SOAS University of London

Centre of Taiwan Studies

Ballad of the Oppressed: Narrating the Works of Lai He through Music

Speaker: Dr Harry Wu

Date: 5 July 2016Time: 3:30 PM

Finishes: 5 July 2016Time: 5:30 PM

Venue: Russell Square: College Buildings Room: DLT

Type of Event: Summer Lecture

SOAS Centre of Taiwan Studies 2016 Summer School
Day One
Third Event

CLICK HERE to view the full programme and register to attend free!


Lai He (賴和) was a medical doctor with enormous fame in literature. He is frequently praised as the Taiwan version of the Chinese humanitarian writer, Lu Xun (魯迅). His famous writings with English translations include A Diary in Jail, A Dissatisfying New Year, Progress, The Steelyard, etc. Besides creative writing, he participated in the Taiwanese Cultural Association and other activist groups. His political activity led to his arrest and a subsequent illness contracted in jail led to his early death. Lai He’s works had a tremendous influence on writers of his younger generation, such as Yang Kui. However, due to his left-wing ideology, in the early post-war period, the Nationalist Chinese Government downplayed his significance until his works were rediscovered in 1980s.

In this session, Harry Wu will recite Lai He’s works with songs he wrote with his fellow members of the ballad group, Tau-lau-jiat New Folk Band. The band has been introducing and popularizing Lai He’s literature for more than 10 years not only in concerts but also in all forms of public engagement, including farmer’s market and environmental campaigns. Through music, one can listen to how Lai He made a heavy use of colloquial expressions to honestly depict the suffering of peasants, the brutality of the colonial policemen and the indifference of the populace.

Speaker's Bio
Harry Wu

Harry Wu is Assistant Professor at Medical Ethics and Humanities Unit, The University of Hong Kong. Trained as a medical doctor and historian, his research deals with the humanitarian intervention of psychiatric sciences regarding the aftermaths of the Second World War and the anxiety surrounding the indeterminable time of postwar worldwide rehabilitation. Harry’s works have appeared on History of Psychiatry, Medical History and East Asian Science, Technology and Society, etc. Apart from academic works, he has published the poetry: Island Symbiosis (2003), River: Lei He Music Album (with Deeppeace Chen et al., 2005), Backpacker's Guide to Taiwan's Struggle for Democracy (with I-Chen Wu, 2013), and the prose collection Polar Region on the Equator (2016).

Organiser: Centre of Taiwan Studies

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