Sunday, December 23, 2007

The Bridges at Toko-Ri

Picked up a collection of William Holden movies the other day, mainly to watch The Bridges at Toko-Ri (1954), which is based on a novel James Michener wrote a couple of years after The Voice of Asia came out. Despite my general aversion to war movies, I found myself taken in by much of the movie. I'm still trying to figure out how that happened.

One reason, I think, was the characterization of the protagonist, Lt. Harry Brubaker, as portrayed by Holden. He's an unwilling hero--he's been drafted back into the Navy after serving in WWII and he seems deeply resentful of the fact that he has to be fighting in Korea when other people don't. He wants to get back to his family and career in the States. When he complains to his commander, Admiral Tarrant, Tarrant tells him, "You fight because you're here," suggesting that an unavoidable fate has brought Brubaker (and the U.S.) to this place.

Brubaker gets a chance to visit his wife and children in Japan, but then has to return to duty. The time with his family is perhaps there to remind viewers of what Brubaker is sacrificing. Tarrant has a chance to tell Brubaker's wife Nancy about the dangerous mission her husband will be going on soon because the Admiral feels that his own son, who died in battle, should have told his wife more about what he was going through. Tarrant seems to resent the fact that, as he puts it, people in the U.S. are so comfortably separated from what is going on in the war.

When Brubaker finds out that he has to participate in the bombing of some key enemy bridges at Toko-Ri, he becomes visibly sick. Brubaker's nervousness, frustration, and (I think) fear at the prospect of losing his life is understated, but well-portrayed by Holden. There's one scene where he is trying to write a letter to Nancy, but keeps crumpling up the paper when the sound of jets overhead disturbs him. He goes up on deck and stands, staring at the sea for a while, then finally wipes the sweat (and tears?) off of his face before going back below.

After Brubaker is shot down during the climactic bombing run, and shortly before he and a comrade die in a firefight in an irrigation ditch, he repeats Tarrant's words ("You fight because you're here") to his comrade, suggesting that he has accepted his fate.

The Wikipedia article on the movie says that this isn't a propaganda film. Perhaps not in a traditional sense--I think the characterization of the protagonist is more complex than in a typical war film of that era (though people who have watched more war movies than I have can disagree). But I think there's an element of propaganda in how the film argues that Americans need to be aware of the sacrifices that the men in the military are making to fight against Communism. Even if Brubaker is an unwilling hero, chosen by fate to be there, in the end he does his duty and doesn't question the need to fight--and neither does his wife. Perhaps it's a propaganda film for a more sophisticated audience, or for an audience that was not yet convinced that the Cold War demanded sacrifices?

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Yang Tianshi's talk about CKS's diaries

Prof. Yang Tianshi, who was visiting Taiwan for a conference at Tunghai that took place over the weekend, gave a talk today about Chiang Kai-shek's diaries, which are currently deposited in the archives of the Hoover Institution at Stanford University. Prof. Yang and the moderator of today's talk, Lu Fang-shang, discussed quite a few topics related to the use of Chiang's diaries in historical research. I'm going to try to read my hen-scratchy notes and see what I can make out of their talk. (By the way, Yang and Lu were interviewed recently for an article in Yazhou Zhoukan.)

Prof. Yang described the diaries, mentioning that CKS rather consistently kept a diary between 1915 and 1972 (3 years before his death). He said that at first, CKS's entries were brief (about 30 characters in length), but got longer around the time of the war with Japan. He noted that CKS also engaged in weekly, monthly, and yearly summaries/reflections.
A screen shot of two pages from one of Chiang's diaries.
(There's a short article about Chiang's diaries here.)

Prof. Yang argued that Chiang's diaries were written mainly for himself rather than being written with an eye to future publication. He said that two key pieces of evidence for this are how much CKS cursed (罵) people close to him, and how much private, even confessional, material is in the diaries. (CKS used to give himself demerits for looking lustily at women.) Prof. Yang argued that CKS would not have wanted this kind of material to be made public. (BTW, as Prof. Lu mentioned, the confessions and self-criticism in CKS's diaries didn't necessarily turn him into a saint...) One result of the private nature of Chiang's diaries, according to Prof. Yang, is that we can learn a lot more about what was really going on in CKS's head at certain important historical moments, such as the 1926 Zhongshan Warship Incident and the 1936 Xi'an Incident.

One thing I wondered about is the role of CKS's diaries in subject formation, and the models that CKS had for his diaries. Prof. Yang mentioned the long history of figures in China who used diaries as tools for self-cultivation. He also discussed how well-read CKS was (particularly, he said, for a military man). Evidently CKS's diaries record his readings in the Confucian classics (particularly the Yijing), Christian works, and Eastern and Western philosophy. I found myself wondering what someone in writing studies or rhetorical studies would do with these diaries--perhaps analyze how the diaries constructed CKS as a reading and writing subject.

One last thing that Prof. Yang mentioned--he said that Chiang's status has risen in China from that of a devil (鬼) to a human (人), while in Taiwan, coincidentally, it seems his status has gone from god to human. (No one commented on the immediate political conditions that might be responsible for that coincidence.)

All in all, Professor Yang's speech was quite engaging--the room was packed, too (though I had the feeling a lot of students were there because they had to be. Ahem...)

Monday, December 17, 2007

More on machine translation

I was warning my students today about the dangers of using "full-sentence translation" features on their electronic dictionaries, giving examples that I've talked about before (here and here).

Now I've got a new example: Danwei has a recent post about Google's machine translation, which says,
A Danwei reader sent in Google's translation for the English word "flippant". It comes out as "刺杀布什的凶手" or "the assassin who stabbed Bush" (see this screen shot).
(For why that happened, check out the original post.)

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Upcoming speech about Chiang Kai-shek's diaries






Sounds interesting. I'll try to attend...

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

American food in Taichung, circa 1960?

Just taking a break from working on the diss.--specifically, from harassing would-be interviewees with pages of detailed questions about things that they probably don't remember writing. (I mean, I don't remember what I wrote 10 years ago--why should they remember what they wrote 30 or 50 years ago?)

Had a nice bagel and coffee for breakfast (at Bagels 'n Beans), which has got me thinking about Western food in Taichung around the time that I'm covering in my dissertation. A few mentions in letters of having Thanksgiving turkeys (or Christmas turkeys) at Tunghai. Where'd they come from? Were they locally raised? I also recall mentions of the U.S. Officer's Club where people sometimes went to eat. Anyone have an address on that? I seem to vaguely remember seeing it somewhere a long time ago, but I don't remember where.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

CFP: Conference on Intercultural Rhetoric and Discourse

Call for Abstracts
4th Conference on
Intercultural Rhetoric and Discourse

June 3‐5, 2008
Indiana University‐Purdue University Indianapolis
Sponsored by the Indiana Center for Intercultural Communication

Plenary Speakers
Dwight Atkinson, Purdue University
Julie Belz, IUPUI
Christine Feak, University of Michigan
Françoise Salager‐Meyer, Universidad de los Andes, Venezuela

Papers are invited on topics including (but not limited to):
  • Theoretical and empirical investigations
  • Language‐ and culture‐specific studies
  • Changing methodologies for research
  • Practical applications
  • Teaching and classroom practices
  • Writing in school and college
  • Writing in business and professional settings
  • Orality and literacy connections
  • Critical approaches to contrastive rhetoric
Deadline for Submission: May 1, 2008

Papers should be 20 minutes long with an additional 10 minutes for discussion.

Abstracts should be no more than 250 words long, typed on a single page. In the upper left‐hand corner, place the submitter's name, address, institutional affiliation, phone and fax numbers, and e‐mail address.

Send submissions to:
IR Conference Planning Committee
Indiana Center for Intercultural Communication
Indiana University‐Purdue University Indianapolis
620 Union Drive, room 407 Indianapolis, IN 46202, U.S.A.

For more information:
(317) 274‐2555

Registration Fees:
$100 early registration,
$115 onsite registration
$50 student registration,
$65 onsite student registration

Monday, December 10, 2007

Inaugural issue of Taiwan in Comparative Perspective out

Just found out that the first issue of this e-journal, published by the Taiwan Culture Research Programme at the London School of Economics, came out in November. Here's its table of contents--the links go directly to the articles' pdfs (I have already asked them to set up an RSS feed):


‘Communism’ in Taiwan and the Mainland: Transmission of the Great Leap Famine and of the White Terror
Stephan Feuchtwang

Death-Scapes in Taipei and Manila: A Postmodern Necrography
Paul-François Tremlett

The Intrusive Rendering: Dictation of Stereotypes and the Extra-Ordinary
Doreen Bernath


The EU Two-Level Sovereignty System as Model for Taiwan and China
Bengt Johansson

Ethnicity in the Politics of the Unreal
Allen Chun

The 'Red' Tide Anti-Corruption Protest: What Does it Mean for Democracy in Taiwan?
Fang-long Shih


Huang Zhang-jian (2007) Er-er-ba shijian zhenxiang kaozheng gao (The Truth about 2-28: Assessing the Documents)
Stefan Fleischauer

Shao-li Lu (2005) Zhanshi Taiwan: quanli, kongjian yu zhimin tongzhi de xingxiang biaoshu (Exhibiting Taiwan: Power, Space and Image Representation of Japanese Colonial Rule)
Edward Vickers

Mark Harrison, Legitimacy, Meaning, and Knowledge in the making of Taiwanese identity
Paul-François Tremlett

Response to Tremlett's Review of Legitimacy, Meaning, and Knowledge in the making of Taiwanese identity
Mark Harrison

By the way, the editors mention in their submission guidelines that academic article submissions to the journal "should contain a comparative perspective in the widest sense. This could mean comparisons between Taiwan and other parts of the world, Taiwan in the past and in the present, different regions and cultures of Taiwan, or different methodological and disciplinary approaches to the study of a theme or issue concerning Taiwan."

And I haven't even had a chance to visit it yet...

This seems to be a sign of the times, but it's still bizarre...
Much of Stanford University’s historic East Asian collection is destined for storage at a facility 38 miles from the campus as the university prepares to tear down the collection’s home, Meyer Library, the San Jose Mercury News reported.

Monday, December 03, 2007

Upcoming talk by Karen Kingsbury on translating Eileen Chang

Karen Kingsbury, former associate professor at Tunghai and translator of Eileen Chang's Love in a Fallen City, will be speaking at Tunghai on Wednesday, December 19, 2007 at 2:10 p.m. (Place: FL 007). Her talk is titled "Translating Eileen Chang: Love, Lust, Life."

(Thanks to Daisy Chuang for the information!)

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Seven facts meme

I've been tagged by runningburro do do the "7 Facts About Me" meme. The rules:

1. List the link to your tagger and also post these following rules.
2. Share 7 facts about yourself on your blog - some random, some weird, etc.
3. Tag 7 people at the the end of your blog also leaving the links to their blogs
4. Let them know they are "TAGGED" by leaving a comment on their blog

Here's my list. Do you see any motifs running through it?
  1. My students often refer to me as "Mr. Bean." (Not to my face, though.) Considering some of the nicknames I've heard students give teachers, I'm inclined to take this as a compliment.
  2. If you type "Mr. Benda" into Google, it'll ask, "Did you mean: "Mr. Bean"?"
  3. One of my favorite lunches: a bean sandwich. Take two slices of bread, spread a lot of butter on them, then spoon some pork and beans onto one of the slices. If you're adventurous, you can add a slice of cheese. Eat it with together with some pickles and wash it down with a Dr Pepper. Ah! Heaven!
  4. When I was at my "I want to be a farmer when I grow up" stage, I rented a garden plot from the County Agricultural Extension Office. One of my best crops was string beans.
  5. Despite my success with growing (and eating) beans, I've never cared for three-bean salad. (I've heard my mom makes great three-bean salad, though.)
  6. When I first came to Taiwan in 1990, I walked into a bakery one day and saw what looked to me like a delicious chocolate-filled pastry. To my surprise and dismay, when I bit into it, the "chocolate" turned out to be red bean paste. (I'm colorblind.) Since that time, I've never had the courage to eat anything with red beans in it.
  7. One of my favorite Taiwanese foods: stinky tofu.
Most of the people I would tag don't have blogs, so if you read this, consider yourself tagged. Reply in the comments section!


Tunghai is beginning a new system of evaluations of its faculty. (I believe it's an MOE requirement.) Every three years, we have to turn in a documented report of what we've been doing the last three years in teaching, research, service, and counseling/advising. Mine's due tomorrow.

I need a title for this thing? Ideas?

Thursday, November 01, 2007

CFP: National Conference on College English

National Conference on College English
March 29, 2008
Foreign Language Center, National Chengchi University

“Perspectives on College English:
Transformation, Reformation, and Innovation”

We are pleased to announce that the 2nd National Conference on College English with the theme of “Perspectives on College English: Transformation, Reformation, and Innovation” will be held on March 29, 2008. The conference is an annual gathering of English specialists organized by the Foreign Language Center of National Chengchi University. It provides a professional venue for teachers and scholars to discuss various issues regarding English education in colleges.

Though both the required and the elective English courses for undergraduates serve massive students from different disciplines, college English has long been marginalized as a “sub-subject” in universities in Taiwan. Recently, college English has been gaining ground due to new demands from globalization and international competition and cooperation on higher education in Taiwan. Proliferating studies have broadened the spectrum of college English research beyond discussions of freshman English or English skill instruction in Taiwan. This year’s conference will focus on how teachers help students transform their English learning attitudes to become autonomous learners and student researchers, how teachers challenge their teaching philosophy to meet pressing demands in an age of globalization, how teachers adopt/adapt/design new curricula/pedagogies/materials for innovation, how students are empowered to critically participate in public debates and intellectual communications, what the impacts of English admission/graduation requirements are, and how school systems are being changed or reformed to support teachers’ teaching and research as well as students’ learning.

The 2008 conference features well-respected speakers who will address various aspects and issues in terms of transformation, reformation and innovation in college English. This conference invites proposals on topics that include but are not limited to the following:

- The dynamics of English in higher education
- Institutional policies and politics on college English
- English requirements for college admission/graduation and their impacts on teaching and learning
- Teachers’ or students’ transformation in teaching or learning
- Theory and practice in college English
- Learner autonomy
- Evaluation and assessment
- Curricular, material, or pedagogical innovations and developments

The Conference Organizing Committee is now circulating a call for abstract proposals for individual paper presentations. Abstracts are welcome in any areas that fit the conference theme. Please submit your abstract proposal of 250-500 words and a brief bio in either English or Chinese as a Word/PDF attachment file to by February 1, 2008. Final manuscripts submitted for blind review of the conference proceedings are due by April 1, 2008.

Important dates:
  • Conference Date: March 29, 2008
  • Abstract Date: February 1, 2008
  • Abstract Acceptance: February 19, 2008
  • Full manuscript Due: April 1, 2008
Conference organizer: Foreign Language Center, National Chengchi University
Venue: Conference Rooms, Administration Building, National Chengchi University
Postal Address:
Foreign Language Center, National Chengchi University
64, Sec 2, Zhi-nan Rd., Wenshan District
Taipei 11605, Taiwan
E-mail Address:

Contact Person:
Chang, Ya-jing
(02)2939-3091 ext. 62396

ICRT's oral histories

Has anyone been listening to the "oral histories" that Rick Monday has been featuring this week on ICRT? Evidently he's been interviewing American expats who have lived in Taiwan for a long time. I only caught one--today--as I was driving to work this morning. (I know, it's embarrassing to admit that I listen to ICRT, but it was either that or Rum, Sodomy & the Lash for about the 5,000th time.)

Today, Rick was interviewing Doris Brougham (of Studio Classroom fame) and a gentleman whose name I didn't catch. They were having a grand old time praising the virtues of the Generalissimo and Madame Chiang Kai-shek. Now I respect the fact that they have been in Taiwan a lot longer than I have, but some of their comments didn't reflect very well on them, in my view.

Particularly odd was a comment that I believe Dr. Brougham made when they were discussing the dismantling of Chiang statues. Her statement was to the effect that people in the South (by which she meant the southern U.S.) didn't take down statues of Lincoln just because the South lost the Civil War. Besides the very strange equation of Chiang and Lincoln, her comment made me wonder how many Lincoln statues there are in the South that could have been torn down. According to this article, the first statue of Lincoln in one of the former Confederate states was unveiled in 2003. So it's not like carpet-baggers put up dozens of statues of Lincoln after the Civil War that are available for tearing down.

I think a more comparable controversy concerning tradition (they used the word "traditional" to defend the Chiang statues), public memory, and remembering vs. honoring would be the statues of Lenin in Russia. Would Dr. Brougham defend keeping Lenin's statues up because it's "tradition"?

That said, I wish I could have heard more of the oral histories they have been conducting. Wonder if ICRT will release a CD or have them available on their website?

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

CFP: "National Image Management in Asia"

Got this in my e-mail the other day.
Place Branding and Public Diplomacy

Call for Papers for Special Issue
National Image Management in Asia

Guest Editor
Dr. Jian “Jay” Wang
Department of Communication
Purdue University, USA

Asia looms large in our global imagination. Today, it is home to the world’s second largest economy, and the world’s two most populous nations and fastest-growing markets. It has diverse cultural heritage, distinct political traditions, and varying levels of development. With their growing role and impact in global politics and economy, countries in Asia are increasingly aware of the importance of their image and reputation as an integral part of their development strategies.

This special issue of Place Branding and Public Diplomacy seeks to advance our understanding of national, regional and city image management in East, Central, South, and Southeast Asia. Topics may include but are certainly not limited to the following:
  • Perceptions and images of these countries/regions/cities in the international arena, and their sources and outcome (intended or unintentional);
  • Production, distribution, reception, and impact of image management and communication efforts undertaken;
  • Structure, process, and policy for place image management;
  • Goals and priorities embodied in these efforts, e.g., policy communication, promotion of ideals and values, mutual understanding and relationship development;
  • Actors/players in the process, e.g., nation-state and local governments, civic/nongovernmental organizations, business, media, citizens, diasporas, cultural institutions, and celebrities and pop culture figures;
  • Communication platforms, e.g., media-oriented programs, cultural communication tools, new media technologies, advertising, public relations, and other communication tactics.
We welcome empirical research (with no preferences for methods or approaches) and concept papers that genuinely advance the field of place branding and public diplomacy. We are also interested in case studies that detail all or some of the key aspects in problem definition, objectives, actions taken, program organization, results/impact, and lessons learned/recommendations.

Manuscripts will be double-blind peer reviewed. All submissions must follow the author guidelines, available at The deadline for submission is January 15, 2008. Papers should be emailed as Word files to Dr. Jay Wang at

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Hmmm... seems to me I was gonna say something here...

Been doing a lot of waiting recently. Yesterday the former native Chinese speaker and I went to a certain unnamed teahouse (that claims it's the inventor of bubble/pearl milk tea) and waited an hour for my lunch to show up. (The fnCs got hers relatively quickly.) But the guy who delivered my meal apologized all over the place and gave us some coupons for free tea the text time we have a spare afternoon to wait for it.

Then this morning we went to the New! Improved! Mini-story of Foreign Affairs office in Fengyuan to get the address on my Alien Residence Card changed. (You gotta do that within 15 days of moving, or they'll fine you NT$5000.) Used to be you could go to the Foreign Affairs Police in the Fengyuan Police Station, wait a few minutes, get yelled at by the officer because you didn't bring the right documents, and be on your way pretty quickly.

Now you go to the New! Improved! MoFA office across the street--look for the banner that says, "Taiwan for UN--Peace Forever!" (or is it "UN for Taiwan--Peace Forever"?). We waited in the office for close to two hours, got nagged by the officer because we didn't bring the right documents (Can anyone tell me why they insist you bring a 戶籍謄本 instead of a 戶口名簿? Don't you need the latter to get the former?), and were out in a minute and a half.

But at least the fnCs and I had some nice conversations while we waited, so I can't really complain...

Thursday, October 04, 2007

Looks like this will be a typhoon weekend

Typhoon Krosa is on its way and looks like it'll be a big one. So I imagine we won't be going out much this weekend. It's just as well. We're exhausted. We finally finished getting all the stuff out of the old apartment, but now our new place is a mess. I keep expecting to come home and find Jupiter Jones setting up shop in the living room. (I probably referenced myself out of an audience with that.)

Well, at least perhaps I can make use of the time by trying to un-muddle chapter four, which is currently 15,000 stream-of-unconsciousness words with no end in sight. Either that or un-muddle the living room. Whatever I end up doing, though, it might have be done by candlelight. And in either case, organization seems to be the biggest challenge. That, and "knowing what to throw away and knowing what to keep." (Ha ha! Now you won't get that song out of your heads for weeks!)

Wednesday, September 26, 2007


During our recent move, we unpacked a box of books that contained the Ohio cookbook that ERG's mother had given us five years ago when we were leaving the U.S. to return to Taiwan. Inside the front cover, a nice note from her and an unsigned, un-mailed thank you card....

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Never too old to learn...

The former native speaker's four-year-old nephew (we'll call him "the not-yet-native speaker," or nyns, for short) just explained to me why he's not yet bathing himself:
Because little children can't wash behind themselves, they need their mothers to help them wash their backs.
Hmmm... made sense when he said it.

Friday, September 14, 2007

Current events (or why I'm not blogging)

  • Health "events" in the family
  • Moving and redecorating "events" (and sometimes redecorating "un-events" that should have been "events")
  • Dissertation/IRB-related "events"
  • An eventful publication process for an article that will come out soon
  • Beginning of the semester events
  • Recommendation-writing requests from all over (I'm happy to write 'em, but they're still an "event")
More later...

Sunday, August 12, 2007

A coupla IRB-related links (mostly for my benefit)

Been doing work to apply for IRB review of my research (again--but it's my fault since my 5-year renewable approved whatchamajiggit is expiring soon). In the midst of all that, I've seen two posts that represent different views of the process:
No time to comment now on them, though. Gotta get back to IRB-ing...

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Checking in

Just a note to say that I'm still alive. If you imagine that I have spent the summer thus far productively writing my dissertation, well, you're partly right. It's been an eventful summer, though. (I hasten to add that the events have been mostly good. Or, rather, that most of the events have been good.)

Anyway, I'll check back in again at some point in the future. Meanwhile, you can read this post from Stewgad.

Monday, July 16, 2007

Eric Gardner on contingent faculty

My Ohio University grad. school classmate Eric has an article in the Cleveland Plain Dealer about part-time labor in U.S. colleges and universities (and in particular, Ohio). It's an issue that probably a lot of people in academia are aware of (particularly in English departments or writing programs), but perhaps people outside of academia aren't as aware. Hopefully Eric's article will open a few eyes.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

No wonder hardly anyone reads this blog

Online Dating

Mingle2 - Online Dating

Isn't a G rating the kiss of death for a movie? Maybe I need to throw in a few gratuitous expletives, like "Daggone it!" or "Great day in the morning!"


Saturday, June 23, 2007

Another idea for RSA: Rhetorical Agency for the "Orphan of Asia"

Here's another timely topic for the upcoming Rhetoric Society conference. It's another one I am interested in, but don't have time right now to explore.

Earlier this month, Michael Turton wrote a post about the U.S. government's response to a teleconference between Taiwan President Chen Shui-bian and members of the National Press Club. This teleconference was (predictably) denounced by the PRC, and U.S. government officials avoided the event. According to a Taipei Times article that Turton quotes, "at least one [U.S. State Department] official charg[ed] that Chen's appearance violated the US ban on Taiwanese presidents visiting Washington". Turton comments,
In other words, officials within the US State Department -- thankfully not the whole State Department -- decided to take the exact position that Beijing had advanced: that pixels containing Chen Shui-bian's image should not be allowed to re-assemble themselves on digital screens inside the territory of the United States, especially when accompanied by audio.
The Taipei Times article also notes that no one from the State Department attended the teleconference.

This made me think of a question that Cheryl Geisler noted was raised by Joshua Gunn in a discussion of rhetorical agency at a meeting of the Alliance of Rhetoric Societies: "Under the impact of digital technologies, we have the ability to be in virtual places beyond our physical reach--how does this affect agency?"

The answer in this case seems to be "not a whole lot", but I'd be interested in hearing the views of those who have studied rhetorical agency (particularly in digital environments) in more depth than I have.

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Your assignment, should you choose to accept it

I was recently reminded that Robert Oliver, author of Communication in Ancient China and India (1971), worked as a publicizer of and ghostwriter for Syngman Rhee, Korea's first (through third) post-WWII president. Oliver wrote quite a few pamphlets and books about Korea and Rhee (Korea's Fight for Freedom, Why War Came in Korea, The Truth about Korea, Syngman Rhee: The Man Behind the Myth, etc.). He also gave a lot of speeches about Korea that have been published in various issues of Vital Speeches of the Day. Rhee, a strong anti-Communist, left office in 1960 after protests regarding the 1960 election and was exiled in Hawai'i.

This got me to thinking about the possible relationships between Oliver's work as a scholar of rhetoric (particularly intercultural rhetoric) and his Cold War-era rhetorical work for Rhee. I haven't seen anyone in the field of rhetoric write about Oliver's work on Korea--no dissertations, book chapters, or even articles. Goodwin Berquist has a little to say about Oliver's Korea period in "The Rhetorical Travels of Robert T. Oliver", but it's not a critical article. Oliver himself mentions his work with Rhee in his memoir The Way It Was--All the Way, but it doesn't appear that anyone else has taken up this topic.

But I don't really have time to work on this topic. So I'm passing it out to whoever wants to work on it, assuming no one has thought of this topic before. If anyone picks it up, I'd be grateful to hear about it. It might make a good paper for the RSA 2008 conference that's focusing on the responsibilities of rhetoric. Might even make a good dissertation topic.

[Update, 6/21/07: There's an article about ghostwriting from the Journal of Business Ethics that mentions Oliver and cites a 1991 book chapter in which Oliver is interviewed. Surprisingly, our library has that book...]

CFP: Rhetoric Society of America, 2008

RSA 2008: Call for Proposals

The Responsibilities of Rhetoric

Seattle, the location of RSA 2008, by virtue of its identity and its imagery compels us to meditate together on the macroforces that are currently shaping our discipline and our democracy.

Seattle means coffee and Boeing and the Port--all of them symbols of the international, globalized market economy and its attendant perils. Seattle means Microsoft and --megacorporations produced by and producing new (and sometimes vexing) communications technologies and practices. Seattle means "metronatural" life: REI (Recreation Equipment Inc.) and bicycles, eco-consciousness and the just-launched Puget Sound Partnership, urban spaces surrounded by Elliott Bay and Mt. Rainier--all of it a reminder of ecological challenges that must be negotiated through rhetoric. And Seattle means multiculturalism: the polyglot citizens who gather at Pike Place Market or Starbucks are African American and native American, Anglo and Asian, Latino and mestizo, native and immigrant.

Let us come together in Seattle, therefore, to consider The Responsibilities of Rhetoric. How can the study and practice of rhetoric contribute to social progress? What does rhetoric offer as means of understanding and coping with globalization, particularly at a time when "global" is associated with "terror" and "exploitation"? What do rhetorical studies have to offer in a presidential election year when political discourses and popular fundamentalisms are polarizing, confrontational, divisive? How do new media affect civic participation and the conduct of argument half a century after The New Rhetoric, The Uses of Argument, and The Rhetoric of Motives? How can rhetorical studies contribute to scientific exchange, technology transfer, and risk management--all in the interest of public and disciplinary good, and particularly on environmental issues? In a nation suspicious of difference, concerned with security, and newly armed with snooping technologies, can rhetorical pedagogies nevertheless protect civil liberties, sustain civic cooperation, and promote understanding and identification? And how can our professional society be sure that our scholarly methodologies and assumptions are themselves highly ethical?

While participants are invited to present their current research on all the topics that fall within the domain of rhetorical studies, the Program Committee will especially appreciate proposals that engage with The Responsibilities of Rhetoric.

Proposals for sessions and individual presentations – due by September 15, 2007 – must be submitted electronically: directions will be posted here shortly. There you will also find information (and regular updates) on housing, registration, special features, and other aspects of RSA 2008.
I should probably try to go--my first RSA presentation was in 1998 and my most recent one was in 2002...

Monday, May 28, 2007

Kang-i Sun Chang's new book on living through the White Terror

A while back I reviewed Kang-i Sun Chang's (孫康宜) book 走出白色恐怖 (Farewell to the White Terror). At least one commenter mentioned interest in an English version of the book.

Now I see that the author has published an English version of this book--Journey Through the White Terror: A Daughter's Memoir, published by National Taiwan University Press.

She also has a new edition of the Chinese book out. Unfortunately, neither book appears to be available through Amazon.

Friday, May 25, 2007

The end of an era?

Got this in my e-mail today:
由於本校電話撥接上網(Remote Dial In Service)使用率極低,而且此項上網設備維護及零件更新不易,故2007年6月1日起計中停止電話撥接上網服務,原使用者請改以學校寬頻、無線(WiFi)、或各網路ISP公司ADSL上網,不便之處敬請見諒。
It's basically saying that they're shutting down Tunghai's dial-in Internet service because it's not being used very much.

Monday, May 21, 2007

A reminder to myself not to count on e-mail for communicating with students

This showed up in my inbox yesterday:
主旨: FENM Reminder
傳送時間: 06/09/06 06:55:05 PM

在 05/20/07 10:59:11 PM 被讀取。
It basically means that the e-mail I sent out to a student last June was just read by that student yesterday. Hmmm...

Monday, May 14, 2007

My boring dream & Susan's exciting defense

I dreamt that I was at a literature conference in England and that the whole Q & A part of one session was devoted to someone reading a list of the bookstores where a new up-and-coming scholar would be having book-signings. I got up and started walking to the door, muttering to myself, "I gotta get out of this dream! It's so boring!"

On a completely different note, I am 100% sure that Susan's diss. defense will be illuminating, exciting, and just generally wonderful. I wish I could be there. I know I wouldn't want to leave!

[Update: HRH Dr Susan informs us that her defense was indeed a success. As I predicted. (Ahem.) Congratulations! Can I call you "HRH" for short?]

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Machine-translated student writing

I mentioned a while back what appeared to be the beginnings of a trend in using translation software to complete English writing assignments. More and more, I'm (literally) having to translate students' writing into Chinese to be able to understand what they're talking about. I've been grading student-written plays the last few days (for a first-year English program-wide student play assignment that I find of dubious value in the first place). I keep coming across sentences like this (credit for those of you who can figure out the correct Mandarin or Taiwanese meaning):
  • "Eat smoke."
  • "(Disguises shy)" (stage direction)
  • "Usually work overtime and all do not go home, the daughter-in-law comes after him to also eat a few bitter."
  • "Lazy have to say with you."
  • "If you go the speech..." (this last one is tricky)
I'm thinking about how I can combat deal with this apparent increase in the use of machine translation. I'm thinking that one possible approach is to try to work with students to help them use the translators to get meaningful English sentences (rather than trying to think of ways to stop students from using them). But I don't know... Ideas?

[Update: I talked to my students about this situation. They laughed at the examples (the "If you go the speech" one was hard to figure out even for them). Some of them expressed frustration at the idea of starting out by writing in English rather than writing in Chinese and translating. They said they felt they wouldn't be able to say anything if they started out using English. (I don't think that's true, but I admit it would probably take them longer to work out their ideas in English.) On the other hand, when I was working with them and I pointed out particular sentences, they were able to come up with decent-sounding English sentences that more-or-less conveyed their meaning (like, "I don't want to talk to you!" instead of "Lazy have to say with you"). So it's not like they're not capable of putting together a script in English. It's more a matter of how they go about this process.]

Monday, April 16, 2007

Not again...

I remember checking CNN's website 8 years ago (almost to the day) and feeling sick when I read about the shootings at Columbine. Now this happens at Virginia Tech...

What sixth graders were reading about fifty years ago

I'm almost finished a revision of what has felt like an interminable chapter--and for part of that translated the following lesson from the sixth grade, second semester Guoyu textbook published in late 1956. Thought I'd post it to give a sense of what sixth-graders in Taiwan were reading in their Chinese classes about 50 years ago.
Air Force Martyr Yan Haiwen

On the morning of August 17, 1937, in the blue and cloudless skies above the Jiangsu-Shanghai area, a Chinese bomber was surrounded by the enemy's antiaircraft shells and was clearly in great danger. Because of the concentration of the enemy’s antiaircraft guns, countless shells burst around this plane, bringing heavy smoke and blocking its movement. Suddenly, black smoke burst from the plane's tail; then a tiny dot jumped from the plane's cockpit, becoming a beautiful parachute, perfectly round and white, which floated down.

There was immediate commotion among the enemy, and the enemy soldiers climbed from their trenches; a clamor coming from their mouths, they headed over to where the parachute landed.

A Chinese pilot appeared in front of them.

Young--not much more than twenty--he stood on a piece of high ground.

Dozens of enemy soldiers began to surround him. Although he was only one man, he showed not a trace of fear, and in his hand he held a handgun, raising it imposingly.

An enemy officer ran over to him, trying to persuade him to surrender. He used his gun to reply to this great insult: bang, bang, bang--the gun sounded three times, and that officer and two enemy soldiers fell. There was a clamor among the rest of the enemy soldiers, and they dropped back. From behind, a Type 38 rifle sounded, and hundreds of enemy soldiers holding weapons once again surrounded him.

At this point, he only had one bullet left. He looked around him--the enemy was everywhere, a turbulent yellow wave. Above was the fatherland's beautiful blue sky; underneath, the fragrant grass of the fatherland. This young soldier's heart felt great pain; his hot blood rushed upwards, and when the enemy was no more than fifty meters away, standing on the field of the fatherland he raised his gun to his temple and fired, a young warrior who finally died for the fatherland.

The enemy, honoring his bravery, buried him and set up a memorial for him that said: "The Grave of Yan Haiwen, a Brave Soldier for China."


Speaking: How did China's Air Force defeat the enemy? Why did the martyr Yan Haiwen have to jump out in a parachute? How did he appear to the enemy? How did he treat the enemy? Why did the enemy bury him and set up a memorial for him? Who was China's enemy at that time? Now what enemies do we have?

Writing Characters: Listen and write the following words and phrases:
轟炸機 (bomber), 高射礮 (antiaircraft gun), 渾圓 (perfectly round), 騷動 (commotion), 亂嚷 (clamor), 威風凜凜 (imposing, or awe-inspiring), 洶湧 (turbulent), 殉職 (die at one’s post)

Composition: Write a narrative about bombing the enemy country.
The story of Yan Haiwen has shown up in at least one movie (1977's 筧橋英烈傳 "Heroes of the Eastern Skies"), which I haven't yet seen.

This textbook includes another martyr tale--a two-part story about Wu Feng, who was said to have sacrificed himself in order to persuade Aborigines to stop headhunting. That the Guoyu textbook of that time contains violent tales of martyrs isn't particularly surprising, considering the government's project of trying to condition young people to be willing to sacrifice themselves for the cause of retaking the mainland. I was surprised, however, by the composition exercise that asks students to write about bombing an enemy country. I'd really be interested in seeing what sixth-graders came up with in response to that kind of prompt. (Doubt I'll ever run across anything like that, though.)

I'm also curious about how long this story of Yan Haiwen was used in elementary school language textbooks. I haven't seen any earlier Guoyu textbooks from Republican China, so I'm not sure if this story was retained from that time. And it would be interesting to see when it went "out of fashion", too.

(Source: Guomin xuexiao Guoyu keben gaoji disi ce 國民學校國語課本高級第四冊--this was the textbook for second-semester sixth-graders, published in December 1956)

Monday, April 09, 2007

Another reason I gotta get this diss. done

I woke up early this morning, then fell asleep again and dreamed that I was at a used book sale at a university in the States. I got the idea to look through some old hymnals from the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries to see if I could find the tune to the Shansi Hymn that used to be sung on Shansi Day at Oberlin College. (That was the day they would announce which Oberlin graduates would be representatives to China.) The hymn, written by Herbert A. Youtz, was sung to the tune of "No. 541" in some mysterious hymnal which I haven't yet found. So I was looking through old hymnals for "No. 541" to see if the tune would fit the lyrics.

Meanwhile, Nicolas Cage was standing a few yards away looking at an old art book and talking to the seller about an oddity in something that the book said about an artist's life. I was going through hymnals, some of which didn't go up to 541, some of which skipped 541 (went from 540 to 542), then I came to one that had 541. I was having trouble singing the Shansi Hymn to the tune of 541 because I'm not very good at sight-reading, and Nicolas Cage said to me, "I didn't know you were interested in old hymnals, Jon."

"Oh, I'm trying to find the tune that fits a hymn that they used to sing on Shansi Day in the early 1900s, Nic."

"Oh," he said.

"But I'm not very good at sight reading, so I can't tell if this hymn fits the words."

"Oh, well give me a few lines and I'll try," he said. (He's quite the Renaissance man, you know.)

So I reeled off a few lines to the hymn:
Founded on the blood of martyrs,
See the walls of Shansi stand
Witness to a great devotion,
Tomb of an heroic band.

From the death of her slain Master,
Grows the Living Church today;
Through self-sacrifice of heroes
Comes the power of God alway.
So there Nicolas Cage and I were, digging through old hymnals, trying to find a hymn that would fit the lyrics to the Shansi Hymn. Then I suddenly felt I should wake up.

"But I want to stay asleep and see if Nicolas Cage and I find the right hymn," I said.

"Give it up, Jon," I said. "It's just a dream. Even if you find the hymnal, it might not be real."

"Oh--yeah. I guess so." So I woke up.

[Update, 6/26/07: Nic Cage never got back to me on this, but the amazing team of Ken Grossi (of the Oberlin Archives) and Mary Louise Van Dyke (Oberlin Library's resident hymnologist) solved the mystery of Tune No. 541 for me. From Ken's e-mail to me:
The title of the hymnal is "Church Hymns and Tunes," edited by Rev. Herbert B. Turner, D.D. and William F. Biddle (New York: A.S. Barnes and Company, 1909). The book contains an Austrian Hymn with the Tune No. 541 at the top of the page. Mary Louise concluded that the tune for this song was also used for the words of the song on the Shansi Day Program (by Herbert Alden Youtz).
There you have it. I should be getting a copy of the tune in a few days, after which I'll let all you who are waiting with bated breath know what exactly "Austrian Hymn is. Oh! the supsense!]

[Update 2, same date:
That was quick! The tune turns out to be by Haydn; Hymn 541, "Glorious Things of Thee are Spoken". Here's the tune (sorry, it's not a link to my singing...)]

Friday, March 23, 2007

A big piece of real estate

The Taichung City Government's website reports here that a Hong Kong investor, Richard Li, is interested in developing the old Shuinan Airport. We heard about this on the TV news earlier (though they focused more on how a city councilwoman was trying to act as a matchmaker between Li and the mayor's daughter Hu Ting-Ting).

Shuinan Airport

The TV news was suggesting that the redevelopment might result in a rise in the cost of housing in Taichung. But the story on the website mentions some problems with the Ministry of National Defense that might slow down the redevelopment of the airport. Anyone heard anything more about this?

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Oysters coming home to roost

(Don't ask me what that title's supposed to mean--I have no idea!)

My colleague and fellow disser-commiserator John just sent me a copy of the original short story "A Pail of Oysters" that Vern Sneider published in the Antioch Review in 1950. (The novel, about which I've written three posts, was published in 1953.)

I haven't had time to read the story yet--I'm too busy fighting my way through a dissertation chapter that I want to finish before the end of the month--but I notice it seems a lot more focused on Li Liu and his family. There doesn't appear to be any Didi, Precious Jade, or Ralph Barton in this story. Hmmm... (More later...)

And thanks, John!

Sunday, February 25, 2007

Back from Oberlin

Had a nice time in Oberlin, despite all the warnings we got prior to going about the terrible weather in the Cleveland area.

(Saw this igloo on Oberlin's campus on Tuesday. By Wednesday it had mostly melted away.)

Got some good productive time in at Oberlin's Archives, thanks to the kind help of Roland Baumann, Ken Grossi, and Tammy Martin (and their assistants). Thanks, all!

We had dinner Monday night with our friend ERG, who came to Oberlin to visit. Had a great time with him!

We also got some needed shopping in. (It's nice to be able to buy shoes in a place where the clerks don't keep reminding you that you have big feet...)

I read three books on the flight there and back. On the way over, I read From Evangelicalism to Progressivism at Oberlin College, 1866-1917 by John Barnard (available for free online at OSU's Knowledge Bank). On the way back, helped by a 3-hour delay on the runway due to a heavy crosswind, I read The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini and Ordeal by Slander by Owen Lattimore. Good books! (See, I don't just buy 'em...)

But now it's back to work. Classes begin March 1, so I have syllabi to write and a few days to get some quality dissertating time in. So... talk to y'all later...

[Update: And now I can see what we just missed, weather-wise...]

Sunday, February 04, 2007

"And you know, I don't even feel any withdrawal symptoms..." (he said, his lips trembling...)

Our home has been without Internet service for the past few days (lousy phone company), but we haven't had time to call them to find out what's wrong. And we don't miss it that much, either. So the former native Chinese speaker and I decided tonight that we're going to cancel our ADSL service at home. And I feel pretty good about it, actually. (But I wonder if I'll start to gain weight...)

Friday, January 19, 2007

I would be remiss not to mention this...

Dunkin' Donuts has arrived in Taiwan. (And I just went to Mr. Mister Donut for the first time last Sunday. I'm so out of style.)

It sounds like the Taiwan stores will also offer the ham, egg, and cheese breakfast bagels that helped me face those awful Syracuse winters...

Update: Thanks to Heather's comment and the wonder that is YouTube, I now present...

Monday, January 15, 2007

Weekend trip

We had some time off yesterday, so we took the High-Speed Rail (HSR) to Taipei yesterday. We could only get a one-way trip, and we could only get seats on the 7 o'clock train. But that turned out to be OK.

People like to take pictures when the train is coming. Here's one guy trying to fit in his family and the train. I love that photographer's pose. Looks like he's in training for the next Matrix movie....

The trip was smooth and quick--we left right at 7:00 and arrived in Banqiao (or "Banciao", as they write it) 53 minutes and 25 seconds later. (In contrast, the bus we took from Taipei to Taichung last night took about 2 hours--and I think the driver was speeding the whole way.)

We spent the morning at the Taipei 228 Memorial Museum. Quite a sobering experience. (There's also a "virtual museum" that contains a lot of the pictures that are on display at the museum. Unfortunately, it's only available in Chinese.)

Coming back to Taichung, we felt kind of jealous of Taipei's MRT system, though we know how much people in Taipei suffered during the construction of the subway. But we're hoping to see something like it in Taichung one of these days...

Thursday, January 11, 2007


To finish my dissertation before my fortieth birthday. (Let's see, that gives me about 31,449,600 seconds, give or take.)

Four new books in the former native speaker's library

It was almost like a birthday present (except that I paid for them...). This afternoon I got a box from Labyrinth Books, containing the four books that I ordered in November. They are all hardbound books, but only one (the Luce book) has a dust jacket. But three of them were less than US$10 each, and the last book was only $15. Not a bad deal...

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

"Draco dormiens nunquam titillandus"

It's the week that all the first-year students take their English oral final exams here. Walking around the building, you can see students standing all over, holding papers and mumbling strange words to themselves. It's times like these that I begin to think I'm actually teaching at Hogwarts.

One of my first-year students just used "vouchsafe" in her oral test, and another used "artifice." Either I'm doing something right, or their electronic dictionaries are working overtime...

Back to the archives

(I gotta work on writing better titles...)

I just read Christopher Phelps's (or is it Christopher Phelps'?) column in the Chronicle about his dream archive. Some points to remember before I dig around in the Oberlin archives this winter break (or that I wish I had thought of last time I was there, so I wouldn't have to dig around in the archives this winter break):
  1. "Archival copy rates vary a great deal. The top end often seems usurious at 50 cents or more a page. Nevertheless, price cannot deter a scholar. Should I order $319 worth of copies? Answer: of course. It's cheaper than a plane ticket or gasoline, room, and board should I have to return for a second trip."
Hmmm... that's only one point. Well, it's important enough that it should be more than one. For some reason, during my last couple of trips to the archives I was particularly parsimonious with the copying. I don't know what I was thinking. Now I have to fly halfway around the planet to do what I should've done the first time. And without a grant. (Hmmm... maybe I should set up a donation box. Wait a second...)

[Update, 1/12/07: OK--got the donation box up and running (on the upper right-hand side of the page. I don't expect much, but it's worth a try...]

Tuesday, January 09, 2007


My colleague Douglas informed us about an organization he's involved with called Taichung People Animals Welfare Society (Taichung PAWS) that has begun recently. Here's an introduction from the organization's website:
We are a group of concerned people from various countries who have joined together to care for homeless animals in the Taichung area. Each of us has different motivations and ideas about homeless animals in Taiwan, but we have one thing in common: that we all care deeply about animals. We want to see some changes in our local society. We hope that there will no more homeless animals in Taiwan. We hope that more people will adopt and care for animals. We hope that people will stop killing animals and choose TNR (trap/neuter/release) to control homeless animal populations. We hope that the next generation of Taiwanese will be more educated about animals and that they will have concern for animals as we do. We hope to solve the problems of homeless animals in the Taichung area through Adoption/fostering, TNR, and education.
They're holding an event from 1 to 5 p.m. on Saturday 1/13 at the Our Home Cafe near World Gym. (Here's a map.) More details here.

Monday, January 08, 2007

Three books the former native speaker wishes were in his library, but is content (for now) to borrow from someone else's library

During an online search this past weekend for materials related to Vern Sneider's A Pail of Oysters, I came across a reference to some letters that he exchanged with George Kerr, author of Formosa Betrayed. Some images of those letters are available online via the National Repository of Cultural Heritage, but I also found out that the 228 Museum in Taipei published a 3-volume set related to Kerr:
I found out that Tunghai's History Dept. library had these books, so I borrowed them today. Talk about fascinating stuff to curl up with on a cold winter night. There are all sorts of interesting topics that come up in the letters--discussions with (and about) Thomas Liao (a Taiwan independence activist-in-exile who eventually returned to Taiwan in a propaganda coup for the KMT), letters in response to Formosa Betrayed and concerning the trouble he was having publishing a history of Taiwan to 1945, discussions regarding the assassination attempt on Chiang Ching-kuo in 1970 and its aftermath... Just a lot to keep a curious reader busy. These were published in 2000--I'm a little embarrassed it has taken me so long to come across them.

Saturday, January 06, 2007

Didn't realize they were so healthy...

BBC News reports that Momofuku Ando, the Taiwan-born Japanese inventor of instant noodles and founder of Nissin Food Products, has died at the ripe old age of 96. Notable is the fact that, according to the BBC, Ando "often ate his company's instant noodles." Guess Nissin really produces "long-life noodles"...


It's windy this evening, so I wore my favorite baseball cap when I went out for a quick walk:

I get a strange feeling of power whenever I wear it. (Unfortunately, it didn't stop the guy in the SUV from almost running me over. Guess that's another example of the material world trumping language.)

Thursday, January 04, 2007

I'm starting off 2007 with this?!

We've been going to a certain restaurant in Taichung for a couple of years, and I always found amusing a sign that is stuck on the door of a stall in the men's restroom. It's in the stall where the "squatter" toilet is located. Well, this time I happened to have my camera with me, so I took a picture of the sign:
Now I don't teach technical writing, but it would be interesting to do some usability testing on these instructions. (Would people think that they had to take off their shoes before "dropping"?...)

I had a little trouble getting a clear shot because the sign kept reflecting the light of the flash, so I tried a couple of times until I found that standing at an angle and using red-eye reduction made for a pretty clear picture.

It was at about this point that I also realized that if anyone had come into the restroom and seen multiple flashes coming from inside one of the stalls, I'd have had a bit of explaining to do... Guess I could have told them I was 閃電俠 (the Flash)...

(Remind me to get a picture of the other sign--the one that contains the words "Memento excrementi"*--some time.)

*Sounds like a great title for a blog, doesn't it?