Thursday, April 20, 2017

Sort of semi-annual end of the semester post

We had the last day of class yesterday, so I now have to get caught up on grading so that I can turn in final grades before the due date. Fortunately, I don't have to give any final exams, so I don't have that to worry about. (I should be working on grading now, but for some reason I can't access Blackboard.)

Once I get my grading done, I want to work on a few projects, including revisions on a paper that I've been writing on and off since 2013 and a few blog posts on various topics. One post that I'm writing concerns some questions I have about the circulation of English- and Chinese-language research on recent Taiwan history. Basically, I'm wondering how much researchers writing in Chinese are using recent English-language research, and vice versa. I don't have the resources to do really involved citation analysis, though. I've found a couple of English-language articles about Taiwanese journals' citations of English-language journals, but they're not talking specifically about Taiwanese history.

I also have to start thinking about the two writing courses I'll be teaching the second summer session. I'm supposed to teach one section of first-year writing for multilingual writers, and I'm thinking that I want to try something different (or perhaps go back to something different). I think I've exhausted--or I'm exhausted by--the work on the university's Academic Plan.

I'm also going to be teaching a new course (for me) next fall: "Writing in Global Contexts." The official course description (with one slight correction from me) reads,
Explores the various ways that linguistic diversity shapes our everyday, academic, and professional lives. Offers students an opportunity to learn about language policy, the changing place of World English[es] in globalization, and what contemporary theories of linguistic diversity, such as translingualism, mean for writing. Invites students to explore their own multilingual communities or histories through empirical or archival research.
The previous instructor, Mya Poe, has provided me with her course materials, so I need to spend some time studying them and thinking about what I might do similarly and differently. I'm thinking of trying to do some cross-course projects if I can also teach First-year Writing for Multilingual Writers next fall. I'm also thinking about something related to the use of sources in other languages when writing. I had some thoughts about this after reading Ingrid Piller's article, "Monolingual Ways of Seeing Multilingualism," in which she critiques monolingual (and English) biases in the ways that multilingualism is discussed in academic research. I was also thinking about my conference paper, "Formosa Translated," and what it suggests about the uses of translation for different audiences and contexts. I recall that Xiaosui Xiao wrote a couple of articles back in the mid-1990s about the rhetoric of translations between English and Chinese:

  • Xiao, Xiaosui. "China Encounters Darwinism: A Case of Intercultural Rhetoric." Quarterly Journal of Speech 81.1 (1995): 83-99.
    Abstract: "An important but neglected path to understanding intercultural communication is to explore how influential works of one culture are adapted to the needs, circumstances and thought patterns of another. Yan Fu's Heavenly Evolution, a rhetorical 'translation' of Thomas Huxley's Evolution and Ethics, the publication of which resulted in a rapid spread of a version of Darwinism in Confucian China at the turn of this century, is analyzed as a case study. It shows the conditions for the rhetorical role of the native interpreter in dealing with Darwinian ideas and terms that were originally in conflict with Chinese modes of thought."
  • Xiao, Xiaosui. "From the Hierarchical Ren to Egalitarianism: A Case of Cross‐cultural Rhetorical Mediation." Quarterly Journal of Speech 82.1 (1996): 38-54. 
    Abstract: "A Study of Humanity (Ren), the first Chinese 'manifesto of egalitarianism,' written by Tan Sitong in 1896–97, was one of the most important spiritual contributions to the republican movement toward the end of China's last imperial dynasty. This essay argues that the particular persuasiveness of its nontraditional egalitarian argument is explained by the writer's skills in exploiting the humanistic and organic ethos of Chinese tradition. This case reveals the interaction of rhetoric and culture. It shows how a dynamic process of rhetorical mediation led to change and also how the fundamental experience of Chinese culture remained intact as long as the Confucian organic world views remained operative in dictating the writer's choice of the appropriate channels, means, and modes of moderation."
Anyway, I have to do some thinking about all this over the break.

Friday, March 31, 2017

Posting on the last day of March

Nothing really to say right now--or rather, I should say that I have a lot to say, but no time to write. I hope to have a few things to add to this blog once classes are over in April. Right now I'm up to my ears in grading...

I should mention that I've been adding some new blogs that look interesting to my blog list, like "Translating Taiwanese Literature." I don't want that list to get too long, though, so I might have to weed out a few blogs or narrow the focus. It seems that I have several Asian book- or lit-related blogs. Maybe that can be a focus. Any suggestions for other blogs to link to? (Or ones to delete?)

Saturday, March 11, 2017

End of spring break review

My spring break is almost over--classes will start again on Monday. Ironically, perhaps, there's a possibility that we'll have a snow day on Wednesday due to a Nor'easter that's supposed to hit Tuesday. (I know, I know, Garrison Keillor would say, "Snow is soft!" Well, not when it's being blown into your face by heavy winds.)

I got a few things done over the vacation, though. I finished grading some assignments that I had put on hold because of a couple of lectures that I had to prepare for in late February. One was an invited talk for my friend and former Tunghai colleague John Shufelt, who's teaching a course on American writings about Taiwan at Brown; the other was a talk at a 70th anniversary commemoration of 228 run by the Taiwanese American Association of New York. (Here's an article about the meeting, written by Grace Jackson.) It was a challenge, but a good experience, to take what I had written about Kerr and Sneider and recast it for different kinds of audiences--in the first case, undergraduates, and in the second, survivors of the White Terror and their descendants.

In addition to getting the grading done, I finished my reflective self-criticismevaluation that is required of us every year. Here's an image I used in the document, based on a comment from a student evaluation.

(As you can see, these self-evaluations are not expected to be excessively formal documents. At least I hope they're not!)

I also started reading 一個家族。三個時代:吳拜和子女們, which is looking to be a very interesting book. I hope to write something about it here once I get it done. (Which might take some time--it's over 400 pages. The language isn't too difficult, though, at least so far.) Lately on Facebook I've been seeing a lot of books mentioned that I'd like to read, including a proposed 9-volume set of the writings of 張炎憲, whose oral history about Taiwanese graduate students in the US was very useful for me in my research (see the post below)--if it weren't for that book, I might not have ever known about the debate (I prefer to call it the "battle of the pens") at KSU back in the 1960s between the pro-independence Taiwanese students and their pro-KMT counterparts and the role Formosa Betrayed played in that debate.

Well, now that the break is ending, I have to get back into teaching mode, so much of this will have to go on the back burner until May.

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Taiwanese in Post WWII Korea?

I've been thinking about the author's note for Vern Sneider's 1950 short story, "A Pail of Oysters," that was published in the Antioch Review. It notes that Sneider first met Taiwanese in Korea:
In early 1945 he served as area supervisor of Tobaru, a village of 5,000, on Okinawa, and later went to Korea where he was given charge of the education and welfare sections of Kyongi Province, which contains Seoul. It was on the last job that he first came to know well the various Chinese groups from whom he gathered the material for the present story.  “Whether they were Fukien, Hakka, or Pepohuan,” says Mr. Sneider, “their grievances against the soldiery were always the same.” Afterward, he and a group of Chinese intended to create a fishing fleet, build food processing plants on the Pescadores Islands off Formosa, and distribute their products through the East. The situation became too “chaotic,” and he came home where for the past three years he has been trying to “bring the desperate plight of Asia to light through fiction.”
My question is about what these "Chinese groups" were doing in Korea? Were they former soldiers for the Japanese empire? POWs?

Monday, January 23, 2017

Formosa Translated: Rhetorical Ecologies and the Transcoding of Formosa Betrayed

This paper was presented in abstentia at the 20th anniversary conference of the North American Taiwan Studies Association, Madison, WI, USA, June 20, 2014. I decided to post a lightly edited version of the oral script and the images here for feedback. Because this was presented at a Taiwan Studies conference, and not at a rhetoric conference, I felt I had to give an introduction to some of the ways that rhetoricians have discussed the concept of "the rhetorical situation." Comments welcome!

Formosa Translated: Rhetorical Ecologies and the Transcoding of Formosa Betrayed

I want to start out by saying a few things about the concept of rhetorical ecologies as it has been developed by Jenny Edbauer, before using it to talk about George Kerr's 1965 book, Formosa Betrayed.

To talk about rhetorical ecologies, I need to start out by talking about rhetorical situations, because Edbauer’s article adds to the body of work in rhetorical studies about rhetorical situations. So to start out, in 1968, Lloyd Bitzer published an article entitled “The Rhetorical Situation” in which he argued that rhetoric is situational, by which he meant that a speaker, or rhetor, in creating a speech or writing a text, is responding to--is actually dependent upon--an outside, objectively visible situation or exigence. So as Bitzer defines it, an exigence is “an imperfection marked by urgency; it is a defect, an obstacle, something waiting to be done, a thing which is other than it should be” (6). In the case of a rhetorical situation, an exigence is an imperfection that calls for a rhetorical response--a response in discourse. Now he says that people might not necessarily recognize an exigence, or that the audience might not be convinced by the rhetor that the exigence is something that needs to be addressed or that the rhetor’s approach to addressing the exigence is the correct one. In those cases, Bitzer would say that the rhetor didn’t deliver a fitting response, or that the rhetor didn’t locate the appropriate rhetorical audience, or that the rhetorical situation had “decayed”--had passed its prime--or some combination of these factors.

If we think about George H. Kerr’s book Formosa Betrayed in terms of the rhetorical situation, there are a number of interesting points that could be made. One is the fact that although the book’s main focus is on the February 28 Incident of 1947, Formosa Betrayed itself wasn’t published until almost 20 years later. As Kerr tells it in several letters, including some to people at Houghton Mifflin, he had started working on a book about 2-28 almost immediately upon his return to the United States in 1947. He wanted to get the book out as soon as possible; as he puts it, he “advocated intervention before Chiang Kai-shek should move to Formosa and entrench himself.” Because of this, when the potential publishers at the time sent the manuscript to the State Department, the government objected to the book and its publication was basically killed. So the original exigence seems to have been the takeover of Taiwan by the KMT and the imminent retreat of Chiang Kai-shek to Taiwan. However, Kerr’s rhetorical response was delivered to the wrong audience (interestingly, though, this was not of his own doing), and the message was killed. As Kerr puts it in response to an author questionnaire, “By 1950 it was too late; McCarthy was rising, and by the time I had retrieved my MS (not without difficulty) it was not possible to get a hearing.” In Bitzer’s words, the rhetorical situation had “decayed” because by 1950 Chiang was already settled in Taiwan, and the McCarthy era made it impossible for Kerr to get an audience.

Kerr argued in 1964 that the issue of Taiwan was “still one capable of rousing tremendous controversy” even after so many years, and “if there is a succession crisis at Taipei or a noisy debate in the UN, we may be bringing something on the market at just the right moment.” The question for rhetoricians at this point is whether we’re still looking at a situation that is controlling the rhetor’s response or at something else.

Richard Vatz, in a 1973 response to Lloyd Bitzer, argued that Bitzer had everything backwards. Rhetoric is not situational, Vatz argued, but rather “situations are rhetorical.” The rhetoric, or the rhetor, controls what counts as a situation through the choosing of “salient” facts or events. According to Vatz’s view, the rhetorical situation of Formosa Betrayed can be seen as one that Kerr, as rhetor, was creating, rather than an objective reality independent of Kerr’s response to it. Kerr is put in the driver’s seat according to this theory. While Kerr himself would probably subscribe to Bitzer’s theory of the rhetorical situation, judging from his frequent invocation of timing in regards to publishing his book, a Vatzian view of the rhetorical situation is also arguably valid when we think about how Kerr makes his argument to the publishers that this book can “rous[e] tremendous controversy,” suggesting that his book was not simply a response to an objective, outside exigence.

Over the years, there have been other contributions to the discussion of rhetorical situations, but for the sake of time I’m going to skip ahead now to Jenny Edbauer’s 2005 article on rhetorical ecologies, in which she argues that rhetoric operates in a wider context than that of the single situation. In her view, “Rhetorical situations involve the amalgamation and mixture of many different events and happenings that are not properly segmented into audience, text, or rhetorician” (20). Therefore,
an ecological augmentation adopts a view toward the processes and events that extend beyond the limited boundaries of elements. One potential value of such a shifted focus is the way we view counter-rhetorics, issues of cooptation, and strategies of rhetorical production and circulation. Moreover, we can begin to recognize the way rhetorics are held together trans-situationally, as well as the effects of trans-situationality on rhetorical circulation. (20)
An ecological view of rhetoric can take us beyond arguments about whether an exigence called forth Kerr’s rhetorical response or Kerr created the exigence through rhetoric; it allows us to see Formosa Betrayed as part of a process of production and circulation rather than as one speaker’s rhetorical act, addressing one audience in one situation. Here I want to point out a few examples and implications of this perspective.

Around the time that Kerr’s book came out in early 1966, a pro-KMT slide presentation by Margaret Baker, entitled “Portrait of a Free China,” sparked a “battle of the pens” between pro-independence and pro-KMT students from Taiwan in the pages of the Kansas State Collegian student newspaper. Kansas State University, as described by Michael Chen ((陳希寬), was a hotbed of Taiwan independence activity, although participants had to be careful lest their identities be known to pro-KMT elements (in Zhang and Zeng). Reaction to Baker’s presentation was swift, and the debate brought in many speakers, such as American students and scholars (like Douglas Mendel), pro-KMT students (whose names were printed) and pro-independence students (who asked to remain anonymous). On the nineteenth and twentieth anniversaries of 228, Taiwanese students at KSU posted half-page and full-page ads commemorating the massacre.

Ad placed in Monday, February 28, 1966 issue of the Kansas State Collegian, on the nineteenth anniversary of 2-28.
Image courtesy of Morse Department of Special Collections, Kansas State University Libraries.

While the first ad quotes briefly from Formosa Betrayed, it is the second ad that I want to focus on first, because of how its image echoes the image on the dust jacket of Kerr’s book.

Full-page ad placed in Tuesday, February 28, 1967 issue of the Kansas State Collegian, on the twentieth anniversary of 2-28. Image courtesy of Morse Department of Special Collections, Kansas State University Libraries.
Kerr had not been particularly pleased with that dust jacket, complaining that it gave the book “a cheap and tawdry look” and that “serious readers in search of information concerning our Asian position will be put off by a garish or tawdry exterior.”

Cover of Formosa Betrayed.
However, the image of the dagger from the dust jacket became the symbol that the Taiwanese KSU alumni latched onto to illustrate their 228 anniversary advertisement. The image served for them as a dramatic symbol of the ruthlessness with which the Nationalist Army attacked and killed the “more than 10,000 unarmed and innocent Formosan Brethren who stood up against Chinese tyranny.” The anonymous KSU alumni “vernacularized” Kerr’s text through their adaptation of the dust jacket. Kerr evidently had been hoping to present a more-or-less objective “report” on conditions in Taiwan and felt that emotionalism was to be avoided as much as possible in the presentation (not that he succeeded), but the Taiwanese KSU alumni embraced the use of appeals to pathos as part of their effort to reach out to their American (and Taiwanese) classmates. It is also important to notice that in this case Formosa Betrayed--and Kerr himself--became more than a reference to a particular book. The KSU alumni “re-authored” Formosa Betrayed by taking the title--a title Kerr wasn’t particularly pleased with--and the cover image and focusing on the affective impact of those elements in their presentations.

That use of pathos translates into an affective vernacular the universalizing tendencies of Kerr’s human rights discourse (his “report” to his general American audience--and particularly his audience of US officials). Formosa Betrayed thus went beyond being simply an isolated rhetorical act and became part of a rhetorical ecology where local forces struggled over the identity and future of Taiwan.

Image courtesy of Morse Department of Special Collections, Kansas State University Libraries.
As I rethought the idea of rhetorical ecologies, I noticed an example of a “neighboring event,” as Edbauer calls it, on the newspaper page on which the 1966 ad appeared. If you look above the ad, you see three articles about the war in Vietnam--one reporting on “failed Viet Cong assaults” against the US, one discussing a debate between Robert Kennedy and Vice President Hubert Humphrey, and one on President Johnson’s hope that Congress would approve a renewal of the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution. For the sake of time, I’ll just discuss the first two. The first article ends with a mention of “Operation White Wing-Masher” carried out by the US 1st Air Cavalry Division. The article doesn’t mention this, but name of the operation, originally just “Masher,” was changed to “White Wing” at the insistence of President Johnson for PR reasons. It resulted in over 2000 Viet Cong deaths. It also sparked a renewed focus on civilian deaths in Vietnam when, according to William M. Hammond, “charges began circulating in Congress and the press that Operation Masher/White Wing had produced six civilian casualties for every Viet Cong” (266), an accusation protested by the US mission in Saigon.

The second article ends with a quote from Hubert Humphrey who, in response to a suggestion by Kennedy that the Communists might end up participating in the governing of South Vietnam, argued that “Americans would not want a group such as the Viet Cong to be able to shoot their way to power. ‘Banditry and murder’ should not be rewarded, he declared.”

I want to use this serendipitous juxtaposition of the “Massacre at Formosa” ad and the articles above it to think about the rhetorical situation here. Clearly in the traditional Bitzerian sense of rhetorical situations, we would have here two separate exigencies that called for the different rhetors--let’s say the Taiwanese KSU students and Vice President Humphrey--to respond to with a fitting rhetorical response. Bitzer does allow for situations to “become weakened in structure due to complexity or disconnectedness,” as when “two or more simultaneous rhetorical situations may compete for our attention” or when “persons composing the audience of situation A may also be the audience of situations B, C, and D” (12). However, the juxtaposition of these two situations might better serve to show how the ecological perspective on rhetorics can allow us to see both counter-rhetorics at work and what Edbauer calls “the effects of trans-situationality on rhetorical circulation.” The Taiwanese students’ ad calls into question Hubert Humphrey’s declaration that Americans don’t reward “banditry and murder” by quoting John King Fairbank, who wrote that “[t]he United States kept hands off, while rapacious Nationalists despoiled Taiwan as conquered territory,” and George Kerr, who wrote in Formosa Betrayed that Chiang Kai-shek’s response to Taiwanese demands “was a massacre.”

Notably, this kind of approach calls for a reader who has not been already situated as an audience for simply one situation or the other. Unlike with Bitzer’s “weakened” rhetorical situation, however, I’d argue that this approach to reading the circulation of rhetorics regarding the US role in Asia is productive. Edbauer’s concept of rhetorical ecologies gives us the opportunity to think about different possible ways through which Kerr’s rhetoric about Taiwan might not only be part of other discourses about Taiwan, but also potentially--depending on an audience that can see connections between neighboring events--take part in other debates about the US’s role in Asia.

Chinese-language edition of Formosa Betrayed.

Finally, I’d like to say something about the translation of Formosa Betrayed into Chinese. When Chen Rong-cheng and a network of Taiwanese expatriates finished work on a Chinese translation in 1973, Chen prefaced the book by tracing the growth of an international Taiwan independence movement, pointing to the Republic of China’s increasing isolation in the international sphere, and arguing that the “Taiwanization” of the government being carried out by the Chiang regime was merely window-dressing. He appears to be calling for readers not to be fooled by the appearance of liberalization and to be pointing to the loss of the KMT’s legitimacy as a looming crisis for the Taiwanese people. Formosa Betrayed thus serves as a warning and reminder to Taiwanese to continue to strengthen themselves if they hope to achieve independence and sovereignty. As Chen writes, “If we do not first help ourselves, who will save us?” (9). (「人不先自救,誰會救我?」)

This preface could be considered an instance of what Rebecca Dingo refers to as “transcoding,” in which rhetorics “travel along transnational networks, subtly shifting and changing to fit various situations while seemingly maintaining a common ideology” (31). Kerr’s text is not only translated into Chinese, but also transcoded by being prefaced with a call for self-salvation that reframes the meaning and purpose of Formosa Betrayed. By addressing an audience of Taiwanese, Chen rearticulates the meaning of Formosa Betrayed as an understanding that Taiwanese should not hope for anyone else to help them anymore if they don’t work for their own freedom. The failure of the US to “save” the Taiwanese is made the evidence for the argument that Taiwanese must save themselves because no one else will help them.

In 1991, when the first legal Taiwan edition was published, martial law had been over for 4 years, but with the opening up of indirect links to China and the beginning of cross-strait negotiations, Taiwanese independence advocates feared that the KMT would reach an agreement with the CCP and Taiwan would be sold out (betrayed) to China. Chen’s preface to the 1991 edition addresses this context, speaking to an audience of Taiwanese who had an increasing say (if only symbolically) in what the government did. The preface to this “Taiwan edition” mentions the need to learn from history, that given the context of peace talks between the KMT and CCP, Taiwan once again faced the risk of being betrayed (5). Chen offers the hope that past mistakes can be avoided and that a home that truly belongs to the Taiwanese can be established (5).

The rhetoric of Chen’s 1991 preface also signals an important but gradual shift in the use of Kerr’s book by this new audience, from human rights rhetoric to public memory. While Formosa Betrayed was always focused on looking at the past as a way of deliberating about the future, during the martial law period, the book was also an attempt to raise awareness of immediate human rights violations that needed to be addressed. In that sense, Formosa Betrayed was an act of “rhetorical witnessing” that had called on its primarily American readership not only to remember what had happened almost 20 years earlier, but also to work to help the Taiwanese escape the bonds of martial law and authoritarianism. But as the martial law period faded into recent memory (and 2-28 faded even further into distant memory), Chen’s 1991 preface called for its new Taiwanese audience to accept this book as an offering so that they may re-member the past.

The shift from human rights witnessing to the focus on public memory is not a total categorical change, of course. As with the rhetoric of public memory, human rights witnessing often focuses on past abuses (though these abuses may be ongoing). The shift from human rights rhetoric to public memory signals a moment of transition that Gerard Hauser addresses when he characterizes “society’s rhetors” as the “custodians of history’s story” who must create narratives that are capable of “meeting the challenge of a past and future moving in opposite directions” (112). Of particular importance here is the fact that the shift from human rights to public memory involves a shift in audience as well as a shift in the meaning of the events recorded in the book. Formosa Betrayed signals, in this new context, the beginnings of Taiwan’s attempts to come to terms with its past (and its future). In the preface to the 1991 edition, Chen looks to the past, hoping its mistakes can be avoided and its martyrs honored, and to the future, in which “a home that really belongs to Taiwanese” can be established. Chen’s preface creates a new narrative that reframes the message of Kerr’s book for a different generation that faces, in Chen’s view, the threat of being betrayed again.

Works Cited
Bitzer, Lloyd F. “The Rhetorical Situation.” Philosophy & Rhetoric 1 (1968): 1-14. Print.

Chen, Rongcheng (陳榮成), trans. 被出賣的台灣 (Bei chumai de Taiwan) [Formosa Betrayed]. By George H. Kerr. Taipei: Qianwei, 1991. Print.

Dingo, Rebecca. Networking Arguments: Rhetoric, Transnational Feminism, and Public Policy Writing. Pittsburgh: U of Pittsburgh P, 2012. Print.

Edbauer, Jenny. “Unframing Models of Public Distribution: From Rhetorical Situation to Rhetorical Ecologies.” Rhetoric Society Quarterly 35.4 (2005): 5-24. Print.

Hammond, William M. Public Affairs: The Military and the Media, 1962-1968. Washington, DC: Government Printing Office, 1988. Print.

Hauser, Gerard A. Vernacular Voices: The Rhetoric of Publics and Public Spheres. Columbia, SC: U of South Carolina P, 1999. Print.

Kerr, George H. “Author Questionnaire.” N.d. TS. GHK2A06002, Okinawa Prefectural Archives.

Kerr, George. Formosa Betrayed. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1965. Print.

Vatz, Richard. “The Myth of the Rhetorical Situation.” Philosophy & Rhetoric 6 (1973): 154-161. Print.

Zhang, Yanxian (張炎憲) and Zeng, Qiumei (曾秋美), eds. 一門留美學生的建國故事 (Yimen liu Mei xuesheng de jianguo gushi) [A Story of nation-building by [Taiwanese] students in America]. Taipei: Wu Sanlian Taiwan Shiliao Jijinhui Zhongxin Chubanshe (吳三連台灣史料基金會中心出版社), 2009. Print.

Sunday, January 22, 2017

"English and Me" assignment revisited

For FYW this time, I'm going back to the "English and Me" assignment for the first writing project of the semester. I wrote about the "English and Me" essay before, but I've made some small changes to the actual assignment that I hope better emphasize the "English learning doesn't take place in a vacuum" part of the assignment from the first draft. I was having trouble in the past getting some students to go from relatively individual(istic) stories in the first draft to second drafts that brought in more of the familial, social, and political contexts of their stories. So in addition to reading Amy Tan's "Mother Tongue" and Gloria Anzaldúa's "How to Tame a Wild Tongue," we read an interview with José Orduña about his new book, The Weight of Shadows: A Memoir of Immigration and Displacement. (I haven't read the book yet, but I just received a copy.) I like how in the interview, Orduña says he wanted to emphasize in his book that "'my story' didn't begin and end with me." I think that's a good place to start with for students when you're asking them to write a literacy narrative/autobiography.

Here's the latest version of this assignment, which I've renamed (problematically, perhaps), a "literacy narrative":
So far this semester, we have written in the guided self-placement essays about our experiences learning languages and learning to read and write in English. We have also have read two essays and an interview that present different approaches to the question of how multilingual writers relate to English. Despite their differences, authors Gloria Anzaldúa and Amy Tan (and interviewed author José Orduña) share such themes as the multiple varieties of language that they use and how those varieties relate to their sense of identity; the roles of formal education in their language use and identity; and the ways in which they “shuttle” among languages and identities.
They also share some narrative techniques, such as code-switching (some would call it “code-mixing”) among languages and language varieties, mixing short descriptive anecdotes and more explanatory or argumentative prose, using dialogue (remembered or imagined) to bring the other people in their essays to life, etc.
In this first essay, I would like you to describe your own previous experiences with the English language, particularly as they have led you to study in the United States and at Northeastern University. Consider, too, José Orduña’s argument that our stories don’t begin and end with us—that they start with the stories of those who have come before us and extend beyond our own lives. As your previous writings for this class (including the placement essays) have shown, English use and learning doesn’t take place in a linguistic or social/cultural vacuum. Explore the connections among your encounters with English and the larger social and cultural contexts which you have experienced.
Also, like Anzaldúa and Tan, don’t feel limited to writing in one language variety or writing only about (standard) English. Consider in one of your drafts (perhaps the first draft) trying some of the techniques used by Anzaldúa and Tan. You can always get rid of them if you don’t like them or they don’t work for your audience.
Some possible areas to help you brainstorm (but don’t feel limited by these suggestions):[1]
  • Misunderstandings based on English language differences (and your attempts to work out them out orally, through writing, or through other channels like texting, body language, etc.)
  • Being corrected or correcting others
  • Emotional dimensions of everyday language use/learning (like impatience or frustration, fear, a feeling of accomplishment or success, connection to family, etc.)
  • Locations of English use/learning (schools, workplaces, airports, etc.)
  • English dialects or accents experienced or used in different contexts or environments
Your essay should eventually have a thesis that is supported by what you say, but for the first draft, which we will share in class, what you write might be more “loose.” Think of your first draft as exploratory—a place where you can think about what you want to say, rather than worrying so much about how to say it. (We’ll worry enough about how to say it later on in the writing process.)

Remember to post your drafts on time to Digication. Late drafts will hurt your “process” grade for the assignment and will make it harder for your partners and me to read and respond to your writing.
  • First draft: Write a short (about 750+ words) narrative of a particular moment in your life as a learner/user of English. Describe it in detail and make sure that through the use of your detail you make it clear to your readers (us) what is so memorable and/or important about that particular moment. Don’t ignore this experience’s connections to the lives of others (family members, etc.)—try to bring those into your story, as relevant. If you don’t have one particular moment that stands out in your mind, you might describe two or three moments and narrate how they reflect whatever changes you went through in your relationship to English on the way to NU. Due: before class on 1/23
  • Second draft: This is the first draft that I’ll be directly commenting on. Develop your essay beyond that one experience that you described in the first draft. You might bring in other experiences, or you might write more about the contexts or implications of that experience. Consider what those experiences mean—not just to you, but to a larger community or group. Think about your responses to your classmates’ first drafts (and theirs to yours) and how those responses might point you to new or different perspectives on your relationship to English. This draft should be at least 1000 words. Be ready to talk to me in your conference about your essay and your partners’ feedback. Due: before class on 1/30
  • Proofreading draft: This is the next-to-last draft—the one we’ll be proofreading before you turn it in. Revise based on your partners’ and my comments about your second draft. Due: before class on 2/6
[1] Adapted from Jay Jordan, Redesigning Composition for Multilingual Realities. Urbana, IL: CCCC/ NCTE, 2012.

We'll see how it goes--first drafts are due tomorrow.

Friday, January 20, 2017

Last blog post before the end of civilization as we know it

To paraphrase (or actually misquote) Alfred from Batman (1989), I have little desire to spend my few remaining years grieving for the loss of my country. I am considering simply burying myself in my teaching and my (?) work (?) on Kerr, though I realize that neither of those is disconnected from the world. Particularly the first--we just read "How to Tame a Wild Tongue" in my first-year writing class, and it occurred to me that we're almost coming full circle on some of the issues Gloria Anzaldua is raising in that text. For instance, the Anglo teacher telling a 7th-generation Mexican American to "go back to Mexico where you belong" for not speaking "American" sounds like the kinds of things you'll find (and worse) on Facebook comments nowadays. The more things change, ...

As for Kerr, well, I'm wondering what he'd think of Trump. I think I saw something somewhere that suggested that Kerr had supported Nixon. Oh, here it is: Kerr evidently contributed to Nixon's 1962 run for governor of California--see page 30. But I don't know what he thought of Nixon or the Republicans, generally, later on. I think that while he'd approve the Tsai-Trump phone call, he'd be suspicious of Trump's intentions. But this is all speculation. Anyway, perhaps instead of speculating on Kerr's possible view of Trump, I should focus more on what I can know about Kerr.

I'm trying to think of an ending for this post, but I'm not having any success. For sure, for the sake of my sanity, I'm going to be avoiding the TV news [update, 1/21: and Facebook?] for the next four years. One of the joys of living in Taiwan during the Bush years was not having to hear his voice whenever I turned on the TV news. (I remember coming to the US one summer in the 90s and being surprised to hear what some of the people involved in the Bill Clinton sex scandal sounded like. I had forgotten that they would have voices, I think.)

On that note...

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...