The 9th International Junior Scholar's Conference on Sinology
Blazed New Trails for Taiwan Culture and Literature Research
“The International Junior Scholar’s Conference on Sinology” aims to provide young scholars of Chinese studies in the world a cross-national, interdisciplinary academic platform for discussion and exchange. Funded primarily by the Chiang Ching-Kuo Foundation, the Conference was held on a rotational basis by universities in Taiwan, China, and North America. Since its inception in 2001, the Conference has accumulated quite impressive results, fully demonstrating the positive research energy of sinology students both at home and abroad. Therefore, the Conference has been regarded as an annual important event in the international field of sinology.
The Ninth International Junior Scholar’s Conference on Sinology was held in the Lecture Hall of the College of Liberal Arts of National Taiwan University from July 9th to 10th and was co-organized by NTU’s Institute of Taiwan Literature and Harvard University’s Department of East Asian Studies. The theme of this year’s conference was “Taiwan Literature and Culture”.
NTU’s Vice President George Tai-Jen Chen, Director of the Office of International Affairs Dr. Tung-Shen, and Director of the Institute of Taiwan Literature Dr. Chia-Ling Mei made speeches at the opening ceremony, followed by two academic talks delivered by Harvard University Chair Professor David Der-Wei Wang and NTU’s Director of the Digital Archive Resource Center Dr. Jieh Hsiang, and two panel discussions anchored by Hong Kong Chinese University Chair Professor Dr. Leo Lee and NTU’s Institute of Taiwan Literature Director Dr. Chia-Ling Mei. Altogether 30 papers were presented at the Conference, which fell under five major categories:
“Historical memories and literary imagination,” “Knowledge production and cultural Interpretation,” Everyday life and popular culture”, “Austronesian language: legends and culture,” and “Urban, regional, and cross-border flows.” The themes covered in the Conference encompassed the major issues in the research of Taiwan literature and culture today.
Special Topic Lectures
Academia Sinica academician David Der-Wei Wang first talked about the “New Trends in the research of Taiwan Literature and Culture”. He gave a contextual review of the academic development of Taiwan literature and cultural studies in recent years, then went on further to
offer his observations of the papers presented at this year’s sinology conference. Basing his analysis on the subjectivity, the special time and space considerations, and the feeling and structures of Taiwan, Professor Wang summed up the overall direction of this year’s Conference. He said, because of its special historical and geographical coordinates, Taiwan abounded in research potentials, and , judging from the outstanding quality of this year’s papers, future research on Taiwan literature and culture had a lot to be achieved.
Professor Jieh Hsiang, on the other hand, talked about “The use of NTU Digital Archives Resource Center and the Research of Taiwan History and Literature.” He first gave a brief introduction of NTU’s Digital Archives Resource Center, and the database that has been completed for the research on Taiwanese history and literature, then he went on to demonstrate the methods of its actual application by citing examples from a criminal proceedings. According to him, NTU’s digital archives could be a very valuable resource in the research of Taiwanese history.
Contributions to this year’s Conference papers were wide and varied, as young scholars from UK, Germany, the U.S., Japan, China, Hong Kong, Singapore and Taiwan responded with enthusiasm. After careful selection, a total of 30 papers was accepted for resentation.
The Conference was divided into two venues and three sessions. The first day had a presentation of 16 papers. Under the theme of “historical memories and literary imagination,” participating young scholars had very creative literary interpretation under the historical context of Taiwan, China, and Japan; while under the theme of “knowledge production and cultural interpretation, “ the young scholars arrived at in-depth observation of text interpretation, cultural zoning, and linguistic communication.
The second day of the Conference had 14 papers presented. In the session on “Everyday life and popular culture,” young scholars had wonderful discourses on popular cultures such as texts, drama, and films; in the session on “Austronesian language: legends and culture,” young scholars probed in depth the formation and variation of indigenous writing and discussion. In addition, in the session on “Urban, regional, and cross-border flow,” young scholars used space and region as the starting point, and explored the formation of literature and cultural zones, and the cross-border flow of texts and images.
Aside from the presentation of academic papers, this year’s Conference arranged two academic discussions. The first panel discussion was anchored by Professon Chia-Ling Mei on ‘Young Scholars Forum ”, which was participated by young scholars from the University of California, the University of Texas of the United States, the Heidelberg University from Germany, the Fu-Dan University of China, and the National Taiwan University of Taiwan. These scholars offered their academic observations of international sinological research from their own areas of specialization. For instances, Professor Robert Chi from University of California suggested a new path for cross-disciplinary research on Taiwanese films; Dr. Wen-Ching Li,
observed that there were a growing number of Taiwan literature studies in the academia of Japan, and that the studies were becoming more pluralistic and interdisciplinary; Mr. Yi-Fan Zuo, from the Fu-Dan University of China, said that there was an urgent, and universal quest for the identity of Taiwan in Taiwanese literary research, and that Taiwanese literature occupied the coordinates of significance in the study of contemporary Chinese literature.
The second panel discussion was anchored by Hong Kong Chinese University Chair rofessor Leo Lee on “Senior scholars forum,” in which University of San Diego Professor Ping-Huei Liao, University of California Professor Mi Xi, Aichi University of Japan Professor Ying-che Huang, and Professor Ching-Ming Ko of Taiwan University participated and offered general comments. These scholars said that the Conference was instrumental in developing and deepening the issues of international sinological research, and in offering model dialogues and exchange. They also gave positive feedbacks for the Conference, saying that the presented papers were all very good in terms of quality and quantity, and were for the first time geared toward Taiwanese literature since the inception of the Sinology Conference. In essence, the Conference converged the cross-regional, and cross-cultural research achievements, highlighting the importance of Taiwan research in the field of Chinese studies.