Arts and Culture
Under the Nationalist Party’s postwar authoritarian rule and after its decade-long promotion of formulaic anticommunist literature, Taiwan’s cultural and literary scenes in the 1960s were dominated by modernist literature with its practitioners striving to seek an alternative expression to respond to the increasingly stifled cultural climate. The liberal journal Literary Star was a major channel through which intellectuals launched attacks on those deemed “conservatives”. Existing scholarship on Taiwan’s 1960s literature and culture tends to focus on the journal Modern Literature, or the Western-leaning intellectuals. The impact of Literary Star and the voice of those “conservatives” therefore become understudied. To redress this, this paper examines the virulent Chinese-Western Cultural Debate in the early 1960s in Literary Star. Employing textual and contextual analysis, this paper traces the debate from Hu Shi’s 1961 lecture “Social Changes Necessary for the Growth of Science” through Li Ao’s 1962 essay “Diagnosing those who Talk about Chinese and Western Cultures” and analyses the varied viewpoints put forward by leading intellectuals, with a focus on the confrontation between the émigré legislator Hu Qiuyuan and Li Ao although both rejected “revivalism” and Westernization. It then investigates the politicization of this debate by drawing into discussion Xu Gaoruan’s anti-American discourse and accusing people in publishing field of “selling out Taiwan” in 1965. Finally, the paper assesses the China-Hong Kong-Taiwan cultural link as well as the impact of this liberalist campaign in postwar Taiwan.