Written by Linshan Jiang. In 2020 and 2021, the National Human Rights Museum and Spring Hill Publishing released two literary collections on the White Terror in Taiwan (1947–1987): a four-volume novel collection entitled Making the Past in the Moment (2020) and a five-volume essay collection, entitled Soul and Ash (2021), co-edited by two Taiwanese writers, Hu Shuwen (1970– ) and Tong Weiger (1977– ). “White Terror” refers to the 50-year oppressive rule by the Chinese Nationalist Party (Kuomintang, KMT) in Taiwan after the Republic of China took over Taiwan from Japan in 1945. Then the KMT lost the Chinese Civil War (1945–1949) and was exiled to Taiwan in 1949. As a result, it is officially known as the martial law period. Although it should be admitted that the concept of “white terror” may not encompass every aspect of the martial law period, my focus is on the continuing oppression of the people due to KMT’s authoritarian rule, and I will mainly use White Terror to refer to this period in this article.
Understanding Taiwanese Literature Beyond Borders
Written by Jenna Tang. Literature from Taiwan is considerably underrepresented in the English-speaking world. Several literary themes are specific to the place, its languages, cultures, and history that haven’t been fully explored over time. As a Taiwanese writer and translator myself, I am often questioned: “How do these books from Taiwan travel across borders?”
Taiwanese Literature through the Lens of World Literature: Publications in 2022 and 2023
Written by Jessica Ssu-Chieh Fan. The past year, from 2022 to 2023, has witnessed some exciting achievements in Taiwanese literature. Malaysian-Chinese Taiwan-based novelist Chang Kuei-hsing won the Newman Prize for Chinese Literature, one of the most prestigious literary prizes for contemporary prose and poetry written in Chinese. From the discourses surrounding this literary event, including Chang’s acceptance speech and the remarks by Chang’s nominator E.K. Tan, some evolving trends related to broader paradigm shifts in Taiwanese literary studies can be discerned. Both Chang and Tan referenced the hybrid transcultural aesthetic influences epitomised by Chang’s literary style, which Tan described as “a unique branch of Chinese literature as world literature.” Another Taiwanese writer who has garnered significant international attention is Kevin Chen. His novel Ghost Town, translated into English by Darryl Sterk, was featured on the Best Books of World Literature of 2022 by Library Journal and on the longlist of the PEN Translation Prize 2023.
Situating Taiwanese Literature in the Framework of World Literature
Written by Pei-yin Lin and Wen-chi Li. World literature, a term for which Goethe is usually credited as the first proponent, has generated discussions in the West since the second half of the 20th century, particularly since the late 1990s. Casanova’s sociological studies of the “world republic of letter,” Moretti’s call for a “distant reading” and attention to variations in the genre, and Damrosch’s shying away from the literary canon to the circulation of texts are oft-quoted examples. These discussions have left noticeable impacts on the discipline of comparative literature, encouraged us to step out of the usual aesthetics confined by “great tradition”, as Leavis notes, and expanded our understanding of a literary canon beyond Shakespeare and Flaubert to include Mahfouz and Cao Xueqin. Nevertheless, these narratives cannot escape their European and North American backgrounds. Examples proposed by scholars or readers, such as The Guardian’s “The 100 Greatest Novels of All Time,” are often coloured by the Euro-American centrism in which Western works emerge, receive canonisation, circulate within Europe and North America, and subsequently are distributed to the rest of the world.
Taiwanese Literature Beyond Taiwan
Written by Chee-Hann Wu. On 12 March 2023, Taiwan lost to Cuba in a World Baseball Classic qualifier, eliminating the former from the tournament. For most people, Taiwan and Cuba are like two parallel lines with almost nothing in common except their passion for baseball. If you use “Taiwan” and “Cuba” as keywords for a quick Google search, the first ten pages are all about baseball, with a few random advertisements from travel agencies. What if the relationship between the two is more than that? What if the fate of the two countries is intricately intertwined? Huang Chong Kai’s The Formosa Exchange begins with such a premise.
Taiwanese Theatre as a Keyword: Publications in 2022
Written by Yuning Liu. “Taiwanese drama/theatre/performance” as a keyword is unfortunately not a prevalent term in Anglophonic academic circles. However, 2022 can indeed be considered a fruitful year in Taiwan’s play translation and theatre research. In this article, I review the research focusing on Taiwanese drama/theatre/performance published in 2022. As a theatre scholar, my goal is not only to raise awareness of Taiwanese theatre studies but, more importantly, to consider how to take Taiwanese theatre research beyond the framework of regional theatrical studies and find more possibilities for dialogue with global audiences and theatre studies scholars.
Representing Taiwan’s Pacific Connections
Written by Chuahua Lin. How are Trans-Pacific connections remembered and maintained in the literary works of the Tao people, one of the 16 officially recognised Indigenous tribes of Taiwan? In this article, I will read Syaman Rapongan and Yung-chuan Hsieh’s works, and I will discuss how they exemplified the ways in which Tao people endeavour to revitalise the navigation tradition of their people and maintain the connection to the ocean. As I argue in this article, Tao people, as well as other Pacific Islander writers, represent the centuries-old navigating traditions of their people and thus keep these Trans-Pacific connections alive.
Freedom Where? The Theme of ‘Escape’ in the Novels of Diasporic Taiwanese Writer Hualing Nieh
Written by Fang Tang. In the early 1920s, many writers from mainland China migrated to Taiwan because of socio-political upheavals, thus began their unending diasporic ‘escape’ journey. One of these authors, Hualing Nieh, expresses the thoughts of a generation of diasporic writers, illustrating in her work with particular emphasis the theme of ‘escape.’ Born in 1925 in Wuhan, Hubei, China, Nieh experienced the Sino-Japanese War and the Chinese Civil War.
Taiwanese Literature in Transition: Indigenous Writing and Eco-literature as Method
Written by Ti-han Chang. At the crossroad of the 21st century, we see the rise of a new transition in Taiwanese literature. In the era of anthropogenic climate change, environmental literature or ecocriticism, which was first established in the Anglophone literature begins to sow its seeds in Taiwan in the late 80s and early 90s. Alongside this new transition, aboriginal literature in Taiwan also underwent a phase of cultural renaissance in the same period. Work published by Syaman Rapongan 夏曼藍波安, Walis Nokan瓦歷斯諾幹, and Topas Tamapima 拓拔斯塔瑪匹瑪 (田雅各) enrich and diversify the literary scene in Taiwan. The work of Rapongan, which promotes sea-writing and oceanic cultural imaginary, deserves, especially our attention.
Continuities’ Strategy through Poetry’s Writing, Translation and Editing of the Translingual Poet Ch’en Ch’ien-wu 陳千武 (1922-2012)
Written by Sandrine Marchand. In Taiwan, 1945 marks the end of the Japanese colonisation. For many Taiwanese intellectuals and writers, it also means the abandonment of the Japanese language for Mandarin. But a language cannot be erased as quickly as architecture or other material goods. The language of childhood – the language of education – stubbornly persists. After this initial silent period, in the 1970’s – thanks to the Nativist movement – there has been a revaluation of pre-war Taiwanese writers gathered under the appellation of “a translingual generation” as they emerged from the shadows.
The Earth God and Personifying Climate Change
Written by Natasha Heller. Rising global temperature increases and predictions about sea levels can be abstract, even for adults. How can the phenomena of global warming be visualized? How can climate change and environmental degradation be made understandable by young children? The earth’s round shape, as imagined from space, lends itself to the addition of eyes and a mouth to convey unhappiness or illness on a global level. Distressed or lonely polar bears also convey the negative effects of global warming but are still quite distant from most children’s everyday lives.
The History Of Literature about Disabilities in Taiwan
Written by Ta-Wei Chi. As a researcher of Taiwanese queer literature, I have found intersectionality between the queer and the disabled in literature since the late 1960s. Commonly lauded as the most influential gay text in the Chinese-speaking world, Hsien-yung Pai (1937-)’s Crystal Boys (serialised since 1978, published as a novel in 1983) mentions how a couple of sugar daddies take home the hunks with developmental disabilities as their intimate partners. Pai’s 1969 story, “A Sky Full of Bright, Twinkling Stars,” typically considered a prequel to Crystal Boys, tells how both the youthful male prostitutes and their senior patrons are made disabled once they are arrested and tortured by police.