Thursday, June 15, 2017

Update on the post-publication fate of Formosa Betrayed

About seven years ago I wrote about some of the theories going around regarding what happened to George H. Kerr's Formosa Betrayed after it was published in 1966 (copyright 1965). To summarize, the book was reprinted by Da Capo Press in 1976 in a more expensive "library edition." Some in the Taiwan Independence Movement believe that the book's copyright was somehow acquired by the KMT or some of its members/supporters. Kerr, for his part, was convinced that China scholar John King Fairbank persuaded Houghton Mifflin to sell the copyright to Da Capo Press because Fairbank was pro-China and wanted to marginalize Kerr's pro-Taiwan book.

As I said then, the idea that the KMT bought the copyright doesn't seem reasonable because if they wanted to suppress Formosa Betrayed, it doesn't make sense that they would go to the trouble of putting out a library edition (especially since they're also accused of having their "professional students" in the US steal the book from libraries). Kerr's belief that Fairbank would go to the trouble of convincing Houghton Mifflin to make a deal with Da Capo doesn't make sense for similar reasons.

After going through more of the records in the GHK collection at the Okinawa Prefectural Archives, I've come to the conclusion that Houghton Mifflin never "sold" the copyright of Formosa Betrayed to Da Capo (or the KMT or anyone else); they merely gave Da Capo permission to reprint the book in a library edition, probably because H-M had no intention of making new printings themselves (sales had declined by 1976). In fact, the Da Capo edition assigns the copyright to Kerr.

Here's the language of the relevant parts of the contract between H-M and Da Capo*:
AGREEMENT made this 25th day of February 1976 between DA CAPO PRESS, INC., ... hereinafter referred to as The Publisher, and Houghton Mifflin Company, ... hereinafter referred to as the Proprietor, concerning a work entitled:
hereinafter referred to as the Work.
Now, therefore, for and in consideration of their mutual promises and for other valuable consideration, receipt whereof is hereby acknowledged, the parties hereto agree as follows:
1. Proprietor warrants that it is the sole owner of the Work and of all rights granted to the Publisher under this agreement and that the book does not infringe upon any statutory or other copyright, or any right of others whatsoever; also that the book contains no matter which is contrary to law. ...
2. Proprietor hereby grants to the Publisher the sole and exclusive right for the term hereinafter stated [five years, stated in point 3] to publish and sell a hardcover edition of the Work in the English language throughout the United States, its dependencies and possessions, and Canada, and non-exclusively in the Open Market exclusive of the British Commonwealth as presently constituted including the Republics of South Africa and Eire.
9. The Publisher agrees to print on the copyright page of each book the copyright notices as contained in the Proprietor's edition and any new copyright information alsong with the phrase, "reprinted by special arrangement with Houghton Mifflin Company."
10. All rights not specifically mentioned herein remain the property of the Proprietor.  
I'm not a copyright lawyer, but it looks to me as though Houghton Mifflin is keeping the copyright, not selling it to Da Capo.

I'm not sure, though, why the copyright on the Da Capo edition (see the link above) is in Kerr's name. I don't seem to have a copy of Kerr's contract with Houghton Mifflin, so I can't check it to see what they agreed to concerning the copyright ownership. However, the 1965 Catalog of Copyright Entries lists the copyright as belonging to Kerr:

I didn't find any copyright entry for Kerr's Formosa Betrayed after 1965. Nevertheless, after finding out about the deal that Houghton Mifflin had made with Da Capo, Kerr wrote to H-M on 10 May 1982, asking to have "all rights and interests" to Formosa Betrayed reverted to him, as allowed by his contract with the publisher.* Kerr wrote that he had not been notified of the agreement that H-M had made with Da Capo "until months after it had been concluded." After hearing from Da Capo in 1976 and receiving a copy of their edition in 1977, Kerr "heard nothing further on the status of the book" from Da Capo, but after he wrote to them in 1981, he received a check for $29.25 in royalties from H-M based on the sale of 13 copies of the book. As Kerr wrote, "Total sales of thirteen copies over a period of seven years can hardly be considered satisfactory to anyone concerned." Kerr then received another royalty statement in September, 1982 that indicated that seven more Da Capo Press editions had been sold in the previous six months.

As I wrote above, I'm no expert in copyright law, but I wonder if Kerr needed to do all this. Is it possible that he lost possible royalties (no matter how small) by having the rights reverted to him?

*Source of the contract and Kerr's letter to H-M: George H. Kerr papers, Okinawa Prefectural Archives.

Monday, May 22, 2017

Drafting a disciplinary linguistic landscape assignment (Was, Work on a new assignment for my summer interdisciplinary writing class

As I might have mentioned, I'm teaching a summer course in interdisciplinary writing, beginning in June. I've taught this course before, with what I'd consider to be mixed success. The course was inaugurated in the fall of 2014, and as I mentioned back then, in my experience it's ideally (though not necessarily in practice) populated by students from a variety of academic disciplines. At this point, though, it looks like I'm going to have a lot of engineering students in my section, which will make the "interdisciplinary" part of this a bit challenging. One thing that I've found, though, is that there are some interesting differences among the fields (sub-fields?) of industrial engineering, civil engineering, computer engineering, etc. (I see that I've mentioned this before.) So I might try to take advantage of those differences to have students look into the interdisciplinarity of engineering.

In the past, I've had students start out by reading up on discourse communities and thinking about the implications of seeing their own disciplines as discourse communities, perhaps stretching the common definitions. For this class, though, I'm going to try to start off with a specific focus on the writing that goes on in their disciplines, in particular by asking students to look at their departments as physical, institutional, and textual spaces. I'm going to ask them to work in pairs (I want to put them in groups comprising students from different disciplines, which will be a challenge) and preparing a PPT presentation in which they'll describe, compare, and analyze the spaces occupied by their departments. Depending on how their departments are physically situated in the school, part of this would involve observing (and photographing) the buildings/hallways in which their departments are located. The other areas might be classrooms, laboratories, lounges, etc., that "belong" to their departments. I want them to pay special attention to the kinds of written texts that are displayed around those spaces and what those texts might tell them about how the department is trying to represent itself to insiders and outsiders. By texts, I'm thinking about not only displays of scholarly work (books, papers, poster presentations), but also signs, postings on bulletin boards, postings on faculty members' office doors, etc. I'm asking students to think about what these texts (including images) might say about what their discipline is "about"--what kinds of activities are valued in the department and how these activities help distinguish the department from or connect it to other departments or parts of the university.

I showed a draft of the assignment to Neal Lerner and Laurie Edwards, the director of the Writing Program and the director of the Advanced Writing in the Disciplines (AWD) program at my school. They kindly provided advice on revising the assignment; in particular, they warned that I should make sure that the students' products don't end up simply listing features and similarities and differences, but that these observed features also need to be analyzed in a theoretical context. So I'm working on revising the assignment to put more emphasis on analysis, and I'm trying to bring in some theoretical perspectives that will be accessible to the students without overwhelming them in the first week of the course.

In writing up this assignment, I've been drawing on several different (and probably incompatible!) sources: the field of linguistic landscape studies, John Swales' concept of "textography" (here's a re-review of Swales' book) and Latour & Woolgar's discussion of the anthropology of the laboratory life, as presented in "An Anthropologist Visits the Laboratory." Most of this material is relatively new to me (thanks to Neal Lerner for introducing me to Latour & Woolgar), but I'm doing my best to cobble it together in a way that will be accessible to students (particularly second-language learners).

I've found the slide presentation below from Dave Malinowski to be useful to me in framing the assignment from a linguistic landscape perspective. In particular, slides 18-20, 22, and 25-33 have been helpful.

One interdisciplinary aspect of this assignment is, of course, that I am asking students to view their own disciplines (or departments--and I know I'm "problematically" equating the two) from the perspective of another discipline (or disciplines! I'm not even sure!). That is, I'm asking them to look at their disciplines from a linguistic perspective, with the values of a linguist (or social scientist, more generally). I'll probably include a question about that in the reflection assignment that goes along with the general assignment.

I'll add more to this post (or add another post) later as I refine the assignment...

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

George H. Kerr, Ryukyu: Kingdom and Province Before 1945 on

In their introduction to Islands of Protest: Japanese Literature from Okinawa, editors Davinder L. Bhowmik and Steve Rabson argue that in the 1950s and 60s, Okinawans' preference for Japanese control over U.S. occupation "grew extremely popular, with greater than 70 percent of the Okinawan electorate supporting reunification with Japan at a time when, in one of history's repetitions, U.S. occupation forces encouraged the flourishing of Ryukyuan culture in an effort to distance Okinawans from their mainland cousins" (4).

George H. Kerr took some role in this U.S. effort. Kerr had conducted research with SIRI (The Scientific Investigations of the Ryukyu Islands), a joint academic-military effort. Kerr expressed concern about the Okinawan desire to "revert" to Japanese control. Hidekazu Sensui quotes from a 1952 SIRI progress report in which Kerr worries that this movement "constitutes a threat to our position in political warfare" (qtd in 40). As part of the U.S. occupiers' efforts to distance Okinawans from the Japanese, Kerr was asked to write a history of the Ryukyus that would be translated into Japanese.

The English book was written, as Kerr notes in a foreword, "at the request of Brigadier General James M. Lewis, Civil Administrator for the Ryukyu Islands, who desired a text suitable for translation into the Japanese language for use at the University of the Ryukyus" (ii). Kerr's 1953 book, Ryukyu: Kingdom and Province Before 1945 (available on became the basis for Ryukyu no Rekishi.

In his short biographical essay about George H. Kerr (pdf), Tony Jenkins notes that
Okinawans of a certain generation variously celebrate or scorn George Kerr's Ryukyu no Rekishi (1956), which they were required or encouraged to read in their college days. It was, and still is, seen either as welcome international recognition of Okinawa's place in history, or as American propaganda, occasionally erroneous, that sought to divorce the 1950s Okinawan collective mentality from Japan. (3)
It would perhaps be understandable if the history of the Ryukyus that Kerr was writing was meant only for American civil administration. The fact that the U.S. Civil Administrator saw a need to have an American write a history of Ryukyu to be translated into Japanese was cause for suspicion among Okinawan academics, as Jenkins notes.

But Jenkins also argues that Kerr was at least somewhat aware of the complicated nature of Okinawan-Japanese relations--Kerr saw the Okinawans as needing to emphasize a more equal status with the Japanese mainland so that when Japan retook control of the islands, they wouldn't be treated as second-class citizens. This theme is also evident in the foreword to Ryukyu, where Kerr argues that "the people of Ryukyu are much more eager to be recognized and accepted as 'Japanese', than the people of Japan are ready or eager to claim them without reservation." He concludes,
Okinawa and its people have sometimes been likened to Texas and the Texans. They are proud of their tradition of former independence, and cherish special cultural characteristics which set them apart and give them self-respect. But like the Texans whose pride and patriotism as citizens of the United States should not be challenged, the people of Ryukyu consider themselves patriotic and true citizens of the larger unit, Japan. The attitude of the sophisticated Japanese of Tokyo toward the farmers and fishermen of Okinawa Province finds its parallel in the attitude of the native New Yorker toward the drawling, ranch-born cowhand on the most distant border ranges. With great reluctance the Okinawan will admit that the record shows Japan's discrimination in economics, politics, and social advantage. Nevertheless, the ties of race, common language, education, political and administrative institutions, and economy were and may be assumed to be permanent. (ii)
It would be interesting to know if any of these thoughts made it into the Japanese translation, though. Here's an interesting case where any changes between the English and Japanese versions would be a result of the U.S. civil administration's censors rather than "cultural" differences or censorship by the Japanese themselves.

[Update: Prof. Sensui noted on Facebook that the Japanese translation of the book included the foreword, which was "often quoted by Okinawan writers and politicians (Prof. Ota's was one of the earliest cases), though they usually skipped the part in which GHK drew comparison with Texans."]

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

In which my translingual aphasia leads me to explore the origins of the term 五金行

Earlier this evening (or yesterday evening, depending on when I finish this), I was talking with someone who mentioned a store on the corner of a main street in a nearby town. I thought I knew which store it was, but instead of saying the word "hardware," I said, "Is it a five..." before I stopped myself. I wasn't thinking "five and dime"--actually I was trying to say "五金行" in English. (A more-or-less literal translation of "五金行" would be "five metals store.")

About an hour ago, I started to reflect on this and got to wondering what was wrong with me the origins of the term 五金行 were. First I checked the Chinese Wikipedia, but that didn't tell me much, though it did cite an article that's no longer available but evidently discussed a Ye Chengzhong (葉澄衷), who was known as the "hardware king" in late Qing Shanghai.This discovery led me to an English Wikipedia entry about Ye Chengzhong (!). This article links to a 2011 Xinhua News story about Ye, which tells about how he became the hardware king:
According to the book "The Century-Old Famous Factories and Stores in Shanghai" (1987), an American business man once hired Ye's boat for a ride in 1862. But he left behind a briefcase full of cash and valuables.

Ye waited for a long time for the owner to return the briefcase. When he did, he was greatly touched by Ye's honest. The American businessman helped him open the city's first hardware shop on Daming Road in Hongkou District, selling much-needed tools and suppliers to sailors and military personnel at premium prices.

As the hardware business boomed, Ye expanded into many areas, including finance, commerce, industry, shipping and education, and made important contributions before he died in 1899.
But this story, inspiring as it might be, didn't bring me any closer to finding out the origins of the term 五金行. And interestingly, according to Sherman Cochran's book Encountering Chinese Networks: Western, Japanese, and Chinese Corporations in China, 1880-1937 (University of California P, 2000), Ye's hardware store was called "Shunji Imports" (順記洋貨號)--no five metals mentioned there.

I went on to find an entry in the Chinese Yahoo! Knowledge where someone had asked why "five metal stores" were called that ("為什麼賣五金的地方要叫五金行"). According to a somewhat lengthy response to the question, the five metals are gold, silver, copper, iron, and tin (金、銀、銅、鐵、錫). The respondent goes on to say that metals that were most resistant to oxidation were the earliest to be discovered by humans and used for weapons and tools. The writer goes on to suggest a relationship between the five metals and the five elements: metal, wood, water, fire, and earth (金、木、水、火、土). Those of you interested in reading more about the five elements (or five phases), can check out Wikipedia for an introduction to Wu Xing (though I make no guarantees about its accuracy or readability).

This was all getting a little too abstract for me, though (especially since it's after 1 a.m.!), but I'm at least temporarily satisfied that even if I don't have a date for the earliest usage of 五金行, at least I have a little information on the term, which seems to be using some ancient terminology for modern purposes. An article in a 1922 issue of The Scientific Monthly also notes this interesting, ummm... element:

And that's where we'll end for now. I've exhausted most my options, including my old copy of Endymion Wilkinson. But I'm open to suggestions!

Saturday, May 13, 2017

Another addition to the former native speaker's library

Chang, Sung-sheng Yvonne, Michelle Yeh, and Ming-ju Fan, eds. The Columbia Sourcebook of Literary Taiwan. NY: Columbia UP, 2014.

It's important to note up front that this is not an anthology of Taiwanese literature; it's more like an anthology of Taiwanese literary theory and criticism. The book jacket lists a wide variety of texts that make up this volume's contents, including
seminal essays in literary debates, polemics, and other landmark events; interviews, diaries, and letters by major authors; critical and retrospective essays by influential writers, editors, and scholars; transcripts of historical speeches and conferences; literary-society manifestos and inaugural journal prefaces; and governmental policy pronouncements that have significantly influenced Taiwanese literature.
What the description that I've linked to above doesn't mention is that this book starts off with a 36-page introduction (including endnotes and bibliography) by Chang that lays out the historical background for the 160+ translated writings about Taiwan's developing literary scene. I'm looking forward to digging into this introduction--and into the anthology itself--in order to get a better understanding of the history of Taiwan's literary thought(s).

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Author of The Jing Affair identified

A few years ago, I read a 1965 spy novel about Taiwan entitled The Jing Affair, after reading a scholarly article about it written by Chih-ming Wang. In The Jing Affair, a Taiwanese American pilot named Johnny Hsiao, along with what the book jacket describes as "a fistful of desperate men and women," engage in a secret mission to stop Free China's General Jing from secretly selling out Taiwan to the Reds for $30,000,000. The book gets praise from Mark Mancall, known for editing Formosa Today, a collection of essays on Taiwan published in 1964. Mancall writes,
Mr. Spencer has written a provocative and compelling novel, but The Jing Affair is more than a novel; it is a dramatization of unfolding history, as Spencer sees it. Whether or not the future will develop as Spencer describes it is not the question. His predictions might come true. What is important is that people who read this novel should beware; they may be forced to think.
As Wang points out, the novel also got a mention toward the end of  Douglas Mendel's The Politics of Formosan Nationalism (1970), where Mendel speculates on the future of Taiwan. Unlike Mancall, Mendel is skeptical of the possibility for Taiwanese revolution against the KMT, but he suggests that Spencer's idea that the US might intervene is more likely. "But," Mendel concludes, "if the mainland regime at that time were willing to deal with the United States, the latter might well accept the incorporation of Formosa as part of a larger arrangement ..." (231; Wang also quotes this sentence).

Mendel evidently had correspondence with Spencer, as he cites a letter from Spencer in which the novelist "admitted that 'in government circles mine is a rather lonely if no longer a dangerous point of view ... I can think of no other way [to defend the Formosan cause] ... in the framework of the U.S. national interest ... We would be better off with Formosa as the southermost [sic] province of Japan than as the easternmost province of China, and I believe even the Taiwanese would reluctantly concur'" (qtd. in Mendel 231). It's unclear whether Mendel knew Spencer's real identity or not.

Up until now, people who knew about this obscure novel probably didn't know much more about its author than what they got from The Jing Affair's book jacket, which describes the author as follows:
Mr. Spencer, who writes under a pseudonym, is presently with a U.S. government agency in a position concerned with Far Eastern affairs. He has spent more than twenty years in the Far East in various capacities, including stints as a newspaper correspondent. He has lived in Taiwan and knows the people and situations about which he writes.
Googling the novel's title today took me to a new memoir by Danielle Flood entitled The Unquiet Daughter (a clear and important reference to Graham Greene's The Quiet American). A newspaper article about Flood describes her story as "involv[ing] a real-life love triangle that became the basis of British novelist Graham Greene’s classic 'The Quiet American.' ... In real life, [the novel's three main characters] are Flood’s parents: her biological mother, of French and Vietnamese descent, her biological British father, whom she tracked for years, and the man she knew as her father, an American named Jim Flood." The article goes on to say, "In the early 1950s, Jim Flood worked as an American foreign officer in what would become the first U.S. Embassy in Saigon. She suspects, but cannot prove, that he worked for the C.I.A." After Danielle Flood found out from her mother that Jim Flood wasn't her biological father, she started a long search for her father.

I haven't read Flood's memoirs yet, but I came across a reference to The Jing Affair in the Google Books version of The Unquiet Daughter. Flood writes,
The first thing I read when I got back to New York from Washington [where she visited her father] is Dad's novel, The Jing Affair, published by Funk and Wagnalls three years earlier under the pseudonym, D.J. Spencer, Spencer being his mother's maiden name. 
It's a lot for me to follow. It would be decades before I could catch up to Dad's knowledge of: the intelligence community; how its members go about causing insurrection and mini-wars that can lead to big wars; the inner workings of the U.S. government in Washington and abroad; the history of Taiwan, China [sic]; and of Chinese curses even.
So now I know the real name of "D.J. Spencer": James Flood. And I also have another book to buy (and read, sooner or later!).

[Update] Ha! Turns out all I would have had to do is go to the 1965 Catalogue of Copyright Entries and looked up the novel's title! There it is, as plain as day. So much for getting protection through pseudonymity (pseudonymousness?)... Of course, I would have had no idea who James Flood actually was.

Tuesday, May 09, 2017

New writing project

It seems that I have added a new writing project to my list of things to do during the summer. I am going to be purposely vague about it at this point, but I can say it involves some people that I've worked pleasantly with before, a subject that I enjoy writing about, and a time frame that... well, it forces me to focus during the remaining moments of my vacation. (I start teaching my summer classes on July 3.)

I'm getting started on that, and still trying to get through the book about the three generations of Wu Bai's family (that's 吳拜, not 伍佰). I also have to get ready for that new fall course I'm teaching. So I'd better stay off Facebook for awhile!