Founded on October 30, 2016, the Association for Taiwan Literature is a scholarly, non-profit association open to all persons interested in Taiwan and the study of Taiwan. It primarily comprises professors, researchers, writers and students in Taiwan and abroad aiming to promote the research, teaching, writing, translation and various applications of Taiwan literature and to facilitate the cultural exchange between Taiwan and other countries. The president of the association, Xiang Yang 向陽, the penname of Lin Chiyang, is Professor at the Graduate Institute of Taiwanese Culture at the National Taipei University of Education. He is also a renowned poet, an essayist of note and a woodblock print artist. The vice president of the association is Professor Huang Meier 黃美娥, chair of the Graduate Institute of Taiwan Literature at National Taiwan University. Dr Chang Lihsuan 張俐 璇 an assistant professor at the Graduate Institute of Taiwan Literature at National Taiwan University, serves as the association’s Secretary General.

In 2017, the association held a series of events. First, in cooperation with the National Museum of Taiwan Literature, the association held six roundtables in March, April and May, focusing on the issues of the institutionalization of Taiwan literature, the profession of Taiwanese literature in relation to film and cultural industry, and the job market for Taiwanese literature graduates. The roundtables took place both in Northern and Southern Taiwan; they were videotaped and posted online.

These roundtables attracted a number of concerned audiences, and through the roundtable discussions, the association was able to collect ideas and suggestions from all walks of life as well as to understand the needs and expectations of its members.

In August 2017, the high school curriculum for language and literary education underwent reform, which triggered a heated debate about the percentage of classical Chinese literature in textbooks. The association immediately called for a press conference and proclaimed its support for the reduction of the percentage of classical Chinese in the high school curriculum. The call of the association successfully drew the attention of the media and the public, and the percentage of classical Chinese in the high school textbook was eventually reduced to 35% to 45%.

The annual meeting of the association was held at Aletheia University in Tamsui where Taiwan’s first department on Taiwan literature was established. In honor of the establishment of the discipline, the association held its first annual meeting here to symbolize a new beginning of Taiwanese literary studies for the next decade. Professor Zhang Liangze 張良澤, a pioneer of the research of Taiwanese literature, was invited to give a keynote speech, followed by 14 panels comprised of a diversity of topics such as indigenous literature and culture, film and cultural industry, literary criticism and it institutionalization, etc. The meeting also included 10 roundtables composed of participants from different generations of researches, touching upon the issues of the method of comparative studies, the study of classical Taiwanese literature as well as Taiwanese literature and grassroots movements.

The last and most recent event for the year of 2017 was a workshop on Association for Taiwan Culture and Taiwanese Writers, with the supports of the Ministry of Culture and National Museum of Taiwanese Literature. In 1921, Dr Chiang Weishui 蔣渭水 founded Association for Taiwan Culture during the Japanese colonial period, and the organization was meant to promote Taiwanese culture as a strategy of resistance to Japanese colonialism. Inheriting the spirit of Association for Taiwanese Culture, our association will aim for the promotion of Taiwanese literature and the invention of new cultural practices for the new millennium. For the coming year, the association will be entering high schools and holding a series of lectures for high school teachers and students in hopes of enhancing the visibility of Taiwanese literature in the school curriculum and Taiwan society.

For those who are interested in our association and activities, please visit our website.

Dr Elliott Shr-tzung Shie received his PhD from the Department of East Asian Languages and Literatures at Yale University and is currently an Associate Professor for the Graduate Institute of Taiwan Literature at National Tsing Hua University.