Humanities Research Center Fall Conference 2024 Call for Papers (submission deadline: July 31)

Humanities Matter: Ecological Crossroads, Past, Present, and Future

Conference Dates: August 30-31

Venue: Duke Kunshan University

Photograph by: Binbin Li, Associate Professor of Environmental Science at DKU

Why do the humanities matter in times of climate change, environmental unsustainability, and threats to biodiversity? What roles have the arts and the humanities played at different ecological crossroads—both past and present—in helping to ensure a more sustainable future?

The 2024 annual Fall HRC conference will foreground a set of concerns relating to environmental humanities, with keynote speakers, exhibits, screenings, and other activities. We also, however, invite faculty presentations on any topics relating to the humanities, interpretive social sciences, and creative arts.

Please send a title and a 150-word abstract to Faye Xu at by July 31, 2024.

Inaugural DKU Kunqu Festival Highlights the Role of Premodern Drama in the Chinese Liberal Arts Tradition


From May 10th to 12th, 2024, Prof. Kim Hunter Gordon from Arts & Humanities and Prof. YAO Hui from the Languages & Cultures Center hosted the inaugural DKU Kunqu Festival, exploring how universities can integrate Kunqu into liberal arts curricula and campus life.  Co-funded by the DKU Humanities Research Center and Center for Research into Contemporary China, the event celebrated the launch of both the Yang Shousong Exhibition of Kunqu Artifacts, on display in the university library until the end of June, and DKU’s partnership with the Chinese Theatre Collaborative (CTC), an online portal for teaching premodern Chinese drama and its contemporary afterlives hosted by The Ohio State University. Introductory remarks were delivered by Prof. Wu Xinlei of Nanjing University and Prof. Ye Changhai of Shanghai Theatre Academy. Continue reading “Inaugural DKU Kunqu Festival Highlights the Role of Premodern Drama in the Chinese Liberal Arts Tradition”

Call for Proposals for 2024-2025

The DKU Humanities Research Center (HRC) invites proposals from all DKU/Duke faculty and affiliates working on humanities-related projects. Projects should be based at DKU and/or connect Duke and DKU faculty. Proposals should be sent to Fei Xu at by June 30, 2024.

All approved projects should be completed by June 30, 2025.

  • Small Events
  • Large Events
  • Book Manuscript Workshops

Small Events

The HRC will fund a number of small-scale events, which could take the form of workshops, reading groups, film screenings and discussions, excursions, and so forth. Experimentation and innovation is encouraged, and applications may be submitted by either individuals or by groups of collaborators. All DKU and Duke faculty affiliates may apply.

A complete proposal (max 5 pages single-spaced) should include a title, a description of the research question, a summary of the activities to be undertaken, a list of the applicants and collaborators to be invited (with brief bios), a description of anticipated outcomes, and a budget. The maximum contribution from the HRC for each small event is $5,000.

Large Events

The HRC will also fund at least one larger-scale event, which could take the form of a workshop, a lecture series, a curatorial project, etc. Experimentation and innovation is encouraged, and applications may be submitted by either individuals or by groups of collaborators. All DKU and Duke faculty affiliates may apply.

A complete proposal (max 5 pages single-spaced) should include a title, a description of the topic/research question, a summary of the activities to be undertaken, a list of the applicants and collaborators to be invited (with brief bios), a description of anticipated outcomes, and a budget. The maximum contribution from the HRC for a large event is $15,000.

Manuscript Workshops

The HRC will fund one or more faculty book manuscript workshops, which provide a structure for generating constructive, informed criticism on near-final book manuscripts. The goal is to transform already excellent scholarly projects into superior published works, and the Center will provide funding (generally up to $5,000) for faculty to invite two experts in their field and an acquisitions editor from a major scholarly press to DKU or Duke. During a half-day workshop, these guests present their thoughts on the manuscript, followed by a response from the author and a general discussion.

All DKU faculty who will complete a book manuscript by Spring 2025 may apply.

A complete proposal should include a title, a synopsis of the book project, a draft of the introduction, a short CV of the applicant, a list of suggested invitees (including both outside scholars and local participants), and specification of which press the applicant would like to invite.


Buried in the Red Dirt: Race, Reproduction, and Death in Modern Palestine

Please Join us alongside Professor Frances Hasso for a captivating discussion on “Buried in the Red Dirt: Race, Reproduction, and Death in Modern Palestine”. Be sure to prepare for this enlightening event with the required reading!

  • Date & Time: Friday, March 29th, 2024 Time: 8:00 PM 
  • Speaker: Professor Frances Hasso, a Professor in the Program in Gender, Sexuality, and Feminism at Duke University
  • Location: Zoom Meeting Zoom ID: 261 330 4845
  • Note: This event requires pre-reading. Chapter 3 is mandatory, while the introduction is optional.

Student Report on Gender + Feminism

Reported by Yixin Gu, Class of 2027

The Gender Studies Initiative hosted this discussion as part of their event series. Its primary subject was feminism.

On February 27th, 2024, Professors Lindsay Mahon Rathnam and Qian Zhu, along with 18 attendees, participated in this enriching dialogue on feminism in the Water Pavilion. The meanings of feminism and feminists were fully discussed in this event.

In terms of the reasons for choosing to be feminists, Professor Zhu explained that feminism encompasses everything related to women’s role, position, and everyday life. This bottom-up perspective is crucial if we are to pursue and achieve social justice. It is about the full flourishing of humanity, and we can always observe multiple feminist movements throughout history, such as those during the post-colonial and colonial periods.

When discussing why we still need feminism, Professor Rathnam emphasized the need to dialectically examine and answer history to better break free from the male-dominated realm. She also mentioned that the question of balancing life and work, which is often posed to outstanding women during interviews, is the most implicit manifestation of gender inequality. Women are capable of doing anything and balancing different aspects of their lives without being predetermined to excel in certain areas or being confined to the realm of reproduction.

Both professors noted that throughout history, for various reasons and through diverse processes and outcomes, feminist movements and feminist culture have always been occurring and developing. This is not a creation of modern Western society but is actually deeply rooted in all diverse world cultures. All cultures are about resilience.

After the presentations by the two professors on their perspectives on feminism, there was a lengthy question and answer session. Participants shared their questions and insights, discussing topics such as extreme male dominance in their upbringing environment, the media’s portrayal of gender, and women in religion. The professors also provided answers and engaged in discussions on these subjects.

One student shared her experience living in an extremely patriarchal and unfriendly country towards women, indicating the prevalence of “male-only” areas, and she couldn’t even gain a basic sense of security. She stressed that for that place, feminism means improving women’s health and wellbeing. Feminism takes different forms and contents globally, in fact, they should not be superior or inferior, and should not be opposed to each other, everything depends on specific environmental and historical factors. These statements derived from the professors.

In the realm of religion, the constraints and exclusion of women in Buddhism are brought up, while the comparison of different religions is also fervently discussed. The term “religious feminism” has sparked interest and discussion. In reality, women have the same religious needs and capabilities as men, and increasingly more people are attempting to re-interpret Buddhist scriptures and classics to give them new meaning, promoting gender equality and women’s liberation.

Either overtly or covertly, through exaltation or denigration, feminism permeates daily existence. Allow women to live the life they choose, despite external and patriarchal influences. For women, it is eternally a crucial global issue.

Chinese Female-only Script: Unveiling the Stories and Influence of女书(Nvshu)

Mar 20 | Lecture 5:00 -6:00 PM | Workshop 6:15-7:15 PM | IB 1047

Guest Speaker: Xiuyuan You Jiangsu Nvshu Cultural Ambassador, Dean of Wuxi Nvshu Academy, Associate researcher of Chinese Nvshu Research Center of the Wuhan University

Fascinated by a female-only script? Eager to unlock the secrets of 女书 (Nvshu)? Dive into an exhilarating lecture and workshop on Nvshu with us!

Please scan to RSVP for bubble tea and pizza and register for the lecture and workshop.


时间:讲座 5:00 – 6:00 PM,工作坊 6:15 – 7:15 PM
地点:IB 1047





Student Report on “Unpacking Civil Warfare: The First Indochina War, 1945-1954”

Reported by Zhenan Xie, class of 2026

During the mini-term session, on March 11st, the DKU Humanities Research Center invited Professor Edward Miller as the guest speaker of an insightful discussion focusing on his research topic about the first Indochina war. The lecture invited and guided nearly 40 participants to examine the ignored facts of this war usually defined as decolonization or part of the Global Cold War, revealing its essence as a civil war instead. Prof. Miller also used this case to help participants learn about the conclusional features existed in civil warfare.

Prof. Miller first introduced and summarized a few commons often applicable to sovereignty in civil wars, featuring divisible, fragmented, and layered. It was also pointed out that the behavior of claiming legitimacy often played significant role shaping such circumstance of sovereignty in civil wars as multi-level conflicts, including Civil wars: multi-level conflicts consisting of conflicts between warring parties, warring parties and civilian populations, and within local populations and communities. Then Prof. Miller led participants to go through the life experience of Colonel Jean Leroy, founder of UMDC, who was born in and excluded by Ben Tre Province. The story of Leroy helped prove that these existed phenomenon of Vietnamese-led army under command of French imperial governance, proving Prof. Miller’s view about The First Indochina War as a civil warfare. By this lecture an insightful topic was proposed that different understandings might be applied to a same historical event or period, depending on the aspects focused on and interpretations implemented from different perspectives. While exploring and unveiling the untold stories behind common view can help historians and the public have a more complete cognition of history.

The second stage of Q&A session involved enthusiastic participation by both students and professors in attendance. Various questions about the class topic and suggestions regarding the research content were put forward and Prof. Miller answered each of them in detail with extensive supplement of presentation to help participants better understand this complex chapter of history.

We’d like to express our sincere appreciation to Prof. Miller’s impressive presentation and engagement by every participant in attendance. With the loosened COVID policy, this lecture would be an exciting start of continuous activities held in person coming up in 2024. This discussion and insights shared in it is believed to contribute to laying the foundation of a series of lectures. We look forward to holding more activities on humanities research and engaging more students and faculties in the future.

Unpacking Civil Warfare: The First Indochina War, 1945-1954

Join us for an eye-opening discussion with Edward Miller as he unveils the untold stories behind Vietnam’s turbulent history. Discover how the conflicts from the 1940s to the 1970s were more than just wars of decolonization or part of the Global Cold War—they were brutal civil wars. Explore the intriguing intersection of colonial violence and civil warfare in Bến Tre, Vietnam, and gain a deeper understanding of this complex chapter in history.

Event Details:

  • Date: March 11, Monday
  • Time: 5 – 6 pm
  • Venue:IB 1047

Abstract: The wars that convulsed Vietnam and the rest of Indochina from the 1940s to the 1970s have long been narrated either as wars of decolonization or as components of the Global Cold War.   Recently, however, some Vietnam Studies scholars have pointed out that these conflicts were also bloody civil wars in which Vietnamese and other Indochinese groups inflicted enormous violence on each other. What, exactly, does it mean to treat these complex conflicts as civil wars? In this talk, Edward Miller explores the intersection of colonial violence and civil warfare in one part of Vietnam: the province of Bến Tre in the Mekong Delta.

Don’t miss out on this enlightening event! Join us and broaden your perspective on Vietnam’s past.


Professor Stephanie R Anderson Unleashed a Thrilling New Poetry Chapbook titled “Bearings”

Congratulations to Prof. Stephanie Anderson on her recent publications!

Bearings contains epistolary poems written to proliferating addressees between 2016 and 2019, a period when everything seemed to be accelerating and timezone-syncopated. The poems consider bearings that are alternatively affective, geographic, physical, and more.

Stephanie Anderson is an Assistant Professor of Literature & Creative Writing at Duke Kunshan University. Her research focuses on twentieth-century poetry, small-press publishing, and cultures of circulation. She is the author of three books of poetry, most recently If You Love Error So Love Zero (Trembling Pillow Press), as well as several chapbooks. She is also the editor of a book of interviews, Women in Small Press Publishing (forthcoming from the University of New Mexico Press in Fall 2024), and co-editor of All This Thinking: The Correspondence of Bernadette Mayer & Clark Coolidge (University of New Mexico Press). Her essays, poems, and interviews have recently appeared or are forthcoming in Chicago Review, Fence Steaming, Gulf Coast, Post45, Women’s Studies, and elsewhere. You can read more of her work at