C LIT 596 (Special Studies in Comparative Literature)
Autumn Quarter 2012


Chinese Cinema:
A Graduate-level Introduction


The seminar is designed as a crash course for graduate students who wish to get familiar with the discipline of Chinese cinema, for future research and teaching, and provides an introduction to the history, critical practices and current scholarship of Chinese film.

Class discussions will be based on a weekly assignment of one book and two films. Topics covered include: early cinema; the Cultural Revolution; the Fifth Generation; Urban Cinema; Documentary; Taiwanese cinema; Hong Kong cinema.





Yomi Braester


office: C-504 Padelford


office hours: BY APPOINTMENT


e-mail: yomi@u




1. Reading and film viewing: all assigned readings and viewings should be completed before the week's seminars.
2. Reading reports: every participant will email the instructor a 400-word informal report pointing out points for discussion based on the week's readings.
3 .Book review: Each participant will write a 1,000-word review on a book on Chinese cinema.
4 .Presentation: A formal 20-minute presentation, delivered during the last week of the term, based on the final paper draft.
5 .Final paper: Approximately 12 pages. Details will be discussed in class. Due no later than December 16.


Tentative schedule:

week 1
Film in China: A national cinema?
(MW 5:30-7:20)

Readings: Rey Chow, "Visuality, Modernity, and Primitive Passions"; Michael Berry and Mary Farquhar, "Cinema and the National" & "How Should a Chinese Woman Look?"; Chris Berry, "Chinese Film Scholarship in English." Optional: Yingjin Zhang, "The Rise of Chinese Film Studies in the West"
  Films: The Banquet; (for next week:) Laborer's Love; Goddess
week 2
Early Cinema
(M 3:30-7:00) Readings: Zhang Zhen, An Amorous History of the Silver Screen, chapters 1-4; 7 Laikwan Pang, "Walking into and out of China's Early Film Scene"
  Films (for next week): Fuck Cinema; Shattered
week 3
Independent cinema
(M 3:30-7:00)

Readings: Paul Pickowicz, "Political and Social Dynamics of Underground Filmmaking in China"; Yingjin Zhang, "My Camera Doesn't Lie?"; Valerie Jaffee, "'Every Man a Star'"; Song Hwee Lim, "Screening Homosexuality" (optional: Qi Wang, "Performing Documentation")
  Films: Enter the Clowns, Crime and Punishment
  Friday: Meeting with Cui Zi'en
week 4
Maoist cinema
(M 3:30-7:00)

Readings: Yomi Braester and Tina Mai Chen, "Missing in Plain Sight"; Zhuoyi Wang, "From The Life of Wu Xun to the career of Song Jingshi"; Yomi Braester, "The Political Campaign as Genre"; Clark, "Artists, Cadres, and Audiences"; Robert Chi, "The Red Detachment of Women"
  Films: Serfs; The Red Detachment of Women
week 5
The Fifth Generation
(M 3:30-7:00) Readings: Xudong Zhang, "The Making of a Modern Cinematic Language"; Ideology and Utopia in Zhang Yimou's Red Sorghum"
  Films: Red Sorghum; Raise the Red Lantern
week 6
Urban Cinema
(M 3:30-7:00) Readings: Zhang Zhen, "Bearing Witness"; Yomi Braester, "'This is the Story of Our Street'"; Yomi Braester, "From Urban Films to Urban Cinema" (optional: Yomi Braester, "The First Precinct Under Heaven")
  Films: On the Beat; Suzhou River
week 7 Post-Socialist Cinema
(M 3:30-7:00)

Jason McGrath, "'Independent' Cinema"; Jason McGrath, "New Year's Films"; Michael Berry, "Xiao Wu"; Stanley Rosen, "Film and Society in China: The Logic of the Market"; Dudley Andrew, "Pursuing Cinema in the Twenty-First Century"
  Films: Xiao Wu; Aftershock
week 8 No seminars
week 9
Loose ends
(M 3:30-7:00)

Animation, 1941-present

(W 3:30-6:00)

Reconsidering film history

  Films: In the Heat of the Sun, I Wish I Knew

week 10 Taiwan and Hong Kong cinema
(M 3:30-7:00)

Readings (some optional):Tan See Kam, "From South Pacific to Shanghai Blue"; Akbar Abbas, "Hong Kong"; Gina Marchetti, "The Hong Kong New Wave"; Akbar Abbas, "New Hong Kong Cinema and the Deja Disparu"; Shu-mei Shih, "The Incredible Heaviness of Ambiguity"; Emilie Yeh and Darrell Davis, "Challenges and Controversies of the Taiwan New Cinema"; Yeh and Davis, "Camping Out with Tsai Ming-liang"; David Li, "Yi Yi"; James Tweedie, "Morning in the new metropolis"

  Films: Terrorizers; The Wayward Cloud; Fallen Angels

week 11 Presentations
(M 3:30-7:00)