The popular culture of 20th-century China abounds in images and tales of heroic warriors. While rich with contemporary significance, this material often represents China’s cultural past; and by championing an essential Chinese identity, this material has played a role in defining Chinese positions in a multicultural, multinational age. In this course we will first examine the pre-modern roots of China’s heroic traditions, then move on to their expression in a variety of 20th-century fiction and film, including revolutionary model operas, martial arts fiction, and Hong Kong gangster movies. We will combine formal analysis of literary and cinematic works with study of the social and historical contexts of cultural production. Readings, film viewings, lecture, discussion, written assignments, exams. No prerequisites: previous coursework in Chinese history and/or literature recommended but not required.
Introduction to Chinese popular culture from the turn-of-the-century to the present. Topics include cinema, popular music, and popular fiction; emphasis varies from year to year.