2015 Programs

Book Talk: Eileen Chang’s Naked Earth


Tuesday, December 1, 2015 | 6:30PM – 8:00PM
INDIVIDUAL TICKETS: $10 for members / $15 for non-members

One of the greatest and most loved of modern Chinese writers, Eileen Chang (张爱玲) illuminates the dark corners of the human existence with a style of disorienting beauty. Her late work Naked Earth (赤地之戀), originally commissioned as anti-Communist propaganda by the United States Information Service, is the story of two earnest young people confronting the grim realities of revolutionary change in the early years of Mao’s China. Unavailable in English for more than fifty years, it is a harrowing tale of perverted ideals, damaged souls, deepest loneliness, and terror.

At this event celebrating Naked Earth’s publication by New York Review Books (the first time it has been published outside of Hong Kong), China Institute Senior Lecturer Ben Wang will speak about Chang’s life, the unusual circumstances surrounding Naked Earth’s writing, and the timeless precision of Chang’s prose.

Book Launch & Author Talk: Jeanne-Marie Gescher‘s All Under Heaven

Tuesday, November 17, 2015 | 6:30PM – 8:00PM

China Institute is delighted to announce an evening with Jeanne-Marie Gescher. Is China’s greatest importance to the world really its economics?

In her new book, Jeanne-Marie Gescher argues that China’s greatest importance lies in a 5,000 year question about order: how can human beings live together in a big and complex world?

Weaving together the inspirations, ideas and dreams that have shaped the way China’s people have thought about order from the ancient past to the recent present, Jeanne-Marie explains how and why China’s question is at the heart of everything, not only in China but for the world at large.

Through an evening of readings and conversation, Jeanne-Marie will share the ideas of her book: All Under Heaven, China’s Dreams of Order (all-under-heaven.com).

China’s Millennials: The Want Generation with Eric Fish


Tuesday, November 3, 2015 | 6:30PM – 8:00PM
INDIVIDUAL TICKETS: $10 for members / $15 for non-members

In 1989, students marched on Tiananmen Square demanding democratic reform. The Communist Party responded with a massacre, but it was jolted into restructuring the economy and overhauling the education of its young citizens. A generation later, Chinese youth are a world apart from those who converged at Tiananmen. Brought up with lofty expectations, they’ve been accustomed to unprecedented opportunities on the back of China’s economic boom. But today, China’s growth is slowing and its demographics rapidly shifting, with the boom years giving way to a painful hangover.

Join us on Tuesday, November 3, for an Author Talk with Eric Fish, who will discuss his recently published work, China’s Millennials. In the book, Eric Fish, a millennial himself, profiles youth from around China to show how they are navigating the education system, the workplace, divisive social issues, and a resurgence in activism. Based on interviews with scholars, journalists, and hundreds of young Chinese, his engrossing book challenges the idea that today’s youth have been pacified by material comforts and nationalism. Following rural Henan students struggling to get into college, a computer prodigy who sparked a nationwide patriotic uproar, and young social activists grappling with authorities, Fish deftly captures youthful struggle, disillusionment, and rebellion in a system that is scrambling to keep them in line—and, increasingly, scrambling to adapt when its youth refuse to conform.

Author Bio:
Eric Fish lived in China from 2007 to 2014 as a teacher, student, and journalist. After teaching for three years in Nanjing and getting his Master’s degree at Tsinghua University, he worked for the Economic Observer in Beijing and wrote on Chinese politics, social issues, and education for outlets including Foreign Policy, The Atlantic, The Diplomat, and The Telegraph. He also founded the blog sinostand.com and the China Hang-up podcast. For his book, China’s Millennials: The Want Generation, he spoke with hundreds of diverse Chinese youth born in the 1980s and 1990s to explore how people of this generation are navigating the enormous socioeconomic and political shifts unfolding in their country. Fish currently works as a content producer at Asia Society in New York.

Songs of a Golden Age: High Tang Poetry


Thursday, October 8, 2015 | 6:30PM – 8:00PM
INDIVIDUAL TICKETS: $25 for members / $30 for non-members
FULL SERIES TICKETS: $60 member / $75 non-member

The Tang dynasty (618-907) glows as the golden age of Chinese literature, distinguished by the ripening and flourishing of the art of poetry. Reigning supreme during the High (Middle) Tang period are the timeless and memorable oeuvres of Wang Han (687-736), Wang Changling(690-756), Wang Wei (701-761), and most importantly Li Bai (701-762), arguably the greatest poet in Chinese literature.

In his inaugural lecture series at China Institute’s new home, Ben Wang, Senior Lecturer of Language and Humanities of China Institute and an award-winning translator, will introduce the Tang dynasty and the lives and works of these four poets. Poems in their original Chinese texts will be studied character by character to give an in-depth understanding and a full appreciation of their profundity and beauty. The relationship between classical Chinese poetry, music, painting and major schools of thought will be explored, with comparative points of interest made between Chinese and English poetry.

This lecture will be conducted in English. No previous knowledge of the Chinese language is required.

China and the West During World War II: A Confucius Institute Day


FREE! Saturday, September 26, 2015 | 2:00PM – 6:00PM

On September 26 the Confucius Institute at China Institute ([email protected]) will join nearly 500 Confucius Institutes around the world to celebrate Confucius Institute Day, a collaborative effort to celebrate the 11th anniversary of the founding of these institutions, with a shared mission to promote the understanding of Chinese language and culture. This year, in recognition of the 70th anniversary of the Anti-Fascist Victory in World War II and the Founding of the United Nations, this collective celebration will be guided by the theme “Understanding and Peace.” Join us for two lectures with Daniel Jackson and Professor Steve Hochstadt exploring China’s relationship with the West during World War II. There will be a tea reception for the authors between the two talks.

FREE! “Famine Sword and Fire” with
Daniel Jackson

Join us as Daniel Jackson discusses his book Famine, Sward and
Fire, which presents an intimate portrait of war and cooperation
between the United States and China. It is the untold story of
Chinese and Americans standing side-by-side, fighting together
and dying together on the highest, most rugged battlegrounds of
World War II.

Daniel Jackson grew up in Colorado Springs, Colorado, and graduated from the Air Force Academy in 2009 with a Bachelor’s Degree in Military History and a minor in Chinese Language. He earned his wings at Sheppard Air Force Base in February 2011 and is now an Air Force pilot living near Pensacola, Florida.

FREE! “What I Learned from Shanghai
Refugees” with
Professor Steve Hochstadt

Of the 400,000 German-speaking Jews that escaped the Third
Reich as refugees, approximately 16,000 ended up in Shanghai
as part of one of the more remote enclaves within the Jewish
diaspora. The stories of the Shanghai Jews contain extremes of
the suffering and endurance that defined the refugee
experience. From 4:00 to 5:30, Professor Steve Hochstadt will
speak about these Jewish refugees and their impact on both
Chinese and Jewish societies.

Steve Hochstadt has been professor of history at Illinois College since 2006, after teaching at Bates College
for 27 years. His first book, Mobility and Modernity: Migration in Germany 1820-1989 (1999), won the Allan
Sharlin Prize of the SSHA. Sources of the Holocaust (2004) is a documents collection widely used in
Holocaust courses. Interviews with former Jewish refugees who went to Shanghai are the basis for two books:
Shanghai-Geschichten: Die jüdische Flucht nach China (2007), and Exodus to Shanghai: Stories of Escape
from the Third Reich (2012). He has spoken widely about the growing interest in China in Jewish history and
especially the history of Jews in China, and consults with the Shanghai Jewish Refugees Museum on the texts
for their exhibits. He is the treasurer of the Sino-Judaic Institute, a pioneer in the scholarship of and support for
Chinese-Jewish relations for the past 30 years. Hochstadt also writes a weekly column for the Jacksonville (IL)

Ben Wang on The Peach Blossom Fan


Thursday, September 24, 2015 | 6:30PM – 8:00PM
$10 for members / $15 for non-members

China Institute is joining with New York Review Books to celebrate the publication of Chen Shih-hsiang and Harold Acton’s lively translation of K’ung Shang-jen’s The Peach Blossom Fan. In his first lecture at China Institute’s new downtown home, Senior Lecturer Ben Wang will speak about this masterpiece of Chinese literature, a vast dramatic composition that combines the range and depth of a great novel with the swift intensity of film.

In his first lecture at China Institute’s new downtown home, Senior Lecturer Ben Wang will speak about this masterpiece of Chinese literature. With a large cast divided into a group of scrupulous and passionate patriots and another of corrupt and self-serving decadents, all of whom are based on real personalities and events of the day, the play tells the poignant story of love and heartbreaks in the midst of intriguing political and social upheavals that led to the fall of a monarchy. Mr. Wang will place The Peach Blossom Fan in this fascinating historical and literary context while delving into the beauty of its writing and its long-lasting influence.

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