Course Code


Course Name

Trauma and Memory in 20th and 21st Century China


Wednesdays 2:30pm-6:15pm




Prof. Kristof Van Den Troost

Teaching Assistant

MIAO Zixin

Course Description

This course will use cinematic and literary texts to explore several traumatic events in China’s recent history. We will focus on nine such events: the Nanjing Massacre, the 228 Incident, the Anti-Rightist Movement, the Great Famine, the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution, June Fourth, Hong Kong unrest, and COVID-19. These events all resulted in different kinds of collective trauma, whether caused by foreign invasion, popular/state violence, or natural disaster.

Students will be asked to reflect on the way traumatic events are remembered, and on how the past is often rewritten in the service of the present. Central themes of the course will be history and its representation, the function of memory and trauma in the construction of collective identity, the moral issues involved in the representation of trauma, and the importance of remembering and avoiding the repetition of past catastrophes.

Course Outline

Week 1 (6/9): Introduction

Week 2 (13/9): Nanjing Massacre

Week 3 (20/9): Nanjing Massacre (Screening City of Life and Death, 2009)

Week 4 (27/9): 228 Incident + White Terror

Week 5 (4/10): 228 Incident + White Terror (Screening Detention, 2019)

Week 6 (11/10): Anti-Rightist Movement (Screening Searching for Lin Zhao’s Soul, 2004)


***Friday  October 13        Short Assignment 1 Due***


Week 7 (18/10): Great Famine (Screening selections Fengming, 2007, and The Ditch, 2010)

Week 8 (25/10): Cultural Revolution

Week 9 (1/11): Cultural Revolution (Screening The Blue Kite, 1993)

Week 10 (8/11): June Fourth (Screening The Gate of Heavenly Peace, 1995)


***Friday 10 November       Short Assignment 2 Due [FOR CHES5133 STUDENTS ONLY]***


Week 11 (15/11): Hong Kong 1967 (Screening No. 1 Chung Ying Street, 2018)

Week 12 (22/11): Hong Kong 2014 (Screening Mong Kok First Aid, 2019, and selections of Yellowing, 2016)

Week 13 (29/11): COVID-19 (Screening In the Same Breath, 2021)


***Friday December 1           Final Paper Due***

Assessment & Assignments

Reading Reflections 30%
Short assignment 20%
Final Paper 50%

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 With each assignment, students will be required to submit a signed declaration that they are aware of the policies, regulations and procedures.