Journal Highlights Asian Studies at Wabash

by Steve Charles

September 1, 2011

The College’s new Asian Studies program and the surprising historic connections between Wabash and Asia are featured in “Look East, Young Man,” the latest issue of Wabash Magazine, the College’s quarterly journal.

“The College’s look to the East is grounded not in expedience or temporary trends, but in the deepest impulses of the liberal arts,” President Pat White writes in “The Wabash Way to Asia,” which introduces the new program.

“Wabash looks to the East guided by the pioneer impulse that founded this College on the edge of the frontier. We look to the East not only because of the new economic power of China, India, and Southeast East, but because the variety of complex cultures enriches our understanding of the world and who we are.”

“This is being driven by student interest, as well as faculty interest in developing new areas of research,” Professor of Economics Kay Widdows says of the program, a partnership with DePauw University which is funded in part by a $700,000 grant from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. “We’re just opening up more of the world to our students—a part of the world that’s incredibly important historically, economically, culturally, and politically. We are offering an opportunity that many will find beyond their imaginations.”

The most immediate effect of the grant is the hiring of Professor Qian Zhu Pullen, a specialist in Chinese history who will also teach Mandarin and who is introduced to the Wabash community in the current edition.

The magazine also explores the life and legacy of Robert Winter, Wabash Class of 1909, who was born in Crawfordsville, mentored at Wabash by Ezra Pound, and whose more than 60 years teaching in China spanned the decades of that country’s greatest upheaval.

Winter referred the College’s first student from the People’s Republic, Rujie Wang ’83, whose story is also in this issue, as is that of recent graduate Filip Lempa ’11, whose studies in China have him preparing to return.

Long-time Asian investment advisor Ray Jovanovich de-briefs after a quarter century analyzing trends in the region during the most dynamic economic transformation in history, while Hao Liu ’11 reveals what he learned out-of-school that, together with his Wabash education, fueled his multi-million-dollar entrepreneurial success.

Interviews with Wabash men offer their insights from decades of working throughout Asia, Amherst College Professor Jerry Dennerline ’64 reflects upon the path that led him from Indiana to become one of the most respected scholars of China’s past, and distinguished historian Daniel Crofts tells of his travels in China to trace his family’s surprising legacy from the 1800s and the days of the China Inland Mission.

Eric Roth ’84 recounts how his attempt to start a free-thinking university in Vietnam led to the realization that the spread of the English language—in part through his own conversational English primer—may be the more immediate path to freedom of thought and expression in the region.

And the issue features the art of Tian Tian ’11, Zen-influenced anagama pottery by Nick Roudebush ’09, and the poetry of former Washington State Poet Laureate Samuel Green, while captivating photographs and surprising insights comprise Professors Mark Brouwer’s and Ethan Hollander’s graphic essay from their summer teaching in Shanghai.

Professor Widdows will update the College on the evolving Asian Studies program during a "Wabash Wednesdays" webcast on the Wabash Web site on November 2, following her trip to China with the College deans and President White.

“Look East, Young Man” is available on campus today and goes online Tuesday, September 6.


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