Open Access
Chen, Chiu-Jhin
Graduate Program:
Art Education
Doctor of Philosophy
Document Type:
Date of Defense:
November 05, 2007
Committee Members:
  • Yvonne Madelaine Gaudelius, Committee Chair
  • David Post, Committee Member
  • Mary Ann Stankiewicz, Committee Member
  • Christine Thompson, Committee Member
  • Brent Guy Wilson, Committee Member
  • family photographs
  • art education
  • Japanese colonial period in Taiwan
  • Taiwanese visual cultural identity
In this study, I propose a model for learning Taiwanese visual culture through tracing the roots of Taiwanese visual culture and the layers of Taiwanese cultural identity. Understanding the ways in which the Taiwanese construct their contemporary identities and the ways a study of their signs could contribute to the Taiwanese art education curriculum are the main goals of this study. Adopting the qualitative cultural study method, this study addressed three research questions: (1) What are the roots of Taiwanese visual culture? (2) What does one specific group of middle-class family photographs from the 1920s-1940s contribute to our understanding of Taiwanese culture and identity? and (3) What might the in-depth, multifaceted interpretation of these special forms of visual culture contribute to the content of the elementary and junior high school Arts and Humanities curriculum? I searched for interview participants who had access to plenty of family photographs taken between 1920 and 1940, who had been in school during the Japanese colonial period, and who were willing to be interviewed about their family history. The ultimate goal of this study is twofold: the first investigation examines the heritage of Taiwanese visual culture through a literature review, photographic interpretation, and ethnographic interviews; the second investigation explores the content of the Taiwanese elementary and junior high school Arts and Humanities curriculum in order to build Taiwanese visual cultural identity. My research produced three main results. First, photography functioned as a window or mirror for society and enabled me to see Taiwanese visual cultural roots and cultural diversity. Second, there existed the phenomena of different depths of assimilation. In the Japanese colonial period (1895-1945) the Taiwanese were affected directly by the Japanese for about three generations. The Taiwanese were spontaneously assimilated into Japanese civilization through fashion, modern schooling, industry, medicine, hygiene, and the improvement of material life, but as far as ethnic assimilation, the spiritual domain, they were still hesitant. Third, the reflection of the cultural combination and conflicts was among the Taiwanese, the Japanese, the Chinese, and the West. The Taiwanese culture is a hybrid culture, reflecting multiple societies, and creating a new style of visual culture that is not the traditional Chinese, Japanese, nor Western culture. The Taiwanese might not be able¡Xor want¡Xto pursue orthodox cultural status. They accepted continual change. The Taiwanese built their own unique visual cultural identity. Family portrait photographs reveal phenomena that exist between private and public lives¡Xphenomena existing in the space between local and national culture. When we dig more deeply, we find more signs within the visual cultural web. The photographs reveal how a personal identity is built¡Xhow individuals come to know their culture and be understood with who they are. School teachers can design their curricula through both global and local domains by using photographic interpretation.