Event Report on Innovations in Museum Experiences Through Extended Reality: Dr. Yue Li’s Insights

On Thursday, October 26th, 2023, DKU Humanities Research Center (HRC) sponsored an enlightening talk by Dr. Yue Li, titled “Museum Collections in Extended Reality: Explorations on 3D Artifact Interaction and Manipulation Techniques in Virtual Reality and Tangible Interfaces using Augmented Reality.” This Zoom event, organized and hosted by Dr. Xin Tong from HRC’s Anthropocene XR Lab, garnered significant interest, attracting an audience of 35 attendees from diverse backgrounds who are DKU faculty and students.

Dr. Yue Li embarked on an in-depth exploration of the intersection between extended reality (XR) technologies and museum experiences. Her presentation centered on the transformative potential of Virtual Reality (VR) and Augmented Reality (AR) in enhancing the accessibility and interactivity of museum collections. She delved into the nuances of various interaction and manipulation techniques in VR, such as controller-based and hand-tracking interactions, alongside direct and indirect manipulation methods.

The audience, open to the public, engaged actively with Dr. Li, discussing the implications of these XR technologies for future museum design, cultural heritage learning, and museum gifting. The interactive session reflected a keen interest in how XR could revolutionize our interaction with history and culture in educational and recreational contexts.

Event Report on HRC Anthropocene XR Lab Guest Talk Series: Understanding, Predicting, and Enhancing User Behavior in Mixed Reality by Dr. Yukang Yan

On November 17th, Dr. Yukang Yan, an Assistant Professor at the University of Rochester, presented an engaging talk titled “Understand, Predict, and Enhance User Behavior in Mixed Reality.” This virtual Zoom event, organized by Dr. Xin Tong and hosted by Dr. Charles Chang from DKU HRC Anthropocene XR Lab, delved into the evolving realm of human-computer interaction in Mixed Reality (MR).

Dr. Yan’s research focuses on the intersection of digital and physical realities through MR, shedding light on its profound impact on user perception and interaction. He emphasized the shift in user interaction beyond traditional screens, highlighting the importance of understanding and adapting to these changes. The talk detailed his approach to observing and modeling the behavioral and perceptual patterns of users in MR environments. Dr. Yan’s user studies form the basis for developing innovative interaction techniques tailored to these behavioral shifts. Additionally, Dr. Yan explored augmentation methods that enable users to exceed their real-world capabilities, such as embodying virtual avatars that offer unique experiences not possible in reality. His work on embodying healthier or non-humanoid avatars in MR environments sparked intriguing discussions among the audience.

The talk attracted a diverse group of over 15 attendees from the DKU community, who are interested in the latest developments in human-computer interaction and Mixed Reality. Dr. Yan’s insights provided a comprehensive understanding of current trends and future possibilities in MR, stimulating thoughtful discussions and questions from the audience.

Challenges and Opportunities for Humanities Research in China

Friday, December 1, 2023, 2-4pm. Reception to follow.
Ahmadieh Family Conference Hall, John Hope Franklin Center,

Duke Kunshan University graduated its first undergraduate class in the midst of the pandemic in 2022 and has continued to grow since then, more than doubling the size of its campus with the opening of Phase II this summer. During this time, Duke has supported research at DKU through the funding of a humanities research center, co-directed by Carlos Rojas at Duke and James Miller at Duke Kunshan. The center has supported faculty and undergraduate research through a number of labs, projects and initiatives that have sought to build research capacity and excellence with a focus on undergraduate students and junior faculty going through the tenure process. 

Humanities research in China faces a number of challenges but also holds important promises and opportunities. Challenges have included issues of academic freedom, political sensitivity, and operating in a STEM-driven environment. The opportunities, however, are tremendous for globalizing and/or decolonizing traditional humanities approaches that have largely derived from Western theoretical frameworks.

To learn more about the challenges and opportunities for humanities research in China, please join a panel discussion  sponsored by DKU’s Humanities Research Center on December 1. Panelists include James Miller, Carlos Rojas, and DKU humanities students. Following opening remarks from each panelist there will be an open discussion with the audience. A reception will follow.

James Miller is Professor of Humanities and Co-Director of the Humanities Research Center at Duke Kunshan University, and currently Distinguished Visiting Scholar at the Library of Congress in Washington, DC. He is widely known as a scholar of Chinese religions, especially Daoism, with a focus on Daoist values and ethics regarding nature and the environment. He has published numerous books and research papers on Daoist Studies, and is currently editing the forthcomingOxford Handbook of Daoism.

Carlos Rojas is Professor of Chinese Cultural Studies and Co-Director of the Humanities Research Center at Duke Kunshan University. He has authored, edited, and translated many books on global Chinese literature and culture.

Superdeep Nighthawks: “Blurring the Color Line” (Kwok 2022) | Nov 30 6:15pm, CCT Theater

6:15pm CCT Theater | 8pm Performance Café

The Nighthawks are thrilled to co-sponsor a special DKU treat this week: join us for a screening of Crystal Kwok‘s 2022 award-winning documentary Blurring the Color Line, which will be followed by a Q&A (& food & drink) with Crystal Kwok moderated by Prof. Selina Lai-Henderson. Then on Friday morning Crystal Kwok will lead a filmmaker & storyteller salon. For further details on Crystal Kwok and our events see the HRC’s initial announcement. Overview of events:

    • Thu Nov 30, 6:15pm, CCT Theater, Screening of Blurring the Color Line
    • Thu Nov 30, 8:00pm, CCT Performance Café, Q&A.
    • Fri Dec 1, 10:00am, Water Pavilion, Filmmaker & Storyteller Salon.

The events are sponsored by DKU UG Studies, Division of Arts and Humanities, and the Humanities Research Center (Doc Lab + Freedom Lab + Supedeep).


Superdeep Nighthawks generally meet on Thu eve (~8pm till late). For more info, or to submit proposals for the Nighthawks, follow this link; for info on Superdeep more generally, follow this one.

Superdeep is sponsored by DKU’s Humanities Research Center.

Call for Papers! – The 2nd DKU Gender Studies Initiative Annual Student Conference

To celebrate International Women’s Day, the DKU Gender Studies Initiative invites student papers that address various questions in gender and sexuality studies. The conference seeks to explore a wide range of topics that examines gender, sexuality, feminism, or queer theories as a primary focus of discussions. Interested students, regardless of their major and division, are welcome to submit their abstracts. GSI faculty affiliates will discuss student papers to offer constructive feedback.

Deadlines are as follows:

  • 2-300-word abstract: January 12, 2024
  • Finalist notification: February 2, 2024
  • 8-15 double-spaced page paper submission: March 1, 2024

Abstracts up to 300 words should be sent by Friday, January 12th, 2024 to Professor Hyun Jeong Ha (hyunjeong.ha@dukekunshan.edu.cn).

Your final paper should be no more than 4,000 words, including the references and footnotes.

Please direct questions to faculty co-leads: Professors Megan Rogers (megan.c.rogers@duke.edu), Jesse Olsavsky (jesse.olsavsky@dukekunshan.edu.cn), or Hyun Jeong Ha (hyunjeong.ha@dukekunshan.edu.cn

Student Report on “Repositioning Women in Buddhist History: Roles and agency of Buddhist nuns in republican Sichuan”

Reported by Lia Smith, Class of 2026

This lecture was a part of Gender Studies Initiative’s event series. Each event connects gender to a range of topics where gender, sexuality, and feminism are discussed. The topic of this lecture was to unravel patriarchal historical narratives that focused on men, and to reposition women into the historical perspective.

This event brought Professor Stefania Travagnin to DKU for a lecture on the repositioning of women and nuns in Buddhist history in republican Sichuan. She specifically uses the term ‘women’ to include nuns that were part of the nun community, but were not officially ordained, hence being a significantly overlooked group within this area of research.

Professor Travagnin started her research off with looking at documents, but realized that official documentation didn’t focus on nunneries, so she opted for an ethnographic research method instead where she looked at unpublished documents, pagodas, gravestone inscriptions, looking around the nunnery temples, looking at legends that are related to the temple, and finally listening to the oral historical narratives of those that are connected to this community within Chengdu. She explains that there is a lack of representation of women as leaders within Buddhist narrative, and this is especially true in the context of republican Sichuan, due to some nuns not being ordained particularly in the 80’s.

Small temples were a main point of reference to look at the impact of women in these nunneries on their surrounding communities and religious life. Though many may assume that due to less resources in smaller temples, their impact would be smaller, however, small temples play a key part in the religious community. When people in the community want to understand and learn about Buddhism, they want to go to the small temples, because the big temples aren’t able to cater to individuals as well as the smaller temples. These small temples have smaller and closer community in contrast to the larger and more prominent temples.

She introduces a theoretical framing of taking peripheries as new centers in research, where we can change invisibility from something that is not value, and something that has a negative connotation to redefine this term into (in)visibility, something that is powerful and positive, using their invisibility to their advantage. She states that the process of repositioning has the ability to change narratives from a dogmatic one to a loose one. Creating and encouraging historical inquiry could shake the traditional notions.

Blurring the Color Line

Mark your calendar (Nov 30, 6:15pm, CCT Theater) for an fascinating in-person film screening, Blurring the Color Line, with the award-winning film director, actress, and talk-show host, Crystal Kwok!

See the trailer of Blurring the Color Line

More about Crystal Kwok’s film work

Crystal Kwok holds a PhD in Performance Studies and an advanced Graduate Certificate in Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies at the University of Hawaii at Manoa. She is an award winning filmmaker who established her career in Hong Kong as an actress, writer, director, and controversial talk show host. Her debut feature film, The Mistress, won the Audience Choice Awards at the Deauville Asiatic Film Festival and her Cable TV and RTHK radio talk show pushed boundaries in Hong Kong, addressing socially sensitive topics around sexuality and the body. She has taught courses in Women and Film/Media at the University of Hawai‘i at Manoa and currently teaches at the University of Hong Kong under the Department of Comparative Literature. Her latest film production, Blurring the Color Line, examines race-relations between the Chinese and Black communities. This documentary was streamed nationally on PBS under America ReFramed and has won multiple awards including Best Documentary at the Silicon Valley Asian Pacific Film Festival, Courage Award at DisOrient Film Festival, and the Mira Nair Rising Female Filmmaker Award at the Harlem International Film Festival. Through both creative and scholarly work, Crystal is committed to breaking boundaries and amplifying voices of women and marginal communities.

* The event is sponsored by DKU UG Studies, Division of Arts and Humanities, and the Humanities Research Center (Doc Lab + Freedom Lab + co-host Supedeep)

Gender Studies Initiative Calls for Applications for Faculty-Student Research Grants

The Gender Studies Initiative invites applications for spring 2024 funding (up to $500 USD) for new faculty-student research projects on topics related to gender, sexuality, queer theory, and/or feminism.  The applications may be submitted either by the faculty member or the student(s) but must involve some sort of faculty-student collaboration.  This could entail a collaborative faculty-student project but also includes faculty working with student research assistants and students working on their Signature Work projects with their mentors. Continue reading “Gender Studies Initiative Calls for Applications for Faculty-Student Research Grants”

Intimacy and the Afro-Asian Imaginary during the 1930s

Date: Nov 29, Wed
Time: 5-6PM BJT
Zoom: https://duke.zoom.us/j/3443189585 

Freedom lab presents “Intimacy and the Afro-Asian Imaginary during the 1930s” with Dr. Owen Walsh from the University of Aberdeen.

Archives of Black travel in Asia during the1930s testify to the ways that Afro-Asian solidarities were forged through multiple forms of intimacy. Whether in crowded traincars, around dinner tables, or in lovers’ beds, personal and political relations between Black travelers and their Asian hosts were impossible to disentangle. This talk examines the different kinds of intimacy through which Langston Hughes, Juanita Harrison, and Howard and Sue Bailey Thurman became agents of Afro-Asian alliance. It argues that Black narratives and archives of travel proved important spaces for the performance of an Afro-Asian solidarity in opposition to global white supremacy, even as they struggled to operate beyond the Orientalist imaginaries characteristic of that system.