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COMP 296
Chinese Film and Its Significant Others Spring 2021
Division I Difference, Power, and Equity
Cross-listed CHIN 226 / COMP 296

Class Details

From the “wows” that the first short films invoked at a Shanghai teahouse in 1896 to the $527 million (or 3.4 billion RMB) grossed at the box-office by a 3D fantasy in 2019, Chinese films have struck a responsive chord among domestic and foreign audiences. In this survey course, we will explore the evolving relationships between Chinese films and five “significant others” that are central to film and film-making. Roughly following a chronological order, this course will examine 1) the effect of new technological developments (such as photography, sound, color, special FX) on film; 2) the tension between film and traditional modes of public entertainment (such as operas and shadow plays); 3) film’s social role to affirm and contest gender, national, and class identities; 4) the need to garner differing sources of financial support (state funding, cultural entrepreneurs, and transnational capital); and 5) the circulation of Chinese films in the global market. Class materials include various genre films (melodrama, horror, martial arts, comedy, etc.), directors’ notes, contemporary reviews, and scholarship in China and media studies. All materials and discussions are in English.
The Class: Format: seminar; All regular course meetings will be conducted ONLINE with mostly a synchronous mode of instruction. Students are also expected to complete asynchronous preparations (view the films and Panopto lecture clips, read scholarship, and contribute to the discussion board) before the regular class hour. All materials are posted on GLOW. For full information, please contact the instructor.
Limit: 10
Expected: 10
Class#: 5116
Grading: yes pass/fail option, yes fifth course option
Requirements/Evaluation: Evaluation will be based on 1) ACTIVE in-class discussion; 2) Pre-class discussion posts based on reading and recorded lectures (Graded as Complete or Incomplete); 3) two short papers (3-5 pages); 4) two peer review papers (1-2 pages); and 5) the final project (including a presentation, and a paper or other form of project).
Prerequisites: none
Enrollment Preferences: current or prospective Chinese, Japanese, Asian Studies, and Comparative Literature majors
Distributions: Division I Difference, Power, and Equity
Notes: This course is cross-listed and the prefixes carry the following divisional credit:
CHIN 226 Division I COMP 296 Division I
DPE Notes: This course provides students with the opportunity to analyze the clashes and negotiations between Western media technological modernities and Chinese indigenous understanding of shadows, visuality, and sound. By discussing various films produced from mainland China, Hong Kong, Taiwan, and other diaspora areas from 1920 to now, this course asks students to explore how cinema invokes (and erases) differences, and consolidates (and challenges) hegemonic notions of nation, gender, and class.
Attributes: FMST Core Courses

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