China on Screen
Prof. Kristof Van Den Troost
Many 20th century Chinese-language films were concerned with issues of nationhood, identity, trauma, and a national past. In more recent decades, however, while some directors have continued to focus on the nation’s past, others have chosen to look at the present and the effects of globalization on Chinese societies and cultures. This course asks that students begin to understand Chinese-language cinemas as transnational, comprising separate but also interlocking Mainland, Taiwan, and Hong Kong filmmaking traditions that have from the very beginning operated in a global context. Students will be introduced to the history of and scholarship on Chinese-language cinemas via an examination of twelve films directed by some of these cinemas’ most accomplished artists.
Week 1 (10/1): Introduction
Berry, Chris. “Transnational Chinese Cinema Studies.” In The Chinese Cinema Book, edited by Song Hwee Lim and Julian Ward, 9-16.
Week 2 (17/1): The Goddess (1934)
Harris, Kristine. “The Goddess: Fallen Woman of Shanghai.” In Chinese Films in Focus: 25 New Takes, edited by Chris Berry, 111-19. London: British Film Institute, 2003.
*Hansen, Miriam Bratu. “Fallen Women, Rising Stars, New Horizons: Shanghai Silent Film as Vernacular Modernism.” Film Quarterly 54, no. 1 (Autumn 2000): 10-22.
Week 3 (24/1): PUBLIC HOLIDAY—LUNAR NEW YEAR
Week 4 (31/1): Spring in a Small Town (1948)
Daruvala, Susan. “The Aesthetics and Moral Politics of Fei Mu’s Spring in a Small Town.” Journal of Chinese Cinemas 1, no. 3 (2007): 171-187.
*Pickowicz, Paul G. “Chinese Film-making on the Eve of the Communist Revolution.” In The Chinese Cinema Book, edited by Song Hwee Lim and Julian Ward, 76-84. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2011.
*FitzGerald, Carolyn. “Spring in a Small Town: Gazing at Ruins.” In Chinese Films in Focus II, edited by Chris Berry, 205-11. Basingstoke/New York: BFI/Palgrave Macmillan, 2008.
Week 5 (7/2): Two Stage Sisters (1964)
Marchetti, Gina. “Two Stage Sisters: The Blossoming of a Revolutionary Aesthetic.” In Transnational Chinese Cinemas: Identity, Nationhood, Gender, edited by Sheldon Hsiao-peng Lu, 59-80. Honolulu: U of Hawai’i P, 1997.
*Clark, Paul. “Artists, Cadres, and Audiences: Chinese Socialist Cinema, 1949-1978.” In A Companion to Chinese Cinema, edited by Yingjin Zhang, 42-56. Malden: Wiley-Blackwell, 2012.
***Thursday 9 February Short Assignment 1 Due (REQUIRED!)***
Week 6 (14/2): Air Hostess (1959)
Tan, Jessica. “Vehicles of Modernity: Gender, Mobility and Music in Evan Yang’s MP&GI Films.” In The Cold War and Asian Cinemas, edited by Poshek Fu and Man-Fung Yip, 139-157. New York: Routledge, 2020.
*Fu, Poshek. “Entertainment and Propaganda: Hong Kong Cinema and Asia’s Cold War.” In The Cold War and Asian Cinemas, edited by Poshek Fu and Man-Fung Yip, 238-262. New York: Routledge, 2020.
Week 7 (21/2): Dangerous Encounter of the First Kind (1980)
Tan, See Kam. “Ban(g)! Ban(g)! Dangerous Encounter – 1st Kind: Writing with Censorship.” Asian Cinema 8, no. 1 (1996): 83-108.
*Law, Kar (2001). “An Overview of Hong Kong’s New Wave Cinema.” In At Full Speed: Hong Kong Cinema in a Borderless World, edited by Esther C.M. Yau, 31-52. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2001.
***Thursday 23 February Short Assignment 2 Due***
Week 8 (28/2): A Better Tomorrow (1986)
Stringer, Julian. “‘Your Tender Smiles Give Me Strength’: Paradigms of Masculinity in John Woo’s A Better Tomorrow and The Killer.” Screen 38, no. 1 (Spring 1997): 25-41.
*Bordwell, David. Planet Hong Kong: Popular Cinema and the Art of Entertainment. 2nd ed. Madison: Irvington Way Institute Press, 2011. 60-71.
Week 9 (7/3): READING WEEK—NO CLASS
Week 10 (14/3): Dust in the Wind (1986)
Lupke, Christopher. The Sinophone Cinema of Hou Hsiao-hsien: Culture, Style, Voice and Motion. Amherst: Cambria Press, 2016. 153-67.
*Bordwell, David. Figures Traced in Light: On Cinematic Staging. Berkeley: University of California Press, 2005. 186-214.
***Thursday 16 March Short Assignment 3 Due***
Week 11 (21/3): Red Sorghum (1987)
Lu, Sheldon Hsiao-peng. “National Cinema, Cultural Critique, Transnational Capital: The Films of Zhang Yimou.” In Transnational Chinese Cinemas: Identity, Nationhood, Gender, edited by Sheldon Hsiao-peng Lu, 105-36. Honolulu: U of Hawai’i P, 1997.
*Jameson, Fredric. “World Literature in an Age of Multinational Capitalism.” In The Current in Criticism: Essays on the Present and Future of Literary Theory, edited by Clayton Koelb and Virgil Lokke, 139-58. West Lafayette: Purdue UP, 1987.
Week 12 (28/3): Days of Being Wild (1990)
Teo, Stephen. Wong Kar-wai. London: British Film Institute, 2005. 31-46.
*Abbas, Ackbar. Hong Kong: Culture and the Politics of Disappearance. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1997. 1-15; 48-62.
***Thursday 30 March Short Assignment 4 Due***
Week 13 (4/4): Devils on the Doorstep (2000)
Ward, Julian. “Filming the Anti-Japanese War: The Devils and Buffoons of Jiang Wen’s Guizi Laile.” New Cinemas: Journal of Contemporary Film 2, no. 2 (2004): 107-118.
Week 14 (11/4): Drug War (2012)
Fan, Victor. “Cultural Extraterritoriality: Intra-Regional Politics in Contemporary Hong Kong Cinema.” East Asian Journal of Popular Culture 1, no. 3 (2015): 389-402.
*Bordwell, David. Planet Hong Kong: Popular Cinema and the Art of Entertainment. 2nd ed. Madison: Irvington Way Institute Press, 2011. 251-64.
Week 15 (18/4): Yi Yi (2000)
Chen, Leo Chanjen. “The Frustrated Architect: The Cinema of Edward Yang.” New Left Review 11 (Sep 2001): 115-28.
*Davis, Darrell William. “Second Coming: The Legacy of Taiwan New Cinema.” In A Companion to Chinese Cinema, edited by Yingjin Zhang, 133-150. Malden: Wiley-Blackwell, 2012.
***Tuesday 25 April Final Assignment Due***
Assessment & Assignments
The score for participation (10%) will be based on students’ contribution to class discussions. All students must attend film viewings whether they have previously seen the film or not. There are four short assignments (50%) listed at intervals throughout the syllabus. Students are required to complete three of the four, with the first assignment required of all students. At the end of the term, each student will have to submit the final take-home assignment (40%). Send a Word copy of each assignment and a soft copy of the signed VeriGuide receipt to the TA’s e-mail address by 6:00pm of the due date. VeriGuide can be found at http://www.cuhk.edu.hk/veriguide. Late submission of assignments will be penalized.
Course Grading System:
Short assignments (3 out of 4) 50%
Final Take-Home Assignment 40%
Honesty in Academic Work
Attention is drawn to University policy and regulations on honesty in academic work, and to the disciplinary guidelines and procedures applicable to breaches of such policy and regulations. Details may be found at http://www.cuhk.edu.hk/policy/academichonesty/. With each assignment, students will be required to submit a signed declaration that they are aware of the policies, regulations and procedures.