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UCSB hosts Taiwan Studies International Conference on World Literatures in Chinese

UCSB hosts Taiwan Studies International Conference on World Literatures in Chinese

The Ministry of Education has been working with the University of California at Santa Barbara (UCSB) since 2010, promoting the study of Taiwan’s literature, history, society and culture from a comparative perspective and with an interdisciplinary approach. The Center for Taiwan Studies at the university regularly organizes workshops and conferences to promote Taiwan-related research, and enhance international understanding of Taiwan’s culture. It organized a recent 3-day conference, from January 24 to 26, on “World Literatures in Chinese: Transnational Perspectives of East Asian Cultures” in collaboration with the BK21 Plus Education & Research Group for Chinese & Japanese Language and Culture of Korea University, held at UCSB campus.
Scholars from several countries presented research papers and their perspectives regarding the different literatures written in Chinese that have developed in East Asia under the influence of the Chinese cultural sphere in the past, and of Chinese speaking people who are spread widely around the world today. 
Professor Tu Kuo-Ch’ing (杜國清), from the Department of East Asian Languages & Cultural Studies at UCSB, who specializes in Chinese Poetry and Poetics, Taiwan Literature and World Literatures in Chinese argues for making the concept of world literature in Chinese more inclusive. He considers that shi-hua世華 (an abbreviation of “shijie huawen” 世界華文) is not simply “world literature written in Chinese” but that it refers to any literary work related to “hua” in the world, regardless of the author, language it’s written in, or reader. And any such work belongs in the category of “shi-hua literature.” This understanding of the concept is not restricted by language or ethnic differences, and it can be applied to all the “diasporic” literatures of the world, as well as to the literatures of different ethnic groups in various regions.
Yao Yu-Chuan (姚旟荃), a graduate student currently undertaking a master’s degree at National Tsing Hua University in Taiwan, in the Institute of Taiwan Literature, presented a paper at the conference on “History not in Memory: National Narrative in Yongbie Shu”. “Yongbie Shu” an abbreviation of “Yongbie shu: Zai wo buzaide shihou永別書:在我不在的時代”, the Chinese title of a major work by Taiwanese author Nathalie Chang張亦絢, with the English title “I’m Leaving” (2015). 
Yao used the trauma theory developed by Professor Cathy Caruth at Cornell University and analyzed how this author presents the experience of groups of people who are absent from the mainstream history of Taiwan’s “white terror” era.  She mentioned that there are many Taiwanese literary works that reveal the cultural trauma resulting from the “white terror” that occurred in the past, but the majority of Taiwan’s population are people who did not directly suffer that trauma, or who were born after the “white terror” era. Nevertheless they are still affected by the trauma and they also try to play it down or eliminate any thought of it. 
The conference proceedings will be published by the CTS of UCSB and by BK21Plus Group of Korea University in the near future.

Photo:Professor Tu Kuo-Ch’ing (front row, 2nd right) beside Ms. Rebecca HC Lan, Director of the Education Division, TECO in Los Angeles, with the conference participants.