Jan Bardsley gave invited lectures this fall in New York at Siena College and the Wang Center, SUNY Stony Brook: “Millennial Maiko: The Geisha Apprentice in Japanese Popular Culture.” Last spring she spoke at University of Oregon, SUNY Fashion Institute for Technology, and Durham Tech, and presented “Democracy’s Poster Girls: Beauty Queens and Fashion Models in Cold War Japan” at Ochanomizu University in Tokyo in June.
Associate Professor Pamela Lothspeich has been awarded a Senior Research Fellowship from the American Institute of Indian Studies, with funding from the National Endowment for the Humanities. This fellowship will allow her to spend the fall semester in India to work on her book on the Ramlila theatrical tradition in North India. Dr. Lothspeich regularly teaches a course on the Ramayana in which she incorporates this research.
Students in Assistant Professor Claudia Yaghoobi’s first-year seminar, “Wars and Veterans: Iran, Iraq, and Afghanistan,” were asked to create a virtual exhibition on war and veterans with the help of staff from the Ackland Art Museum. Their work, which was based on their perceptions after taking the course, was on display in the Maker Space at the Ackland on May 3.
Assistant Professor Claudia Yaghoobi new book, Aṭṭār, Persian Sufism, and European Mysticism has been published by Purdue University Press. Traversing linguistic, national, and disciplinary boundaries, her book calls into question the presumed differences between medieval Islam and the West and makes possible a rich dialogue between civilizations that have historically been pitted against one another. This interdisciplinary study of medieval Persian Sufi tradition and ʿAṭṭār (1145-1221) opens up a new space of comparison for reading and understanding medieval Persian and European literatures.
On April 27, seven students in Assistant Professor Claudia Yaghoobi’s “Middle Eastern Women Writers” presented their research at the eighteenth annual Celebration of Undergraduate Research in the category, Diversity and Equity Track. Leah Balkoski, Neusha Zadeh, and Tahjamare Warren won an award for their presentation on Forough Farrokhzad’s poetry: “The Self Reflected: Mirrors in Persian Poetry.”
Congratulations to Diego Morro Paredes who participated in the seventh annual Chinese Bridge Speech Contest for University Students in New England (East USA division), on April 22. Diego won second place in the advanced level! An exchange student from Spain, Diego was a student in Associate Professor Wendan Li’s fourth-year Chinese class, and an advisee of Senior Lecturer Yi Zhou.
Given the overwhelming success of last year’s event “Chinese Hero—UNC Chinese Character Championship” (汉字英雄), faculty in the Chinese program, led by Lecturer Luoyi Cai, held their second such Championship on March 23. About 140 students from the Chinese program, and some twenty of their supporters—friends and family members—attended this event. Participants in the competition represented all five levels of the Chinese program, from elementary to advanced.
Eventually, after intense competition, five competitors, one from each level, stood out and became this year’s “Chinese Heroes!” Faculty in the Chinese program plan to make this an annual event, particularly since students again responded so enthusiastically to the event.
Two events organized by Doria El Kerdany, Lecturer in the Arabic program, brought local Syrian families into contact with Arabic language students this spring, allowing them to learn from each other. First, on March 4, twenty Syrian families from Carrboro, Durham, and Raleigh gathered in New West to learn about the local transit system and community services from students in the Arabic program who presented in both English and Arabic. This event was also a fundraiser with community donations going toward the support of the families.
Second, on April 20, members of three Syrian families visited students enrolled in all of the Arabic language classes, from first- through third-year. Speaking in Arabic, they shared with students their life experiences in Syria, the Syrian Civil War, their journeys from Syria to the U.S., and their hopes for the future.
Associate Professor Robin Visser has been awarded a prestigious fellowship from the National Humanities Center in 2017-2018 for her research on Chinese-language environmental literature from border regions of China. During the fellowship period, Dr. Visser will be in-residence at the Center and working on her book, and “Bordering Chinese Eco-Literatures (1984-2014).”
On April 18, Peter Cooke, a major in Arab Cultures, was awarded the Algernon Sydney Sullivan Award, one of two prestigious Chancellor’s Awards honoring humanitarian work by undergraduates each year.