Founded In    1972
Published   monthly
Language(s)   Mandarin Chinese

Fields of Interest


Literary/Cultural Studies

ISSN   0303-0849
Editorial Board

Editorial Board Members:
1. Kuei-fen Chiu (Professor, Institute of Taiwan Literature, National Tsing-Hua University)
2. Chia-Ling Mei (Professor, Department of Chinese Literature, National Taiwan University)
3. Te-hsing Shan (Research Fellow, Institute of European and American Studies, Academia Sinica)
4. Ping-hui Liao (Professor, Department of Foreign Languages and Literature, National Tsing-Hua University)
5. Chao-yang Liao (Professor, Department of Foreign Languages and Literatures, National Taiwan University)
6. Liang-ya Liu (Professor, Department of Foreign Languages and Literatures, National Taiwan University)
7. Joyce C. H. Liu (Professor, Institute of Social Research and Cultural Studies, National Chiao-Tung University)
8. Yu-xiu Huang (Professor, Department of Foreign Languages and Literatures, National Taiwan University)
9. Shu-ling Tsai (Associate Professor and Chair, Department of French, Tamkang University)

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Chung-Wai Literary Monthly

Launched in 1972 by the Department of Foreign Languages and Literatures, National Taiwan University, Chung-Wai Literary Monthly is a pioneering journal on comparative studies of Chinese literature and literatures from other parts of the world. When cultural studies were emerging as a new field of studies in Taiwan in the late 1980s, Chung-Wai was instrumental in promoting the new scholarship by devoting several special issues to cultural studies around the world. Ranking as a first-rate academic journal according to the evaluation of Taiwan’s National Science Council, Chung-Wai has consistently won the recognition and recommendation of Chinese-language scholars and researchers worldwide

Each issue of Chung-Wai features a theme, such as Native North American Literature, Transnational Culture and Taiwanese Literature, Urban Space and Cultural Governance, Economy of Exchange, Minor Theatre, Literary Studies and Biblical Tradition, Chinese Perspectives on Shakespeare, Gustave Flaubert and His Fiction, Chinese Culture in an Inter-Asian Context, Literary London, Biosemiotics, and so forth. Most of the special issues are edited by guest-editors, all distinguished scholars of the featured themes. In addition to themed articles, every issue also includes research articles on cutting-edge theories and practices in literary and cultural studies.

All submissions to Chung-Wai are subject to a double-blind review process by specialists in related research fields. A meeting place for a wide range of disciplines and theoretical approaches, Chung-Wai is the most recognized Chinese-language literary/cultural studies journal in Taiwan and has continued to provide a forum for challenging disciplinary boundaries, fostering innovative connections, and examining the relevance of comparative literary studies to our contemporary society.


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Biosemiotics: Nature in Culture or Culture in Nature? , Vol. 34, No. 7

Has Biosemiotics Come of Age? (Trans. Jui-Pi Chien)

The 2001 special issue of Semiotica has been dedicated to celebrating Jakob von Uexküll as a founding father of biosemiotics. The two main points of the volume—the making of biosemiotics and the recovery of Jakob von Uexküll from oblivion—come out with clarity and force, and are definitely a success. The volume is also an excellent example of interdisciplinarity, with contributions from history, philosophy, linguistics, biology, art, literature and computer science that integrate each other with admirable ease. There is however a third message of the special issue that is less agreeable. It is the message that biosemiotics has been the crowning achievement of the tradition that goes back to Goethe, von Baer, Driesch and von Uexküll, and many contributors did not hide their preferences for neo-vitalism and anti-darwinism. The author of the review welcomes the project of introducing meaning in biology but he points out that neo-vitalism is not the best approach. The existence of organic codes and organic meaning in nature are scientific problems that can and should be investigated with the classical method of science, i.e. with the mechanistic approach of model building. This led the reviewer to conclude that biosemiotics had not yet come of age in 2001. In the Postscript of 2005, however, the same reviewer acknowledges that in a few years the situation has rapidly changed. Biosemiotics has become a pluralistic field of research that no longer excludes the mechanistic method, and today it is a vibrant young science where all approaches to the problem of biological meaning are investigated without preconditions.

Origin of Species by Natural Translation (Trans. Geok Hui Yap)

The usual identification of biological information with digitally coded sequential information carried in nucleic acids (DNA and RNA) has tended to blind us to the analogly coded kinds of information present in the form of cytoplasmic architecture and membrane bound processes. The perpetual transmission down through generations of ontogenetic “messages” shuffled back and forth between digital and analog codes is the root form of natural translation. Ultimately these messages assure the evolutionarily acquired semiotic competence of natural systems in managing the genotype-envirotype translation processes.

The Controversy of Umwelt across the Germany-France Border

In his promotion for the international movement of biosemiotics since the 1970s, Thomas A. Sebeok has been consistent to claim Jakob von Uexküll’s Umwelt as a piece of ultimate evidence. Nevertheless, Sebeok’s attempt to subsume all the geo-, bio-, politico-, socio- and semio- phenomena by the master trope of Umwelt has clashed with Umberto Eco’s closer looks into the pragmatic conditions of addressee in different cultures. In order to restore the heuristic vitality of Umwelt for a couple of emerging disciplines during the 1920s and 1950s, the author starts with  the establishment of Institut für Umweltforschung in Hamburg. Through exposing the interpretations and appropriations of Uexküll’s Umwelt by the philosophers and neurolinguists across the border of Germany and France, the author demonstrates Uexküll’s Umwelt as a series of codes and signals in biological mechanism, which should be distinguished from the physical world in nature.

A Biosemiotic Model of Singaporean Literature: A Poem as an Example

This paper places the writers and their literary works in the sociological context and uses a biosemiotic framework to present in a systematic way how individual entity or unity interacts in Singaporean literature. Firstly, it is observed that two (sometimes more than two) entities/unities from the same domain, for example, language, culture, ethnicity, and so on, are selected by the author in his literature. The entities/unities exist in the first-order and interact based on the first-order structural coupling. The “medium” is the domain in which the entity comes from in the first-order. Secondly, it is observed that interactions generally do not stop at first-order. The first-order coupling is the initial state to start off a successive reaction. The second-order structural coupling then follows, in which the triggering or interfering entity acts upon the coupled structure. This triggering or interfering entity is labeled “environment” to indicate an external force triggering an internal response of the couple. The third-order coupling is the structural coupling of the unities with its medium. In this case, the social domain is where all entities are immersed. The complex web of relationships created by the superposition of political, economic, historical, and cultural relation in the social domain are reflected in the literary works to produce a distinctive Singaporean spectrum.

Romantic Scientific Aspects of Biosemiotics

Since a comprehensive introduction to a multifaceted interdisciplinary complex such as biosemiotics is hardly realistic within the given framework, this paper intends to present only certain aspects of biosemiotics from a romantic scientific point of view. Following a brief introduction of methodology in romantic science, this paper continues with the section on justification for a special issue of biosemiotics in a journal specialized in Chinese and Foreign Literature. For language development is inseparable from learning of relevant knowledge, therefore introducing important thoughts embedded in a foreign language and culture is an inevitable mission for foreign language scholars. And in context of history of science and semiotics, biosemiotics is a promising new field with broad interdisciplinary connections. How the thoughts of Jakob von Uexküll (1864-1944, regarded as the founder of biosemiotics) evolved can be traced in context of his publications. Many distinguished scholars in various disciplines such as Darwin, Lorenz, Lenneberg, MacLean, Hebb, Piaget, Kandel, Lieberman, Jenkins, Deacon, Marshall & Warren─among them are some Nobel prize winners─shared and elaborated important thoughts in biosemiotics. It is readily observable that with its encompassing  framework and direct or indirect supporters from across various disciplines, biosemiotics is becoming a remarkable interdisciplinary field and promising weltanschauung for better life and ecology.

Dialogues between God and Man: Religion and Reason in Daniel Defoe’s A Journal of the Plague Year

In Daniel Defoe’s A Journal of the Plague Year, the first-person narrator, H.F., a businessman in London, depicts the horror of the approaching death and his spiritual conversion during the plague year of 1665. Confronting the unknown disease, H.F. repeatedly changes his statements between two different beliefs. On one hand, he believes in the religious discourse, taking the plague as a punishment from the angry God, and on the other hand, he believes in the medical discourse, assuming the plague a contagious disease spread by physical contacts between people. Obviously, H.F.’s statements contradict each other, and this essay will analyze the inconsistencies in his ideas. This study will focus on H.F.’s simultaneous belief and doubt in both God and men; sometimes he wonders whether the omnipotent God will save men from the dreadfulness of the plague, at other times he looks to human manipulation of science and reason to rescue the suffering men from the hands of Death. Looking into the scientific, philosophical, and intellectual progresses during the English Enlightenment, this paper hopes to examine the odd relationship between religion and science and explain why they could conflict with each other but still coexist harmoniously. This essay proposes that H.F.’s contradicting beliefs are reasonable in the Enlightenment, because the religious and scientific beliefs were superimposing each other in the age when the authority of science was rising and the belief in the Christian God was being challenged.

Imagining the West, Japan and Taiwan: A Discussion of Mitsuru Nishikawa’s Kuso-Realism Debate

Foregrounding the nationalist narrative in literary discussions is one of the most noteworthy aspects of Taiwanese literary history. The best example is the native-modernist contention around the 1970s, from which a dichotomy of “traditional vs. foreign” discourse was drawn. In fact, drawing upon the nationalist narrative and cultural identity to buttress one’s literary standpoints can be traced back to the Kuso- Realism Debate launched by Mitsuru Nishikawa and his assistant editor Shih-tao Yeh during the wartime period. Therefore, in order to grasp the whole picture of the history of literary debates in Taiwan, it is necessary to extend our focus to the Japanese colonial period. This paper seeks to analyze Nishikawa’s argument over the Kuso-Realism Debate. It points out that Nishikawa’s critique targeted not only the group of so-called Taiwanese Kuso-realists, but also modern Western thought. As a point of departure, this article illustrates the relationship between Japan and the West in modern times. After discussing the formation of the confrontation developed during World War II, it takes a step further to explore how Nishikawa and other Japanese intellectuals constructed their concepts and discourse about “Japan” and “Japanese tradition” from a nationalist perspective. Based on the result of the analysis, this paper will finally discuss how those concepts contradict the collective imagination of Taiwanese writers.

Other Issues

Fourth Centenary: Many Faces of Don Quixote , Vol. 34, No. 6
New Perspectives on Japanese Literature , Vol. 34, No. 5
Chinese-Language Literature in the United States , Vol. 34, No. 4
Special Issue on Digital Culture , Vol. 34, No. 3
Literary London: Cityscape, Boundaries and London's Urban Literature , Vol. 34, No. 2
Chinese Culture in an Inter-Asian Context , Vol. 34, No. 1
Gustave Flaubert and His Fiction , Vol. 33, No. 12
“For All Time”: Some Chinese Perspectives on Shakespeare , Vol. 33, No. 11
Literary Studies and Biblical Tradition: 28th National Conference on Comparative Literature , Vol. 33, No. 10
Urban Cultural Governance , Vol. 33, No. 9
Contemporary Native North American Literature in Metamorphosis: A Voice from the Margins, Vol. 33, No. 8