Friday, May 24, 2019

The mysterious Andrew J. Grajdanzev, author of Formosa Today (1942)

I've been skimming through William L. Holland's Remembering the Institute of Pacific Relations: The Memoirs of William L. Holland for a project I'm working on. The book doesn't mention George H. Kerr, but it does mention one point of interest.

Holland mentions Andrew Grajdanzev (aka Andrew Grad), author of Formosa Today: An Analysis of the Economic Development and Strategic Importance of Japan's Tropical Colony (1942), which was published by the Institute of Pacific Relations (Kerr and Holland discussed his book in letters that were included in the McCarran hearings). Holland notes that Grajdanzev was working under the Supreme Commander for the Allied Powers (SCAP) after the war, but also doing research on "a personal research project involving a social survey of the Japanese town of Fukaya, located some sixty miles northwest of Tokyo" (51). Holland goes on to describe something that got Grajdanzev kicked out of Japan:
In order to obtain funds to pay his research assistants, he bought liquor at the PX and then sold it on the black market. This activity was soon discovered by the military police, and he was summoned to explain himself. He did so quite candidly but was told that what he was doing was illegal. The upshot was that he was dismissed and sent back to the United States. Later I was able to get the Rockefeller Foundation to provide a substantial research grant for him to continue his work, and it eventually was completed. However, due to his untimely death, it was never fully revised and thus became one of the IPR's few unfinished projects. (51)
The bit about Grajdanzev's "untimely death" seems to add to the mystery of this already-mysterious figure. I've done some googling about him, but haven't really come up with anything besides citations of his writings and an unanswered request for information from 12 years ago on the Korean Studies email list. (I have written to Frank Shulman to see if he ever found out more about Grajdanzev--Grad--even the business of his last name is a bit mysterious.)

One thing to add, upon reading more in Holland's memoirs: an appendix listing the IPR's publications includes "Land and Peasant in Japan, by Andrew J. Grajdanzev. 1952. 275pp. Mimeo. IR." I'm assuming this is the research that he didn't have time to revise before his death--this places his death somewhere around 1952.

Monday, April 29, 2019

For future viewing, once I get time

Steven Vertovec, “Super-diversity as concept and approach: whence it came, where it’s at, and whither it’s going”

Wednesday, April 17, 2019

Interdisciplinarity in the news!

This is a little old, but I teach an interdisciplinary writing course, and this semester there have been quite a few computer scientists who took the class. Last week, one of them brought up the breakthrough image of a black hole, so I took a moment to search for an article about it. I came across this article from The Guardian.

Skimming through it, I came across a quotation that we talked about briefly:
While still studying at MIT, the computer scientist Katie Bouman came up with a new algorithm to stitch together data collected across the EHT network. Bouman went on to lead an elaborate series of tests aimed at ensuring that the EHT’s image was not the result of some form of technical glitch or fluke. At one stage, this involved the collaboration splitting into four separate teams which analysed the data independently until they were absolutely confident of their findings. 
“We’re a melting pot of astronomers, physicists, mathematicians and engineers, and that’s what it took to achieve something once thought impossible,” said Bouman.
The quote is from the end of the article--often the place where, as I understand it, the editors put what they consider the least important stuff--but to me this was the most important part. Bouman is talking about interdisciplinary research. (And it was an added bonus that she is a computer scientist!)

It's fun to bring these news stories into class because it shows the students how people from their own disciplines might be doing research with people from other disciplines that they had never imagined. I have also shown students this video in which mathematicians are doing research about sneezing!

The one troubling thing for me, though, is, as I have admitted to some students, the process we go through to do interdisciplinary work in this class is often the opposite of what I think professional researchers do. As I understand it, outside of the kind of class I'm teaching, researchers start with a problem and then begin to work together with people from various disciplines to solve those problems. (Just as Bouman describes it above.) But in my classes, for very practical reasons we usually start with the interdisciplinary groups and then have to figure out the problems or topics that those disciplines might have in common. For instance, if I require the students to work with someone from a different discipline, but I have a lot of engineering or computer science or business majors, there are only so many ways they can combine to form a group. This semester I had some groups that had a lot of difficulty finding a topic in common to do research on.

I'm still trying to work out a way to do it the way Bouman describes it, though. I've thought about using big "umbrella" topics like "sustainability" or "globalization" in the hopes that these would be big enough themes for everyone to be able to find a connection to. Now that the semester is over, maybe I'll have time to think about this problem and do some research into it.

Monday, March 25, 2019

Blast from the past or so-phish-ticated imitation?

Got this interesting email today.
Dear Jonathan, 
You may not remember me but I am a former student of yours. I always loved your class and your perspectives as it was a tipping point for my work in short stories.

After college, in a strange mishap of life's direction, I decided to work at a beat hotel motel in the middle of nowhere Kansas. I took that time to write some incredible short stories on the very strange experiences I had there.  
If you have a few minutes to spare, I would be honored to have you read at least a story or two from my short collection. I am looking for feedback and would settle for a "This is excellent, continue writing" or "This is terrible, find a new hobby". 
In my time studying short stories, I found that they should mostly induce desire from the author. They should not satisfy like a novel but still find new ways to captivate a reader's attention and imagination. Maybe a moment from a story will return to a reader's thoughts and beg the question: "Was that fiction or did it really happen?" 
My goal is to point out the absurd and unacknowledged life of those who live in a strange, lost place yet maintain a sort of sad Americanism in their lives. I filled my stories with hidden references from concepts in literature, mathematics, philosophy, pop culture, and beyond. 
Thank you so much for your time. 
I don't remember the writer (considering that I have taught college-level writing for almost 30 years, I guess that's not surprising), but I'm a bit suspicious because the writer doesn't say where he took my class (and which class it was) and because I never taught any creative writing courses. (Of course, he doesn't exactly say that he took a short story writing course with me, so there's that.) I Googled the writer's name (putting it in quotation marks) and nothing came up under that exact name.

As I wrote to a friend and former colleague at one of those colleges that I taught at years ago, "Maybe [he's] a clever bit of code that spins text like "sad Americanism" via complex algorithms that I will never understand." The more I read this letter (too often already--I have work to do!), the more I think it could have been written by one of our robot overlords. (Now I'm reading it in my mind in the voice of Agent Smith.) His question, "Was that fiction or did it really happen?" is the very question that I am asking about his letter.

I haven't opened the attached pdf yet for fear it's a virus or something.

Thoughts? (If you're the writer of this mysterious email, reveal yourself!)

Tuesday, February 26, 2019

Deng Xiaoping billboard in Shenzhen, Feb. 1993

Deng Xiaoping overlooking Shenzen, China, 1993

I took this picture in Shenzhen back in February, 1993--my first and only trip to China (aside from a layover in Shanghai a few years ago). In the picture, he's saying, "不坚持社会主义,不改革开放,不发展经济,不改善人民生活,只能是死路一条。" (Not adhering to socialism, not reforming and opening up, not developing the economy, and not improving the people's lives can only be a dead end.)

I just discovered it acting as a bookmark in my copy of Aihwa Ong's Flexible Citizenship. I wondered what that area of town looks like now. A blogpost from 2017 gives some interesting (if hagiographic) history of the sign. Here's a rough translation (with the help of Google Translate, mainly because I wanted to translate it in a few hours rather than a few days...):

Shenzhen Totem: The History of Changes to the Deng Xiaoping Portrait 
By 泉影 (Quan Ying) 
On February 19, 1997, with 131 days left before the return of Hong Kong, Deng Xiaoping passed away. That chilly morning, a large group of Shenzhen residents spontaneously came to Deng Xiaoping's portrait to pay their respect to the benefactor of this SAR. Although more and more people gathered, filling the roads on both sides of the portrait, it was orderly. Seniors, young people, and children all came, a sad atmosphere permeating the scene. Some people held white flowers in their hands, wore black veils on their arms, and some stood for a long time holding high portraits of Deng Xiaoping that read, "The people will forever miss you." Because of Deng Xiaoping, Shenzhen had become the most direct beneficiary of China's reform and opening up, so the people of Shenzhen came with grateful feelings to say goodbye to the "chief designer" of reform and opening up. 
With Hongling Road, Luohu District, and Futian District as the boundaries, the area where Shennan Middle Road meets it was the most prosperous financial district in Shenzhen in the 1980s and 1990s. The northeast side of this crossroad became a must-see place because of the long-standing giant portrait of Deng Xiaoping. After Deng Xiaoping's southern tour, this portrait became the urban scenery most frequently exposed in both domestic and foreign news media. It has become a symbol of the reform and opening up of Shenzhen and China and a famous "landmark" in Shenzhen. 
A Product of the Southern Tour
At the beginning of the new year in 1992, reform in China faced a dilemma. In the early spring in southern China, the chill had not yet subsided, but the flowers and trees were green and spring was abundant. Already nominally retired, Deng Xiaoping came to Shenzhen on his southern tour and made an important speech, encouraging local cadres to "be bolder for reform and opening up." For a time, the major media reported on the themes of "An east wind blows an eyeful of spring" and "The South China Sea surges with a tide of reform." The talk greatly liberated the people's thought, and the reform deadlock was broken. China returned to the road of reform and opening up.
Because the southern talk incited a great response around the country, the propaganda department of the Shenzhen Municipal Party Committee proposed to erect in the city center a huge poster promoting Deng Xiaoping's inspection of Shenzhen. After repeated discussions, everyone agreed that the portrait should be erected in the most conspicuous, central, and most convenient place in Shenzhen. After careful site selection, the intersection of Shennan Avenue and Hongling Road was identified as the most suitable place.
After the painting was made, it was revised several times, and in the end the Shenzhen Municipal Art Advertising Company (深圳市美术广告公司) sent their most powerful artist to work in the underground parking lot of the Shenzhen Grand Theater. The enormous painting, measuring 300 square meters, took three to four months to create. It was done completely by hand, and one finger on the painting was taller than a man. On June 28, 1992 the huge painting of Deng Xiaoping was finally erected on Shennan Road. This was quite rare in China at that time, and the portrait immediately caused a sensation.
The first version of Deng Xiaoping's portrait was based on a photograph taken at the Xianhu Botanical Garden during Deng's inspection tour of Shenzhen. Dressed in a light brown jacket, his eyes are bright and ...
Well, I started this post a while back and just decided to come back to it so I could finish it in February (the 26th anniversary of my trip to Shenzhen). To my surprise, when I clicked on the link to go back to  泉影's blog, here's what I got:

"Sorry, this post is password-protected!"

So much for my timely translation... I wonder what happened?

Here are a few other links to posts about this poster:

Saturday, February 09, 2019

Position: Northeastern University Assistant or Associate Teaching Professor of Multilingual Writing

You can apply through the NU HR portal:

The English Department Writing Program of Northeastern University seeks to fill one benefits-eligible, full-time, non-tenure track position for Assistant or Associate Teaching Professor of Multilingual Writing, beginning in the 2019 fall semester. The Northeastern Writing Program, recipient of the CCCC Certificate of Writing Program Excellence, serves multilingual undergraduates and graduate students through coursework, the Northeastern Writing Center, writing groups, and various workshops and outreach efforts. The Teaching Professor of Multilingual Writing will teach two courses per semester aimed at speakers of other languages, work for the equivalent of one course per semester in the Northeastern University Writing Center, and lead program-wide efforts to support Northeastern’s large multilingual undergraduate and graduate student population. Reporting to the Director of the Writing Program and working closely with writing program administration, the successful candidate will work with both students and faculty to coordinate and enhance existing multilingual writing support resources, and build writing faculty capacity around multilingual writing pedagogy. The ideal candidate is an innovative, dedicated teacher who is knowledgeable of teaching and assessment strategies for supporting multilingual writers. There is an established promotion ladder from Assistant to Associate to Full Teaching Professor and opportunity for multi-year contracts. The standard appointment for teaching professors is six courses per year (80%), with service (10%) and professional development (10%) responsibilities.

● Work individually in the Writing Center with undergraduate and graduate multilingual students across the curriculum on academic and professionally oriented writing tasks.
● Plan and conduct training around multilingual writing pedagogy and support for NU Writing Center consultants and Writing Program instructors, whether through workshops, online modules and materials, or presentations.
● Work individually with NU Writing Center consultants and Writing Program instructors in support of individual students and multilingual pedagogies.
● Work closely with the NU Writing Program Director and Writing Program administrators (Writing Center Director, Director of First-Year Writing, Director of Advanced Writing in the Disciplines), supporting ongoing programs and helping to create new initiatives to support multilingual writers.
● Serve on the Writing Program Committee (policy body for the NU Writing Program)
● Participate in writing-related assessment initiatives.
● Perform additional duties as assigned.

● Ph.D. or Ed.D degree in relevant discipline (e.g., Rhetoric and/or Composition Studies, English, Applied Linguistics, Second Language Acquisition, Language and Literacy) required.
● Teaching experience with emphasis on college-level writing in English required.
● Experience teaching writing and/or advanced language acquisition in English to students one-on-one and/or classroom settings recommended.
● Experience facilitating student and faculty workshops.
● Interest or experience working collaboratively with staff, such as advisors, student affairs or admissions professionals, in support of multilingual students.
● Ability to work as a member of a diverse community.

Additional Information   
The College of Social Sciences and Humanities is a leader in the Experiential Liberal Arts ( Founded in 1898, Northeastern University is a dynamic and highly selective urban research university in the center of Boston. Grounded in its signature co-op program, Northeastern provides unprecedented global experiential learning opportunities. The College is strongly committed to fostering excellence through diversity and enthusiastically welcomes nominations and applications from members of groups that have been, and continue to be, underrepresented in academia.

Review of applications begins immediately and will continue until the position is filled.

For information about the Writing Program, please see For information about employment at Northeastern University, see To apply, go to the Faculty Positions site at the College of Social Sciences and Humanities website: Northeastern University is an Equal Opportunity, Affirmative Action Educational Institution and Employer and a Title IX University. We encourage applications from women and underrepresented groups. Northeastern University is an E-Verify Employer.

Initial applications should consist of a letter of interest; a curriculum vita; and a brief (1-2 page) statement of teaching philosophy, including a description of training and experience in teaching writing. Please note any background or training with ESL students, writing in the disciplines, online teaching, community engagement, or digital media. Applications received by March 22 can be assured the fullest review.

Mya Poe, Ph.D.
Associate Professor of English
Director of the Writing Program
415 Holmes Hall
Northeastern University 
Boston, MA 02115