On March 2, 2011, at the Center for Chinese Studies (CCS), University of California, Berkeley, Zoran Skrobanovic (JFDP Fellow 2010-2011, Chinese Language and Literature, Serbia) gave a presentation entitled, “The Cinematographic Principles and the Ideogram: Chinese Concepts in the Early Modernist Cinema.” The talk was organized and sponsored by CCS, and introduced by Andrew F. Jones, Professor at the Department of East Asian Languages and Cultures of UC Berkeley, and the director of CCS.
Professor Jonesâ€™ inspiring lectures on early Chinese cinema were one of the reasons Skrobanovic decided to dedicate this talk to Modernist cinematography, and to discuss the Chinese influences that underlie some of the approaches in the early Modernist cinema at the time when film was becoming true art. Some authors, like S.M. Eisenstein, compared the principles of structuring the abstract meanings in Chinese ideogram with combining of depictive cadres into intellectual contexts and sequences in a film. The inspiration Eisenstein found in Chinese written language enabled him to create his theories of progressive, associative montage, and intellectual film. These early cinematographic interpretations of Chinese characters continue to be a constant source of inspiration not only for the film-thinkers and authors, but for some philosophers and media interpreters as well.
During the talk, Skrobanovic made references to the First International Berkeley Conference on Silent Cinema that had taken place February 19-26, 2011, and cited some inspiring thoughts by an important film-thinker and professor Miriam Hansen, whose death was commemorated at the opening panel of the film conference. In an attempt to emphasize a contemporary relevance of the subject, Skrobanovic concluded his presentation by posing several questions: have the new technologies and new artistic spaces radicalized the early ideas of cinematographic Chinese ideogram? Is the Chinese written system more appropriate means to interpret film-language than all the other linguistically based approaches? Are the ideograms for specific emotions and abstract ideas that we encounter in art and media today paralysing us, or do they raise the level of our social awareness, or both?
Around twenty people attended the one-hour event, and the audience consisted of faculty members from different Departments of UC Berkeley, visiting scholars and film-critics, graduate and undergraduate students. Due to the inspiring audience, the presentation was followed by a series of interesting questions. Some of them addressed the presence of China-inspired early influences in the work of contemporary film-makers such as David Lynch, Peter Greenaway and others. Some inquired about possible relations of early film with other Chinese art-forms like painting and calligraphy. The talk was finished as an open-ended discussion, or a “montage” of interesting opinions, questions and ideas.
Azam Abdurazakov (2010-2011 JFDP, Economics, Kyrgyzstan), joined a lunch meeting with the president of World Bank, Robert Zoellick. This meeting was organized by the Center for Political Communication at the University of Delaware, where Abdurazakov is hosted at the Alfred Lerner College of Business & Economics. There were approximately thirty-five lunch participants who were students and faculty members from different academic fields. During the lunch, Zoellick gave a speech and answered questions. At the end of the meeting Abdurazakov introduced himself and was glad to learn that Zoellick was aware of Kyrgyzstan as well as Abdurazakov’s home city of Osh. Zoellick informed Abdurazakov that only the day before he had met with Kyrgyzstan’s President Roza Otunbaeva in Washington, D.C. After lunch, Zoellick gave a lecture for a larger audience at Mitchell Hall of the University of Delaware. During the lecture, he answered questions from students and others about the role and functions of World Bank. Abdurazakov commented, “It was a great chance to meet with this successful and knowledgeable person.”
Throughout their academic work and to apply for fellowship opportunities, university professors must write numerous essays. A number of academic writing rules are demanded for this task. When applying to exchange programs university professors often fail in the first round because the statement of purpose is not organized properly.
To share the knowledge and new skills acquired during the JFDP fellowship, Naila Nabiyeva applied to the ‘Reach the Regions’ project which is organized by the US-educated Azerbaijan Alumni Association. The project which Ms. Nabiyeva submitted was approved. She organized a workshop focused on academic essay writing. Participants included university professors and the director of ACCELS in Azerbaijan – Ms.Amy Petersen. “We expect outcomes to be demonstrated through their application and participation in exchange programs,” Ms. Nabiyeva has stated.
On March 15,2010 Ms. Zarrina Rakhmatova(2009-10, Linguistics) gave a presentation on the topic “Navruz in Tajikistan”. She discussed the national holiday Navruz as well as the tradition and customs of celebrating the holiday. The talk was given to a group of pre-service teachers with the professor Dr. Barbara C.Palmer at the College of Education, Florida State University.
The discussion covered the history of the holiday and the symbols of Navruz, (such as “Sumalaq”,”Haft Sin Table”). She demostrated traditional Tajik games and presented much information on the Spring Festival and outdoor fetes occuring on the eve of Navruz. Rakhmatova presented during her course “Language & Literary Development Through Storytelling/Storywriting”. The presentation expanded on the interpretation of tradition, literary and the story of the national holiday, Navruz, in Tajikistan.
Ana Kuzmanovic Jovanovic, JFDP Fellow (2010-2011, University of Mississippi) and Assistant Professor at the University of Belgrade, Serbia, participated in a panel discussion on the role and status of women in different societies. The panel was organized by The Sarah Isom Center for Women and Gender Studies, University of Mississippi, in order to celebrate International Women’s Day. The participants in the panel were from several countries, such as Jordan, Georgia, India and Serbia. The audience were predominantly graduate students from the University of Mississippi.
The panel and the following discussion were an excellent opportunity to compare and learn not only about women and their role in different societies, but also about different cultures in general. For example, American students were surprised to learn from Ana that women in Serbia had more rights in terms of maternity leave than women in the U.S. They were also interested to hear about how women in panelists’ countries participate in politics and other spheres of public life.
The discussion showed the importance of these kinds of activities for broadening our knowledge of different cultures and promoting mutual understanding and respect.