China Seminar | 17 January 2002

More About Nightingales and Magpies: Voices Out of China

Daniel W. Y. Kwok Daniel W. Y. Kwok

Last year, Professor Kwok introduced for the China Seminar the writings of a young writer by the name of Yu Jie. To Yu we owe the expression of “Nightingales and Magpies” as representing respectively the song of the free individual and the crowing of state-harnessed intellectuals. The latter has been increasingly strident in US-China relations, which have seen mutually demonizing tendencies, exacerbated by events from Yugoslavia to Hainan airspace. The post-911 months provide an occasion to inquire after the status of these two species. Yu has remained a prolific writer, and some of his views will be translated by Professor Kwok for the Seminar.

Professor D. W. Y. Kwok, the founding convener of the China Seminar, is professor emeritus of history at the University of Hawaii, where he has taught Chinese history and world civilizations. He has concurrently served in numerous administrative posts, including chair of Asian Studies, chair of the Department of History, and director of the Center for Chinese Studies. He also directs the university’s Asia Fellowships Program for Journalists. Among his publications are: Scientism in Chinese Thought, 1900-1950 (1965, 1971); Cosmology, Ontology, and Human Efficacy: Essays in Chinese Thought (with Richard J. Smith, 1993); his translation and editing of Yan Jiaqi and Gao Gao’s Turbulent Decade: A History of the Cultural Revolution (1996); and The Urbane Imagination: Ideas of Civilization in the Chinese Garden (1997).