Organized Panel Session
How does a player reach enlightenment by rolling a dice and winding her way through the maze of a 19th-century Japanese board-game? How did a game of chess become an occasion for diplomatic exchange as well as revisionist history during the 1793 Macartney Mission? Focusing on games ranging from the early-modern predecessor of mahjong to contemporary Three Kingdoms video-games, this panel will investigate the real-life applications, ideological implications and historical meanings of early modern and modern forms of play in East Asia. Drawing on the disciplines of cognitive science, history, philosophy, and literature the panel shows that the seemingly ludic dimension of play makes for serious moral, philosophical and aesthetic quandaries.
Tina Lu investigates the cognitive rules as well as literary implications of deception and cheating in the game of madiao as described by the late-Ming author Feng Menglong. Paize Keulemans considers the acoustic strategies produced by signal and noise in The Three Kingdoms, both in the late-Ming novel and the early-twenty-first century video-game. Charlotte Eubanks discusses the ways a nineteenth-century Buddhist version of a popular board-game, sugoroku, puts religious belief into practice by combining ritual with embodiment, textuality with materiality. Robert Batchelor focuses on the role of translation between Europe and China, past and present, technology and strategy by focusing on the writings on the game of chess by the East India Company employee Eyles Irwin.