Steinhardt Symposium featuring Professor Michele Matteini

23 Feb
True, Good, Beautiful: Politics and Forms of Virtue in Xi Jinping-Era China

Friday, February 26, 2016 | 10:00 AM – 6:00 PM
NYU Department of Media, Culture, and Communication
239 Greene Street, Floor 8, New York

The phrase zhen, shan, mei—here translated as “true, good, beautiful”–encapsulates total goodness, a phrase used in everything from self-help literature to soap-opera television, associated with both idealism and naiveté. We use it to open a discussion across the bounds of languages and disciplines, on the politics and economics of the forms of virtue in contemporary China. The politics of virtue have once again come to dominate public discourse in China as Xi Jinping’s government pursues the most far-reaching anti-corruption campaign of recent decades, demoting and punishing party officials and aggressively suppressing “subversive” authors and activists. At the same time, Chinese citizens have been seeking truth, virtue, and beauty in a variety of texts, practices, and sites. Confucian ritual, Christianity, Buddhism, as well as medical and psychological self-help, doctrines of “positive thinking,” have all proliferated.

Symposium Program

[ Breakfast   9:45 AM ]

[ Student Roundtable  10:00 AM ]

  • The Chinese in Vladivastok: Capital, Expansion, and Reterritorialization in the Russian Far East
    Joseph Livesey, Anthropology, NYU
  • From Practical Jokes to Practical Interventions: Video and Transitional Artistic Practices in the early 1990s
    Katie Grube, East Asian Studies, NYU
  • Woman-Man on Chinese Social Media
    Meiying Li, Media, Culture, and Communication, NYU
  • “Baoba”: Post-comments and Discourse Chronotopes on Tieba and Weibo
    Yalong Chen, Media, Culture, and Communication, NYU

[ Lunch  11:30 AM ]

[ Film Screening  12:30 PM ]

  • We Are Here (我们在这里) with Directors Jing Zhao and Shi Tou
    What happens when 300 lesbians from around the world attend the largest United Nations conference? How did two busloads of lesbians headed to an underground nightclub help spark the birth of a lala (LBT) movement in China? At the 1995 Fourth World Conference on Women in Beijing, the first ever lesbian tent at an UN NGO Forum was created. At the tent, ideas were shared, connections were made, identities were assured … with a growing emergence of energy for change.
    Moderated by Zhang Zhen, Associate Professor, Cinema Studies; Director and Founder of the Asian Film and Media Initiative at Cinema Studies, NYU

[ Panel I   2:15 PM ]

  • The Forms of Virtue: “Late-Socialist” Antinomies of Aesthetics and Ethics
    Lily Chumley, Assistant Professor, Media, Culture, and Communication, NYU
  • Soups: Gifts of Flavor and the Beauty of Good Tastes
    Lai Lili, Assistant Professor, Peking University (Visiting UNC-Chapel Hill) and
    Judith Farquhar, Professor Emerita, Anthropology, University of Chicago
  • The Virtuous Museum of Guiyi: Realizing True Filiality Through Story and Object
    Angela Zito, Associate Professor, Religious Studies and Anthropology; Co-Director of the Center for Religion and Media, NYU
  • Belief and Moral Authority in a Post-Belief Society
    John Osburg, Assistant Professor, Anthropology, University of Rochester
  • Absolute Privacy or the Moral Irony
    Liu Xin, Professor, Anthropology, UC Berkeley

[ Coffee Break  3:45 PM ]

[ Panel II   4:00 PM ]

  • One-Dimensional Networked Visibility: Narrating the “False, Evil, and Ugly”
    Bai Ruoyun, Associate Professor, Media and Communication, University of Toronto
  • The Return of the Staged Confession: Reflections on neo-Stalinist Self-incriminations
    Magnus Fiskesjo, Anthropology, Cornell University
  • Transmission of “Positive Energy”: Citizenship and Democratic Culture in China’s New Media Environment
    Wang Jing, PhD Candidate, Media and Communication, Rutgers University
  • “Rational, Neutral, Objective”: Demobilizing Emotions in Chinese Cyberspace
    Yang Guobin, Professor, University of Pennsylvania

[ Discussion + Reception   5:40 – 6:30 PM ]

  • Moderated by Michele Matteini, Assistant Professor, Department of Art History, NYU

Hosted by the NYU Department of Media, Culture, and Communication Lecture Series.
Funded by a grant from the NYU Center for the Humanities with co-sponsorship from the NYU Departments of AnthropologyReligious Studies; the Center for Religion and Media; and the Asian Film and Media Initiative.


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