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Ya-Huei Lin - “Stepping to the Music of a Different Drummer”: from Walden to Beyond Beauty: Taiwan from Above

Date: Wednesday, 12th December, 2018 
Time: 18:30 - 20:00 
Location: SIN1, entrance 2.3, Altes AKH, Campus, Spitalgasse 2  bit.ly/2DftNfE 

How can we imagine a more “ecocentric” way of being in this disastrous age of global warming? What do we have to “see” truly in man's relation to the environment to maintain the delicate but crucial natural balance between all organisms and the Earth? How can textual and visual works of art help with that awaking act of “seeing”? In response to the above questions, this seminar seeks inspirations from Henry D. Thoreau’s Walden and Chi Po-lin’s Beyond Beauty: Taiwan from Above, a 2013 film which documents Taiwan in aerial photography to underscore the need for environmental reforms. This seminar, on the one hand, investigates what Thoreau has seen through his observations on the environment of Walden in the mid 19th Century. It brings to the fore the rich nourishment of Thoreau’s insights of man's relation to nature. In light of “the transparent eye-ball” in R. W. Emerson’s Nature, it further examines how Thoreau puts into practice Emerson’s transcendentalism—mostly to regard man, not as a ruler, but as an inhabitant, or a part and parcel of Nature. Lawrence Buell’s The Environmental Imagination and Emerson will help shed some more light on the transcendentalists’ concerns. This seminar, on the other hand, also explores the visual literature of Chi Po-lin, whom I see as a Thoreauvian pioneer in the equivocal modern context of Taiwan. It delves into how Chi carries into effect his environmental concerns by stepping to the calls he hears from nature, conquering his acrophobia in aerial photography and eventually helping the public see what can only be seen from above the landscape of Formosa. Through his unique aesthetic syntax of cinematography, Chi guides the public to see not only the enchanting beauty of this island but also its devastating wounds for overexploitation. Environmental concerns, as a result, finally find their ways to the hearts of most people in Taiwan.  Across time and space, Chi’s Beyond Beauty thus joins forces with Thoreau’s Walden, providing together a profound rethinking of our literary and cultural reflections on the environment.

Ya-Huei Lin teaches US-American literature at Department of Western Languages and Literature, the National University of Kaohsiung. Her interests in research include US-American literature, African American women writers, children's literature, feminism, and ecocriticism. Lin's publications include “The Slave Trade in the Work of Fox, Johnson, and Spielberg.” New Work about the Journey and Its Portrayals. Ed. I-Chun Wang. CLCWeb: Comparative Literature and Culture 14.5 (2012): docs.lib.purdue.edu/clcweb/vol14/iss5/8, "Representing the (Un-)Expected: Dream, Violence, and 'Danse Macabre' in Toni Morrison's Sula." EurAmerica (2006) and "The Women Who Disappear on the Shakespearean Stage: As You Like It, The Taming of the Shrew, and the Misogynic Poetics of Deduction." Misogynism in Literature: Any Place, Any Time (Ed. Britta Zangen, 2004). Associate Professor. E-mail: <yhlin@nuk.edu.tw> 

Vienna Center for Taiwan Studies

Department of East Asian Studies
University of Vienna
AAKH-Campus, Hof 2, Entrance 2.3
Spitalgasse 2
1090 Vienna Austria

Contact: Astrid Lipinsky
T: +43-1-4277-43844
University of Vienna | Universitätsring 1 | 1010 Vienna | T +43-1-4277-0
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