C LIT 596 The Politics of Memory in Post-socialist Chinese Literature, Film, and Art

WQ 2014 SLN TBA 5 credits

W 3:30-5:20 (the time may change to accommodate students' schedule)
Place MGH 238

Instructor: Prof. Yomi Braester


How have modern Chinese writers, film directors, and painters imagined personal and collective memory?
What has been the environment of political and intellectual debates in which they are working?
How have the different media dealt with the topic of memory?
How has scholarship addressed these concerns?
The course explores these questions while providing a survey of contemporary scholarship in China studies and memory studies.

Knowledge of Chinese is not required, although the class is expected to be composed mostly of students who know Chinese.
Based on language skills, students will be asked to read the materials in English, Chinese, or both.

Weekly responses, presentation, and final paper



Weeks 1-2:
Memory and nation

Lu Xun, Call to Arms (Nahan)
Chang Tsong-Zung, Reckoning with the Past: Contemporary Chinese Painting
David Der-wei Wang, “Introduction,” in C.T. Hsia, A History of Modern Chinese Fiction, Third Edition
David Der-wei Wang, “Red Legacy in Fiction”
Rey Chow, “Introduction: On Chineseness”
Maurice Halbwachs On Collective Memory (selection)
Alon Confino, “Collective Memory and Cultural History: Problems of Method”
Jérôme Bourdon, “Media Remembering: the Contributions of Life-Story Methodology to Memory/Media Research”
Andreas Huyssen, “Present Pasts: Media, Politics, Amnesia”
Omer Bartov, Mirrors of Destruction (selection)

Week 3: Personal testimony
Hu Jie, dir. Though I Am Gone (Sui wo siqu)
Zhang Zanbo, dir. Falling from the Sky (Tian jiang)
Mei Zhi, F: Hu Feng’s Prison Years (Wangshi ruyan: Hu Feng chenyuan lu)
Shoshana Felman, “The Return of the Voice: Claude Lanzmann's Shoah
Pierre Nora, “Reasons for the Current Upsurge in Memory”
Amit Pinchevski, “Archive, Media, Trauma”

Week 4: Collective amnesia
Koonchung Chan, Fat Years (Shengshi - 2013)
Fang Lizhi, “Chinese Amnesia”
Nicholas Dames, Amnesiac Selves (selection)
Mobo Gao, The Battle of China’s Past: Mao and the Cultural Revolution
David Gross, Lost Time: On Remembering and Forgetting in Late Modern Culture (selection)

Week 5: Built environment
Ning Ying, dir. I Love Beijing (Xiari taiyang nuanyangyang)
Jia Zhangke, Still Life (Sanxia haoren)
Wu Hung, “Between Past and Future”
Christine Boyer, Cyber Cities (selection)
Paul Connerton, How Modernity Forgets (selection)
Robert Bevan, The Destruction of Memory: Architecture at War (selection)

Week 6: Postsocialist nostalgia
Wang Anyi, The Song of Everlasting Sorrow (Chang hen ge) (Part I)
Jeremie Barm
é, “Totalitarian Nostalgia” (in In the Red)
Zhang Xudong, “Shanghai Nostalgia: Postrevolutionary Allegories in Wang Anyi’s Writings in the 1990s”
Jie Li, Shanghai Homes (selection)
Wong Kar-wai, In the Mood for Love

Week 7: Post-nostalgia
Jiang Wen, dir. In the Heat of the Sun (Yangguang canlan de rizi)
Wang Shuo, Playing for Thrills (Wan'r de jiushi xintiao)
Jeremie Barm
é, “The Apotheosis of the liumang" (in In the Red)
Yomi Braester,

Marc Augé, Oblivion (selection)
Paul Ricoeur, “Memory - History - Forgetting”

Week 8: Language and memory
Yu Hua, China in Ten Words (Shi ge cihui li de Zhongguo) (“People,” “Leader,” “Lu Xun,” “Revolution”)
Close readings of selected texts

Week 9: Digitized memory
Tan Tan, dir. “Whose Eyes” (Shei de yanjing)

(Background reading: “Tan Tan Challenges the Norms”)
Ai Weiwei's self-surveillance
(Background reading: “China’s Ai Weiwei 4 Self-Surveillance Cameras ordered to shutdown, Beijing Gov’s 15 Surveillance Cameras still running”)
Thomas Y. Levin, “Rhetoric of the Temporal Index Surveillant Narration and the Cinema of Real Time

Yomi Braester, “The Spectral Return of Cinema: Globalization and Cinephilia in Contemporary Chinese Film”
Anna Reading, “Memory and Digital Media: Six Dynamics of the Globital Memory Field”

Week 10: Student projects