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How (Not) To Find Yu Dafu: Refractions across the Transpacific

Modern East Asian Literature Research Cluster presents

Emerging Research on Modern East Asian Literature

How (Not) To Find Yu Dafu: Refractions across the Transpacific

Speaker: Clara Iwasaki (Assistant Professor | Department of East Asian Studies | University of Alberta)

Moderator: Dylan Suher (Postdoctoral Fellow | Society of Fellows in the Humanities | University of Hong Kong)

Date: 20 October 2021 (Wed), 10:00-11:30 am (Zoom, HK Time)

When researching what would become a chapter of my book, I came across an unusual piece “Calling on an Old Friend”. It was the script of an NHK radio broadcast written by the modern Japanese writer Satō Haruo in the form of an open letter to his former friend, the Chinese writer Yu Dafu and performed by Higashiyama Chieko on December 12, 1945 at 7:30 pm. Why was a Japanese writer writing a letter to a Chinese writer a few short months into the American occupation of Japan? Viewed through a transpacific lens, “Calling on an Old Friend” illuminates a pivotal intersection of complicated relations that traverse the fault lines of Sino-Japanese. It becomes a key to understanding the transpacific nexus that has coalesced around Yu Dafu’s disappearance and death. Considered together, these searches add up to a transpacific commemoration of an event that is deeply embedded in an overlapping series of multidirectional contestations making it possible to see how Chinese, Sinophone, and Japanese authors and scholars have navigated and exacerbated slippery and shifting relationships from the interwar to the Cold War to the present day.

Clara Iwasaki is an assistant professor of modern Chinese literature at the University of Alberta. She has been published in CrossCurrents. Her monograph, Rethinking the Modern Chinese Canon: Refractions across the Transpacific is out now.

Emerging Research on Modern East Asian Literature Seminar Series by MEAL Research Cluster introduces authors of recently published monographs to the HKU community. The series is coordinated by Dr. Su Yun Kim (, Dr Pei-yin Lin (, and Dr. Alvin Wong (



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