Past Event

Philosophers and Monkey Kings: The Roots of Chinese Pop culture

This panel will discuss new forms of Confucianism in modern Chinese popular culture.

During the Great Leap Forward and the Cultural Revolution, Mao and the founders of the People’s Republic of China moved away from Confucianism, thereby rejecting millennia of tradition in favor of modernization. Today’s China, however, is very different; economic prosperity is strong, education is high, and international influence is unprecedented. Even so, corruption is rampant, pollution is inescapable, and for many, happiness remains elusive.

The first speaker, Professor Chen, will describe contemporary cultural adaptations of The Journey to the West and its extraordinarily popular main character, the Monkey King. She will introduce Confucian and Daoist themes under the larger Buddhist framework in the novel to examine revealing dimensions of recent adaptations. The second speaker, Professor Asma, will detail the ethical and social attractions of the ancient philosophical system of Confucianism to contemporary China in its global cultural context.

This event is free and open to the public.
However, registration is required and can be made online.


  • Stephen T. Asma is a professor of philosophy and fellow of the Research Group in Mind, Science, and Culture at Columbia College Chicago. He completed a Fulbright fellowship in Beijing during 2014. He has authored 7 books, including Against Fairness (University of Chicago Press).
  • Luying Chen is an assistant professor of Humanities at Columbia College Chicago. She has published articles on Yu Dafu’s dialogue with Goethe’s novel Wilhelm Meister’s Apprenticeship and on Kung fu Panda.

This event is part of Intersections, a lively series of lectures and discussions investigating and celebrating the complexity of contemporary culture and the arts, and is co-sponsored by the Department of Humanities, History, and Social Sciences in the School of Liberal Arts and Sciences at Columbia College Chicago.

This event is presented by the Intersections program series at Columbia College Chicago as part of The Collaborative City, a program of the Illinois Humanities Council, in partnership with the Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events (DCASE).



If you need a sign interpreter or require other arrangements to fully participate, please call 312.422.5580 at least 72 hours prior to the event. For parking locations near the facility, please visit