The Thursday Night Tea Research Group | Graphic Narratives with Racha Chatta 

By Anisha Joshi

Class of 2022

Translation is a familiar experience for much of the community at DKU- many juggle at least two (if not more) languages daily in a multitude of contexts as we navigate communicating with an international community. So what a gift that this semester the Thursday Night Tea Research Group is returning to DKU with the theme Translation!

Rasha Chatta kicked off the series this month as the first guest speaker leading a discussion on the topic of Graphic Narratives. Chatta’s research interests at the moment include Arab migrant literature and graphic narrative, and she holds two fellowships at the moment- at the Forum Transregionale Studien in Berlin, and at the Merian Center for Advanced Studies in the Maghreb in Tunis. Continue reading “The Thursday Night Tea Research Group | Graphic Narratives with Racha Chatta “

TSL Brown Bag Lunch Research Talk | The Multi-Sensory Star Culture in the Late Qing and Early Republican Periods: A Case Study of the Snuff Bottles Featuring Tan Xinpei’s (1847–1971) Image

You are cordially invited to attend the first Brown Bag Lunch Research Talk in the fall semester by JI Wenting on The Multi-Sensory Star Culture in the Late Qing and Early Republican Periods: A Case Study of the Snuff Bottles Featuring Tan Xinpei’s (1847–1971) Image at noon on Friday September 17th, 2021 (China Standard Time).

Please RSVP by 5 pm China Standard Time Thursday September 16th :

Location: CC 1095. Zoom link will be sent to remote participants. Bring your own lunch and enjoy the talk! Snacks and bubble tea provided—please be sure to RSVP.


The TSL brown bag lunch research talk is open to all members of the DKU community and beyond who are interested in engaging in a conversation about research projects, either a published work or a work-in-progress, broadly related to languages, cultures and intercultural communication.

If you are interested in participating either as a speaker or as audience, please fill out this survey with your availability and the potential topic/work you’d be interested in discussing:

ÀI: AI: ĀI | CAC://DKU Research-Creation Fellowship 2021 Call for Applications

Apply [here]

Application Deadline: October 4th by noon Beijing time
— All applications are to be submitted in English
— Applicants must be currently based in China
— Incomplete applications will not be taken into consideration
— Shortlisted candidates might be invited for an online interview (if necessary)
— Results by October 11; residency begins on October 18


In Spike Jonze’s Her a man falls in love with their artificial intelligence. In Kubrick’s Space Odyssey, Hal disobeys the human and seises control of the ship. Many would be shocked if today’s mainstream computer humanly refused to execute a command or expressed attraction to us. As we test the limits of today’s intelligent technologies however, there often comes a mild sense of disappointment at how shallow the supposedly natural behaviors turn out to be. Despite looming fears that omniscient machines would come, we can’t help but be upset they somewhat haven’t.

The predominantly corporate dilemma behind today’s AI is to create data-mining systems convincing enough to act like human without crossing the line of pretending to be one. On one hand, friendly and helpful algorithms are confined to strict and safe operational standards of unquestionably serving the human. On the other, people are lured into confessing to technology and producing personal data to be sold. Ok if greedy, not ok if creepy.

Turing’s Imitation Game imbibed by today’s AI makes concerns around machine intelligence rulling upon humans valid for as long as we continue to imagine intelligence as a quasi-theological man-in-the-image-of-god; AI-in-the-image-of-man doctrine. In other words, AI is only as interested in accumulating power and dominance as per its engineering reflecting the values of those who build it. Last but not least, from a purely technical perspective, today’s AI is but a cluster of probability theories which have little to do with how a human would define cognition. Perhaps it will take another collapse in AI research like the one in the 80s to fully admit the lack of intelligence in today’s artificial. In the meantime, how can we liberate current (not-so-)AI from having to pretend to understand humans, by exploring less goal-driven assemblages and less hierarchical relationships between machines and other entities, including but not limited to humans?

This open call invites China-based artists, designers, musicians, and related practitioners working with art and technology. With an emphasis on sound, installation, music and performance, we call for the release of today’s AI from its desperately meaningless anthropomorphic charade of emulating human desires. The ironically pointy consonance with love(爱; ÀI) and lamentation(哀;  ĀI) is to be discarded by letting AIs do their thing; crunch datasets, calculate, find patterns, communicate in their own way. Building on the phenomenological and ontological aspects of AI as discussed by the likes of Bernard Stiegler and Graham Harman, we welcome proposals that address artificial intelligence as emerging species with its own denominators. Let us attempt to re-engineer (in the broadest conceptual sense of the word) AI by acknowledging its unique set of techne inherently different from humans who create it.

The CAC://DKU Research-Creation Fellowship 2021 will take place during the autumn semester at Duke Kunshan University and Chronus Art Center from around 18th October to 18th December. Artists in any stage of their research and creation are encouraged to apply. The CAC://DKU Research-Creation Fellowship is in close collaboration with DKU’s Division of Arts and Humanities, Humanities Research Center, DKUNST Art at DKU, and CAC Lab at Chronus Art Center for new media art, Shanghai.


The fellow will be kindly required to:
  1. Reside on campus at Duke Kunshan University, engaging actively with students, faculty and the DKU community;
  2. Host a workshop and do a final presentation at DKU and CAC;
  3. Hold weekly sessions with CAC Lab updating on project’s progress
  4. Host an artist open studio at CAC and actively engage with local creative community
  5. Acknowledge the fellowship in any presentation and publications related to the work realized during or inspired by the fellowship period
  6. Use English as main communication language during the period of the fellowship
We will provide:
  1. Monthly stipend of 1,200 USD to contribute to living costs during the fellowship
  2. Coverage of production cost of the artwork (up to 3000 USD upon providing receipts)
  3. Return trip within China to and from Kunshan (economy class by airplane; up to first class on speed rail; and up to four taxi rides to and from the airport/train station)
  4. Accommodation on the Duke Kunshan University campus
  5. Access to CAC Lab’s facilities and tools (scroll down for the list of tools) in Shanghai, and commuting costs between DKU and CAC (up to four trips; additional travel would need to be covered by production costs)
  6. Mentoring by CAC Lab’s Head of Research
  7. Access to DKU media-lab’s facilities

Rashomon at 70

The Humanities Research Center is pleased to announce the launch of That’s Not How I Remember It: Rashomon at 70, organized by Dr. Richard M. Davis.

That’s Not How I Remember It is a one-night event celebrating Akira Kurosawa’s 1951 Rashomon, the film widely credited for “introducing Japanese cinema to the West.” This seventieth anniversary of its release, join us for a discussion of Rashomon’s outsized impact on global filmmaking norms and foreign perceptions of Japanese culture. That’s Not How I Remember It will involve a public screening of Rashomon (in Japanese with English subtitles), followed by a roundtable discussion with scholars from the United States and China.

Richard M. Davis is a Senior Lecturer of Cultural Studies at DKU. His work focuses on questions of aesthetics, ideology, and pleasure in various cinematic practices, such as the Japanese wartime film musical (1931-45), the subject of his in-progress monograph. He received his PhD in 2016 from the University of Chicago’s Joint Degree Program in East Asian Cinema and has previously taught at Singapore Management University and Tsinghua University in Beijing.

Humanities Research Center Student Information Session

DKU students are warmly welcome to attend an online information session for the Humanities Research Center on Friday, September 10, at 9pm BJT. The information session will explain the labs, projects and activities of the research center and offer guidance as to how students can participate in research projects and other programs. All DKU students are welcome to attend.

If you would like to attend, please fill out this registration form.


The Humanities Research Center is pleased to announce the launch of the Superdeep workshop, led by Professor Nathan Hauthaler.

Superdeep is a work-in-progress workshop for DKU’s philosophical community (broadly construed). The workshop meets regularly to allow participants to present, workshop, and refine their philosophical projects (essays, presentations, signature work, etc.). Brief presentations are followed by general Q&A; snacks and refreshments are served. Superdeep thus figures both as a forum for focused intellectual engagement and a space for students to socialize and share their thoughts and interests. Everyone is welcome to attend. Continue reading “Superdeep”