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COLD WAR IN THE HEARTLAND: TRANSPACIFIC EXCHANGE AND THE IOWA LITERARY PROGRAMS

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Title:COLD WAR IN THE HEARTLAND: TRANSPACIFIC EXCHANGE AND THE IOWA LITERARY PROGRAMS
Authors:Liu, Yi-hung
Contributors:Yoshihara, Mari (advisor)
American Studies (department)
Keywords:American studies
American history
Asian history
Cold War
Cold War freedom
show 4 morecultural exchange
International Writing Program
Iowa Writers’ Workshop
transpacific studies
show less
Date Issued:2019
Publisher:University of Hawai'i at Manoa
Abstract:Titled “Cold War in the Heartland,” this dissertation investigates the Iowa Writers’ Workshop (IWW) and the International Writing Program (IWP) against the backdrop of the Cold War and the ongoing Chinese Civil War. By tracking the enterprise of the IWW and the IWP through a transpacific framework, this dissertation implies that “Cold War freedom” has conditioned our ways of doing literature and imagining political futures.
Through the two Iowa literary programs, this dissertation presents a history of U.S. cultural Cold War with a focus on the exchange between the United States, the Republic of China in Taiwan, and the People’s Republic of China. Having become a renowned writing program under the directorship of Paul Engle, the IWW welcomed in 1964 a female Chinese writer from the ROC, Nieh Hualing, with whom Engle co-founded the IWP in 1967. As this dissertation suggests, Engle’s close relationship with the U.S. government evidences that the achievement of the two Iowa programs was associated with U.S. cultural diplomacy, while Nieh’s transpacific movement attests to how U.S. foreign policy vis-à-vis “China” from the late 1940s to the late 1970s was instrumental to the making of the IWW and the IWP. Mining English and Chinese archives that are related to the Engles and the U.S. diplomacy, this dissertation uncovers that the U.S. fought the Cold War under the banner of cultural exchange on both sides of the Pacific. The IWW and the IWP were embedded in the Sino-U.S. relationships and Cold War bipolarity.
“Cold War in the Heartland” also attends to writers to reveal that the cultural exchange conducted at and through the two Iowa literary programs involved a number of stakeholders and yielded unpredictable results. American writers such as Kurt Vonnegut and Raymond Carver responded to the social circumstances of the 1960s U.S. in their works during their time at the IWW. Vonnegut engaged himself with the antiwar movement and opposed U.S. policy in Southeast Asia, while Carver exposed the division between classes in a supposedly equal, affluent society. Chen Yingzhen and Wang Anyi, coming respectively from the ROC and the PRC, encountered each other at the IWP. In Iowa City, they dealt with political and personal divisions as a result of the Chinese Civil War. By analyzing the actions and writings of the IWW and the IWP participants, this dissertation argues that the two Iowa literary programs were undergirded by the entanglements of the intimate and the geopolitics. Iowa City as a community of writers and a City of Literature was not only an outcome of the cultural Cold War, but also a series of wars between the nation-states, literary ideals, cultural identities, and individuals.
Pages/Duration:215 pages
URI:http://hdl.handle.net/10125/63474
Appears in Collections: Ph.D. - American Studies


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