Major Asian Studies Conference to Take Place at SUNY New Paltz

NEW PALTZ — The New York Conference on Asian Studies will hold its annual conference on the campus of the State University of New York at New Paltz on October 15-17. More than 180 scholars and artists will contribute to panels, exhibitions, workshops and performances. The theme for this year’s conference is “Issues of Responsibility in Asia.” It will encompass a broad expanse of concerns, including ethnic conflict, human rights, political repression, religious strife, social injustice, and war crimes.

The New York Conference on Asian Studies is the oldest of the eight regional conferences of the Association for Asian Studies, the largest organization of its kind in the world. Each fall, NYCAS conducts an academic conference on the campus of one of its New York state members. The conference was last held at SUNY New Paltz in 1993.

Marleigh Grayer Ryan, one of two conference co-chairs, said, “There has been an extraordinary outpouring of participants to deliver papers this year. Some of the most outstanding scholars from around the world will be participating,” she noted. Ryan is a Japanese scholar and member of the department of foreign languages at SUNY New Paltz.

Ronald G. Knapp, the other co-chair, is a member of the geography department who was recently awarded the SUNY system’s highest honor, the title of distinguished professor. He is internationally known for his work on China’s cultural and historical geography.

Throughout the three days of the conference there will be concurrent workshops on more than four dozen topics, all running approximately one and one-half hours in length. In addition, there will be special exhibitions in both the Chandler Gallery and the North Gallery of the College Art Gallery, as well as exhibitions in the lobby of Sojourner Truth Library. (See separate release.)

Among the many highlights of the conference will be two plenary session talks held on the morning of October 16. Heinz Insu Fenkl, author of Memories of My Ghost Brother: The Rhetoric of Autobiographical “Fiction,” and Dai Sil Kim-Gibson, documentary film maker and writer, will speak at 9 a.m. and 11a.m., respectively. Both lectures will be held in Lecture Center 100.

Another major highlight of the conference will be the first-ever performance of N Theater in the Hudson Valley. On Friday evening, October 16, two professional actors from the N Theater of Japan will demonstrate the artistry of the oldest continuously performed theater in the world. First developed in the late 14th and 15th centuries, N is known as the theatre of aristocrats. It is a blend of poetry, music, and dance, merging text and exposition in a highly stylized, ritualistic expression. Their performance, “The Artistry of N ,” will be held in Parker Theatre at 8 p.m. Tickets are $5.00 and available at the door.

There will also be a five-hour workshop for teachers which will focus on Japanese Theatre in the K-12 Curriculum. It will be held on Thursday, October 15 from 4:00 – 9:00 p.m. in Elting Gymnasium. Under the guidance of professional N performer Hatta Tatsuya, participants will be trained in the fundamental movements, sounds, and narratives of the 600 year-old living theatrical form. Over dinner, practitioners of arts derived from the N will demonstrate instruments and movement, inviting participation from the audience.

Roger W. Bowen, president of SUNY New Paltz and a political scientist whose research has been primarily focused on issues related to Japan, will be the featured speaker at the conference dinner on Friday, October 16. His remarks will focus on the significance of the conference theme in Asia today.

Bowen will also participate in a panel discussion the following day which is related to the U.S.premiere presentation of a 95-minute video documentary on Canadian Asianist E. Herbert Norman, about whom Bowen has written a biography.

For information about conference registration and costs, contact the Office of Conference Services at (845)257-3033.

Additional information about the conference can be found on their web site at or by contacting either Marleigh Grayer Ryan at (845)257-3494 or Ronald G. Knapp at (845)257-2996/2995.