Department News

Department News:

Japanese major Lina Mistron Wins Undergraduate Mikiso Hane Prize

Lina Mistron '14

Japanese major Lina Mistron '14 won an undergraduate award called the Mikiso Hane Prize. The Mikiso Hane Prize is awarded to original papers composed by undergraduates. Undergraduate winners have the opportunity to submit their paper to The Wittenberg East Asian Studies Journal and the papers will be published in the Bulletin of the Midwest Conference of Asian Studies

Lina presented her paper at the Midwest Conference on Asian Affairs, at Western Michigan University. The conference included more than 200 college and university faculty from 13 Midwestern states. The paper is called "Spirit of the Age: The Significance of Female Characters in Hakai and Kokoro." Lina was recommended for the prize by Kendall Heitzman.

Kelly Cargos, Jiajun Liang and Sarah Horowitz Receive Language and Culture Prizes

Three senior majors, Kelly Cargos (Japanese), Jiajun Liang (Japanese) and Sarah Horowitz (Chinese) were recently awarded Asian Languages and Cultures Prizes. 

Kelly (or Cargos-san) started her study of Japanese language at Macalester and rapidly improved as she moved forward. From the moment our faculty members met her, Kelly struck us as a special student. We also admire the degree of civic engagement she has shown throughout her Macalester
career. Some people may remember the origami crane fundraising project for the victims of the Tohoku earthquake and tsunami that she organized at the 2011 Asia Festival. This year she is one of the residents at the Japan House and has been quite active in planning and publicizing events.

For her capstone, Kelly took Professor Mitchell’s translation seminar. As her project, she translated
fifteen tanka written by poet Tawara Machi. Kelly became especially interested in haiku and
tanka after taking a classical Japanese poetry class at Waseda University during her semester abroad.
This summer, she will be a delegate to the 65th Japan America Student Conference. Along with 80 other
undergraduate students from the US and Japan, she will travel to Kyoto, Nagasaki, Iwate, and Tokyo,
discussing current Japan-American bilateral relations and researching issues specifically related to culture.

Jiajun (or Liang-san) came to our department as an amazing student who acquired advanced proficiency by studying Japanese on his own in high school. During that fall he was enrolled in our fourth-year language course and did exceptionally well. The essays he wrote for the class demonstrated his sophisticated understanding of Japanese prose and advanced competence in writing. As a result of this, we decided to hire him as one of the Japanese tutors the following academic year. As a tutor, Jiajun showed an excellent work ethic and a collaborative attitude. This year Jiajun helped our department this year by serving as one of the student members of the search committee for a Japanese
literature professor.

Last summer Jiajun participated in intensive training in Classical Japanese at Kyoto Consortium for
Japanese Studies. In the program he studied classical texts such as the Tale of Genji, Hojo-ki, and Oku no Hosomichi, which deepened and broadened his understanding of Japanese language and literature.
For his capstone, Jiajun took Professor Satoko Suzuki’s senior seminar, Analyzing Japanese Language. In this course Professor Suzuki asks students to collect data from naturally occurring Japanese discourse to examine if and how the theories students read in class apply to authentic Japanese. Jiajun always brought intriguing examples to class, which demonstrated his refined knowledge of Japanese.
After Macalester, Jiajun intends to participate in the two-year Master's program in Japanese literature at the University of Michigan. His graduate study will be funded by the Japan Foundation Graduate Fellowship.

Sarah Horowitz started studying Chinese in 7th grade, loved it, and has been studying it ever since. When she arrived at Macalester, she came to our Advanced Chinese class with a strong, solid foundation and understanding of Chinese. Professor Patricia Anderson says she remembers Sarah clearly as an academically and linguistically precocious student.

Professor Xin Yang has known Sarah perhaps most closely among our department members. Sarah has taken her Chinese film class, an independent project, and the current capstone course, Cyber China. Sarah also served as a writing tutor for her first year course, Goddess and Ghosts: Images of Women in Chinese literature and Culture. Professor Yang says that Sarah is one of the most intelligent, energetic, and self-motivated students she has met. She says that Sarah often demonstrated her research ability and independent thinking in her courses. As a writing tutor, Sarah showed a great work ethic and patiently worked with first year students.

Professor Jin Stone as well as other faculty members mentioned that Sarah has been a constant presence at academic and cultural events that our department has organized. Not only that, she has always been willing to pitch in and help with these events. Professor Satoko Suzuki witnessed Sarah’s spirit of civic engagement when she worked with her in our Chinese professor search last fall. Sarah carefully reviewed candidates’ files, diligently attended job talks and teaching demonstrations, and actively participated in our discussions. She was very generous in devoting her time to our search.

During the fall of her junior year, Sarah studied abroad in Kunming through Middlebury's program, and returned back to China on her own for 3 months the following summer, where she was an intern at an organic Community Supported Agriculture farm on the outskirts of Beijing.

She is currently a finalist in the Fulbright competition. If she receives the scholarship, she will spend 10 months in China studying peri-urban agriculture and alternative food networks in Wuhan and Beijing. This summer she plans to stay in the Twin Cities and continue her internship with the Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy in Minneapolis, where she is currently writing a report on China's growing poultry market.

Eventually, she would like to pursue an advanced degree in political ecology or development studies, and land a career doing work related to sustainable agriculture and rural development in China. 

Upcoming Events:

The Poetry Contest 2014

The Poetry Contest started in spring semester 2008, and takes place alternating years with the Asian Festival. Students from 1st year to 4th year in Chinese and Japanese classes write a poem in Chinese or Japanese.  All participants receive a small gift, the best poems are awarded prizes, and everyone is invited to an awards lunch toward the end of spring semester.

The winners for 2012 are shown here. Congratulations!

New Courses for Spring 2014

CHIN 194 – Masterpieces of Chinese literature.  Instructor: Rivi Handler-spitz

This course introduces students to literary masterpieces of Chinese poetry, drama, philosophy, and history.  We begin with ancient folk songs and poems and progress historically to China’s first winner of the Nobel prize for literature, the 21st century author Gao Xingjian.  The Chinese word for “literature” -- “wenxue” -- literally means “the study (xue) of patterns (wen).”  In class we will search for thematic, rhythmic, stylistic, and philosophical patterns that structure individual texts.  We will also discover broader social patterns that transcend individual works and bind the tradition together.  Among the recurring themes we shall encounter are love and separation, loyal service to one’s country and ruler, nostalgia for the past, war, and death.  All texts will be read in English translation; no knowledge of Chinese language or literature is expected.  There will be frequent writing assignments.

JAPA 288 - Race and Ethnicity in Japan.  Instructor:  Arthur Mitchell

*Cross-listed with AMST 288-01 and INTL 288-01.  From the Takarazuka revue (all-female Western-style theater) to teenage ganguro ("face-blackening"), Japanese culture is rife with instances of play and performance that reflect a deep complexity in its engagement with issues of identity and foreignness. This course traces the roots of this complexity back to Japan’s beginnings as a modern nation and examines its cultural development into the present day. Works of fiction will be paired with readings in history, anthropology, and cultural theory to explore the meanings of identity, race, and ethnicity as they are expressed and contested in Japanese culture. Topics include representations of the self, gender and sexuality, imperialism, orientalism, and globalization. The course will cover the literature of former colonies (Korea and Taiwan), the experience of domestic minorities, and the contemporary cultures of cos-play ("costume-play") and hip-hop. No prior knowledge of Japanese required.