Figuring Gender in East Asia: Image-Music-Text

Keynote Speakers: Dr Margaret Hillenbrand (University of Oxford) and Dr Sharon Kinsella (University of Manchester)

When:  14 January 2014, 13:00-18:00 and 15 January, 2014, 09:00-16:45
Where:  Baines Wing 2.10, University of Leeds.
Event type:  WREAC Workshop

A PhD symposium at the University of Leeds sponsored by the White Rose East Asia Centre (WREAC)

Organizers: Irena Hayter (Leeds) and Jennifer Coates (SOAS), with administrative support from Halima Chen (Leeds)

The idea behind the workshop is to get together PhD students from Leeds, Sheffield and beyond working with the cultural representations of gender in East Asia and approaching those through the methodologies of the humanities or the humanistic social sciences. The workshop will address the different ways that gender is approached and aims to cut through the genre and disciplinary boundaries which normally separate literature from film, the verbal from the visual or musical, and the ‘high’ from popular – in short, to have an interdisciplinary forum on gender in East Asia. The Barthesian reference in the title is also there to invite students to be reflexive about form, about the aesthetic strategies that texts (broadly conceived, again) use when they make their meanings, but also about what we have come to call ‘theory’: semiological, structuralist and post-structuralist, Marxist, psychoanalytical, and postcolonial approaches. East Asian Studies have always been ambivalent about the challenges of theory and there is a lot of work out there which relies purely on language competence and emotional identification with the object of study. Is there a need to critique the Eurocentric focus of these theories? Are they productive when we work with our gendered East Asian cultural texts? What about the invisibility of the theory produced in East Asia itself? What about the recent turn towards cognitivist approaches and ‘hardwired’ neurobiology which disregards gender, class and race, the holy Trinity of cultural studies? How important historical and cultural contextualization is to what we do? The workshop will incorporate a roundtable-style discussion of these issues.

The aim of the workshop is to offer a supportive environment for PhD students to present their work, at whatever stage in the PhD process they are at, and to offer a space for discussion and feedback from peers and academics. During the workshop, there will also be a free Q and A session with established academics, some of them involved in the editing of academic journals, about writing, publishing and life after the PhD in general.

Travel and accommodation with be covered for presenters and there are a small number of travel bursaries available for students wanting to join the discussion; however, non-presenting students must make their own accommodation arrangements.

There will be a free (or heavily subsidized) dinner on the evening of the first day and a buffet lunch on day two.  Please contact Halima Chen ( or Dr Irena Hayter ( to register for a place at the workshop and to ask about help with travel costs.


Day 1: Tuesday 14th January 2014

 13:00-13:15  Welcome and introduction 
 Dr Irena Hayter, University of Leeds
 Keynote Speech: 'Sounds of Silence: Modernism, Gender, and the Postcolonial in Bai Xianyong
 and James Joyce'
 Dr Margaret Hillenbrand, University of Oxford
 14:15-15:15  Roundtable discussion:
 Studying Gender in East Asia: Between Theory and Post Theory
 Dr Margaret Hillenbrand
 Dr Helen Macnaughtan, (SOAS)
 Dr Jonathan Service (SOAS) 
 Dr Irena Hayter
 Jennifer Coates
 15:15-15:45  Tea / coffee break
 15:45-17.15  Panel 1: The Social Aspects of Gender Representation in Literary and Screen Narratives
 Chair: Dr Margaret Hillenbrand
 Roundtable discussion:  
 Writing, Publishing and Navigating Open Access
 Dr Helen Macnaughtan, SOAS
 Dr Margaret Hillenbrand
 Dr Irena Hayter 

Day 2: Wednesday 15th January 2014

 09:30-11:00  Panel 2: Gender Across Cultures
 Chair: Dr Jamie Coates, University of Sheffield
 Tea / coffee break
 Keynote Speech: 'Ways of Studying Gender in Culture: Girls, Men, Projection   
 and Cross-dressing'
 Dr Sharon Kinsella, University of Manchester
 Sandwich buffet lunch
 13:15-14:45  Panel 3: Gendered Absences
 Chair: Dr Irena Hayter
 Tea / coffee break
 Panel 4: Genre, Gender and Affect
 Chair: Jennifer Coates
 Final words and workshop close


Sounds of Silence: Modernism, Gender, and the Postcolonial in Bai Xianyong and James Joyce

Dr Margaret Hillenbrand, University of Oxford

Margaret Hillenbrand is University Lecturer in Modern Chinese Literature at the University of Oxford. Before this, she held a Chuan Lyu Fellowship in the Faculty of Asian and Middle Eastern Studies at Cambridge, and a lectureship in modern Chinese culture and language at SOAS, University of London. She is the author of Literature, Modernity, and the Practice of Resistance: Japanese and Taiwanese Fiction, 1960-1990 (2007), the editor of special issues of Postcolonial Studies (2010) and The Journal of Chinese Cinemas (2012), and the co-author of Documenting China: A Reader in Seminal Twentieth-Century Texts (2011). She has published articles in Screen, Journal of Asian Studies, Journal of Japanese Studies, Cinema Journal, MELUS, Postcolonial Studies, positions: east asia cultures critique, and elsewhere. She is currently completing a book on the intermedial relationships between photography and a range of other aesthetic forms – literature, cinema, painting, and sculpture – in post-socialist China.

Ways of Studying Gender in Culture: Girls, Men, Projection and Cross-dressing

Dr Sharon Kinsella, University of Manchester

Sharon Kinsella is Lecturer in Japanese Studies at the University of Manchester, and has been focusing on the cultural language and political symbolism of both mass media and mass cultural production and subcultural forms and reactions since the early 1990s. Her earlier work looked at cuteness and infantilism as rebellion; the educational and class sociology behind the institutional and commercial transformation and expansion of manga for adult men; otaku subculture and media framing and Lolita complex subculture. In 2000, she published a long study of the sociology and politics of the weekly comic industry in Adult Manga (Hawaii UP & Taylor and Francis). Her recently published second book, titled Schoolgirls, Money and Rebellion in Japan (2013), incorporates research on girls’ street styles and male journalism and cult formations around girls carried out in fieldwork and interviews over a protracted period of time from the late 1990s to the 2010s. Sharon Kinsella has a DPhil in Sociology from the University of Oxford and has worked in the US (Yale and MIT) and in universities in the UK (Oxford and Cambridge).

The full programme can be downloaded here.

For details of the student presentation panels, please click here.

Abstracts can be downloaded here.