Sebastian Hsien-hao Liao - Poetics of Geography
The Post-Chinese Visions in Taiwan Film
In Hou Hsiao-hsien’s award-winning City of Sadness, the various Chinese dialects take on cultural and political signficance and can be said to be one of the keys to understanding the movie. Similarly, in Edward Yang’s A Brighter Summer Day, power relations exist among different dialects and are central to the unfolding of the plot. The use of dialects indicates a kind of geographical imagination that suggests relative conservativeness and openness and by extension repression and possibilities of liberation. While this tapping into the symbolic potential of dialects and geography can be found in films from Hong Kong, it is in Taiwan that this practice first reached a level of sophistiation unrivaled in the Chinese speaking world and, more importantly adumbrated a spectrum of post-Chinese visions unique to the Chinese diaspora.
SEBASTIAN HSIEN-HAO LIAO is Professor for English and comparative literature at the Department of Foreign languages and literatures at National Taiwan University, and Executive Director of the Language Training and Testing Center (Taiwan). He received his Ph.D. from Stanford University and was post-doctoral fellow at Harvard University, visiting professor at University of Washington, Seattle, visiting fellow at Princeton University, Chicago University, University of Western Sydney, Chinese University of Hong Kong, Nanjing University and University of Melbourne. His main research fields include comparative poetics, literary and cultural theories (with a focus on Lacanian psychoanalytical theories, Deleuze, complexity theory, postcolonial and transnational theories), Anglo-American fiction, modern Taiwanese literature and culture, red-ology (Hongloumeng studies), and cultural policy formation.