P3. Individual Papers in Literature and Musicology

Session: Session 1, 12:00 – 1:30 pm, Friday 9/29

Category: Individual Papers

Location: Graduate Boardroom

Chair: Hanyun Zeng (University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign)

Paper Presenters: Stephen Filler, Chi Feng

Three novels of Shindo Junjo

Speaker: Stephen Filler
Role: Paper Presenter
Institution/Affiliation: Oakland University
Abstract: Shindo Junjo (b. 1977) writes epic dramas that cross the genres of horror, mystery, fantasy, and historical fiction. This paper explores Shindo’s representation of death in the form of bodies and entombed remains. Such “grotesque” imagery marks Shindo’s fiction as belonging to the “horror/mystery” genre, but at a deeper level is used to depict an existential struggle on the part of his characters to find meaning beyond the finality of death. I examine three very different novels to reveal this common concern.   Ando sankyodai no seishoku (The sacred profession of the Ando brothers; 2008) builds a family drama around three brothers who have inherited their father’s business of creating mementos for the recently deceased using the bodies of the dead as material. The novel succeeds in weaving together a family succession drama while making this impossible profession seem plausible. Bozu (Gravehead; 2012) traces the life of a mysterious persona who was born with the remains of a parasitic twin on his head. Shunned and feared by his family, “Bozu” became an elusive figure who was present at many major historical events, and tragedies, of postwar Asia. Finally, Takarajima (Island of Treasures; 2017), is a drama around the lives of four young outlaw-heroes who raided American military bases for food and supplies, resisting U.S. and Japanese domination. Takarajima is a realistic historical novel, but its islands are haunted by the spirits of the war dead, and the living characters struggle to move beyond this collective loss and tragedy.

The Pitch-Standard for Political Unification in Early China: Reading Chapters

Speaker: Chi Feng
Role: Paper Presenter
Institution/Affiliation: Department of East Asian Languages and Cultures, Indiana University, Bloomington
Abstract: In early Chinese narratives, the unification of pitch standards held notable importance for a sage king’s grand endeavor of political unification. Both excavated musical instruments and early texts provide evidence of the practical significance of pitch standardization, extending beyond its symbolic meaning. However, previous studies on pitch standards have relied on a false dichotomy when analyzing textual sources, resulting in fragmented literature that only offers knowledge about musical theory without shedding light on the political significance of such knowledge. This article takes a critical approach by discussing three modes of dichotomy and suggests reading the texts as “chapters”—it argues that the arrangement and organization of relevant passages within these chapters can inform us about the significance of pitch standards in various contexts. For example, “Daybook B” indicates that musical modes, like the calendar and timekeeping systems, were part of the everyday knowledge for common people; “Di yuan’s” layers of annotations imply that the common sense about pitch generation is assumed to be the basis of exegesis; “Tianwen xun,” “Lüshu,” and “Lüli zhi” presents polished theory about the pitch-standard’s connection with broader aspects such as governmental decrees and agricultural production. Additionally, this article considers the data of sound measurement from excavated musical instruments during the Warring States and Western Han Dynasty. The uniformity in pitch standards among these instruments reflects the degree of standardization in early Han court music. This approach offers a potential avenue for interpreting ancient Chinese music theory materials beyond technical reconstruction.