Department of English @ Hong Kong Baptist University



HKBU ENG Research Workshop SeriesThe Department of English Research Workshop Series is a platform for discussing research that is at any stage of planning or implementation. Presenters will describe some research that they have been working on for some time, have just started working on, or are thinking about working on in the future. Attendees will ask questions and try to brainstorm ideas in an attempt to help the presenter fine tune his/her methodology, research questions, or anything else that attendees may think of.

The two aims of this research workshop series are: 1) for presenters to share their research processes, approaches, and methods so that attendees can all get ideas and learn from others’ research experiences; 2) for presenters to get ideas from attendees’ questions and suggestions, so that they can refine and improve their research methods. It is hoped that attendees, both students and colleagues, will learn some new things about the research process, and that they will then adopt whatever they like, e.g., a particular presenter’s approach to coming up with new ideas, a way of formulating research questions, a reason for choosing a particular methodology, etc.

All students and faculty are welcome and encouraged to attend. No registration is required. Do not worry about asking questions or offering advice. It is perfectly acceptable to just show up, observe, and learn. But you may surprise yourself—you might actually think of some good advice for the presenter! And it would be a shame for presenters to miss that opportunity, so please do come.

First.png Cantonese
Speaker: John C. Wakefield (Assistant Professor)
{Click here to see the poster.}
Date: Monday 25 September 2017 {facebook registration}
TOPIC: English Loanwords in Cantonese: How Their Meanings Have Changed

In this seminar John C. Wakefield will describe some research that he has begun, and which he plans to expand on. He will then solicit suggestions for how to improve his methodology. This research relates to a recently written paper that describes the semantic change of six English loanwords in Cantonese: sot1 “short”; ku1 “cool”; hep1pi2 “happy”; ang1kou4 “uncle”;  haai1 “high”; on1si2 “ounce”.

Jason S PolleySpeaker: Jason S. Polley (Associate Professor)
{Click here to see the poster.}

Date: Monday 16 October 2017 {facebook registration}
TOPIC: The Burmese Way and the High Way; Or, A Beer a Beer my Freedom for a Beer—A memoir of an aborted deportation

In the spirit of creative criticism and the blending or dissolution of classical genre paradigms—see, for instance, Stein’s The Autobiography of Alice B Toklas (1933), Faulkner’s Requiem for a Nun (1953), Nabokov’s Pale Fire (1962), Hunter S Thompson’s Fear & Loathing in Las Vegas (1971), Hayden White’s “The Historical Text as Literary Artifact” (1974), Frey’s A Million Little Pieces (2003), Eggers’ A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius (2001), and Affleck’s I’m Still Here (2010)—this seminar aims to investigate the means by which I should produce and disseminate the tentatively titled text-in-process named just before the beginning of this sentence. That first sentence exposed my strategies to all culture freaks and criticism geeks. It, that first sentence, encoded and/or included the following key words, some or all of which I hope to address in this interactive—Socratic rather than pontific—seminar. 

Robert FuchsSpeaker: Robert Fuchs (Research Assistant Professor)
{Click here to see the poster.}

Date: Monday 6 November 2017 {facebook registration}
TOPIC: A Corpus-based Study on False Friends in Advanced Learner English: Implications for Second Language Pedagogy

This study focuses on the erroneous use of false friends (words that look alike but differ in meaning) in the spoken and written academic learner English of speakers of five different first languages (Dutch, French, German, Italian, Spanish), relying on the International Corpus of Learner English, version 2 (ICLEv2) and the Louvain International Database of Spoken English Interlanguage (LINDSEI). Results indicate that only certain false friends are often used inaccurately, but that word frequency is a poor predictor of inaccurate use. Thus, the analysis explores other factors such as word class and concreteness in order to explain how likely learners are to commit false friends-related errors. Based on these results, recommendations for second language pedagogy will be made.

Given that this talk is part of a research seminar, I would welcome comments from the audience on the following questions (as well as others): 1) What other factors could explain why certain false friends are more likely to cause errors than others? 2) Could frequency in a learner’s first language be an important factor? If so, what comparable corpus or corpora of the five languages exist from which word frequency measures can be derived?


Also featuringLeonard Neidorf @ HKBU.
The Style of Beowulf and the Conversion to Christianity:

A Study in Historical Aesthetics
Date & Time: Wednesday 6 December 2017; 4:30 {facebook registration}
Speaker: Leonard Neidorf (Professor)
{Click here to see the poster.}

Abstract This paper reconsiders the historical plausibility of Fred C. Robinson’s argument for the use of an “appositive style” in Beowulf. The poet, in Robinson’s view, contrasts paganism and Christianity by placing their representative elements into a state of apposition, which enables the audience to perceive both the admirable and regrettable aspects of the pagan past without passing explicit judgment upon it. Several critics have denounced Robinson’s interpretation as anachronistic and implausible, but this paper contends that its credibility is increased in the light of a hitherto unrecognised historical analogue. A letter written by Daniel, Bishop of Winchester, about methods for converting pagan Germanic peoples is shown here to recommend rhetorical strategies that distinctly resemble the appositive style of Beowulf. The composition of Beowulf is consequently situated in a milieu close to the conversion of the Anglo-Saxons, in which an aesthetic of pagan and Christian apposition evidently prevailed.



Speaker: Lian-Hee Wee (Professor)
{Click here to see the poster.}

Date: Monday 22 January 2018 {facebook registration}
TOPIC: A Digital Humanities Experience of the Hong Kong Kitchen Shorthand

The Kitchen Shorthand (KS) has amused and bemused many Hong Kongers, and has found its way sometimes to pages in books on Hong Kong nostalgia. This cryptic writing (please see image here: ) shows clear resemblances to Chinese orthography upon which the KS is based.
KS .
The KS is quite productive and can adapt to novel usage, thus easily applicable for the millions of combinatory possibilities and minor adjustments to specific order. Basic principles are easy to discern, although an algorithm to generate them to Turing machine standard is nowhere in the horizon.

Principles of KS formation (Cheung & Wee 2017)
a. ______ Semantic Salience
Preserve only the characters that are needed to identify the item.
b. ______ Rhyme is Reason
Replace characters that require many strokes to write with characters that sound similar and require fewer
strokes to write.
c. ______ Extraction
Extract distinctive grapheme from chosen Chinese character.
d. ______ Diverse source
Use symbols from any common source as alternative where possible
e. ______ Spatial usage and diacritics
Designate space for specific functions.

While it would be exciting to figure out how, without high levels of literacy, the cognitive system of the Hong Kong waiter commands the KS, this workshop’s goal is simpler: How can I create a digital archive/corpus for the KS so that the user will experience, as a real customer would, how the graphemes are creatively concatenated by our intrepid waiter?
jan4dei6Speaker: Winnie Chor Oi Wan (Assistant Professor)
{Click here to see the poster.}

Date: Monday 29 January 2018 {facebook registration}
TOPIC: From non-subjective to (inter)subjective: the evolution of jan4dei6人哋 into a first person singular pronoun

With data ranging from the mid-nineteenth century to the present, this study examines the development of the Cantonese pronoun jan4dei6 and explores how it has evolved to become a first person singular pronoun in the subjective domain. Originally a third person non-specific general noun meaning ‘other people’, jan4dei6 has developed into a third person plural pronoun, used deictically to refer to a plural antecedent which has been mentioned earlier in the prior discourse. In suitable contexts, jan4dei6 can also be used to refer to a non-specific nominal which has not been mentioned, or is even not known to either the speaker or the hearer, or both. An even more interesting observation is that jan4dei6 can be used to refer to a third person (singular), the second person (i.e. the hearer), as well as the first person (i.e. the speaker). Based on the diachronic data, this study answers the question as to how jan4dei6, originally a third person plural general noun and non-specific in nature, can acquire a subjective function and be used as a first person singular pronoun which is specific in nature. Other features of jan4dei6 are also explored in this study, including the syntactic positions that license the occurrence of jan4dei6, as well as how it can be used to express the speaker’s negative evaluative stance towards the potential referent.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERASpeaker: Jason Eng Hun Lee (Lecturer) 
{Click here to see the poster.}

Date: Monday 12 February 2018 {facebook registration}
TOPIC: Cosmopolitan Dialectics and the World-Historical Imagination

Studies on cosmopolitanism have long had to deal with its innate contradictions: its cleaving towards both universal and particular forms; its problematic relationship with the nation-state and its many antecedents; its fluctuation between collective and individual memory as markers of identity and belonging. Historically, the progressive agenda of many cosmopolitan projects have also followed what Walter Mignolo called ‘global designs’, those top-down directives that have created and ordered the world-system under the respective frames of coloniality, modernity and neoliberal capital. Given the dialectical twists and turns of cosmopolitan thinking today, how might these contradictions acquire critical focus through the medium of literature, and in particular, the globally-conscious Anglophone novel, which attempts to map and interrogate these capitalist forces across planetary space-time? While attempts to link the historical imaginary of these world-systems back to the cosmopolitan imagination has begun to be theorized in, for example, David Mitchell’s Cloud Atlas, I argue that they can also be read in select millennial fictions by Ian McEwan, Jeanette Winterson, Don DeLillo and Jonathan Safran Foer. Taking my cue from Mignolo’s ground-breaking treatise on critical cosmopolitanism, I read the world-historical frame set up in these writers’ novels as an ongoing yet critically interpretative process, one that reflects the problematic dialectical nature of cosmopolitanism on the one hand, yet also signals in these writers’ works a transition to more historically-inflected modes of global-local writing, along with all their attendant challenges and opportunities, on the other.



Speaker: Magdalen Ki Wing Chi (Associate Professor)
{Click here to see the poster.}

Date: Monday 16 April 2018 {facebook registration}
TOPIC:  Zombies and Pride and Prejudice: Communication or Radicalization

The problem of class is in the center of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice. To ward off undesirable connections, the rich are haughty and reserved. Austen intends that coldness can be replaced by intra-class communicativeness, leading to the better development of the self, family, and community. Recent adaptations such as Pride and Prejudice and Zombies foreground the breakdown of communication, showcasing the links between proletariatization and radicalization on the part of the underclass, and civic engagement and sadomasochistic violence in the gentry. Social renewal is impossible because the problem of recognition remains unsolved.


/// Speaker: Stuart C. F. Christie (Professor) ///
{Click here to see the poster.}

Date: Monday 23 April 2018 {facebook registration}
TOPIC: Notes Toward an Immersive Reading Practice

Notes Toward an Immersive Reading Practice.jpg

As a basis for further discussion, this workshop offers one deceptively simple question: Why do written texts continue to occupy privileged sites of meaning in the world? I have yet to find an entirely convincing answer, apart from the present sufficiency of published texts which continue to sustain the professoriate’s guild authority in support of institutional relationships and their disciplines. Nineteenth-century philology, as well as more recent Foucauldian and New Historicist approaches, continue to endorse and authorize the discourse “archaeology” of text-dependent academic work, itself reliant upon the wider dissemination and authority of texts and their circulating translations. Certainly, texts remain a still meaningful (and, for some, crucial) basis and resource for transmitting history and culture.

I view this workshop as an opportunity to learn and as a forum for constructive dialog, not as a lecture. Accordingly I will make only very brief reference to some touchstones—via the advent of object-oriented ontology in literary-philosophical studies and the rise of immersive technologies which de-center (by augmenting) textual approaches—which participants may find useful as they ponder and discuss the main question. Ultimately, we may ask what the implications of a radically “immersive” reading practice for students and teachers in the 21st century are as we ponder the future of humanistic learning. If reading through (or via) the world no longer (or exclusively) requires texts, alternative literacies may emerge—of, for, and by the world rather than “about” the world—ensuring a more impactful and experiential basis for community learning outside the privilege of institutions, their texts, and the academic high-priests interpreting them.


Also featuringLinguistic Politeness.jpgLinguistic Politeness: Cultural and Intercultural Models
Date & Time: Wednesday 16 December 2018; 10:30 a.m. {facebook registration}
Speaker: Daniel Kadar (Professor)
{Click here to see the poster.}

Abstract When it comes to the English word ‘politeness’ or the Chinese limao 禮貌, many (quite rightly) associate it with something ‘old fashioned’, such as table manners and etiquette. Yet, from the analyst’s point of view, ‘politeness’ encompasses something much broader: it covers all forms of interpersonal behaviour through which one expresses to the other that (s)he takes the other’s feelings into account. Thus, ‘politeness research’ includes the study of a variety of phenomena, such as deference, sarcasm, humour and so on and forth, and it is not a coincidence that over the past decade this area has become one of the most robustly developing fields in pragmatics. However, linguistic politeness research has many unresolved areas such as, importantly, the relationship between politeness and culture. ‘Culture’ is often used as a buzzword in many areas of pragmatics, but from the politeness researcher’s point of view it is a problematic notion: we cannot directly associate a particular form of behaviour with a certain culture, without the risk of oversimplifying our understanding of culture and interpersonal behaviour. At the same time, it is undeniable that politeness is subject to variation across cultures, and a key challenge is how to create ‘macro’ models of politeness that reflect the operation of politeness in terms of behavioural and interpretational tendencies across cultures. In this talk, I will overview my pragmatic and intercultural work on this issue, which I have developed over the past decade. I will use examples from both English and Chinese, to illustrate the cultural complexities that surround politeness behaviour.


fb_icon_325x325agora.jpgHKS.pngLiterature Compass.jpgEdge.pngEnglish

%d bloggers like this: