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Open Access Thesis

Document Type


Degree Program


Degree Type

Master of Arts (M.A.)

Year Degree Awarded


Month Degree Awarded



Throughout her writing career, the Taiwan intellectual Lung Ying-tai (1952– ) has elaborated a distinct vision of how her country could realize the civic foundations of a democratic society. This ambition began with “Wild Fire,” an editorial column that ran in the Taiwan newspaper The China Times from 1984 to 1986, which was later compiled into a 1986 book, Wild Fire Collection. At this time, Taiwan’s political structure had just begun a process of liberalization. Under increasing international and domestic pressure, the ruling Kuomintang (KMT) party eased its authoritarian control over the island. Lung took advantage of this unique moment, and, during Taiwan’s radical political reorganization, helped lay the foundations for a civil society based on democratic values. Lung’s vision of Taiwan’s burgeoning civil society centered on a strong democracy rooted in individual empowerment; an educated citizenry; and a native identity tied to the island.

As Taiwan has continued its process of liberalization through the 1990s and into the 21st century, Lung has remained an outspoken voice in Taiwan’s political and cultural development. This thesis traces the themes that Lung first introduced in Wild Fire Collection through two later essay collections, Thinking Back on the Last Hundred Years (1999) and When Facing the Sea (2003). The issues that Lung discussed in “Wild Fire” have only become more relevant as Taiwan’s society puts into practice the democratic values that Lung called for in the mid-1980s. Meanwhile, globalization and China’s rise have brought the debate over Taiwan’s cultural identity to the fore.


First Advisor

Enhua Zhang