Monday, January 02, 2017

New books, bought in Taiwan, in the former native speaker's library

I bought these books during our somewhat shortened trip to Taiwan this winter break. (We were supposed to be in Taiwan for about 2 weeks, but because of the weather in Boston, we missed a connection in San Francisco and ended up staying there for three days.) For some reason I decided to buy several books in Chinese. It'll be interesting to see when and if I get around to reading them!

  • 一個家族。三個時代:吳拜和子女們, by 吳宏仁. I read an excerpt of this on the Thinking Taiwan (想想) blog and found myself wanting to read more.
  • 永不放棄:楊逵的抵抗、勞動與寫作, by 楊翠. 楊翠 (Yang Cui) is a granddaughter of 楊逵 (Yang Kui) and a professor of Chinese at National Donghua University in Hualien. I found out about this book through Facebook (so I guess Facebook is good for something!). I first heard about Yang Kui when I was interviewing a Tunghai alumnus from the 1960s who told me about his experience meeting Yang near 東海花園 (Tunghai Garden). He didn't know who Yang was, though, so he didn't talk to Yang. It would have been risky to talk to Yang, though, at that time because the police were still monitoring him. The alumnus said that if he had chatted with Yang at that time, he might never have been able to go abroad to study.
  • 省道台一線的故事(全新增修版), by 黃智偉. A former colleague from Tunghai sent me a photo of a bookstore she had visited that had a lot of books about Taiwan history, and this book caught my eye.
  • 黃紀男泣血夢迴錄, 黃紀男口述黃玲珠執筆. Originally published in 1991, this book is out of print. 黃紀男 (N̂g Kí-lâm) was involved in the Taiwan Independence Movement and was jailed 3 times. He had some contact with George H. Kerr during the immediate postwar period, but mistakenly wrote that Kerr had been a CIA agent during his time in Taiwan as an English teacher (there was no CIA between 1937 and 1940, when Kerr was in Taiwan).
Hopefully I'll get a chance to read through some of these this year. I'm not making any new year's resolutions this time around, but I hope that I'll do some more reading this year (more than just student papers!). I'm currently skimming through 黃紀男泣血夢迴錄 in order to see what connection he had to Kerr and to the petition that was written post-228 to the US. 黃彰健 (Huang Zhangjian, no relation to 黃紀男) claimed in his 二二八事件真相考證稿 that 黃紀男 was William Huang was Pillar Huang was Peter Huang who wrote the petition to General Marshall. But I don't trust Huang Zhangjian, so I'm going to have to read through this myself...

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

End of the semester

Classes ended last week, and I'm still rushing to get grading done before doing some holiday traveling. But I didn't want to miss posting in December because this will be the first year since 2007 that I managed to post something every month.

Well, now I've done it, so I can get back to grading.

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

So much for reading month...

...unless you include reading student work. Learned a lot from their writing, though! Some really interesting work being done in my first-year writing classes on topics like diversity in the university, experiential learning, university students and mental health, study abroad, and a bunch of more topics. If I could just read what they write and not worry about grading it...

The semester is going to be over soon. Classes end on Dec. 7. I hope to spend some time doing some reading and writing, though first I have to recover from this cold I picked up during our trip home for Thanksgiving...

Oh, I should note that I never finished Rose, Rose, I Love You. (In fact, I can't even find my copy of it!) Somehow I feel that it must be a better read in the original language(s). In English, it's rather dull. (Apologies to the translator!)

Tuesday, November 01, 2016

National Academic Reading Month?

So November is usually National Academic Writing Month, which got its inspiration from National Novel Writing Month. I tried participating in this three years ago, with mixed results. I might have tried it more recently, I'm not sure, but I'm beginning to be more and more suspicious about it. Or maybe it's depressed.

I don't think November is a good month to do this, at least not for me. I'm typically overwhelmed in November--behind in grading (like now), and then there's the long trip home for Thanksgiving at the end of the month. So I don't plan on participating in this activity this year. In fact, I'm going to cut back on the writing that I do every day for this month. I've been doing a lot of journaling on the train, for instance forcing myself to write at least 750 words during each 20-minute trip. I'm not going to do as much anymore, at least not for this month. I want to do some reading instead. I have stacks of books that I want to read. I once commented to a reader that I had a dream that I'd be able to read all my unread books once I had finished my dissertation. That hasn't happened (though that hasn't stopped me from buying even more books). Maybe now it's time to get going on that dream/plan. Maybe I should declare November Reading Month (for me, anyway, though you're welcome to join me). Now I just have to decide what I want to read in November...

I've decided to start with Wang Chen-ho's Rose, Rose, I Love You, which I mentioned in a previous post. Hopefully starting with a novel will help me build momentum. (If I started off with some dusty academic treatise, I'd probably lose momentum very quickly!) I am also currently reading Rick Perlstein's The Invisible Bridge (I loved his Nixonland), but I've got the hardback copy and I'm not going to lug it around on the train every day. I'll save it for reading at home.

Monday, October 24, 2016

Upcoming Academic Plan meeting

I volunteered (?) to go to a "Town Hall" meeting this coming Wednesday on the Academic Plan. We'll see how that goes. They're expecting "a robust discussion." I don't know if I'll say anything, but I'll try to take notes on the discussion. Not sure if I'll post them here or just make them available to my colleagues.

I think the last time I posted notes here on a university-related meeting was back in 2006! It wasn't exactly the same thing, but it was a meeting that led to the development of Tunghai's English Language Center.

More on this later...?

In the meantime, I just reread a note that I posted back in 2004 about Applied English departments in Taiwan. It looks as though back then I was also wondering about the relationship between humanities education and the marketplace. This was from the perspective, though, of someone who was more involved in the English major than I am here. Anyway, it was an interesting trip down memory lane...

[Update, 11/1/16: Here's a link to a news story about the town hall meeting. It didn't go as I had expected/hoped. There wasn't really a chance to ask about what some faculty (like me) had questions about: What would the curriculum look like in 10 years? What kinds of new responsibilities would faculty members have? Will we still be teaching classes or will our job descriptions be very different? The Academic Plan refers to "'Just-for you' learning with curated content and resources matched to individual learning goals. Learning modules and 'stackable' credentialing will add customization." What will that look like in practice? So far I haven't heard anything specific about this.]

Friday, October 14, 2016

Two new books in the former native speaker's library

Not sure why I'm still calling myself "the former native speaker." The way my Chinese ability is going, I should call myself "the former non-native speaker." No, that's not right. Maybe "the former Chinese speaker..."

Anyway, I've gotten something of an urge to read some fiction from Taiwan (in translation, of course--and I don't even have time to read that, much less read a novel in Chinese). I'm currently reading Rose, Rose, I Love You by Wang Chen-ho, which I bought a while back but never got around to reading. Then I decided to pick up a couple more books from that series, so I bought

Who knows when I'll actually get around to reading them. These are all from the Columbia UP series, "Modern Chinese Literature from Taiwan." Interestingly, it appears that this series was originally called "Modern Literature from Taiwan" (at least I think so). I've read Wu Zhuoliu's Orphan of Asia, which is also in that series, and I have to wonder about its place in the series "Modern Chinese Literature from Taiwan" when it was originally written in Japanese. Anyway, it looks like an interesting series, and I might use it to introduce me to some literature that I can then read in Chinese (probably when I retire...).

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

New writing group begins its work

As my faithful reader(s?) might remember, I joined a writing group at my school last year that had its ups and downs. And (tentative) ups again. Well, I've joined a new writing group for this semester. As with the last year's group, we had a bit of a rocky start, partly because of differing ideas about what we'd do at the meetings. So we ended up meeting today with three people (including me). I am going to do my best to go to the meetings this semester, but I guess I'll have to see how my workload goes.

I've continued to think about what I was writing about last year regarding the kinds of writing I should be doing. As I mentioned before, as a non-tenure track person, I don't have to limit myself to writing things that will contribute to getting me tenure. So I'm trying to work on something that I can pitch to a more popular publication. My partners, who are more experienced than I am in writing for more general audiences, are helping me a lot with the process. (Including how to use words like "pitch" properly!) My first project for myself is to start writing a pitch for an article idea I have. We'll see how that goes. It's pretty exciting to be learning something new about writing!

[Update, 11/29/16: Well, that didn't go very far. I only made it to that first meeting, and then it seemed that life conspired to prevent me from attending any other meetings. So... not much success this time with the writing group. Maybe it's not meant to be for me.]