Cambria Press is pleased to announce a new publication Supernatural Sinophone Taiwan and Beyond by Chia-rong Wu (Rhodes College). This book is in the Cambria Sinophone World Series headed by Victor Mair (University of Pennsylvania).
This book will be launched at the upcoming 2016 Association of Asian Studies (AAS) conference in Seattle.
The following are excerpts from the book.
“When it comes to zhiguai studies, numerous scholars have linked the ghostly presence with the critical concepts of the lost, the returning, and the strange in response to the traditional Chinese history, culture, and entertainment.As Judith T. Zeitlin argued, ‘A specter is always an image, culturally and historically constructed, and it therefore forces us to consider what it means to represent something in a given period and context.’ Zeitlin’s interpretation of ghostly figuration deftly points to clear senses of specific temporality and locality, both of which are crucial elements in defining and understanding a Sinophone phenomenon or product. The spectral representation in fiction and film goes beyond the common perception of the mundane world, thereby arousing feelings of horror towards the unknown and the uncanny. The hollowness represented by ghosts and spirits to a great extent consorts with the fear of death as well as the dark side of human nature.” (p. 9)
On ghost island literature 鬼島文學
“What is ghost island literature 鬼島文學? … ghost-island literature is not simply a subset of the traditional Chinese zhiguai genre with the presence of specters. With a unique historical timeline, it extends the scope of the strange in general along with the ghostly, the ghost-like, and the shadowy in postmodern scenarios. In the chapter entitled “Second Haunting” from The Monster That Is History (2004), David Der-wei Wang traced the literary images of monsters and ghosts in his visionary analysis of the historical and literary narratives from China, Taiwan, and Hong Kong. As Wang claimed, ‘The continued reappearance of ghosts” can be regarded as “a reminder of the incessant calamities of Chinese history.’ The ghost haunting is thus associated with the return of the repressed memories of the past.” (pp.24-25)
On Pai Hsien-yung
“[T]he geographical and cultural dislocation problematizes one’s recognition of the present—this is seen by how Pai Hsien-yung’s ghostly Taipei characters are unable to let go of their reminiscence of the past. Put in another way, Pai’s Taipei characters serve as the historical silhouettes of the past. Their nostalgic memories overtake their present existence, not to mention their future prospects. Through literary writing, Pai re-creates an imagined homeland and provides himself with an emotional outlet for nostalgia. His characters’ reminiscence of China emerges as a sense of eternal loss and lack, thus making the transcendence of nostalgia impossible. In this sense, the reimagined China turns out to be an intangible cultural matrix, loaded with rosy pictures and haunting effects. Therefore, Pai’s mainland figures in Taipei serve as historical shadows who are attached to sensual emotions and memories as well as a simulacrum of the haunting history.” (p. 34)
On Chu T’ien-hsin
“Chu T’ien-hsin is one of those writers who brings into focus retrospection and introspection of Chinese diaspora and local identity in Taiwan. Chu questions the KMT rule and examines her cultural quandary; her Taipei characters are not insubstantial Chinese shadows … Chu’s “In Remembrance of My Buddies from the Military Compound” [Xiang wo juancun de xiongdi men 想我眷村的兄弟們; 1992) and The Old Capital are connected with a complex mechanism of cross-cultural memories in response to Chinese diaspora and Japanese colonialization. In addition, Chu’s lively and discursive narrative also portrays a spectral reflection of the social fabric and individual psyche.” (p. 36)
On Li Ang
“Like The Labyrinthine Garden, Li Ang’s “Bloody Sacrifice of the Makeup Face” is related to the aftermath of the February 28 Incident. … Li Ang skillfully combines the historical shadows in the past and the tragic fire in the present so as to stress the victimization of the dead in and after the February 28 Incident. … Li Ang’s ghost-island narrative is brought to a higher level with her novel Visible Ghosts (Kandejian de gui 看得見的鬼; 2004), a recent notable endeavor in the category of ghost-island literature. This fictional work depicts Taiwan as an island of spectral history and recounts the correlation between historical trauma and ghost haunting through five female ghosts’ stories. As a creative writer, Li Ang skillfully connects the ghost-island narrative with the historical trauma of Taiwan.” (pp. 47, 48, 49)
On Giddens Ko
“Giddens Ko’s rise can also be attributed to the Taiwanese (young) readers’ liking for fantasy and adventure novels. In The Legend of Fate Hunters (Lie ming shi chuanqi 獵命師傳奇) series (2005–2013; twenty volumes in total), Ko introduces a supernatural practice of fate hunting that changes one’s character, energy, and power. … It is intriguing to note that Ko creates a fantastic world where Chinese fate hunters clash with vampires, and the battlegrounds include China, Taiwan, Japan, Russia, and the United States. One may argue that the production and popularity of The Legend of Fate Hunters series coincides with the ‘place-based’ practices highlighted by scholars of Sinophone studies.” (pp.191-192)
On strange narratives and Chineseness
“Strange narratives can be both disturbing and intriguing. By making strange figures and spaces visible to readers, writers revisit historical trauma, engage with sociopolitics, and/or probe into the unknown and the uncanny state of human psyche. On a deeper level, strange narratives delve into profound twists on imaginary Chineseness and formulate revolutionary takes on varied cultural identities. An increasingly popular trend in the cultural and social imagining of Sinophone Taiwan and beyond, the strange narrative will continue to haunt for many years to come.” (p. 195)
Buy it on Amazon.