Michigan State University "Taiwan Studies Program"2014/7/1~2019/6/30
  • Project Description

    During 2015-16 (the second grant year), the MOE/TECO funds and MSU matching funds were used for (i) course development, (ii) hosting of a Taiwan Film Festival, and (iii) organizing a speaker series.

    Course Development

    During the second grant year, we continue to take a multi-pronged approach toward increasing Taiwan-related teaching on campus. To have a consistent and lasting impact on students, introducing a Taiwan component into existing courses and developing new ones is essential. Such courses directly promote a greater understanding of Taiwan’s society and culture in the classroom, and they have an opportunity to become integrated into the institutional fabric of MSU.

    Prof. Sheng-mei Ma (English) devoted two weeks to Taiwan films in both of his English courses in spring 2016 (ENG360 Postcolonial Diaspora, enrollment 17, and ENG210 Foundations of Literary Study, enrollment 11). Students were required to attend three out of the five films shown for the Taiwan Film Festival (see section 2). Final papers’ prompts included many questions on the films. About 40% of final exams focused on Taiwan films.

    Chin-Hsi Lin, Assistant Professor in the Department of Counseling, Educational Psychology and Special Education, applied for support for a project entitled “Technology Use in Chinese Language Teaching” last year. He examines the ways in which Information and Communication Technologies have been incorporated into teaching Mandarin for speakers of other languages in both Taiwan and the US. We are funding the project for two years (2014-2016). The project is developed in tandem with several courses. Specifically in 2015-16, he has incorporated his research into CEP991A Learning Technology and Culture (Fall 2015, enrollment 11). His project has also helped advise and support two graduate students who work as research assistants on the project.

    In December 2015, Prof. Tze-lan Sang made a trip to Academia Sinica, Taipei to present a paper at an international workshop on the master filmmaker Hou Hsiao-hsien’s latest film The Assassin. Her essay will be included in an English anthology of studies on Hou Hsiao-hsien targeting American undergraduate students as the main audience. The anticipated publication date is 2017. She plans to assign her chapter and other selected chapters from the anthology to her film class (CHS360 Chinese Film Studies and CHS466 Modern Literature and Film, generally enrolling 20 students each) in 2017-18 and thereafter.

    The Taiwan Film Festival

    One of the highlights during the second grant year, like the first year, is a Taiwan Film Festival. The 2016 Taiwan Film Festival comprised five fiction feature films by three directors. Two of them were invited to campus from Taiwan to participate in the activities, particularly the Q/A sessions at the end of their films. The festival was jointly curated and co-hosted by Prof. Tze-lan Sang (Department of Linguistics and Languages) and Prof. Sheng-mei Ma (English Department). Sang and Ma presided over the showings, giving the introductions and fielding the Q/A sessions:

    Huang Yu-shan,Spring Cactus (1999), on March 22 (attendance 55)

    Huang Yu-shan,The Taste of Life (2015), on March 23 (attendance 75)

    Hou Hsiao-hsien,The Assassin (2015), on March 28 (attendance 76)

    Lin Cheng-sheng,Murmur of Youth (1999), on April 11 (attendance 87)

    and Lin Cheng-sheng,Betelnut Beauty (2001), on April 12 (attendance 80)

    The total attendance at the showings was close to 400, consisting of MSU students from general education IAH classes (Integrative Studies of Arts and Humanities), Chinese literature and language courses, Prof. Ma’s English Department courses, other interested students, and the general public from Greater Lansing. In addition to the film showings, there were two related events: an open reception before Huang’s Taste of Life on March 23, attended by TECO-Chicago Interim Director David Dong and officer Sabina Shie, the MSU OISS director James Dorsett, MSU Asian Studies Director Siddharth Chandra, among others; and a welcome banquet for Lin Cheng-sheng attended by approximately 80 people (MSU students and faculty and members of the Taiwanese Association of Greater Lansing) on April 10.

    The Taiwan Speaker Series

    In conjunction with the Taiwan Film Festival, interactive sessions were conducted by speakers, including Huang Yu-shan and Lin Cheng-sheng. The total attendance of five Q/A sessions and one talk over a welcome dinner was close to 500 (see above).

    Furthermore, to help students and the larger community better understand the substance of Taiwanese cinema, we invited Prof. David Li from University of Oregon to deliver a public lecture entitled “Ang Lee's Family Values: Reconsidering ‘Chineseness’ in Eat, Drink, Man, Woman” on March 25 (attendance 95).

    To help students and the larger community understand the momentous results of Taiwan’s elections in January 2016, we invited Prof. Yuan-kang Wang of Western Michigan University to deliver a public lecture entitled “Taiwan’s Elections in 2016 and the Impact on US-China-Taiwan Relations“ on March 15 (attendance 40). The talk was introduced by Prof. Eric Chang of the MSU Political Science Department and discussion was moderated by Fang-yu Chen, PhD candidate in Political Science. The talk was well-received and stirred up animated discussion. 

    For these events, Prof. Tze-lan Sang, faculty leader on the grant initiatives, involved volunteers from the MSU Taiwan Graduate Student Association, the Taiwanese Association of Greater Lansing, and the Chinese Language program at MSU to further engage students and the off-campus community.

  • Outcome Feature Description

    Our course development made a direct impact on students. Particularly noteworthy were the two English Department courses taught by Professor Sheng-mei Ma this spring (ENG360 Postcolonial Diaspora, enrollment 17, and ENG210 Foundations of Literary Study, enrollment 11). Students were required to attend three out of the five films shown for the Taiwan Film Festival. Final papers’ prompts included many questions on the films. About 40% of final exams focused on Taiwan films. He is heartened by student interest. We believe that the English courses are a good way to help make the presence of Taiwan known to the larger MSU campus beyond the Chinese Language Program, the IAH courses, and Taiwanese/Chinese audiences.

    In terms of the film festival and the speaker series, the five film screenings, four Q/A interactive sessions, one informal talk, and two academic lectures by invited scholars drew a total of 635 students and community members. They promoted, in Greater Lansing, awareness of contemporary Taiwanese culture, society and politics. The lively discussions at these vents showed that they successfully engaged the audience and prompted them to reflect upon issues such as Taiwan’s cultural characteristics and political identity.

    Our faculty members, such as Professor Chin-Hsi Lin, were also able to further their research related to Taiwan through the MOE and matching MSU support.