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Countdown to the Olympics

UC Riverside Experts Weigh in on Beijing Olympics

Scholars are available to discuss origin of the Games, human rights and Chinese culture.

(July 29, 2008)

With the start of the Beijing Olympics just two weeks away, scholars from the University of California, Riverside are available to talk about the history of the Olympic Games, China's record on human rights, sports in China, and Chinese culture and art.

Thomas Scanlon, professor of classics
(951) 827-1462

A scholar of the classics, one of Scanlon's particular research interests is Greek and Roman sports, including the original Olympics. He is the author of several books about sport in the ancient world, including "Eros and Greek Athletics," "Olympia and Macedonia: Games, Gymnasia and Politics," and "Greek and Roman Athletics: A Bibliography."

Scanlon says that some traditions of the ancient games set patterns that are still followed in the modern Olympics, such as opening rituals, questions about eligibility and allegations of bribery. The Olympic torch, the notion of the amateur athlete, and the concept of gold, silver and bronze medals are all inventions of the modern games, he says.

Perry Link, Chancellorial Chair for Innovation in Teaching Across Disciplines
Professor of Chinese

Professor Link will be moving to Riverside from Princeton in mid-August. To speak with him, contact UCR's media relations staff at (951) 827-6397.

Link, one of the foremost scholars of China in the West, specializes in 20th century Chinese literature. He is an international expert on Chinese human rights issues and was one of the translators of the "Tiananmen Papers," which described the government's response to the 1989 democracy protests. He was blacklisted by China's government in 1996 and has been denied entrance since then.

Among his books are "The Uses of Literature: Life in the Socialist Chinese Literary System," "Banyang suibi" ("Notes of a Semi-Foreigner," in Chinese), and "Evening Chats in Beijing: Probing China's Predicament." He serves on the editorial boards of several scholarly journals including Modern China, China Review International and The Journal of Contemporary China.

Yang Ye, associate professor of Chinese/Chinese civilization/comparative literature
(951) 827-1279

Ye, a native of China, was involved in sports in China in the 1970s and early 1980s. He is an expert on Chinese culture and contemporary Chinese society, and teaches an introduction to Chinese civilization course that explores the philosophy, history and religion of China with a special focus on fine arts. He also teaches a course on Chinese cinema. He recently spent three months in China, including one month in Hong Kong.

He is the author of two books, "Chinese Poetic Closure" and "Vignettes from the Late Ming."

Tyler Stallings, director, UCR Sweeney Art Gallery
(951) 827-1463

The UCR Sweeney Art Gallery is hosting a major exhibition of Chinese artists — "Absurd Recreation, Contemporary Art from China" — which opened July 26. These artists look at the rapid changes occurring in China brought on by the embrace of capitalism, coupled with the random clampdowns by an authoritarian regime. China just surpassed France as the world's largest art market and is opening its first Chinese contemporary art museum in Beijing. Images and a catalog of the exhibition as well as a podcast of a roundtable discussion about contemporary art in China are available at

Stallings is available to discuss what these artists see in their homeland that others do not. He says these artists "use playful, humorous, ritualistic imagery, as if they were engaging in an absurdist, leisurely 'recreation' that focuses on their interior lives and keeps the external world at arm's length. They also have as a common theme the 're-creation' of settings, events, and situations, as if trying to recover scenes from a cultural amnesia, in reaction to the rapidly changing political, social, cultural, economic, and environmental landscapes in China." Stallings is the author of several books, including "Whiteness, A Wayward Construction" and "The Signs Pile Up: Paintings by Pedro Alvarez."

Weiko Lin, lecturer in playwriting/screenwriting
(951) 827-7044

Born in Taiwan, Lin immigrated to the United States when he was 8 years old. He is available to speak about human rights in China, especially the 1989 democracy protests in Tiananmen Square. The resulting massacre was the subject of a musical he wrote, "Heavenly Peace."

Lin has received numerous awards, including the prestigious Samuel Goldwyn Writing Award. His plays and musicals have been performed in the Los Angeles area at the East West Players' David Henry Hwang Theater, Century City Playhouse, Veterans' Wadsworth Theater and UCLA's Royce Hall. He co-chairs the Writers Guild of America's Asian American Writers Committee.

The University of California, Riverside ( is a doctoral research university, a living laboratory for groundbreaking exploration of issues critical to Inland Southern California, the state and communities around the world. Reflecting California's diverse culture, UCR's enrollment has exceeded 21,000 students. The campus opened a medical school in 2013 and has reached the heart of the Coachella Valley by way of the UCR Palm Desert Center. The campus has an annual statewide economic impact of more than $1 billion.

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