An Update from On-Cho Ng – Fall 2017

An Update from On-Cho Ng – Fall 2017

Dear friends,

Asian Studies, since becoming a Department in 2013, has continued to grow at all levels. As of April 2017, we have a total of some 65 Majors, and in 2016-2017, the enrollments in our language courses numbered more than 2,000.

Our faculty, with expertise in literature, history, political science, applied linguistics, and other fields, continue to publish at a torrid pace, helping us move closer to our goal of being one of the best Asian Studies programs between the coasts.

Our Department’s peer-reviewed journal, Verge: Studies in Global Asias, published by the University of Minnesota Press, has so far put out five very well-received issues. Significantly, it was selected as the “Best New Academic Journal” of 2016 by the Council of Editors of Learned Journals. We are obviously delighted that our peers granted us their vote of confidence, endorsing the fact our journal is fast becoming one of the most important venues that features cutting-edge scholarship on Asia in global contexts. https://www.upress.umn.edu/journal-division/journals/verge-studies-in-global-asias

The annual “Penn State Summer Institute in Asian Studies” just completed the fourth meeting this past summer, focusing on the topic of indigeneity. We are planning the fifth iteration of the Institute to be held in the summer of 2018, the theme of which will be infrastructures in Asia. We very much, as always, look forward to welcoming 10-12 young scholars to our campus.

We continue to run a number of ad hoc events, including film series, workshops, seminars, and public lectures, as we continue to reach out to all corners of the Penn State community. One of the more important forums is the “New Book Symposium” that features the latest monographs published by our faculty, wherein the author discusses the book with an invited established scholar from another university. Recent books discussed and featured included: Ran Zwigenberg, Hiroshima: The Origins of Global Memory Culture (Cambridge, 2014); Jessamyn Abel, The International Minimum: Japan’s Global Engagement in the Twentieth Century (Hawai’i, 2015); Erica Brindley, Ancient China and the Yue (Cambridge, 2015); and Kate Baldanza, Ming China and Vietnam: Negotiating Borders in Early Modern Asia (Cambridge, 2016). The upcoming symposium will feature Nicolai Volland, Socialist Cosmopolitanism: The Chinese Literary Universe, 1945-1965 (Columbia, 2017).

Internationally, we are building strong relationships in China, Japan, Korea and India, as we seek to expand study abroad options for students, and opportunities for collaborative scholarship and exchange for faculty and graduate students. Most notably, with the generous support of a three-year (2015-2018) grant from the Henry Luce Foundation, we are able to conduct exchanges with Nanjing University on multiple fronts—undergraduate, graduate, and faculty.

In terms of graduate education, our dual-title doctoral program, in partnership with History, Comparative Literature, Applied Linguistics, and Political Science, has been growing apace, with a current enrollment of 10 graduate students.

One of the central goals of our Department is to create a climate that is open to the possibility of intellectual inspiration and incubation. While we are very happy with the results of our hard work so far, we are keenly aware that our continued growth depends also on the support and encouragement from our Asian Studies colleagues elsewhere. Therefore, we are always eager for opportunities of collaborations with our friends, who help us keep Asian Studies vital and vibrant at Penn State. Please let us know if you think of ways we might be doing things even better.

On-cho Ng

Professor of History, Asian Studies and Philosophy
September 2017