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Student Research in Asian Studies

Introducing the first-ever Asian Studies Student Symposium!

On November 11, 2022, students in the Asian studies minor assembled with their notecards and PowerPoints to present for the first Asian Studies Student Symposium, hosted in the JFSB.

Marc Yamada (East Asian Film), director of the Asian studies minor, created the Asian Studies Student Symposium as an opportunity for students to share their passion for Asian culture and history. BYU hosts symposiums for English, religious education, and other topics, so it was only natural to create a symposium for Asian studies.

After a brief opening meeting, the symposium proceeded in two different breakout sessions with multiple panels. Within each breakout room, three to four students presented for 15 minutes each in different categories depending on their research. The categories covered topics such as religion, ethics, art, and history. After the breakout sessions, symposium participants and attendees met for refreshments and closing remarks. A winner was chosen from each panel based on his or her presentation, research, and preparedness.

Winners and Their Topics

  • Kiner Kwok, “The Second Failed British Mission to China” 
  • Natasha Wang, “Asian American Identity and Museum Collections” 
  • Jackson Keys, “The Many Vows of Feng Menglong: An Intersection of Chastity and Qing” 
  • Josh Eyre, “The Makioka Sisters and the Failures of Literary Censorship in WWII Japan” 
  • Madison Buckles, “Sound Symbolism in Japanese” 
  • Lindy Miller, “Dowry and Its Repercussions in Indian Society” 
  • William Ranse Gale, “Ping Pong and Self-Actualization” 
  • Natalie Lyman, “How the West Is Represented in Modern Fictional Chinese Dramas” 
  • Brayden Lane, “Creating a Japanese Christianity: Allessandro Valignano, Indigenization, and the Hidden Christians” 
  • William Martindale, “Contemporary Conspiracy Theories in China: A Review” 

Presentation Recaps

Madison Buckles (Asian Studies: Japan Studies) did her research on the significant use of onomatopoeia in the Japanese language. Her presentation was titled “Sound Symbolism in Japanese.” She described how language theory does not explain sound symbolism as a phenomenon and that knowing a meaning to a sound just by feeling should not be possible. Yet we can understand if a sound means something is hard or soft, wet or dry. But there is a major research gap in how this works, especially since a lot of language-specific research is centered on the West.

Natalie Lyman (Asian Studies: China Studies) used her love for Asian television dramas as fuel for her presentation “How the West Is Represented in Modern Fictional Chinese Dramas.” Lyman began to wonder how these fictional versions of reality depict the West and if they can give insight into how the West is actually perceived by the Chinese. As the media theorist Denis McQuail said, “Mass media can often be thought as a metaphysical mirror reflecting a myriad of events in social and physical worlds. Media can uphold a faithful reflection of current social norms and social structures.” Lyman found that in these dramas, Western education is desirable, but Westerners themselves are corruptible and immoral. In the popular drama Boss & Me, five out of the six main characters studied in the West. Another drama, Go Go Squid!, showed a changing mentality with the Western character learning and speaking Chinese instead of the other characters learning English. The change in representation shows how relationships between the West and China have evolved in recent years with the West better accommodating China.