This book is the first in English to consider women's movements and feminist discourses in twentieth-century Taiwan. Doris T. Chang examines the way in which Taiwanese women in the twentieth century selectively appropriated Western feminist theories to meet their needs in a modernizing Confucian culture. She illustrates the rise and fall of women's movements against the historical backdrop of the island's contested national identities, first vis-à-vis imperial Japan (1895-1945) and later with postwar China (1945-2000).
In particular, during periods of soft authoritarianism in the Japanese colonial era and late twentieth century, autonomous women's movements emerged and operated within the political perimeters set by the authoritarian regimes. Women strove to replace the "Good Wife, Wise Mother" ideal with an individualist feminism that meshed social, political, and economic gender equity with the prevailing Confucian family ideology. However, during periods of hard authoritarianism from the 1930s to the 1960s, the autonomous movements collapsed.
The particular brand of Taiwanese feminism developed from numerous outside influences, including interactions among an East Asian sociopolitical milieu, various strands of Western feminism, and Marxist-Leninist women's liberation programs in Soviet Russia. Chinese communism appears not to have played a significant role, due to the Chinese Nationalists' restriction of communication with the mainland during their rule on post-World War II Taiwan.
Notably, this study compares the perspectives of Madame Chiang Kai-shek, whose husband led as the president of the Republic of China on Taiwan from 1949 to 1975, and Hsiu-lien Annette Lu, Taiwan's vice president from 2000 to 2008. Delving into period sources such as the highly influential feminist monthly magazine Awakening as well as interviews with feminist leaders, Chang provides a comprehensive historical and cross-cultural analysis of the struggle for gender equality in Taiwan.
Poetry by Asian American writers has had a significant impact on the landscape of contemporary American poetry, and a book-length critical treatment of Asian American poetry is long overdue. In this groundbreaking book, Xiaojing Zhou demonstrates how many Asian American poets transform the conventional “I” of lyric poetry—based on the traditional Western concept of the self and the Cartesian “I”—to enact a more ethical relationship between the “I” and its others.
Drawing on Emmanuel Levinas’s idea of the ethics of alterity—which argues that an ethical relation to the other is one that acknowledges the irreducibility of otherness—Zhou offers a reconceptualization of both self and other. Taking difference as a source of creativity and turning it into a form of resistance and a critical intervention, Asian American poets engage with broader issues than the merely poetic. They confront social injustice against the other and call critical attention to a concept of otherness which differs fundamentally from that underlying racism, sexism, and colonialism. By locating the ethical and political questions of otherness in language, discourse, aesthetics, and everyday encounters, Asian American poets help advance critical studies in race, gender, and popular culture as well as in poetry.
The Ethics and Poetics of Alterity is not limited, however, to literary studies: it is an invaluable response to the questions raised by increasingly globalized encounters across many kinds of boundaries.
Marilyn Chin, Kimiko Hahn, Myung Mi Kim, Li Young Lee, Timothy Liu, David Mura, and John Yau