Monday, November 21, 2011

"Fair Ophelia" in Victorian and East Asian Visual Cultures

A talk by Alexander Huang
Associate Professor of English, Theatre, and International Affairs at George Washington University

Time: Nov. 28 (Monday) 6:00-8:00 p.m
Place: 403 Kent Hall (EALAC Lounge)
The Departments of East Asian Languages and Cultures, English and Comparative Literature, Film Studies at Columbia, and the Department of Theater at Barnard College present

Ophelia, a muted figure in Shakespeare's *Hamlet,* is a paradox in East Asian literature, drama and film. Even when she appears to depend on others for her thoughts like her Western counterpart, the figure of Ophelia in Asian rewritings signals a strong presence by her absence and even absent-mindedness. A young woman who is vulnerable yet powerful,
Ophelia is undermined and empowered by her femininity. Asian Ophelias have difficulty expressing one?s own thoughts, but they deploy various strategies to let themselves be seen and heard?balancing between eloquence and silence, aggression and complaisance. While Western Ophelias seem more muted, Asian incarnations of Ophelias possess more moral agency. One of the most important sources for East Asian imaginations of Ophelia is the Victorian pictorialization represented by John Everett Millais?s famous Ophelia (1851). This illustrated presentation examines the Victorian legacy and East Asian adaptations.

Alex Huang is the author of *Chinese Shakespeares: Two Centuries of Cultural Exchange* (Columbia University Press), which received book awards from the Modern Language Association (MLA), New York University (NYU), and the International Convention for Asian Scholars (ICAS). He has published widely on theatricality, Shakespeare in adaptation, digital humanities, and Chinese and Sinophone literature. He currently serves as the Vice President of the Association for Asian Performance (AAP), Vice President of the Mid-Atlantic Region Association for Asian Studies (MAR/AAS), book review editor of *Chinese Literature Today, *and on the Modern Language Association (MLA) Committee on the *New Variorum Edition of Shakespeare. *He has appeared on BBC Radio, BBC TV, and other television and radio programs to discuss cultural globalization


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