February 22, 2001

Contact: Nancy Hope, Center for East Asian Studies, (785) 864-3918.

Free KU festival explores changing traditions in East Asia

LAWRENCE -- A festival of two films and a conference exploring the changing cultural landscape of China and Japan will be offered free to the public on Saturdays from Feb. 24 to March 10 at the University of Kansas.

Sponsored by KU's Center for East Asian Studies, the events are funded by the U.S. Department of Education under Title 6 for National Resource Centers and by KU's departments of East Asian languages and cultures and religious studies.

A 1998 Chinese film, "So Close to Paradise," will be screened at 3 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 24, in the Spencer Museum of Art auditorium. Director Wang Xiaoshuai shows prostitution, gang warfare and the daily struggle of small town innocents failing to make it in the big city. Pok-Chi Lau, professor of design, will lead a discussion following the screening.

"Taboo," a 1999 Japanese film directed by Oshima Nagisa, will be shown at 3 p.m. Saturday, March 3, in the Spencer Museum of Art auditorium. Set amidst the political intrigue of Kyoto in 1865, "Taboo" is both a humorous and tragic account of samurai warriors that challenges stereotypes of life in feudal Japan. Maggie Childs, professor of East Asian languages and cultures, and Eric Rath, professor of history, will lead a discussion following the film.

The 2001 East Asia Outreach Conference, "Inventing and Re-Inventing Tradition in East Asia," will be from 1:30 to 5 p.m. Saturday, March 10, in the Big 12 Room of the Kansas Union.

The conference is free and open to the public and is designed to provide new perspectives to community and business leaders, educators and students.

Many people in the West assume that the nations of contemporary East Asia are steeped in strong, pervasive and enduring cultural traditions, said William Tsutsui, acting director of KU's Center for East Asian Studies. This conference will explore whether the "traditional" cultural practices of China and Japan are really timeless, unchanging and universally accepted. Discussion will focus on how tradition has been created in East Asia and how is it being redefined.

Conference speakers include:
 • John Ertl , KU graduate student in anthropology;
 • Nancy Hope, outreach coordinator for KU's Center for East Asian Studies;
 • Lionel Jensen, chair of the Department of East Asian languages and literatures and associate professor of Chinese history at the University of Notre Dame. Jensen is the author of "Manufacturing Confucianism: Chinese Traditions and Universal Civilization";
 • Jordan Sand, Georgetown University faculty member teaching Japanese history and culture. He is the author of numerous essays on Japanese cultural and architectural history;
 • Dale Slusser, tea instructor and research associate for KU's Center for East Asian studies. Slusser has practiced the Urasenke Tradition of Tea since 1983, including nearly four years of intensive study in Japan;
 • Daniel B. Stevenson , KU associate professor of religious studies and a specialist in Chinese and Japanese Buddhism;
 • William Tsutsui, acting director of the KU Center for East Asian Studies; he teaches modern Japanese history.

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