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”

Visitor Registration Open for the Spirit of Space Exploration Conference

Scan QR code to register

The Humanities Research Center at Duke Kunshan University is pleased to announce that visitor registration is now open for its conference on The Spirit of Space Exploration in China and the West, which runs from June 6-8, 2024.

A full conference program may be viewed online here.

The conference features four keynote speakers and some fifteen panelists who will discuss topics related to the humanistic interpretation and cultural contexts of space exploration in China and the West.

Visitors may attend the conference online or in person by registering online by June 4, 2024. For those attending remotely, a Zoom link will be sent on June 5, 2024. Please note that all times are China Standard Time (UTC+8). Unfortunately we are not able to provide subventions for visitors.

Event Report on “Who travels thousands of miles? Gender Dimensions of War Dead Accounting and Memory Making in Post-war Vietnam”

On May 2, 2024, the Humanities Research Center hosted Dr. Tâm T. T. Ngô, a senior researcher and associate professor at the NIOD Institute for War, Holocaust and Genocide Studies in the Netherlands Royal Academy of Arts and Sciences. Dr. Tâm first had an informal discussion with students and later proceeded to give a talk on her research about the gendered dimensions of war dead accounting and memory making in post-war Vietnam. This event was attended by 20 students and 3 faculty members. Continue reading “Event Report on “Who travels thousands of miles? Gender Dimensions of War Dead Accounting and Memory Making in Post-war Vietnam””

A Visit to Wudangshan

From March 21 to March 24, 2024, DKU Professors Hwa Yeong Wang and James Miller, along with two Religious Studies students, Caroline Moon and Mateja Bokan, traveled for an enriching educational journey to Wuhan University, followed by a visit to the sacred Daoist Wudang Mountain. This trip, organized by the Humanities Research Center, was aimed at deepening students’ understanding of Confucian and Daoist philosophies through direct engagement with cultural practices and scholarly discussions. Continue reading “A Visit to Wudangshan”

Student Report on “Ritual, Anti-Ritual, and the Efficacy of Reform” Lecture by Dr Peter van der Veer.

On April  22, 2024, the Humanities Research Center hosted Dr. Peter van der Veer, a distinguished scholar in the field of anthropology and religion. Dr. van der Veer is Director Emeritus of the Max Planck Society in Germany, and Professor Emeritus at the Utrecht University in the Netherlands. He has taught at the Free University in Amsterdam, Utrecht University, and at the University of Pennsylvania. This event was divided into two sections: an informal discussion with students and faculty followed by a lecture by Dr. van der Veer. In total, over 80 people were present across the two sections.  Continue reading “Student Report on “Ritual, Anti-Ritual, and the Efficacy of Reform” Lecture by Dr Peter van der Veer.”

Exploring the “Superdeep”: The third DKU Undergraduate Humanities Research Conference

By Junyan Li, class of 2026

The Humanities community at Duke Kunshan University recently hosted its third annual Undergraduate Humanities Research Conference on April 26th and 27th at the Academic Building. Co-hosted by Professor James Miller from DKU, and Professor Carlos Rojas from Duke, the event served as a platform for researchers and students from diverse backgrounds across China and abroad to share their insights and research findings. More than 120 individuals registered for the conference.

This year’s theme, “Superdeep,” was inspired by an ecosystem of activities at DKU designed by Professor Nathan Hauthaler, which aimed to stimulate philosophical thinking in its most expansive sense.

Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs Scott MacEachern addressed the conference, highlighting that this annual gathering has evolved into a significant event that strengthens the bonds within the humanities community.

The conference schedule included four keynote lectures and twelve parallel sessions featuring contributions from students not only from DKU but also from universities across China. The discussions covered a broad spectrum of topics, ranging from literature and art to gender and power, and extending to beliefs, philosophy, and globalization.

Prof. Tang’s lecture: Attention and Practical Knowledge

DKU was more than delighted to welcome four keynote lecturers. (Chenshan Tian) discussed the Confucian philosophy of family feeling (qinqing), exploring Confucian philosophy as a potential resource for a new geopolitical order. Associate Professor Ru Ye from Wuhan University delivered a thought-provoking lecture titled “Can Rational Beliefs Be Arbitrary?” This sparked deep contemplation among the audience about the possibility of multiple rational responses to the same body of evidence. Hao Tang, Professor of Philosophy from Tsinghua University, led a discussion on attention and practical knowledge, enriching the concept of practical knowledge as a form of self-knowledge or self-consciousness. Seth Jaffe, Associate Professor of the History of Political Thought at LUISS, provided a unique interpretation of Thucydides’ account of the causes of war, delving into debates surrounding the “inevitability” of conflict between America and China.

The central premise of this conference is that while not everyone may be a professional philosopher, we can all benefit from engaging more deeply with the intellectual tools that philosophers are developing.

Jackson Li, a sophomore at DKU, found inspiration in the diverse topics presented, particularly resonating with Jaffe’s perspective. He commented, “Applying ancient Greek stories to modern international relations offers a compelling way to consider the complexity of relations between great powers. It suggests that cooperation between China and the United States is a crucial prerequisite for a mutually beneficial situation.”

In addition to the keynote speakers, student presentations in the parallel sessions also brought fresh insights to the conference. Xi Xiong, a junior majoring in philosophy from Wuhan University, expressed her pleasure in exploring topics that have previously been overlooked or unnoticed, with the aim of eliminating hidden evaluative bias within the field of philosophy.

Xi Xiong was participating in a heated discussion.

Renyuan Zhang, another DKU sophomore, reflected on his journey from being a participant last year to a presenter this year, stating, “My role in the HRC may have changed, but the spark of enlightenment remains.” 

Renyuan Zhang presented his research about Shanghai Lockdown in 2022

The conference was not solely about academic discussions; it also incorporated social events such as a gala dinner, a music and dance night, and student film festival, creating a relaxed atmosphere after a day of intellectual engagement.

Professor Miller expressed pride in what the HRC has achieved, not only fostering intense academic discussions in humanities but also providing “a warm and rich social atmosphere with food and wine to help build a shared community of learning.” He noted that over the years, DKU students have formed friendships with their peers at other universities through these conferences, which he described as “beautiful to see.”

Echoing Miller’s sentiments, DKU sophomore Yuequ Dou said, “It’s amazing to hear all the interesting thoughts that people brought up and to make connections with friends all over China.”

The conference indeed served to reinforce Duke Kunshan University’s (DKU) brand identity as China’s premier global liberal arts university. The mission of the Humanities Research Center is to advance interdisciplinary research in the arts, humanities, and interpretive social sciences, contributing to DKU’s goal of becoming one of the world’s leading cross-cultural, research-intensive liberal arts universities.

This year’s event was particularly notable for the launch of the Nexus Journal, a humanities and social science journal created by and for undergraduates at DKU and Duke. This initiative not only strengthens DKU’s brand identity but also fosters a platform for intellectual discourse and exchange in the arts, humanities, and interpretive social sciences. It’s a testament to DKU’s commitment to advancing interdisciplinary research and contributing to its mission of being a leading global liberal arts university.

The launch ceremony of the journal, Nexus

Miller expressed his appreciation for everyone’s enthusiasm, adding, “Hosting the conference with my co-director from Duke, Carlos Rojas, was a bittersweet experience for me, as this is my last semester as co-director. I wish the center every success in the future.”


Superdeep #27: “What’s Wrong With Illegal Immigration?” (Jeesoo Nam, USC) | Thu May 2, 6:08pm

6:08pm  |  IB 2026

Nobody will be barred also from our final Superdeep Workshop this academic year, where Jeesoo Nam (Assistant Professor of Law and Philosophy, University of Southern California) will help us raise & settle the question “What’s Wrong With Illegal Immigration?”. The session our second collaboration with the HRC’s Citizenship Lab as well as with DKU Pre-Law (Office & Student Society).
Thu May 2 | 6:08pm | IB 2026.

Snacks & drinks will be served at the Workshop.


The Workshop is Superdeep‘s venue for philosophical work-in-progress research & practice. For more info or to submit proposals for the Workshop, follow this link; for more info on Superdeep more generally, follow this one.

Superdeep is sponsored by DKU’s Humanities Research Center.


Who travels thousands of miles? Gender Dimensions of War Dead Accounting and Memory Making in Post-war Vietnam

Date & Time: May 2, 17:30 -18:30
Location: AB 1079

Description: Dr. Tâm T. T. Ngô, Senior Researcher/Associate Professor at the NIOD Institute for War, Holocaust, and Genocide Studies, part of the Netherlands Royal Academy of Arts and Sciences.

In the last four decades, to find, to identify, and to commemorate more than half a million fallen soldiers who died for the Vietnamese state in the three international wars that the country fought in the twentieth century, nearly the entire Vietnamese population has been mobilized. While the public face of this mass mobilization is dominantly male, the private and intimate driving force behind this work of war accounting and war memory making is saliently female. Millions of Vietnamese mothers, sisters, wives, and daughters who have been waiting, grieving, and mourning for their sons, brothers, husbands, and fathers who did not return when the wars ended. In addition to emotional pain and the psychological anguish of not knowing the faith of a missing loved one, these women also had to deal with the social, economic, legal and familial implication of the absence of their men, and often had to deal with these issues in a social context laden with patriarchal values and hierarchies. Since the 1990s, many of them joined the search for the remains and the spirits of their fallen men. This presentation sketches out a few among those million journeys to search for their male missing relatives and voice women’s perspectives about warfare and its human cost. In so doing, it aims to go beyond the uncomfortable yet established link between war and gender to restore the agentive power of women in keeping memory, healing wound and suturing the social fabrics torn by war violence.


Date and time: 6:00 PM, April 29th
Location: Water Pavilion

Description: Join us for an engaging discussion on the intersection of gender and language with Professors Zhenjie Weng, Stephanie Anderson, and student speakers. Explore how language shapes and reflects gender norms, identities, and perceptions.


HRC Student Film Festival

Date & Time: 4.26 8 PM
Venue:  IB Lecture Hall

Featuring works including:

  • Eternity by Chujie Cao (02:35)
  • Dreams of Skateboarding by Liew (4:52)
  • Lost in Art by Yinan Wang (8:31)
  • Hand Book by Lan Wei (4:13)
  • My Bamboo Teacher by Jessie Cao (8:18)
  • Bubble Gum by Chengxi, Hanxi, Yile, & Mengyue (3:24)
  • Emotional Holiday by Ruikang Wang (4:41)
  • The Answer by Chujie Cao (2:39)
  • Relearning to Breathe by Matilde Molinari (4:51)
  • Dog-cute-mentary by Jackie (15:08)
  • Final Project by Group X (3:13)
  • Final Video Essay by Jiaxin Wang (6:33)
  • MEDIART Project by Aastha Mangla (2:05)
  • Excerpts from Katie by Jimmy (3:35)