Undergraduate Humanities Research Conference Program

Duke Kunshan University is pleased to announce the winning submissions to the first Undergraduate Humanities Research Conference from April 19-21, 2019. Over 230 applications were received from across China, and 40 papers were chosen for inclusion in the final program. 

Conference Program

FRIDAY, APRIL 19, 2019

1400-1600 Registration
Academic Building (AB) Lobby

1600-1730 Opening Ceremony & Keynote Address
AB2107 Tongdong Bai
Pre-Qin Chinese Thought as a Modern Political Philosophy

In this paper, I will deal with the issue of the legitimacy of Chinese philosophy as a philosophy first. With the definition of philosophy as a systematic reflection on fundamental human problems that transcend time, place, and a particular people, I will argue that there is a philosophical dimension in traditional Chinese thought. I will also explain and defend the ways Chinese philosophy expresses its systematic reflections. I will also respond to the criticism that the elucidation and systematization effort in dealing with Chinese philosophy makes Chinese philosophy lose its significance. Moreover, I will argue that comparative philosophy should be problem-oriented, and the problems with which the pre-Qin thinkers dealt resemble those in early European modernity. Thus, not only is Chinese philosophy a philosophy, but it is a modern political philosophy. Through the analysis of the nature of pre-Qin philosophy, I also hope to direct the readers to a reevaluation of the nature of modernity, and of the relevance of pre-Qin philosophy to today’s world.

Respondent: Lincoln Rathnam

1730-1900 Dinner
Executive Dining Room

1930-2130 Student Film Festival
Ballroom A Curated by Kaley Clements

2130 Shuttle departs from AB lobby to Scholars Hotel


0730 Breakfast in Scholars Hotel
0830 Shuttle departs from Scholars Hotel to AB lobby

AB2107 Kyoo Lee
Reading A Room of One’s Own in This Room

What and where is your “room”? What does it mean to “own” or generate one? And how does that matter, especially today in the age of virtual reality externally “saved” and “live-streamed” as such? We will explore the philopoetics as well as politics of space and place, its relation to the literary imagination in particular, following the narrators in Virginia Woolf’s A Room of One’s Own (1929).

Respondent: Carlos Rojas

1030 Plenary Panel
AB2107 The Planetary Ethics and Artificial Intelligence Lab (PETAL)

Creative Pathways to Humanities Research with Freshman Undergraduates (James Miller)

Philosophy Through Computing (Daniel Lim)

Smart Phones Reach Consciousness: Thought Experiments in Non-Human Intelligence and the Construction of Reality (Elva Yu)

AIDS Awareness Day: A Cross-Cultural Workshop about AIDS and Stigmatization (Qianyu Pan)

What the Configuration of Killer Robots Says about the Attitudes and Assumptions of Human Designers (Runya Liu)

An Alternate World: Understanding Today’s Ecological Crisis through an Alternate Reality Game (Yuchen Cao and Karen Nielsen)

1200-1300 LUNCH

AB Cafeteria

1300-1430 PANEl 1A: Surveillance, Language and Social Identities

AB3101 Chair & Discussant: Andrew MacDonald 

How Can Big Data be Used to Control Our Behavior? (Leyi Lin)

Building Vision in English Education in China: The Quest for Intrinsic and Genuine Motivation (Wanying He)

Guan 管 Shown in Parents’ WeChat Groups (Chunxin Tang)

Developing ‘Healthy’ Connections: Medical Students’ Attitudes and Understandings of Guanxi (William Vanalst)

1300-1430 PANEl 1B: Viewing Alterity

AB3103 Chair and Discussant: Selina Lai-Henderson

My Secret World: The Lower East Side Ghetto and Martin Wong’s Urban Landscapes (Jessica Chen)

The Display and Conservation of Archives as Artworks in Art Museums (Jane Booth)

Hues of Healing: Reconstructing Chinese Immigrant Identity through Medicine (Grant Wen)

Errand into the Water Closet: Scat and the Making of the American
Modernist Novel (Jack Bradford)

The Role of Poetry as a Form of Expression for Patients Living with Schizophrenia (Jikai Zheng)


Chair and Discussant: James Miller

The Humanization of the Universe: A Study Highlighting the Faults of Human Exceptionalism in the Modern Era (Ryan Trombly)

Bring Ethics to Real Life—Aligning Human Instinct for Self-Preservation with Ecological Flourishing (Xinyue Lu)

To Become a Planetary Citizen (Huyue Yan)

The Application of Neo-Confucianism and Daoism on Environmental Ethics (Yin-Chu Lu)

1430-1600 PANEl 2B: Political Interventions: Populism, Nationalism, and Resistance AB3103

Chair and Discussant: Zach Fredman

Chiang Kai-Shek’s Neglected Role in the Chinese War of Resistance Against Japan (Shangyi Jiang)

Chiang Kai-Shek’s “Nation Comes First” Nationalism (Yanfei Mao)

Gandhi’s Influence on the United States’ Civil Rights Movement (Sylvia Lacher)

Does the Rise of Populism Threaten International Cooperation in Europe? (Haosen Zhao)

Res Publica ex Machina: How Political Bots Shape Political Discourse Online (Michael Schroeder)

1600-1630 Tea Break


AB2107 Diego von Vacano
“El Presidente Trump:” Understanding the Rise of President Trump Through  Transnational Lens

Most people, even experts, were surprised when Donald Trump won the US presidency in 2016. A vast majority of political scientists and scholars failed to predict his election. Why and how did Trump win? In my talk I will provide a transnational account to explain this surprising victory. I follow recent analyses that place Trump into the category of a ‘populist’ leader. However, I posit that we must think of his winning strategy as emblematic of an ‘American,’ that is—Western-Hemisphere—brand of populism that has much closer ties to Latin American models of populism than to European ones. By examining Trump’s rise through a transnational lens, we see that the US is not as exceptional as commonly understood, and that it shares much more with its neighbors to the South than usually assumed.

Respondent: Andrew MacDonald 

1800 Dinner
Executive Dining Room

1930 Shuttle from AB Lobby to Dayu Bay and Scholars’ Hotel
2000 Optional Social Time at Jim’s Bar, Dayu Bay
2200 Shuttle from Dayu Bay to Scholars’ Hotel

SUNDAY, APRIL 21, 2019

0730 Breakfast in Scholars Hotel
0830 Shuttle departs from Scholars Hotel to AB lobby

0900 PANEl 3A: Rethinking Globalization: Investment, Development, and War AB3101

Chair and Discussant: Titas Chakraborty

Risks and Rewards of Chinese Economic Investment in West Africa: A Case Study of Ghana (Camille Legendre)

The Impact of Colonialism on African Economic Development (Sihan Wu)

How does Globalization Influence the Paintings in Dafen (Qi Pan)

The United Nations’ Use of Unarmed Observers: Immediate vs. Long-Term Protection (Tiffany de Guzman) 

The Rise of Private Security Screening in the United States Military, 1989-2008 (Elle Winfield)

0900 PANEl 3B: Gendered Voices and Gendered Subjects

AB3103 Chair and Discussant: Selina Lai-Henderson

Female Body and Power in Gulliver’s Travels (Yanping Lin)

Discourse Space on “Wildness”—Focusing on Feminist Novels Written by Zhong Lin (Jinhuan Yan) 

“Something Must be Fixed On:” Observation, Romanticism, and Morality in Mansfield Park (Yangzi Zhou)

Ding Ling and the Contradictions of Feminism and Female Subjectivity in China (Lia Warner)

Alice Munro’s Feminism Behind Double-Sided Nature of Flora’s Character in Runaway (Siqing Li)


AB3101 Chair and Discussant: Carlos Rojas
An Analysis of Shidaiqu 时代曲 in Nocturnal Shanghai, 1920-1950 (Xinyi Shi)

Recording the Absurdity, Desiring the Real: Devils on the Doorstep as Historical Satire (Siming Ye)

An Image of Authoritarianism: Omniscience in Fritz Lang’s Dr. Mabuse, der Spieler (Baomu Song)

Gender Stereotype and Gender Inequality: A Discourse Analysis of the Debate over Niangpao 娘炮 in China (Xiaojie Chen and Zhiyi Ding)

Alienation and Despair in The Big Sleep and Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? (Yifan Li)

1030 PANEl 4B: Power, Ethics, and Social Justice

AB3103 Chair and Discussant: Emily MacWilliams

A Defense of the Concept of Non-Intentional Discrimination (Ziyue Sun)

Limits to Limitarianism (Aiya Kuchukova and Henry Stevens)

Liberal Deliberation Can Improve the Legitimacy of an Pure Meritocractic Government (Mozhu Zhang)

Death of Leviathan: Modern Panpticon and Dispersion of Power as Simulacra (Ege Kaan Duman)

A Discourse on the Justification of the Existence of States (Yue Yu)

1200-1300 LUNCH

AB Cafeteria


AB2107 Lisa Raphals
Body and Mind in China and Greece: Perspectives from Philosophy and Medicine

Embodiment is a universal element of the human condition, but there is no consensus on how “we” relate to “our” bodies. On one extreme, the soul can be understood as entirely separate from the body, on another, entirely intertwined. Various degrees of separation and various kinds of relation are also possible. This paper examines a range of philosophical and other conceptions of the relations between mind and body in early China and ancient Greece. In a philosophical context, debates about the relationship between mind and body are often described in terms of mind-body dualism and its opposite, monism or “holism.” Medical contexts, Chinese and Greek, provide an important counterpoint to philosophical debates.

Respondent: James Miller


Keynote Speakers

Tongdong Bai is the Dongfang chair professor of Philosophy at Fudan University in China, and a Global Professor of Law at NYU’s Law School. His research interests include Chinese philosophy and political philosophy.  His book, China: The Political Philosophy of the Middle Kingdom (in English), was published by Zed Books in 2012.  His new book, Against Political Equality: The Confucian Case, is forthcoming by Princeton University Press.  He is also the director of an English-based MA and visiting program in Chinese philosophy that is intended to promote the studies of Chinese philosophy in the world.

Kyoo Lee is a Professor of Philosophy and Women & Gender Studies at John Jay College and the Graduate Center, CUNY. She is the author of Reading Descartes Otherwise: Blind, Mad, Dreamy, and Bad (Fordham UP) and Writing Entanglish: Come in Englysshing with Gertrude Stein, Zhuangzi… (Belladonna* Chapbook, 2015). She is a writer-critic who works widely in the interwoven fields of the arts and humanities.

Lisa Raphals is Professor of Comparative Literature at the University of California, Riverside. She studies the cultures of early China and Classical Greece, with research and teaching interests across several areas: comparative philosophy, religion, history of science, and gender, with other interests in poetics and science fiction and media studies. She is the author of three books: Knowing Words: Wisdom and Cunning in the Classical Traditions of China and Greece (Cornell UP, 1992), Sharing the Light: Representations of Women and Virtue in Early China (SUNY Press, 1998) and What Country, a book of poems and translations (North and South, 1993).

Diego von Vacano is Associate Professor of Political Science at Texas A&M University. He was born and raised in Bolivia, moving to the US as a political refugee in his youth. He is a frequent contributor to NBC NEWS Latino/Telemundo on Latino/a issues and international futbol.  Dr. von Vacano’s teaching and research interests are in political theory, political philosophy and the history of political thought. He works mainly in Comparative Political Theory (modern Latin American and European political thought); Latinx thought; and immigration, race & ethnicity.