Comparative Literature 315A: Contemporary Cinema
5 credits; W credit


Contemporary East Asian Genre Film

The course looks at key moments in the recent development of East Asian cinemas, with an emphasis on the role of genre in creating commercially viable industries that have gained artistic recognition. We will examine specific films while asking how the cinemas of China, Hong Kong, Japan, South Korea, and Taiwan have responded to political, economic, and social developments. We will also note how East Asian cinemas have inspired one another and borrowed directly from one another, especially in establishing commercial genres, such as horror, action, melodrama, and costume plays. The course does not assume any prior knowledge; historical background in East Asian cultures and critical terms in film studies will be covered in lectures and assigned readings.




MTWTh 1:30-3:20 Kane 220


Yomi Braester and Donghee Han


officeS: C-504 Padelford / XXXXX


office hours:xxxxx


e-mail: /






Readings and film viewings:
All readings must be completed on time. Students are required to attend the screenings. All readings are on e-reserve; efforts will be made to place the films on reserve at the Odegaard Media Center.


Reading reports:
Fifteen 200-word reports, summarizing the respective readings. (One of the assigned 16 can be missed without penalty.)
Film reports: Sixteen critical reviews, each 200 words long, discussing main points of the films watched in class. (One of the assigned 16 can be missed without penalty.)


Paper #1: Due on May 3; at least 1,200 words long. Paper topic will be announced in class.
Paper #2: Due June 8; at least 1,200 words long. Paper topic will be announced in class.


Reading reports: 15 x 1 point (P/F basis for each) = 15 points
Film reports: 15 x 1 point (P/F basis for each) = 15 points

Paper#1 = 35 points
Paper#2 = 35 points


Policies and Procedures

Late submissions must be pre-approved by the instructor or they will not be accepted. Extensions for reading responses, make-up classes, and extra screenings will be available only in very special cases, where the students can demonstrate circumstances beyond their control.
All assignments, except in-class commentary, must be typed. Please use Times New Roman font, size 12, double-spaced.
The course strictly adheres to UWs rules on plagiarism.
Students with disabilities are encouraged to inform the instructor, who will do his best to provide the relevant accommodations.


CLASS SCHEDULE (subject to change)

NOTE: Readings are available on electronic reserve or online (linked directly)

week 1

3/29 Mon

Introduction: Genre film in East Asia

3/30 Tue

No class meeting

3/31 Wed

Film screening: Infernal Affairs I (97 mins)

4/1 Th

Film screening: Brother (114 mins)
Reading 1 (for today): Marchetti, Infernal Affairs, 1-50

week 2

4/5 Mon

Seminar: Genre, post-genre
Reading 2 (for today):
Gerow, Kitano Takeshi (selection); Varese, "The Secret History of Japanese Cinema"

4/6 Tue

Film screening: Rough Cut (113 mins)

4/7 Wed

Seminar: Gangster film and unstable identities
Reading 3 (for today): Shin, “Globalization and New Korean Cinema"; Choi, “No Blood? No tears! Korean Gangster cinema.”

4/8 Th

Film screening: 2046 (first part of 129 mins)


week 3


4/12 Mon

Film screening: 2046 (second part of 129 mins)

4/13 Tue

Seminar: Sculpting in time
Reading 4 (for today): Teo, Wong Kar-Wai (selection)

4/14 Wed

Screening: Save the Green Planet! (118 mins)

4/15 Th

Seminar: Abducting the Sci-fi genre
Reading 5 (for today): Darcy Paquet, "Genrebending in Contemporary Korean Cinema"


week 4

4/19 Mon

Screening: The Puppetmaster (first part of 142 mins)

4/20 Tue

End screening: The Puppetmaster (second part of 142 mins)
Seminar: Traditional performance and national allegory
Reading 6 (for today):
Yeh and Davis, "Trisecting Taiwan Cinema"

4/21 Wed

Screening: Sopyonje (112 mins)

4/22 Th

Seminar: Exterior and interior landscapes
Reading 7 (for today):
Kim, “Korean Cinema and Im Kwon-Taek: An Overview”; Julian Stringer, “Sopyonje and the Inner Domain of National Culture.”


week 5

4/26 Mon

Screening: J.S.A.: Joint Security Area (110 mins)

4/27 Tue

Seminar: The Cold War goes on
Reading 8 (for today):
Kim, “Each Man kills the Thing he Loves: Transgressive Agents, National Security, and Blockbuster Aesthetics in Shiri and Joint Secuirity Area”;
Kim, “Crossing the Border to the ‘Other’ Side.”

4/28 Wed

Screening: Assembly (first part of 124 mins)

4/29 Th

End Screening: Assembly (second part of 124 mins)
Seminar: Postsocialist Chinese cinema
Reading 9 (for today): Zhang, The Cinema of Feng Xiaogang (selection)


week 6


5/3 Mon

Screening: Attack the Gas Station (113 mins)

5/4 Tue

Seminar: Comedy and violence
Reading 10 (for today): Ablemann and Choi, “’Just Because’: Comedy, Melodrama and Youth Violence in Attack the Gas Station.”

5/5 Wed

Screening: Crazy Stone (98 mins)

5/6 Th

Seminar: Local, Global, Glocal

Reading 11 (for today): Mcgrath, "New Year's Films"; Braester, "New Year's Movies"


week 7



5/10 Mon

Screening: The Good, the Bad, and the Weird (first part of 139 mins)

5/11 Tue

Screening: The Good, the Bad, and the Weird (second part of 139 mins)

5/12 Wed

Seminar: The western in the East
Reading 12 (for today):
Choi, “Blockbusters, Korean Style.”

5/13 Th

Screening: The Swordsman in Double Flag Town (90 mins)


week 8

5/17 Mon

Seminar: Genre film after the Cultural Revolution
Reading 13 (for today): Rayns, "King of the Children"

5/18 Tu

Screening: Thirteen Princess Trees (100 mins)

5/19 Wed

Seminar: Coming of age in the PRC
Reading 14 (for today):
Zhou, "Rock'n'roll: From Rebellion to Consumption"

5/20 Th

Screening: My Whispering Plan (first part of 147 mins)


week 9

5/24 Mon

Screening: My Whispering Plan (second part of 147 mins)

5/25 Tu

Seminar: J-Horror and Soft Gay films
Reading 15 (for today):
Braester, “The Impossible Task of Taipei Films”

5/26 Wed

Screening: Memento Mori (98 mins)

5/27 Th

Seminar: Specters of memory
Reading 16
(for today):
Choi, The South Korean Film Renaissance, pp 124-138


week 10


5/31 Mon


6/1 Tu

Seminar: Conclusion
no readings

6/2 Wed

Reading period

6/3 Th

Reading period




6/8 Tu

Final paper due