Clockwise from top left: Andrew McNeal, Patrick Lozada, Christina Wagner, and Elisa Hernandez.
Bi-Co Students to Present at Renowned Asian Studies Conference
At the end of October, four bi-co students will be among the few undergraduates ever to present papers at a prestigious Asian studies conference.
The students, who wrote their papers for Professor of History Paul Jakov Smith’s research seminar “West Meets East” last spring, will participate in the 2009 Annual Meeting of the Mid-Atlantic Region Association for Asian Studies (MAR-AAS) at Villanova University October 30-November 1. They’ll be part of a panel called “Local Resources for the Study of East Asian/American Cultural Interactions.”
The presenters are Andrew McNeal ’10 (whose paper is called “The Development of Natural History in Meiji Japan”); Elisa Hernandez BMC ’10 (“The Crusade Against the Yoshiwara”); Patrick Lozada ’11(“Identity Conflict and the Case of Iwao Ayusawa in Pre-War Japan”); and Christina Wagner BMC ’11 (“The Philadelphia Orchestra and the Opening of China”). Also part of the panel is Jason Oaks ’09, a current graduate student in Chinese political science at Cornell who worked as Smith’s research assistant in 2008.
Smith’s “West Meets East” seminar introduces students to English-language materials for the study of East Asia. “Local archives, in particular, contain abundant resources,” says Smith, who explains that the course’s goal is to “look at interactions between the West and East Asia, read studies on the general nature of these interactions, and sample primary sources available in English.” In designing the course, Smith worked with Manuscripts Librarian and College Archivist Diana Franzusoff Peterson to provide students with access to materials on China, Japan and Korea in the 19th and 20th centuries; these included missionary reports and Quaker documents. “They provide good views of the China/Japan social world,” says Smith.
He also hired Jason Oaks as a research assistant with help from the Chen Family Fund, created by Francis Chen ’42, who gave $1 million in support of East Asian studies at Haverford. Oaks searched archives in the Philadelphia area and created a website for the class (https://www.haverford.edu/library/eastasian/index.html) guiding students to unique primary sources in the area. “It was a dream project,” says Oaks. “I got to visit archives all over the city, and take notes for the website—excerpts, tips for accessing the archives. I hope that it is a resource that will be useful into the future...not just for one or two years, but for many classes of students.”
Smith’s connections with MAR-AAS made it possible for his students to be part of the upcoming conference. “It’s rare to have undergraduates present at a professional association meeting,” he says. “It’s a plum for the program, a testament to what we and the Chen Family Fund have accomplished and the work the students have done.”
“I can barely believe I will be presenting at MAR-AAS,” says Christina Wagner, who calls “West Meets East” one of her most rewarding academic experiences to date. “I worked extremely hard on my paper, putting hours of work into it each week, and I can’t wait to have it received by a much wider academic audience.”
“I’m really excited—and a bit nervous—to be presenting my work at a conference like this,” says Patrick Lozada. “It’s empowering to know that I can produce real academic scholarship even at the undergraduate level. I’m looking forward to sharing my work with others and getting to listen to new research by experts in Asian studies.”