The Department is also making important contributions to the University theme of Environment and Sustainability in the areas of ‘Smart and Sustainable Cities,’ ‘Climate Change,’ and ‘Population Studies: Migration, Youth Development and Ageing Management.’ Below are some indicative examples of work by Faculty members in this area:
Smart and Sustainable Cities
- David Huddart is currently working on a project about autobiographical representations of ultra runners, something apparently extreme but increasingly clearly something that also offers a model for many people searching for keys to active healthy living. In the context of Hong Kong, with its increased uptake of usage of country parks, its thriving hiking and trail running scenes, and its juxtaposition of urban and rural contexts, this project will contribute to models that operate in terms of sport as a vehicle for social change.
- Julian Lamb’s research covers a diverse range of topics from the early-modern period including Shakespeare, Donne, poetics, rhetoric, and pedagogy, as well as orthography and lexicography. He is interested in the role of literature in forging social and individual identities which will help build sustainable and ethically aware communities. Early modern texts, whether poetic or explicit pedagogical, are vitally conscious of the power of literature to engender sound judgement in their readers, and to shape their moral character. I am interested in how such texts can inculcate practical values within today’s youth, and how the humanities can help form politically conscious and socially aware citizens, who take not simply practical skills, but also practical wisdom into the workforce. Julian Lamb is a founder of The Shadow Players, which is unique among Hong Kong theatre companies in being an English-speaking company whose actors are all local. It is committed to facilitating intercultural exchange by adapting the classics of Western theatre to a local Hong Kong context, thus making the Western canon relevant to audiences that have had little contact with it. This research is an actively community-building exercise, and ultimately contributes to a socially and ethically sustainable society.
- Hong Kong Studies, edited by Michael O’Sullivan and Eddie Tay, covers all aspects of Hong Kong’s rich arts and humanities cultures both in relation to Chinese culture and Hong Kong’s other cultures. Understanding these cultures and how they are grounded and embedded in the environment is essential to any movement for greater environmental awareness (what, for example, Daoism proposes) and sustainability.
- Michael O’Sullivan’s research also explores how the competitive environment in Hong Kong is directly related to the psychological problems young people are facing in Hong Kong. The connection between the individual and his/her environment is key to promoting any new vision of environmental awareness and sustainability.
- In the context of climate change, David Huddart’s work on the Mozambican novelist Mia Couto explores his animist evocation of a world of variable scales, both in terms of size and speed, highlighting the ways literature can imaginatively engage its audience beyond the everyday human measure.
Population Studies: Migration, Youth Development and Ageing Management
- Evelyn Chan’s research looks at identity construction by students in the humanities, as well as the value of humanities education in the transition from student life into the labour market, and in graduates' lives. Her publications in this area include “‘Being an English Major, Being a Humanities Student’: Connecting Academic Subject Identity in Literary Studies to Other Social Domains.” Studies in Higher Education. She is PI of “The Humanities in Higher Education in Hong Kong: Implications for Society and the Individual.” General Research Fund (2016–19), Research Grants Council, Hong Kong.
- Jette Hansen Edwards has conducted extensive research on youth identity, language, and politics in Hong Kong. Her work in this area has been cited in The Economist. She has also been invited to contribute two articles to the Georgetown Journal of International Affairs, based on her research on language, identity, and politics in Hong Kong and China: “Language, identity, and politics in Hong Kong” and “The rise of English in China: A threat to China’s national unity?”. She has published several articles about youth identity in Hong Kong in relation to language and politics including her most recent book, The Politics of English in Hong Kong: Attitudes, Identity, and Use (Routledge, 2018).
- David Huddart has also written on diasporic identities through their literatures and general cultural formations. As examples, he published a book on the work of Homi Bhabha, a widely-cited humanities scholar, who is particularly associated with the idea of hybridity. Ideas such as hybridity demand that we think carefully about issues of migration and integration, as is clear in terms of human rights discourses, which David Huddart has written on specifically in terms of cultural right.
- Michael O’Sullivan’s book Irish expatriatism, language and literature: the problem of English examines expatriatism, diaspora and migration in the context of Irish writers from Swift to Boyne. It employs the work of migration experts such as the Chinese theorist Shu-mei Shih to offer a new reading of diaspora in the context of Irish studies and English language studies.