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ASIA 250

China on Screen

Through viewing and discussing cinematic films, students will learn to appreciate how China has been presented as a nation and a culture by generations of Chinese directors from China, Hong Kong, Taiwan, and other cultural enclaves and by current film critics, both Chinese and western. Topics include the history of the Chinese film industry, major genres in Chinese cinema, the issues of cultural hegemony, as well as cinematic constructions of "so-called" Chinese gender, nationhood and individuality.

Distribution Area Prerequisites Credits
Arts and Humanities 1 course

Spring Semester information

Sherry Mou

250A: China on Screen:From Confucius to Kung-fu

What does kung-fu mean? Did Confucius know kung-fu? How is gun-fu related to kung-fu? Through close examination, reading, and analysis of thirteen Chinese films and an assortment of readings on Confucianism and Taoism, we will investigate the world of Chinese knight-errantry. We will look at the philosophical orientations, world views, aesthetic features, and cultural motivations that produced what is broadly known as the kung-fu film genre, which for more than half a century has captured the imagination and interest of many Chinese and Western audiences. These films show how the rituals, spectacle, moral values, and social practices fostered in traditional theatre and in real life are re-presented on screen. We will trace the origins of important cultural traditions and ideas embedded in the kung-fu films, look at how they transform into action movies, and explore how the original ideas associated with knight-errantry are presented through various cultural signs, symbols, language, and codes of behavior.