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University News Release

Feb. 13, 2006

East Asia Symposium Kicks Off With Pre-Symposium Event Feb. 17

Contemporary East Asian literature is the focus of a writers' symposium to be held at the University of Iowa Feb. 17, 24 and 25. The symposium is sponsored by the UI Center for Asian and Pacific Studies (CAPS), UI International Programs and the International Writing Program (IWP).

The symposium will explore the multifaceted relationship between the region's storytelling practices, the media, political discourse and the arts by looking at the work of some of East Asia's most renowned modern authors.

There will be a pre-symposium film screening of "The New God (Atarashii Kamisama)" on Friday, Feb. 17, at 6:30 p.m. in the Iowa Room (Room 335) in the Iowa Memorial Union (IMU). A critic of the Japanese imperial system produced the documentary. The film is about a right wing nationalist Japanese punk rock singer who travels to North Korea. There she meets with members of the Japanese Red Army who have been living in exile since hijacking a plane in 1970.

Participants are also invited to an IWP reception on Friday, Feb. 24, from 4 to 6 p.m. at 430 North Clinton Street in the Shambaugh House. The symposium takes place on Saturday, Feb. 25 from 4 to 7 p.m. in the Terrace Room (Room 166) in the IMU. All events are free and open to the public.

Guest speakers for the event are Tomoyuki Hoshino, Chizuko Naitô and Su Tong. Tong and Hoshino will read from their respective novels, "My Life as Emperor" and "Lonely Hearts Killer." There will also be time for audience members to ask questions. Naitô will discuss the recent rise of so-called "gender bashing" and neonationalism in contemporary Japan. Naitô will also elaborate on the configuration and re-configuration of sexuality, gender and "the nation" in Japan today through texts such as "Gender Free Trouble," edited by Ryôko Kimura, and the fiction of Yoriko Shôno. The writers will read and present in their native languages. Interpreters will be provided.

"While the New Nationalisms symposium is decidedly literary in focus and not, for example, a gathering of political scientists to discuss current events in East Asia, the complex interplay among storytelling practices, the media, political discourse, and the arts underwrites much of what we will hear," said Adrienne Hurley, assistant professor of Asian Languages and Literature in the UI College of Liberal Arts and Sciences and symposium organizer.

Hoshino, a prolific writer, has been celebrated for both his innovative use of language and provocative fictional worlds. He is a leader in the contemporary Japanese literary scene. The symposium marks Hoshino's debut reading in the United States. He will be reading from his 2004 novel, "Lonely Hearts Killer," which begins with the death of a fictional young emperor.

The literary and cultural critic Naitô's new book, "Empires and Assassinations," condemns the modern Japanese media's storytelling practices and collusion with imperial aggression.

Tong is author of "Raise the Red Lantern," which was made into a film by the acclaimed director Zhang Yimou. Tong's latest novel, "My Life as Emperor," was reviewed in the New Yorker by John Updike, who speculates, "Su Tong's purpose in relating his combination 'pleasure cruise' and 'scary dream' must be, in part, an indictment of the imperial system, with its drastic inequities, its elaborate cruelties, its implacable protocols."

For more information, or to arrange special accommodations to attend, contact Rebecca Kessler, CAPS, at 319-335-0159. You can also visit the following Web blog at:

UI International Programs consists of a number of offices, centers, academic programs, research projects and services. Organized under the associate provost and the dean of International Programs, these units serve to further internationalize the campus and community and to promote global scholarship, research and training.

STORY SOURCE: University of Iowa News Services, 300 Plaza Centre One, Suite 371, Iowa City, Iowa 52242-2500.

CONTACTS: Media: Lois Gray, 319-335-2026,; Program: Rebecca Kessler, 319-335-0159,; Writer: Kelli Andresen