SOAS University of London

Centre of Taiwan Studies

Progressive or Immoral: Representations of the Modern Girl in Print Media of 1930s Taiwan

Dr. Lin Pei-yin

Date: 19 June 2019Time: 4:00 PM

Finishes: 19 June 2019Time: 5:30 PM

Venue: Russell Square: College Buildings Room: KLT

Type of Event: Summer School

As this event is part of our SOAS Centre of Taiwan Studies Summer School, we kindly ask that you register to attend


Modern Girl 1

Taiwan's modernity experience around the 1930s benefited from, and was well documented in, the blossoming media culture of the decade. In addition to the image of 'footloose and fancy-free cultured women' and 'sonic modernity' shown in the 2003 documentaryViva Tonal: The Dance Age, the manifestations of modern girl, a byproduct of colonial modernity, are prevalent in magazines published in the 1930s Taiwan. This talk examines the diverse visual and textual representations of the modern girl in three different publications--the women-oriented Taiwan Women's World, the general readership-intended Taiwan xinminbao, and the coterie magazine Taiwan Literature and Arts. It first explains the changing role of women under Japanese rule, introducing various new roles for women (such as café waitresses and female students) at that time. It then analyses the differences between 'modern girl' and 'new woman', as well as 'modern girl' as a discursive term in East Asia with reference to the Confucian 'wise wife and good mother' ideology. Finally, it discusses the images of modern girl in selected works from the three aforementioned publications. It argues that there remains a high cost behind modern girl's glitz and cosmopolitan lifestyle, and in Taiwan's case, modern girl is subject to 'double colonisation' caused by the Japanese rule and patriarchal social order. Cast recurrently between the two opposite views of modernity, modern girl often becomes a ready-to-be-appropriated trope of the male authors' self-portraiture or ambivalence towards modernity. 

Modern Girl 2

Speaker Biography

Lin Pei-yin Profile

Dr Lin Pei-yin is Associate Professor in the School of Chinese, University of Hong Kong. Prior to teaching in Hong Kong, she was Lecturer in the Department of East Asian Studies, Cambridge, an assistant professor in the department of Chinese Studies of the National University of Singapore, and a part-time teacher and post-doctorate research fellow in modern Chinese literature at SOAS, University of London. She was a Harvard Yenching Visiting Scholar in 2015-2016. She has published widely on modern Chinese literature, with a focus on Taiwan. Her recent publications include Colonial Taiwan: Negotiating Identities and Modernity through Literature (Brill, 2017) and two co-edited volumes: East Asian Transwar Popular Culture: Literature and Film from Taiwan and Korea(Palgrave Macmillan, 2019) and Positioning Taiwan in a Global Context: Being and Becoming (Routledge, 2019). She is currently working on two projects--one is about popular literature from Taiwan under Japanese rule, and the other is on Taiwan's nativisit fiction since the 1990s. 

Organiser: SOAS Centre of Taiwan Studies

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