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Department of the Languages and Cultures of China and Inner Asia

Culture and Society of Taiwan

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Term 1

This course aims to provide students with a broad knowledge base to understand Taiwan's culture and society. Because of its multifaceted cultural and ethnic mix and the complex colonial history, the course unpicks the various dimentions of the complicated social change, considers the interaction of globalization and Taiwan’s contemporary culture, and focuses on the highly charged identity politics of the postwar era. By exploring both contemporary Taiwanese society and cultural change, this course will facilitate a better understanding of the greater East Asian society and can provide an interesting reference point to think about China and Japan.

After introducing Taiwan’s historical background, there are series of in-depth units on family, gender, cultural development, language, education, popular culture, mass media, ethnicity in contemporary Taiwan. Students will develop their academic capabilites and critical thinking in the engagement with the material on a weekly basis through the student-led discussions. Furthermore, students are encouraged to further their research and analytical skills through the exploration and investigation of relevant topics based on their personal interests and academic background.

Objectives and learning outcomes of the course

At the end of this course, students will . . . 

  1. have a solid knowledge of the main issues and trends in Taiwan’s culture and society, the major developments, the impact of the contemporary changes, the most updated academic discussions, and the leading scholars and their work in this field.;
  2. have a comprehensive knowledge and a solid theoretical framework to engage with previous research work efficiently and critically;
  3. be able to locate and access the information available in both English and Chinese reference materials;
  4. be able to critically examine and analyse the different aspects of Taiwanese life and contemporary social change;
  5. be able to carry out research independently and investigate various issues analytically;
  6. establish a solid methodological and intellectual foundation for further and more advanced postgraduate (PhD) research work.


Total of 10 weeks teaching with 2 hour lecture and a one hour seminar/tutorial per week.

Scope and syllabus

Covering a variety of social and cultural issues, this course not only provides a fundamental framework for students to understand Taiwanese society and culture in a comprehensive way, but also enables students to critically examine and analyse the different aspects of Taiwanese life and contemporary social change. As well as introducing Taiwan’s social and cultural changes, the course will provide the theoretical framework to help students to carry out research independently and investigate various issues analytically. After a historical overview of Taiwan, there are series of in-depth units on crucial issues on Taiwan’s society and culture, including social change, family and gender, cultural development, ethnicity and languages, education and ideology-construction, popular culture and globalisation, mass media and the fast changing cultural identity in recent decades.

Topics Covered
  • Introduction and Historical Overview
  • Society and Change
  • Culture and Change
  • Family and Gender
  • Ethnicity and Migration

Reading week

  • Language and Culture
  • Education and Ideology
  • Popular Culture and Globalization
  • Mass media & Network Society
  • Identity, National Culture, and State-building

Method of assessment

An essay of 3,500 words to be submitted on day 1, week 8, term 1 (35%); an essay of 5,000 words to be submitted on day 1, week 2, term 2 (50%); weekly presentations and class participation (15%).