JHI Circle of Fellows Spotlight—Tif Fan

April 27, 2022 by Sonja Johnston

Tif Fan is a 2021-22 JHI Undergraduate Fellow (Dr. Jan Blumenstein Undergraduate Award in the Humanities). They are completing a double major in East Asian Studies and Political Science. Their project is titled "A Panoply of Play: The Subversions and Conversions of Monkey King in Journey to the West".

JHI: What are your main research interests?

TF: Broadly, my interests are in literature, history, and political philosophy in Northeast and Southeast Asia, particularly in China. But I am also interested in cultural theory, articulations of queerness, and political economy.

JHI: What research project(s) are you working on now at the JHI and why did you choose it?

TF: My project this year works closely with the Ming dynasty novel, Journey to the West translated by the late Anthony C. Yu, and with particular attention to the first chapters that limn a thriving simian realm and its leader’s quarrels with celestial order. I’m hoping to illuminate the subversive pleasures of these mountain-dwelling monkeys – which I found to be sidelined or otherwise glossed in the novel’s scholarship. I’ve been drawn to this story since I was a kid and seeing the cartoons or other popular adaptations on grandparents’ TV, and reading the translated text now, it resonates with ideas of home, community and abject visions of self and society.

JHI: What experiences are you hoping for while you’re at the JHI?

TF: This year, I have enjoyed the talks and discussions led by the other fellows, who continue to broaden my conception of pleasure. The interdisciplinary environment has also opened all sorts of connections with my own research, that I couldn’t have anticipated on my own!

JHI: Share something you read/watched/listened to recently that you enjoyed/were inspired by.

TF: I’ve been really enjoying speculative fiction lately – I recently finished reading Parable of the Sower by Octavia Butler and Membranes by Chi Ta-Wei. Both are marvelous and imaginative books written in the 1990s, and I feel that the social and political concerns that they address are… hyper-relevant.

JHI: What is a fun fact about you?

TF: I like to sew and make bags/journals for others!