PAAS 358: SCREENING THE NATION
HISTORY AND FILM
Since its establishment in 1949, the Chinese state has been diligent in its control of the interpretation of the nation’s history. This is clearly seen in the narratives of oppression and resistance, victimization and sacrifice, heroism and liberation, for the years preceding communist victory, a period which included Japanese occupation and civil war. Film, a medium closely monitored by the state, has played a crucial role in articulating an official version of the past. In this course, we will view films made over the seven decades of the People’s Republic, many by the leading directors of their generations, viewing them for their cinematic qualities and for their presentation of a contested past. All films shown in their entirety will be subtitled, though the subtitles can present challenges of their own.
Assignments and grading:
Attendance and participation 5%
Attendance is required, and failure to attend classes will result in loss of marks. Students will be expected to be prepared to answer questions and discuss the films viewed and readings designated.
Contribution to class symposium5%
Students will be required to contribute to one of three class symposia held during the course of the term. Speakers will be grouped into panels for these presentations.
Three viewer responses (3-5 double-spaced pages) to films (10% each) 30%
Two papers (5-7 double-spaced pages), on topics assigned by the instructor (30% each) 60%
The three “viewer responses” can be submitted in Chinese or English; the other two papers will be submitted in English.
Absence from class: Students should inform the instructor in advance by email if they are unable to attend class. On days when films are shown, everyone is expected to remain in class for the duration of the film.
Late papers: Hard copies of all assignments should be brought to class on the due date unless otherwise instructed. Late papers or delayed presentations will not be accepted without the prior permission of the instructor. Failure to make a presentation or to hand in a paper will result in a grade of zero for that assignment.
Class conduct: When making presentations, posing questions, and engaging in discussions, students should use appropriate language and treat fellow-students with respect and civility.
Plagiarism: This course follows Department and University protocols on plagiarism. First offences under these protocols will result in a grade of zero for that assignment. University policies can be found at: https://web.uvic.ca/calendar2017-09/undergrad/info/regulations/academic-integrity.html#
Department policies are available on CourseSpaces.
Those who wish to take advantage of the University’s resources to assist them in paper preparation are encouraged to do so. You should be aware of the following:
1. The Centre for Academic Communication (CAC) specializes in providing assistance with academic writing. Contact information for the CAC, as well as information about events and programming and booking appointments, can be found on their website: http://www.uvic.ca/learningandteaching/cac/index.php. Students can set up an account and book their own appointments through that system: https://uvic.mywconline.com. Our contact at the CAC is Gillian Saunders firstname.lastname@example.org.
2. The University’s Asian Studies librarian is Liu Ying email@example.com; students working on specific topics are encouraged to contact her and meet to talk about any questions they have on finding sources, evaluating them, and citing them. She has prepared the following research guides, which are available online: PAAS research methodologies: http://libguides.uvic.ca/PAASresearch; Chinese studies: http://libguides.uvic.ca/Chinese. The Library has also developed a “self-guiding toolkit” to assist with completing assignments: https://www.uvic.ca/library/research/tips/uviclibtoolkit/index.php
Recommended reading available in the UVic library:
1. Chinese history
Jonathan D. Spence and Annping Chin, The Chinese Century. New York: Random House, 1996 (DS755.2 S64), pp.10-159.
2. Writing about Film
Timothy Corrigan, A Short Guide to Writing about Film. New York: Longman, 1989 and subsequent editions. (PN1995 C67).
3. Chinese film
Berry, Chris, ed., Chinese Films in Focus II. Basingstoke: Palgrave MacMillan, 2008 (PN1993.5 C4C466 2008).
Berry, Chris, and Mary Farquhar, China on Screen: Cinema and Nation. New York: Columbia University Press, 2006. (PN1993.5 C4 B46).
Berry, Michael, Speaking in Images: Interviews with Contemporary Chinese Filmmakers. New York: Columbia University Press, 2004 (PN1993.5 C4 B49 2005).
Clark, Paul, Chinese Cinema: Culture and Politics since 1949. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1987. (PN1993.5 C4 C58).
李多钰,主编, 中国电影百年 (上,下). 北京:中国广播电视出版社, 2006. (PN1993.5 C4 Z466, v.1, v.2).
Zhang, Yingjin, Chinese National Cinema. New York: Routledge, 2004. (PN1993.5 C4Z5285).
The best bibliography by far for Western writing on Chinese film is the “media” section of the Modern Chinese Literature and Culture Resource Center. http://u.osu.edu/mclc/bibliographies/media/. This is the place to go to find material on directors and their work.
January 3rd: Introduction to the Course
Case study: “Tiger Mountain” on film
January 10th: The Taking of Tiger Mountain 智取威虎山, dir. Tsui Hark 徐克 2014, (2 hours 20 minutes), from the novel Tracks in the Snowy Forest 林海雪原 by Qu Bo 曲波.
Ch’u Po [Qu Bo] 曲波, Tracks in the Snowy Forest 林海雪原. Beijing: Foreign Languages Press, 1962 (and later editions). (PL2852P6L513 1965)
Taking Tiger Mountain by Strategy 智取威虎山. Beijing: Foreign languages Press, 1971. (ML50S512C52 1971)
January 17th: Hand in first viewer response on The Taking of Tiger Mountain. Topics and groups for first symposium announced in class.
Section 1: Occupation, resistance, and sacrifice: January 19th – February 2nd
January 17th: Tunnel Warfare 地道站, dir. Ren Xudong 任旭东, 1965 (1.35).
January 24th: Devils on the Doorstep 鬼子来了, dir. Jiang Wen 姜文, 2000 (2.19).
Julian Ward, “Filming the Anti-Japanese War: The Devils and Buffoons of Jiang Wen’s Guizi laile.” New Cinemas: Journal of Contemporary Film 2:2 (September 2004), pp. 107-118.
January 31st: City of Life and Death 南京！南京!, dir. Lu Chuan 陆 川, 2009 (2.20)
Note: this film has scenes of violence which may distress some students. If you prefer not to attend this class, notify the instructor in advance; you will be assigned a different film to view, and you will be required to write your viewer response on that film.
Kirk A. Denton, Exhibiting the Past: Historical Memory and the Politics of Museums in Postsocialist China. Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press, 2014, 133-152.
February 7th: Hand in second viewer response on either Devils on the Doorstep or City of Life and Death or the film designated for those not watching City of Life and Death.
February 7th : Class symposium on occupation and resistance in history and on film; topics provided for first paper (due February 21st) and the second symposium.
February 14th: Reading break
Section 2: Women and revolution: February 21st – March 1st
February 21st: Hand in first paper
February 21st: The Red Detachment of Women 红色娘子军, dir Xie Jin 谢晋, 1961 (1.50).
“Xie Jin: Six Decades of Cinematic Innovation,” in Michael Berry, Speaking in Images, pp.20-49.
Robert Chi, “The Red Detachment of Women: Resenting, Regendering, Remembering,” in Chinese Films in Focus II, pp.189-196.
February 28th: Lust, Caution 色戒dir. Ang Lee 李安, from the story by Zhang Ailing 张爱玲, 2007 (2.39).
Zhang Ailing (Eileen Chang), Lust, Caution. New York: Anchor Books, 2007. (PL2837E35S4213 2007)
Note: this film has nudity and sexual content which may offend some students. If you prefer not to attend this class, notify the instructor in advance; you will be assigned a different film to view, and required to write your viewer response on that film.
March 7th: Class symposium on women in revolution; topics provided for the final symposium and the second paper (due April 3rd)
Section 3: The Road to Liberation: March 14th – 28th
March 14th: Hand in third viewer response on either The Red Detachment of Women or Lust, Caution, or the film designated for those not watching Lust, Caution
March 14th: Crows and Sparrows 乌鸦与麻雀, dir. Zheng Junli 郑君里, 1949 (1.46).
Yiman Wang, “Crows and Sparrows: Allegory on a Historical Threshold,” in Chinese Films in Focus II, pp.82-9.
March 21st: Eternity in Flames 烈火中永生, dir. 水华, from the novel Red Crag 红岩by Luo Guangbin 罗广斌and Yang Yiyan 杨益言, 1966 (2.20).
Lo Kuang-pin [Luo Guangbin] and Yang Yi-yen [Yang Yiyan], Red Crag. Beijing: Foreign Languages Press, 1978 (PL2880 K83R44).
Yingjin Zhang, “Zhao Dan: Spectrality of Martyrdom and Stardom,” in Mary Farquhar and Yingjin Zhang ed., Chinese Film Stars. London: Routledge, 2012, pp.86-96.
March 28th: The Founding of a Republic 建国大业 dir. Huang Jianxin 黄建新 and Han Sanping 韩 三平, 2009 (2.20).
Required reading: Tang Xiaobing, “How (not) to View a Chinese Blockbuster,” in Tang, Visual Culture in Contemporary China: Paradigms and Shifts. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2014.
April 3rd: Hand in second paper.
April 3rd: Third class symposium: The PAAS 358 awards for directors, actors, and individual films.