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DAMES Welcomes Dr. Keren He!

September 2, 2022

DAMES is excited to welcome our newest faculty member, Assistant Professor Keren He!

Dr. He specializes in modern Chinese literature, media, and popular culture. Her research focuses on how aging and suicide negotiated “the politics of life” in the Chinese-speaking world. She is also interested in posthumanism, queer theory, and game studies in China and Sinophone regions. She had lived in Beijing, Taipei, and Hong Kong before receiving her Ph.D. at Stanford University.

She came to UNC from the University of Pennsylvania, where she was an Andrew W. Mellon Postdoctoral Fellow in the Humanities, and Dickinson College, where she was an assistant professor of East Asian Studies.

Dr. He spoke earlier this year on “Sassy Mother, Naughty Father: Queering Later-Life Desire in Chinese and Sinophone Cinema” in a series organized by DAMES.

When she’s not teaching classes, she loves all things involving bunnies, houseplants, and Oculus virtual reality headsets.

As fall marches on, she’s looking forward to getting to know more Carolina people and touring the restaurants in the Triangle area.

We’re so happy to have you, Dr. He!

Dr. Pitelka Earns Distinguished Professorship

June 13, 2022

We here at DAMES are proud to announce that Dr. Morgan Pitelka has earned the honor of being a Bernard L. Herman Distinguished Professor. His appointment begins July 1st, 2022.

Appointment to a distinguished professorship is one of the highest honors the University bestows upon its faculty members. The honor recognizes faculty who have achieved distinction in their field or across disciplines.

Congratulations, Dr. Pitelka!

DAMES 2022 May Commencement

May 23, 2022

Earlier this month, DAMES was fortunate to host an in-person commencement ceremony for our recent graduates. While it was a rousing success and we were so delighted to see everyone, we also know that not everyone could make it, and for that reason (not to mention for posterity!) we have assembled a video for all our graduates, near and far, to tell you how proud we are of you and your accomplishments. You are our pride and our future, and we can’t wait to see what you’ll do, where you’ll go… but please do know that no matter how far you travel, no matter where you are, you’ll always have a home here with us at DAMES.

Congratulations, graduates! We love you all!

Dr. Yaghoobi Appointed New Director of CMEIS

April 26, 2022

Dr. Claudia Yaghoobi, Roshan Associate Professor and Inaugural Director of Persian studies here in DAMES, has been appointed to serve in the role of Director at the UNC Center for Middle East and Islamic Studies (CMEIS). Those of us who know her as a colleague are proud (if unsurprised!) to see her continuing and tireless endeavors for our Carolina community, especially our students, paying off!

The Center is part of the North Carolina Consortium for Middle East Studies, supporting a variety of undergraduate and graduate programs on various aspects of the Middle East and Islamic studies. CMEIS also provides event funding and small grants for faculty, guides to library resources, and maintains pages with current job postings in the field of Middle East Studies. Students can always count on CMEIS for connections to career and internship opportunities both locally and abroad. Perhaps most familiarly, CMEIS’s listserv offers a weekly comprehensive calendar of local events related to the Middle East or other parts of the Muslim world, wherein events sponsored by the Center are featured, and others at UNC, Duke, and elsewhere in the Triangle are given a space to shine.

Dr. Yaghoobi thanked her colleagues across campus for providing her the environment in which to succeed: “I owe huge gratitude to a whole tribe at UNC including my wonderful colleagues in my department and beyond, my chair, my dean, my Middle East studies colleagues, and the founders of the Center,” she said on Twitter. (The mentioned founders of CMEIS are Dr. Carl Ernst and Dr. Charles Kurzman.)

Dr. Yaghoobi went on to say, “As we say in Persian, UNC, these colleagues, have given me wings and feathers. I am ready to fly, serve, and pay it forward!”

As always, Dr. Yaghoobi, we can only wait, watch, and be amazed at everything you’re going to do! Best of luck, and again, we here in DAMES are so proud of you!



DAMES Senior Lecturer Emeritus Eric Henry’s “Garden of Eloquence” / Shuoyuan 說苑 now published!

February 28, 2022

Hot off the presses of UWA Press, read more about Garden of Eloquence and Eric Henry’s accolades below!

Garden of Eloquence / Shuoyuan 說苑 (January 2022)

By Liu Xiang

Introduction and Translation by Eric Henry

In 17 BCE the Han dynasty archivist Liu Xiang presented to the throne a collection of some seven hundred items of varying length, mostly quasi-historical anecdotes and narratives, that he deemed essential reading for wise leadership. Garden of Eloquence (Shuoyuan), divided into twenty books grouped by theme, follows a tradition of narrative writing on historical and philosophical themes that began seven centuries earlier. Long popular in China as a source of allusions and quotations, it preserves late Western Han views concerning history, politics, and ethics. Many of its anecdotes are attributed to Confucius’s speeches and teachings that do not appear in earlier texts, demonstrating that long after Confucius’s death in 479 BCE it was still possible for new “historical” narratives to be created.

Garden of Eloquence is valuable as a repository of items that originally appeared in other early collections that are no longer extant, and it provides detail on topics as various as astronomy and astrology, yin-yang theory, and quasi-geographical and mystical categories. Eric Henry’s unabridged translation with facing Chinese text and extensive annotation will make this important primary source available for the first time to Anglophone world historians.

Authors & Contributors

Liu Xiang (79–08 BCE) was a scholar-official of the Western (Former) Han dynasty. Eric Henry is senior lecturer emeritus of Asian studies at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

What are people saying?

Perhaps more than any other scholar of early China, Liu Xiang was responsible for determining the content and configuration of official Chinese knowledge. Henry’s translation makes audible in English a hitherto unheard but important voice.

Sarah Queen, Connecticut College

With his usual wit and style, Eric Henry brings to life Liu Xiang’s Shuoyuan. This engaging compendium of anecdotes and aphorisms addresses the various means to achieve an enlightened government. But it is also an important source on other topics, such as music, morals, yin-yang theory and rhetoric. The text also embodies the Han fondness for mining historical anecdotes for useful models of administering the state. In short, the Shuoyuan is essential reading for understanding the political and administrative concerns of the late Western Han dynasty.

Anne Behnke Kinney, University of Virginia

The Shuoyuan is one of the most important texts that have come down to us from the Han dynasty. Eric Henry’s complete and profusely annotated translation includes the establishment of a carefully collated critical text based on the best modern critical editions published in China. Professor Henry’s work, based on many years of meticulous research, makes a very substantial contribution to the study of ancient Chinese intellectual history.

Christoph Harbsmeier, professor emeritus, University of Oslo

This definitive translation of a very important classical Chinese text with its useful scholarly apparatus will be of great value to the fields of Chinese history and literary studies.

J. Michael Farmer, University of Texas at Dallas

DAMES Korean Program Achievements!

February 28, 2022

What’s been quiet during COVID? Not the DAMES Korean program! Please find below a brief snapshot of our students’ incredible achievements over these past couple of years, evidence of their hard work and determination in the face of global crisis.

  • Celilia Lin (Yuchen Lin), who was in Dongsoo Bang’s KOR 204 (Intermediate Korean II) class, received the “Korean Culture Award” at the Online Korean Speech Contest hosted by the Korean Cultural Center, Los Angeles on October 9, 2020.
  • Yanjun Shen (Eunji Lee’s KOR 102 class) received the 1st prize (non-heritage Level 1) at the 4th Southeastern US Korean Speech and Quiz Contest on April 10, 2021.
  • Tessa Mannell (Dongsoo Bang’s KOR 204 class) was placed 3rd (non-heritage level 2) at the 4th Southeastern US Korean Speech and Quiz Contest on April 10, 2021. (A note: Prizes were only given up to 2nd place in the non-heritage level 2, so Tessa’s name was not included in the list of awardees.)

The Online Korean Speech Contest was a nationwide contest and the participants at the 4th Southeastern US Korean Speech and Quiz were college students from universities in the Southeast (e.g., Duke, Vanderbilt, UGA, Emory, U of Kentucky, etc.).

Congratulations to these awesome students!

An Interview with Dr. Yaghoobi, New Director of Persian Studies

December 9, 2021

Recently I interviewed our wonderful professor, Dr. Claudia Yaghoobi, about her appointment as the new inaugural Director of Persian Studies here at UNC. This was the multilayered question I asked her:

In your appointment letter, which I was given to read by Lori prior to this interview, [our dean] stated that you have a “terrific track record” (we here in DAMES obviously agree!) in building the Persian Studies program on campus. How will your new appointment impact your current endeavors? Are there projects you’ve been working on that will expand as a result of the appointment, for instance? In the letter, one of your duties is stated as “continuing to elevate the profile of Persian Studies,” and to you, does that mean a campus-specific approach, or do you intend to go farther by reaching beyond the boundaries of UNC itself?

Below is Dr. Yaghoobi’s reply and thoughts on her new appointment:

As part of my responsibilities as the director, I would be promoting research, scholarly opportunity, and artistic exchange related to Persian Studies on the UNC campus. This entails organizing scholarly events, promoting speakers, supporting exhibitions, and developing workshops that strengthen the community of faculty, students, and staff pursuing Persianate Studies. For these events, I identify and pursue external funding opportunities to support programming. However, this is what I was already doing before this appointment. What changes with the appointment is the need for me to engage in fundraising efforts both for programming and for supporting graduate students, holding meetings with the Persian Studies Advisory Committee to solicit input, overseeing Roshan graduate student fellowship, ensuring the breadth of curricular offerings, and consulting with Vice Provost of Global Affairs on university-wide about alignments between Persian Studies and the university’s global unit.

The most significant change that this appointment embodies is the coordination aspect of it – what I mean is that we have Persian Studies faculty, students, and funding in various units and departments on campus. With this appointment, there is a director to coordinate all of them and receive feedback and support from all.

One of my priorities for this academic year was to establish a Persian Studies Advisory Committee which we did and held a meeting a few weeks ago. With the Advisory Committee’s input, we have formalized a co-sponsorship procedure where we would be happy to fund and/or co-sponsor Persian-related events. We have also discussed how to hold a celebratory event for Nowruz or Persian New Year, and other events this year. We have created a coherent annual lecture series around specific themes. We have also discussed strategies for fundraising this and next academic year – in short, the committee has already been actively working towards our shared goals.

The next project on my list is to highlight the committee members’ research, teaching, and service at UNC. To do this, I have asked the committee members to prepare brief 2-minute videos introducing themselves and their work. The goal of these videos is to introduce the Persian Studies committee to campus, the broader community, and potential donors. These videos will be posted on the Persian Studies Facebook page, on social media, and on the campus webpage.

Congratulations on the new appointment, Dr. Yaghoobi! We’re so fortunate to have you here in DAMES!

Dr. Pitelka, Japanese Ceramics, and the Ackland Art Museum: A Video Lecture

October 14, 2021

On Friday, October 8th, the Ackland Art Museum opened a new exhibition entitled Buddha and Shiva, Lotus and Dragon: Masterworks from the Mr. and Mrs. John D. Rockefeller 3rd Collection at Asia Society, on view until January 9, 2022. Don’t miss it, and before you go, consider watching this lecture from our very own Dr. Pitelka about one of the pieces in the collection, commissioned by the Ackland to complement the new exhibition: