Sunday, December 02, 2012

CFP: Orienting Orwell: Asian and Global Perspectives on George Orwell

Concentric: Literary and Cultural Studies
Vol. 40 No. 1 | March 2014
Guest Editors: John Rodden & Henk Vynckier
Deadline for Submissions: August 15, 2013
While George Orwell’s status in Britain, the US, and the West generally speaking is beyond question, his place in Asian and other non-Western cultural discourses has been less certain. From raucous democracies to hermit kingdoms, contemporary Asia features varied societal and political models, and George Orwell’s writings consequently have been received very differently from country to country. For example, in Myanmar, the former Burma, Burmese Days (1934) is hailed as a first-class anti-colonial document, but Animal Farm, Nineteen Eighty-four, and the rest of his work are banned.
To be sure, Orwell is profoundly linked to and deserving of consideration in the Asian cultural context. He was born in Bengal, served five years in the Indian Imperial Police in Burma, and returned from the experience a firm anti-colonialist. Already in his first book, Down and Out in Paris and London (1933), he reflected on the fate of Indian rickshaw pullers and gharry ponies while discussing his experiences as a dishwasher in Paris, and such texts as “A Hanging,” “Shooting an Elephant,” and Burmese Days have become classics of English colonial literature. From 1941 to 1943 he was employed by the Indian section of the BBC’s Eastern Service. His private correspondence, book reviews, and essays further demonstrate his lifelong interest in the question of Indian independence, the future of Palestine, decolonization throughout Asia and around the world, and new English writings from Asia. Yet in Nineteen Eighty-four, a very different Asia looms large, for Oceania, the Anglo-American superpower in this dystopian classic, is permanently threatened by the two rival global powers of Eurasia and Eastasia.
The purpose of this special issue is to invite essays that further Orwell scholarship in an Asian as well as global context and, in doing so, make possible new perspectives on one of the most influential authors of the 20th century.
John Rodden is an independent scholar located in Austin, Texas. He has taught at the University of Virginia, the University of Texas at Austin, and Tunghai University in Taichung, Taiwan. He has published ten books on Orwell, including The Politics of Literary Reputation: The Making and Claiming of “St. George” Orwell (1989) and The Cambridge Introduction to George Orwell (2012). He has also published critically acclaimed monographs on the New York intellectuals, the politics of culture in Germany before and after the fall of the Berlin Wall, and the art of the literary interview.
Henk Vynckier is the Chair of the Department of Foreign Languages and Literature at Tunghai University, Taichung, Taiwan. He has published on Orwell, collecting as a literary theme, travel literature, and the literary legacy of the Chinese Maritime Customs Agency (1854-1950). He is also an honorary researcher in the Research Center for Humanities and Social Sciences at the Academia Sinica contributing to an interdisciplinary research project on Robert Hart and the Chinese Maritime Customs Service.
Concentric: Literary and Cultural Studies is a peer-reviewed journal published two times per year by the Department of English, National Taiwan Normal University, Taipei, Taiwan. Concentric is devoted to offering innovative perspectives on literary and cultural issues and advancing the transcultural exchange of ideas. While committed to bringing Asian-based scholarship to the world academic community, Concentric welcomes original contributions from diverse national and cultural backgrounds.
Each issue of Concentric publishes groups of essays on a special topic as well as papers on more general issues. The focus can be on any historical period and any region. Any critical method may be employed as long as the paper demonstrates a distinctive contribution to scholarship in the field.
For submissions guidelines and other information, please visit our website:

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Another Oysters Update

A while back, I came across the name of John Caldwell in reference to Vern Sneider's A Pail of Oysters. As I wrote then, Caldwell, who was a former State Department official, had testified to a US Senate subcommittee in 1954 about the effects of Communism on the US publishing industry in regards to Asia.

Yesterday Caldwell's name popped up again in a search I did about Vern Sneider. I've been looking for information on the possible effects of publishing Oysters on Sneider's writing career. I haven't found anything yet. But I did see a reference to Sneider in a book that Caldwell wrote. In 1955, Caldwell published a book entitled Still the Rice Grows Green that's available online.  The first sentence of the book gives a sense of where Caldwell is going to go with this:
IF THE DAY be bright and clear, the pilot flying the lonely skies from Formosa westward to the China Coast sees the mainland of Enslaved China even before the lofty peaks of Free China recede into the haze.

In his book, he makes brief reference to Sneider in one of the two chapters about Taiwan.
I had just read parts of a new book, had read a number of rave reviews about the book. Written by Vern Sneider and called A Pail of Oysters, the book took some pretty terrific swipes at Free China's government and particularly at the military. Mr. Sneider had, I knew, spent several weeks on Formosa before completing his book. It was fiction, to be sure, but surely no American writer would completely falsify, even in a novel!

As Caldwell finds, of course, things are different that Sneider depicts them:
The Chinese GI is kept very busy. When not working or maneuvering, he studies. Literacy among the rank and file is now 94 per cent* He has no time off, has no chance to go to towns and cities and get in trouble. He is well fed, well clothed, and the temptation to steal has been removed. Above all he has a self-respect he never had before. He knows that he will be paid what little he is due regularly. He knows he will have reasonable medical attention when ill. Certainly his life is hard, but he knows that he is as well off as most of the civilian population. He has learned to work with the civilian population, to respect its rights.

On this score Nationalist China has gone a long, long way indeed, Mr. Vern Sneider and his A Pail of Oysters to the contrary notwithstanding.
Chen Yi gets a mention, and Caldwell does have criticism for the way the Nationalists ran things in China:
The mainland was lost in part because there were so many generals who were corrupt, so many other high officials with greedy hands. In my home province of Fukien I saw the Nationalist government at its worst, saw Governor Chen Yi and his henchmen milk the province dry.

Was Chen Yi dismissed? No, as was so often the case, he was promoted! Generalissimo Chiang Kai Shek made him Formosa's first governor at the end of World War II. And the exploitation of the island that took place under Chen Yi has left scars among the native Taiwanese that will require a generation to erase.

If Free China is to remain strong there must be no more Chen Yi's. Too often in the past Chiang Kai Shek has trusted old friends too much, has been so blinded by personal loyalty that he could not see their incompetence and corruption. But most of these old cronies are gone. Some, like Chen Yi, have been executed. Others stayed on under the Communists. Some have been kicked "upstairs" and are not in positions of influence and power.

Caldwell manages to leave out Chiang's role in creating the "scars" that are easily blamed on Chen Yi. He also argues,
The Nationalist Government does not run a police state. The very fact that the people to whom I talked were willing freely and openly to answer my questions should be an indication that people feel free. There is more and more freedom of the press, even vigorous criticism of government actions. For instance when a Communist plane flew over Formosa in September of 1954, the press vigorously criticized the government and the Chinese air force for not shooting it down.
Hmmm... I'll let you draw your own conclusions...

Tuesday, August 21, 2012


Little did I know when I was writing posts on this popular theme that they would culminate in a trip to this historic site:

Home of the first Dunkin' Donuts, Quincy, MA

How was I able to locate this sacred place? Research, my children! (OK, I googled it...)

A shot of the interior

Of course, as with all good pilgrimages worthy of the name, ours was fraught with danger (though that was mainly because I didn't have any coffee until we got to DD).

After our trip to DD, we found our way to a huge Chinese supermarket nearby. The selection of instant noodles alone was enough to make us 喜極而泣...

Saturday, August 18, 2012

A few pictures from sixty years ago

On our most recent trip to my parents', we saw a few pictures that my late uncle took when he was stationed in South Korea during the Korean war. I thought I'd post a couple of them--I don't have much information about them, so if anyone has some information about where they might have been taken, etc., I'd appreciate your help.

First, a couple of pictures of my Uncle Warren and the notes he wrote on the back of them.

Neat handwriting, huh? Anyone who's been my student can tell you my handwriting is nowhere near as nice. 

Somehow this (and the following pic) got through the Marines' censors...?

It might be hard to see the column of smoke...

I assume the following photos are from Korea, although my uncle did do some R&R in Japan. (He sent my mom some letters from there.) I'm particularly interested in the building in the last picture. Anyone know what it is?

Thanks to my wife for the 翻拍 and cropping!

Friday, July 27, 2012

Belated Note on Death of 邱永漢 (Kyu Eikan)

Just noticed today that 邱永漢 (Kyu Eikan) died back in May. Here's an English-language obituary. He's known for having been a novelist and a very successful investor. It mentions his involvement in the Taiwan Independence movement and his escape to Hong Kong, but doesn't mention his return to Taiwan in 1972. You'd have to read the Chinese-language Wikipedia article for details on that. The Wikipedia article discusses his "Taiwan Consciousness" (including his involvement with Thomas and Joshua Liao) and his escape to Hong Kong in 1948. It also relates his development in Japan as a writer and investor. There's also a link to a 1972 news video about Kyu's return into "the embrace of the fatherland..." (As readers of this blog--any still out there?--probably know, the aforementioned Thomas Liao had already returned to Taiwan in 1965 after living in Japan as the President-in-Exile of the Republic of Formosa. There's news video on that, too.)

Kyu had been a student of George Kerr when Kerr was teaching in Taiwan in the late 1930s. They kept in touch over the years, and Kyu mentioned Kerr (fictionalizing his name, according to Kerr, to either "Lloyd" or "White") in a short novel he wrote about 228 and its aftermath, entitled 濁水溪. (The link is to a site selling the Chinese translation of Kyu's Japanese-language novel.) Kyu was also interested in helping Kerr translate Formosa Betrayed into Japanese, but that project never panned out.

When Thomas Liao returned (surrendered?) to Taiwan in 1965, Kerr wrote to Kyu (among others) to ask what had happened and what the implications might be for the Taiwan Independence Movement. Kyu was still in Japan at the time. He wrote back to Kerr, highlighting some of the factionalism in the Japanese TIM, including the bad relations between Liao and himself. Kyu wrote that Liao "had been jealous to my fame, my little success in Japan."  He noted that "[m]any political refugees who at first participated in his [Liao's] provisional government, quarrelled with him and left him." He felt that the movement would become stronger in Liao's absence. He concluded,
I just remind 17 years ago when I took refuge in HongKong, called upon Liao and wrote the MS for the petition to the UN. At that time the paper in HK and Formosa said our thinking and intentions[?] was lunatic, but now KMT people have endorsed our movement by buying off Liao.
After reading Kyu's comments about Liao's defection, I'm curious as to why Kyu himself went back to Taiwan seven years later. Even Kerr was surprised about this turn of events.

(Quotes are from Kyu's letter to "Kerr Sensei" from June 4, 1965. The letter is found in the George H. Kerr papers in the Okinawa Prefectural Archives.)

Thursday, April 26, 2012

CFP: "Documenting Asia Pacific"

Concentric: Literary and Cultural Studies
Vol. 39 No. 1 | March 2013
Special Issue Call for Papers
“Documenting Asia Pacific”
Guest Editors: Kuei-fen Chiu & Chi-hui Yang
Deadline for Submissions: August 15, 2012

Concentric: Literary and Cultural Studies is a peer-reviewed journal published two times per year by the Department of English, National Taiwan Normal University, Taipei, Taiwan. The journal is devoted to offering innovative perspectives on literary and cultural issues and advancing the transcultural exchange of ideas.While committed to bringing Asian-based scholarship to the world academic community, Concentric welcomes original contributions from diverse national and cultural backgrounds.
The March 2013 issue of Concentric is dedicated to exploring new directions in documentary and non-fiction media-making practices in the Asia Pacific region. Dynamic political and economic conditions, innovations in production and distribution technologies, increased access to international finances and the migration of moving images from theatres to galleries to online spaces have made more relevant and critical the practice of documentary filmmaking in Asia Pacific.
The task of representing new social realities has generated significant movements—both political and aesthetic—in documentary filmmaking from Beijing to Manila, from Jakarta to Sydney. Engaged verite, documentary/fiction hybrids, personal essays and experimental collage are being used to explore the consequences of globalization and neo-liberalism, fraught family histories, religious conflict, and the role of the state in everyday lives. What kind of formal and aesthetic approaches are being developed to document the contemporary culture and politics of Asia Pacific? How is the documentary itself being tested and reshaped by these efforts? What might be revealed from a study of localized movements, and what might comparative studies across national or cultural boundaries yield?
Concentric invites examinations of all aspect of contemporary documentary and non-fiction media-making in the Asia Pacific region.
Kuei-fen Chiu is Distinguished Professor of Taiwan Literature and Transnational Cultural Studies at National Chung Hsing University, Taichung, Taiwan specializing in Taiwan literature and documentary film. In addition to several books in Chinese, she has published with international journals including The Journal of Asian Studies, The China Quarterly, and Continuum: Journal of Media and Cultural Studies. She is a multi-time recipient of the prestigious national award for excellence in research in Taiwan and was Honorary Fellow at the Center for Humanities Research at Lingnan University, Hong Kong for the period 2008-2011. Several of her articles have been translated into Japanese.
Chi-hui Yang is a film programmer, lecturer and writer based in New York. His curated programs have been presented at MoMA Documentary Fortnight, the Robert Flaherty Film Seminar, UnionDocs, Washington DC International Film Festival, and Seattle International Film Festival. From 2000 to 2010 he was the Director and Programmer of the San Francisco International Asian American Film Festival, the largest showcase of its kind in the US. He is currently a visiting scholar at NYU’s Asian/Pacific/American Institute.

Concentric: Literary and Cultural Studies
Manuscript Submission Guidelines
1. Manuscripts should be submitted in English. Please send the manuscript, an abstract of no more than 250 words with 5-8 keywords, and a brief curriculum vitae as Word attachments to [no e-mail address given]. Please also attach a cover letter stating that the manuscript is not currently being considered for publication elsewhere. Concentric will acknowledge receipt of the submission but will not return it after review.
2. Submissions made to the journal should generally be at least 6,000 words but should not exceed 10,000 words, notes included; the bibliography is not counted. Manuscripts should be prepared according to the latest edition of the MLA Handbook for Writers of Research Papers. Except for footnotes, which should be single-spaced, manuscripts must be double-spaced throughout and typeset in 12-point Times New Roman. For further instructions on documentation, consult our style guide.
3. To facilitate the journal’s anonymous refereeing process, there must be no indication of personal identity or institutional affiliation in the manuscript proper. The author may cite his/her previous works, but only in the third person.
4. If the paper has been published or submitted elsewhere in a language other than English, please also submit a copy of the non-English version. Concentric may not consider submissions already available in other languages.
5. If the author wishes to include copyrighted images in the essay, the author is solely responsible for obtaining permission for the images.
6. Two copies of the journal and a PDF version of the published essay will be provided to the author(s) upon publication.
7. It is the journal’s policy to require all authors to sign an assignment of copyright.

For submissions or general inquiries, please contact us as follows:
Editor, Concentric: Literary and Cultural Studies
Department of English
National Taiwan Normal University
162 Heping East Road, Section 1
Taipei 106, Taiwan
Phone: +886 (0)2 77341803
Fax: +886 (0)2 23634793
For other information about the journal, please visit our website

Friday, February 10, 2012

Facing history

Sayaka Chatani's recent post mentioning the idea of running a history/critical thinking summer camp for high school students from Japan, Korea, China, and Taiwan reminded me of an Oberlin College graduate's "rep letter" from the '50s about a workcamp and seminar for Asian college students run in Japan by the American Friends Service Committee. (Chew on that sentence for a while...) The rep letter, by Ray Downs, who was an Oberlin Shansi rep at Obirin Gakuen, was reprinted in Something to Write Home About: An Anthology of Shansi Rep Letters, 1951-1988.

In Chatani's post, she wrote that one of the difficulties she imagines with running a summer camp like this is that she doesn't know
how to lead the history workshop to constructive critical thinking, instead of creating the clear-cutting aggressor-vs-victim narrative. (Ugh, this positionality issue, again.)
The rep letter by Downs is concerned with a meeting at the work camp among college students from Japan, the U.S., India, Vietnam, Malaya, Thailand, Hong Kong, the Philippines, Canada, and Hawaii. The leader of the meeting, a Fulbright scholar named John Howes, wanted the participants to discuss tensions that might have remained after the war. As Downs writes (and recall, this was written in 1955),
Howes was interested in bringing emotions themselves to the surface rather than discussing issues in which emotions were involved only indirectly insofar as they influenced opinion. For a time it seemed that he would be unsuccessful. Discussion moved along on a relatively scholarly and impersonal level. I began to think that most of those present, like myself, had ceased to think of the last war except as history, since it all was over before most of them were twelve years old. I asked a question to this effect. I had been wrong. (14)
After Downs asked the question, the participants began to open up about their experiences, telling about how their families and friends had suffered. As Downs writes,
... I think a new dimension had been added to the understanding of all of us. Certainly in parts of Asia the scars of war have not all disappeared with reconstruction. I think we all learned something more of the horror of war in its varied manifestations. (15)
Interestingly, he concludes that the participants were still able "to work and live happily together" even after the stories they told that evening,
and within a day or two there seemed to be a new depth in our sense of community. Before I left I began to appreciate more fully the role of this kind of experience as a means toward the greater end of increased understanding. (15)
I don't know if there are still camps like this, but a couple of thoughts occurred to me in comparing the experience Downs had with Chatani's concern about the "aggressor-vs-victim narrative," both of which revolve around questions about memory and "the scars of war." How did the university students manage to "work and live happily together" only ten years after the war, when they had witnessed with their own eyes atrocities committed by their fellow participants' countrymen? How could feelings about an event become even stronger decades after the event, when most of the survivors had died and the people with the strong feelings had little or no direct experience of that event? Note that I am not trying to be cynical about this.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

CFP: Academic Writing Theory and Practice in an International Context

In the autumn of 2012, The Centre for Academic Writing at Coventry University will launch the first taught postgraduate programme in Academic Writing in the UK and Europe: The MA/PG Diploma in Academic Writing Theory and Practice/The PG Certificate in Academic Writing Development. To mark the launch of this programme, we are organising a one-day conference, with the theme, ‘Academic Writing Theory and Practice in an International Context’.

We invite 20-minute presentations (followed by 10 minutes of discussion) on research into academic writing as text, process and practice, within national and/or international contexts. The sub-themes of the conference are:
  • Forms and practices of disciplinary and interdisciplinary writing
  • Teaching and developing student and professional academic writing
  • Rhetoric and academic writing 
  • Writing/publishing in English as an academic lingua franca and the trans-nationalisation of knowledge 
  • Writing programme development and management
The keynote speaker of the conference is Dr. Theresa Lillis from the Centre for Language and Communication at the Open University, UK. Dr. Lillis has published research on student and professional academic literacies and is the author of Student Writing: Access, Regulation, Desire (Routledge, 2001) and, with Mary Jane Curry, Academic Writing in a Global Context: The Politics and Practices of Publishing in English (Routledge, 2010).

The conference panels as communities of knowledge and practice!
We would very much like the panels of the conference to become small interpretive communities through the dialogues between panellists and their audience. We encourage participants, whether presenters or non-presenters, to remain in the panels they choose to attend and engage with the topics and ideas of the respective panel.

Non-presenters who would like to share in the conference discussions are also invited to attend.

Proposals and Registration
To submit a proposal, please email a 250-word abstract to by 31 January 2012. We will send you a response by 5 March 2012.

Registration for the conference will be open between 5 March and 10 April 2012. The registration fee is £45 (British Pounds Sterling). Payment and booking details will follow at a later date.

Friday, January 20, 2012



Tuesday, January 03, 2012


我最近在想用第二個語言(或者第三,四,五個語言)寫作要經過多少翻譯 呢像我  為了寫我剛剛寫的句子必須先用英文想  想到了以後開始慢慢地翻  結果我寫到的中文句子跟我原來用英文想的句子不太一樣  這可能是因為我寫的時候  忘記我本來在想甚麼