history and power, challenging us to rethink fascism, multiculturalism, violence and truth, to name just a few. Her work is always surprising in making linkages of the subjects that are perceived separate, for example, her analysis of the intrinsic link between sexuality and race/ethnicity as a defining feature of modernity.”

Winner of the James Russell Lowell Prize from the Modern Language Association for her 1995 book, Primitive Passions: Visuality, Sexuality, Ethnography, and Contemporary Chinese Cinema, Chow has written numerous books, including Sentimental Fabulations, Contemporary Chinese Films (2007), The Age of the World Target: Self-Referentiality in War, Theory, and Comparative Work (2006), Ethics after Idealism (1998) and The Protestant Ethnic and the Spirit of Capitalism (2002).

Her areas of research include 20th-century Chinese fiction, both canonical and popular; post-colonial theory and fiction; interdisciplinary analyses of film; and critical and cultural theory.

Students from 13 universities across Canada, United States, Asia and Europe will present their ongoing research in various fields, including politics of representations, gender and modernity, colonialism, globalization and regionalism, the arts of resistance, and education across Asia and the Asian Diasporas.

Topics will be discussed in historical and theoretical contexts as a way of understanding the dynamics of social and cultural transformations in Asia and beyond. This multi-disciplinary conference offers scholars and academic communities from around the world an opportunity to share knowledge and methodologies in researching Asia.

Registration starts at 8:30am on Friday, Sept. 26 just outside Room 305, York Lanes. Chow’s keynote address is at 5pm in the Price Family Cinema, Room 102, Accolade East Building, Keele campus.

The conference is free. To register, e-mail with the subject line “Conference Registration” and indicate your institutional affiliation in the e-mail. For more information about the conference lineup and speakers, visit the YCAR Web site.

This conference is sponsored by the Hong Kong Economic & Trade Office (Canada), York’s Office of the Vice-President Research and Innovation, Faculty of Graduate Studies, Department of Film Norman Jewison Series, Division of Humanities, Graduate Program in Geography, Graduate Program in Women’s Studies, Graduate Program in Social & Political Thought and the York Centre for Asian Research.

The Norman Jewison Series is named in honour of internationally acclaimed Canadian film director and producer whose generous support has made this program possible. Established in the Department of Film in 2007, the series brings distinguished Canadian and international filmmakers, screenwriters, film historians and theorists to York to meet with students and to present and discuss their work in a public forum open to the wider community.