Exploring Chinese literature, culture through Marxism, immigrants and fashion

February 18, 2014

In line with its commitment to advance Chinese language and culture education, Arizona State University’s Confucius Institute and the School of International Letters and Cultures will be hosting a series of free public talks by Wang Xiaolu, professor of Chinese Literature and Cultural Criticism at Sichuan University in China, Feb. 20, 21 and 25.

The talks, titled “From Authentic Marxism to Western Marxism: The Culture of Literary Studies in Mainland China” and “20世纪作为中国时尚与观念形态 (Fashion as Conception History During the 20th Century China)” will be hosted at 11:30 a.m., Feb. 20 and 9:30 a.m., Feb. 25, respectively, inside the G. Homer Durham Languages room 165 at the Tempe campus. man standing at podium Download Full Image

“I hope that the discussion helps students and attendees better understand the current cultural situation in China from a different perspective,” said Wang.

The talk at 4:30 p.m., Feb. 21, is set to take place in LL room 2. Titled “鬼·洋鬼子·老外——中国西方观的演进" ("The Changing Concepts of Foreigners in China"), the discussion will be an opportunity for the ASU Confucius Institute to engage with Chinese students at ASU and the Chinese community in Arizona.

“The range of topics for professor Wang’s talks reflects the diversity of the ASU Confucius Institute’s programming,” said Madeline K. Spring, director of the Confucius Institute and the Chinese Flagship Program at ASU. “Chinese culture is much deeper than merely red lanterns and lion dances, and we want audiences to gain an enhanced understanding and appreciation of a range of issues that are part of China’s rich traditions and remarkable complexity.”

“In the first talk, I hope to demonstrate that the academic culture within mainland China has been under transformation with diversified sources toward its modernity in both social sciences, and the humanities,” Wang said. “The talk on Feb. 21 will touch upon the changing Chinese cultural attitude to the outside world, while the third discussion will cover the changing conception among the Chinese by focusing on some historical events and social trends since the early 20th century.”

Wang is a professor of Chinese Literature and Cultural Criticism at Sichuan University in China. He also serves as academic director of Center for American Studies and chair of Professorship Committee at the College of Overseas Education at Sichuan University, and served as an adjunct faculty professor at ASU in 2007.

He has been a visiting professor at the University of Toronto, the University of Chicago, Duke University and Ghent University, Belgium. In addition, he was a visiting scholar at Soochow University of Taipei, Chinese University, City University and Baptist University in Hong Kong. His academic interests cover the fields of cultural criticism, literary theory and cross-cultural studies.

For more information regarding the talks and location, click here.

Media projects manager, Office of Knowledge Enterprise Development

Grad student discovers education is key to tribal leadership goal

February 19, 2014

Editor's Note: This story is part of an ongoing series about student excellence at the university. To read more about some of ASU's outstanding students, click here.

Emery Tahy left his home at age 16 after his high school counselor told him he’d be better off learning a trade since he was failing in school. Now he’s finishing his master’s degree at ASU while working toward his goal of becoming a tribal leader. man standing in front of mural Download Full Image

Tahy’s journey through life has taken him from the small Navajo reservation community of Westwater, Utah, to Job Corps, where he learned the value of working hard, and then to the university where he discovered a passion for American Indian Studies.

Learning electrician and iron worker skills through Job Corps served him well after high school, but he always felt like there was something missing from his life. Then, the bottom fell out of the economy.

“I learned a lot from that experience, and I will always have a trade, but I felt that there was a void. There was something missing,” Tahy said.

When construction work dried up during the recession, he worked for Native American Connections in Phoenix that introduced him to research and aiding American Indians in the city.

“I felt like I would have more opportunities if I had a degree,” he added. “I feel like education is the key to being successful.”

Taking classes at a community college began to fill that void, as did transferring to ASU to earn his bachelor’s degree in political science with a minor in American Indian Studies.

“I’m really passionate about politics,” he said. “I felt like I was always engaged in what was going on in the world while doing construction, but I felt left out. Education was what was missing.”

American Indian Studies classes taught him about tribal governance and led him to the realization that he could give back to his people and his nation through education. He’ll finish his master’s degree this December.

“The classes really drove home the importance of culture and language, and who I was as a person. It showed me how I can be a leader in tribal leadership and be of service to my people who are lacking educated leaders. There’s no program like it,” he said. “I feel a sense of responsibility to my elders and my community.”

Tahy would like to serve elders after he graduates, like he did his grandparents while he was growing up on the Navajo reservation. He remembers translating from English into Navajo letters that his grandfather received regarding a settlement for uranium miners. His grandparents also taught him how to speak Navajo while he learned English in school.

“Many elders' first language is Navajo. They need someone to talk on their behalf,” he said. ”I really want to help those elders who cannot read and understand the legal jargon.”

During his years at ASU, Tahy has completed Navajo language courses that polished his reading and writing skills.

“I love my language. I think that is what really grounded me here,” he said. “My grandparents have passed on, but it seems like their teaching still echoes through my memory, to be educated and not forget about language and culture.”

Part of his cultural teachings included remembering the clans he was born to – Bitter Water Clan, born for Mexican Clan; Edge Water Clan, maternal; and Red-Running-Into-The-Water-Clan, paternal.

While he is finishing his degree, Tahy is also learning invaluable practical skills by interacting with tribes in his current role working on the Tribal Indicators Project for the American Indian Policy Institute at ASU. The multifaceted project consists of gathering, preparing and analyzing American Indian census data.

“I’ve been meeting wonderful tribal leaders while I’m in this position. It’s preparing me to become effective working in tribal leadership. It’s paving that road for me,” he said. “I’d like to help Native American people throughout the nation. This program is getting me ready to do that.”