"The Future of Asia": The Oberlin Shansi Memorial Association, Tunghai University, and the Rhetorics of Intercultural Exchange, 1955-1979

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Writing Program


Carol S. Lipson


Intercultural communication, Intercultural exchange, Organizational rhetoric, Representation, Service-learning, US-Taiwan relations

Subject Categories

Rhetoric and Composition


In this dissertation, I examine the ways in which Taiwan's culture and society was represented in and through the work in Taiwan of the Oberlin Shansi Memorial Association (OSMA), a nonprofit service organization that sent selected Oberlin College graduates to Tunghai University to teach English and engage in intercultural exchange through international service. I analyze from a rhetorical perspective the texts used in establishing, running, and closing down this program, which lasted from 1955 to 1979. Drawing on a wide variety of texts from the OSMA archives, I explain the ways in which deliberations regarding the OSMA's program at Tunghai were grounded in overlapping and sometimes competing rhetorics of Oberlin's historical relationship with China. As a result of the changing attitudes of Oberlin students toward US involvement in Asia, the tradition of service to Asia that characterized the OSMA was challenged, resulting in conflicting rhetorics about OSMA's identity and mission. The dissertation thus contributes an historical perspective to current research on the geopolitics of service learning. It also contributes to studies of organization communication through its focus on the rhetorical ecology of a nonprofit service organization over a 25-year period, particularly in the ways that particular genres were employed in material and social contexts.

This document is currently not available here.