Online | Fiction | Nonfiction | Seminar

6-Week Open-Genre Seminar: Learning From Taiwanese Literature

Taiwanese literature is considerably underrepresented in the English-speaking world. There is Indigenous literature, Hakka literature, and literature in Taiwanese Hokkien, as well as stories that are surreal and strange, works from LGBTQ+ writers, writings about environmentalism, and Taiwanese diaspora literature, among many other topics. How do these voices tell their stories? How do they weave their poetry? What are the historical influences and contemporary social movements that shape these literary works? And what are the voices that are yet to be explored?

As a Taiwanese woman who grew up in Taiwan and moved to the United States, I’m hoping to bring my perspective for those who are enthusiastic about exploring literature from another culture. You don’t have to be a Taiwanese or have any relation to Taiwan to take this class. It’s all about your interest to learn about the exciting literature being written and coming out of Taiwan today.

In this six-week translation and writing seminar, we’ll learn about different literary styles that shape Taiwanese literature. We’ll read powerful works by writers such as Chi Ta-wei, Sanmao, Chang Yu-Ko, Lo Yi-Chin, and a series of publications from new and emerging writers who identify themselves as Taiwanese Indigenous and LGBTQ+ writers, all translated by many talented, inclusive translators! After our in-depth conversations about a given week’s style of Taiwanese literature, we will develop our own writing seeking to be influenced by that style. During these six weeks, we’ll be discussing excerpts from novels, short stories, poems, and the music and films related to the works we read, in the hope of bringing more inspirations for writers and translators for their own works, while exploring a culture’s literature landscape with a deep level.

This seminar is meant to build a safe space for us to share our own writing, talk about pitching, not having to explain ourselves, while enjoying a variety of literary works from Taiwanese writers that are well-known or are yet to be discovered. It’s also a time for us to have fun and build a supportive community with each other.

One full-ride scholarship will be awarded for this class. To apply, please send [email protected] your bio and a brief (100-word) statement on why taking this class is important to you by March 10th, with the subject line "Jenna Tang Seminar Scholarship".

Our class platform works best on laptop or desktop computers. Class meetings will be held over video chat, using Zoom accessed from your private class page. While you can use Zoom from your browser, we recommend downloading the desktop client so you have access to all platform features. The Zoom calls will have automated transcription enabled. Please let us know ([email protected]) if you have any questions or concerns about accessibility. 

Check out this page for details about payment plans and discount opportunities.  Note that you will not be able to view recordings of your class meetings if you miss them. For more information, please review our FAQ.

COURSE TAKEAWAYS:

- Familiarity with Taiwanese literature and gaining knowledge about works that are popular in Taiwan but yet to be discovered and translated.

- Read as much work as possible from Taiwanese writers from a diversity of backgrounds.

- Writing prompts and fun activities to enrich your own writing and grow as a writer.

- How to find resources in English/ original language for Taiwanese Literature

- 10% discount on all future Catapult classes

COURSE EXPECTATIONS:

This is a generative class where we all read Taiwanese literature together, find inspirations from different literary styles, and discuss our writing, pitching process, and reading beyond what we’ve been reading. Every week, the instructor will assign 2-3 readings, which contains mostly excerpts from a novel, short stories, poems, for students to read prior to class to participate in weekly discussions. During class, writing prompts will be given and we’ll be writing together while exploring the landscape of Taiwanese literature, and occasionally talk about films and music related to these works.

Each week, besides the readings, the instructor will also provide optional take-home assignments, including writing exercises and activities to make the researching process more fun. Students are encouraged, but not required, to share their writings, and feedback will be given by peers and the instructor. This is a space for everyone to enjoy Taiwanese literature and have a lot of fun together in a supportive community.

COURSE SKELETON:

Week 1: Introduction to Taiwanese Literature & Taiwanese Environmentalism Writings

Week 2: Taiwanese Indigenous Literature

Week 3: Taiwanese Queer Literature & Literature from Taiwanese Women

Week 4: Literature from Taiwanese dialects: Hakka & Hokkien

Week 5: The Surreal and the Strange: Taiwanese folklore & ghost stories

Week 6: What We Don’t Know About Taiwanese Literature in the English-Speaking World

Jenna Tang

Jenna Tang is a literary translator based in New York. She translates from Chinese, French and Spanish. She received her MFA in Creative Writing from The New School. Her translations and essays are published in Restless Books, Latin American Literature Today, AAWW, McSweeney's, Catapult and elsewhere. Her interviews are at World Literature Today and Words Without Borders. She is a selected translator for the 2021 ALTA Emerging Translators Mentorship with a focus on Taiwanese prose.

Testimonials

"Jenna Tang is doing incredible and important work as a translator and writer. She is so generous and always opens the door for others. Her work challenges the status quo and creates a space for resonant stories and writers to find many audiences and communities across languages and borders. She helps us see what is possible in the literary world and how to find our way toward it. I can't think of anyone I'd rather learn from more!"

K-Ming Chang Writer

“Jenna Tang works tirelessly and generously to promote literature in translation and to build community within the translation sphere. As a translator from Taiwan now based in the US, she moves fluidly between the cultures she translates from and to, probing the bounds of the English language and seeking out voices who have hitherto not received sufficient attention.”

Jeremy Tiang Literary Translator

“As a translator, Jenna is fundamentally a community builder. A bridge-builder on the page and within groups she crafts with sensitivity and nuance, translating not only between languages but complex identities and beliefs. Her work supports shared understanding through a profound respect for cultures and individuals.”

Drinking Coffee Elsewhere Writing Group Member

“Jenna is a thoughtful translator and creative spirit who works from multiple lineages and myriad inspirations, toggling between the minutest of details and big-picture issues in a text with ease. Warm and inquisitive, she's committed to community in all senses and brings passion and energy to every one of her endeavors.”

Mike Fu Literary Translator of Sanmao’s Stories of the Sahara

“Jenna made each one of us feel valued and comfortable during class. She was a fantastic teacher, genuinely enthusiastic about the subject. Her thoughtfully-prepared class discussions were directly applicable to my translation practice, and I am now a better translator because of it.”

Former student

"Jenna is a fantastic instructor! Her workshop was so engaging. She expertly mixed questions of languages, poetic, inspiration, and translation. That’s something I had been looking for a long time in a workshop. I learned new tools to write about languages. Jenna’s constructive feedback encouraged me to keep writing about languages and exploring migration in organic ways. The discussions resonated throughout my week outside the online meeting: I kept feeling engaged, researching, and writing."

Nadia Bongo former student