Doctoral Student Discusses Symbolism of Korean Art at Smart Museum

Eleanor Hyun, a PhD candidate in Art History, shared her expertise in Korean and Chinese art during a lecture at the Smart Museum of Art on calligraphy and brush-and-ink painting from Korea’s Joseon Dynasty (1392–1910). The lecture was part of a Smart Museum exhibition titled "From the Land of the Morning Calm." From the article:

While Western artists frequently depicted the human figure, in East Asia calligraphy was considered the highest art form, Hyun said. But calligraphy did incorporate the body: the brush was thought of as an extension of the arm, and the precise strokes were likened to martial arts. Characters were often described in corporal terms, such as “meaty” or “skinny.” Referring to Yi’s calligraphy of a poem by renowned Joseon-dynasty writer Sin Heum, Hyun pointed out the vigorous, semicursive characters: “If anybody here has ever touched ink and brush, you know how easy it is to make a stray mark, a drop here or a drop there.” To achieve the sort of balance and rhythm displayed in Yi’s work required intense concentration and mastery of the discipline.

For more information about the Smart Museum and upcoming exhibitions, click here.

Grant Awarded to UChicago to Preserve Endangered Urdu Periodicals

The University of Chicago recently received a £52,247 grant from the British Library’s Endangered Archives Programme to preserve sixty rare and endangered Urdu periodicals through digitization. The digital images will be produced at the Mushfiq Khwaja Library and Research Centre in Karachi, Pakistan, and will be available through the University of Chicago Library as well as the British Library. C.M. Naim, Professor Emeritus in South Asian Languages and Civilizations, will participate in the panel of Urdu scholars responsible for selecting the magazines and journals to be archived. “Thanks to the easy technology and low cost of litho printing, the only accepted form for Urdu script texts across South Asia, Urdu weeklies and monthlies began to appear in the 1870s,” Naim explains. “It was in the periodicals that all major modern writers and political and social figures made their debuts and gained popularity. And it is only in the periodicals that we can discover the full extent of many literary and political controversies that are only now beginning to gain the attention of scholars.” To read the full article, click here.

Connection between Magic and Medicine in Ancient World Discussed during Recent Lectures

In October at the Oriental Institute, several professors participated in the lecture series "Medicine and Magic in the Ancient World, A Search for the Cure", which sought to explore the connection between the physical and the psychological aspect of healing within ancient Mesopotamia, Egypt, and Greece. Robert Ritner, Professor in Egyptology, opened the series with his talk titled “The Theory and Practice of Medicine and Magic in Ancient Egypt”, Christopher Faraone, the Frank Curtis Springer and Gertrude Melcher Springer Professor in the Humanities, and the College, and Elizabeth Asmis, Professor in Classics, presented "Medical Healing in Ancient Greece". Walter Farber, Professor of Assyriology, discussed how people came to understand and fight against contagious diseases in his lecture titled "Diseases and Epidemics in Ancient Mesopotamia: Medical Conceptualization and Responses", while Robert Biggs, Professor Emeritus in Assyriology, focused on Mesopotamian religious practitioners and their approach to illness and misfortune in his talk "Religious and Magical Elements in Babylonian Medical Practice." The series closed on October 27 with a presentation by John Wee, a postdoctoral scholar in Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations, titled "Mesopotamian Texts and the Knowledge Assumptions of Medical Diagnosis". To find out about upcoming lectures at the Oriental Institute, please visit their Events and Programs web page.

Michael Bourdaghs's New Book Traces Japanese Pop Music from post-WWII to 1990s

Michael Bourdaghs, Associate Professor in East Asian Languages and Civilizations, reveals the history of previously unrecorded concerts of iconic Japanese artists such as Misora Hibari and Yamaguchi Yoshiko in his new book, Sayonara Amerika, Sayonara Nippon: A Geopolitical Prehistory of J-Pop. As the article details, the source material for this work was discovered in 2009, when a Canadian collector contacted Bourdaghs after procuring unmarked wire recordings from eBay that they suspected were of Yamaguchi and Misora. This discovery enriched Bourdaghs's book, which tracks Japanese pop music from 1950--the first year Japanese performers were permitted to travel overseas since the end of World War II--to the early 1990s. In his work, Bourdaghs argues that pop music became a way of working through tensions between Japan and the United States. To listen to music clips or watch video samples, check out the book's online companion.

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