A Shanghailander in Seoul III: Getting Squared with Seoul Circles,

It has been two weeks since my last confession (in a way, these blogs are a sort of confessional ritual).  I wanted to write one blog a week, but to be honest for the first three weeks, other than the mountain climb I wrote about in the last entry, I have really done nothing of great interest aside from prepping for my two world history classes.  But this past weekend I finally got out and enjoyed a couple of dinners with different groups of people here in Seoul.  Both nights involved a lot of barbequed meat and plenty of maekju (beer) and soju (a Korean liquor somewhere between rice wine and vodka).

Read More

Dartmouth in Beijing Presents: Preserving the Hutongs of Beijing

 Last fall, at the end of the Dartmouth in Beijing FSP program, my students delivered several outstanding presentations on the history and contemporary society of Beijing.  I am putting these online so that others may benefit from them.  The file size is a problem, since these are all nearly one-hour presentations, so I've compressed this one in mp4 form, hence the fairly low quality.  If anybody has an idea for doing it better, let me know.  This presentation is about the Hutong neighborhoods of Beijing and what is and can be done to preserve them.

Beautiful Ugliness: The Aesthetics of Jia Zhangke's Film _Still Life_

I just showed the movie Still Life (sanxia haoren) by Chinese director Jia Zhangke to my Dartmouth FSP students.  The viewing conditions were not ideal.  I suggest to anyone who wishes to view this film that they do so in as dark a room as possible.  The film itself is very dark, and so are the people.  I mean visually dark, but there is also a darkness to the subject matter and the characters.  Be warned, this is not a happy film.

Read More