Course Code

CHES2103/ UGEC2434/ CCSS2005

Course Name

Popular Culture in Contemporary China


Mondays 2:30-4:15pm


Dr. Lynn Sun

Course Description

The rise of China as a global power has drawn critical attention from all over the world from various
perspectives. This course will approach this phenomenon from the angle of popular culture. Examining
contemporary Chinese popular culture in Mainland China, Hong Kong, and Taiwan, this course considers
the process of globalization, the cultural flows among East Asian popular culture, particularly, with Japan
and Korea, as well as interactions among Sinophone communities around the world. This course takes an
interdisciplinary methodology, incorporating materials in the form of literature, films, TV series, pop music,
reality shows, online forums, video games, and so on, to explore how economic development, technological
innovations, and the political atmosphere shape the youth culture, gender dynamics, class structure, and
many other issues on a daily basis.

Course Outline

Jan. 9 Course Overview: What is Popular Culture?

Jan. 16 Between “Classic” and “Popular”: “the Rivers and Lakes” and Cultural Nationalism

Jan. 23 Lunar New Year Vacation, No Class

Jan. 30 News, Newspapers and the “Imagined Community”

Feb. 6 Television and Gender Politics

Feb. 13 Popular Music: Stardom and “Cacophony”

Feb. 20 The Fashioned Body

Feb. 27  The Internet, Fandom, and Participatory Culture

Mar. 6 Reading Week, No Class

Mar. 13 Digital Power and Its Limit

Mar. 20 “The Second Life”: Gaming and Digital Intimacy

Mar. 27 Popularizing the “Tradition”: Pushing Soft Power in the Age of Globalization

Apr. 3 Individual Consultation

Apr. 10 Easter Holiday, NO Class

Apr. 17 Wrap Up: Predicting the Future


Assessment & Assignments

1. Participation (15%) Students are required to come to class prepared, having completed the required
readings and watched the assigned audio-visual materials. Students are expected to critically engage with
the course content and contribute to class discussion. Students with more than 3 unexcused absences
will receive no points for participation. Extreme lateness will be counted as an absence.
2. Précis (20%): Students need to write a 700-to-800-word précis (in 12-point Times New Roman font, 1-
inch margin at all sides, single-spaced, page numbered, with word count in the end) to summarize and
evaluate one of the listed readings for this exercise. Submit the piece (in PDF form) to Blackboard with
a signed Veriguide receipt anytime BEFORE Mar. 27. Unexecuted late submission will NOT be

3. Discussion Facilitation (25%) Each student will be assigned to a group to present a cultural
phenomenon in contemporary China of their choice for 20-25 minutes during the tutorials with the aid of
PowerPoint or other visual materials. Students will be asked to sign up for a group in Week 2.
Your cardinal job is to raise critical questions and lead the class to discuss particular issues that your group
finds important. In addition to the relevant readings, feel free to bring in outside materials (news stories,
interesting cases, illustrations, film clips, charts/figures, etc.) and use a variety of formats (role play, debate,
games etc.) to facilitate learning. As facilitators, it is important for you to think through these exercises
carefully before coming to class, planning it step by step with clear instructions.
4. Final Paper (40%) Students are expected to analyze a phenomenon of Chinese popular culture that we
have discussed for this course, and write a paper of 2000-2400 words (12pt, Times New Roman, singlespaced) by the end of the semester. Essay prompts will be given in class and posted on the Blackboard.
The final paper should be uploaded to Blackboard (in PDF form) together with a signed Veriguide receipt
no later than 11:59 pm, April 24. Unexecuted late submission will NOT be accepted.