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|Other Titles: ||Immigration, Nationalism, and Suicide: Pai Hsien-yung and Pai Ching-jui’s Chinese Obsessions and American Dreams|
|Issue Date: ||2016-04-28 15:20:28 (UTC+8)|
From the “White Terror” to the threat of “Red China,” the Martial Law period in Taiwan can be seen as an age marred by a multitude of social and political anxieties. As Taiwan grew into its role as one of the four Asian Tigers and American culture flooded the island, many people began to look to the outside and foreign study or immigration to America became the aim for a new generation of Chinese living in Taiwan. In order to quench Taiwan readers’ thirst for knowledge about the country that had taken “Free China” under its wings during the Cold War period, the 1960s saw the rise of “overseas student literature” (liuxuesheng wenxue). For the next two decades the works of writers like Joseph Lau (publishing under the penname Er Can), Liu Daren, Guo Songfen, S.K. Chang, San Mao and other writers with overseas experience became a key literary site for countless readers looking to understand or even vicariously experience the West. Among this group of works portraying Chinese living overseas, some of the most reflective, powerful, and influential came from the pen of Kenneth Pai Hsien-yung, whose short stories about the challenges and dreams of this generation appeared in the collection The New Yorker (Niuyue ke). These stories, including such works as “Li T’ung: A Chinese Girl in New York” (“Zhe xian ji”) and “Death in Chicago” (Zhijiage zhi si”) have become regarded as classics of modern Chinese fiction for their stylistic refinement and deep reflection on the human condition. At the same time, these works have played a crucial role in how America has been constructed and imagined by Taiwanese (and later mainland Chinese) readers. By the 1970s “overseas student literature” gave rise to a new phenomena – “overseas student films” (liuxuesheng dianying). However, in the films of Pai Ching-jui – one of the innovators of this new cinematic genre – the image of America portrayed is quite different. This article attempts to use readings and analysis of Pai Hsien-yung’s American fiction and Pai Ching-jui’s 1970 film Home Sweet Home (Jia zai Taibei) to explore popular representation of America in Taiwan cultural production during the 1960s and 1970s. From C.T. Hsia’s “Obsession with China” to what might be termed an “Obsession with America,” or perhaps a longing for an “American dream,” this article will explore the themes of Diaspora, nationalism, historical trauma, as well as the “suicide complex” the appears in several of the works as a window for better understanding this crucial turning point in Taiwan’s cultural imagination of America and the crisis consciousness lurking within.
|Data Type: ||article|
|Appears in Collections:||[臺灣文學學報 THCI Core] 期刊論文|
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