Download Women Through the Lens: Gender and Nation in a Century of Chinese Cinema PDF

TitleWomen Through the Lens: Gender and Nation in a Century of Chinese Cinema
PublisherUniversity of Hawaii Press
ISBN 139780824825324
CategoryArts - Film
File Size2.7 MB
Total Pages331
Table of Contents
Part One: Early Production
1. From Shadow-Play to a National Cinema
2. Reconstructing History: The (Im)possible Engagement between Feminism and Postmodernism in Stanley Kwan’s Center Stage
Part Two: Socialist Cinema
3. Constructing and Consuming the Revolutionary Narratives
4. Gender Politics and Socialist Discourse in Xie Jin’s The Red Detachment of Women
Part Three: The New Wave
5. Screening China: National Allegories and International Receptions
6. The Search for Male Masculinity and Sexuality in ZhangYimou’s Ju Dou
7. Subjected Body and Gendered Identity: Female Impersonation in Chen Kaige’s Farewell My Concubine
Part Four: Women’s Films
8. Feminism with Chinese Characteristics?
9. Desire in Difference: Female Voice and Point of View in Hu Mei’s Army Nurse
10. Transgender Masquerading in Huang Shuqin’s Human, Woman, Demon
Works Cited
Document Text Contents
Page 1

omen Through the Lens

Cui Women Through the Lens
Gender and Nation in a Century

of Chinese Cinema

Shuqin Cui

Filmmakers became keenly aware of visuality as a
language system as they experimented with modes
of representation. Cui documents and discusses
the cinematic spectacle of woman as essential to
such widely popular films as Chen Kaige’s Farewell
My Concubine and Zhang Yimou’s Ju Dou. In these
films, the screen image of the Chinese woman is
both nationalized and sexualized, and for interna-
tional audiences she is the exotic and erotic other,
the image of China. Finally, the author brings a
feminist perspective to the issues of gender and
nation by turning her attention to women directors
and their self-representations. She reveals a con-
cealed female identity at the margins where
women directors attempt to inject female con-
sciousness and perspective even as they submit to
the conventions necessary to get their films pro-
duced. She concludes that if Chinese women con-
tinue to count on the promises of nationalist
discourse for their emancipation, they may fail to
realize that the need to free feminism from nation-
alist narratives is a prerequisite for freeing oneself.

Well conceived and intelligently written, Women
Through the Lens will appeal to scholars and stu-
dents in the fields of film, gender, and Asian stud-
ies, and to general readers interested in Chinese

Shuqin Cui is assistant professor at Southern
Methodist University.

Chinese cinema

“Shuqin Cui’s book is the first of its kind: a study of the complex discursive interaction between

gender and nation in Chinese film. Arguing forcefully and with careful attention to the films as

films, she contends that images of women have been appropriated by Chinese filmmakers not only

for the nation-building project and class struggle, but for intellectual ends such as cultural critique

and national allegory. From leftist films of the 1930s to the Hong Kong postmodern cinema of the

present, Cui shows how Chinese filmmakers, with the exception of a handful of recent female

directors, have all but silenced female subjectivity even as they draw attention to women’s oppres-

sion. This is a feminist study, but one that takes a wisely skeptical attitude toward the application

of Western feminist assumptions to the Chinese cultural context. Women Through the Lens is a

book that all scholars of gender representation in film will want to read.” —Kirk Denton, Ohio

State University

“Women Through the Lens breaks new ground by tracing the relationship between women and

Chinese cinema from transnational feminist perspectives. While offering meticulous textual analy-

ses of selective key films, the book covers the entire history of twentieth-century Chinese cinema

and examines important periods and topics such as early film production, socialist cinema, the

new wave, and women’s films. The author adroitly unpacks and navigates a series of key questions

and issues in Chinese film history: nation and narration, image and representation, identity and

difference, gender and feminism, socialism and capitalism. This is an insightful major study in

both scope and depth, and should be consulted by students interested in film studies, gender stud-

ies, and modern China.” —Sheldon H. Lu, University of California at Davis

Jacket illustrations (clockwise from top left): Farewell My Concubine, 1993; Ruan Lingyu, 1992;

Sacrificed Youth, 1985; Lovers’ Grief over the Yellow River, 1999. Illustrations reprinted by permis-

sion of the China Film Archive, Beijing.

Jacket design: Argosy

University of Hawai‘i Press

Honolulu, Hawai‘i 96822-1888

Gender and nation have often served as narrative
subjects and visual tropes in Chinese cinema. The
intersections between the two that occur in cine-
matic representation, however, have received little
critical attention. Women Through the Lens raises
the question of how gender, especially the image of
woman, acts as a visual and discursive sign in the
creation of the nation-state in twentieth-century
China. Tracing the history of Chinese cinema
through the last hundred years from the perspec-
tive of transnational feminism, Shuqin Cui reveals
how women have been granted a “privileged visi-
bility” on-screen while being denied discursive
positions as subjects. In addition, her careful atten-
tion to the visual language system of cinema shows
how “woman” has served as the site for the narra-
tion of nation in the context of China’s changing
social and political climate.

Placing gender and nation in a historical frame-
work, the book first shows how early productions
had their roots in shadow-plays, a popular form of
public entertainment. These films were soon sup-
planted by cinematic narratives meant to further
the causes of social reform and strident national-
ism. As leftist filmmaking turned to the female
image to signify a motherland suffering foreign
invasions as well as domestic afflictions, gender
and nation became inextricably intertwined in the
cinematic representation of China. In examining
the “Red Classics” of socialist cinema as a mass cul-
tural form, the book shows how the utopian vision
of emancipating the entire proletariat, women
included, produced a collective ideology that
declared an end to gender difference. Sex and
desire cannot be eradicated, however, and one of
the most valuable contributions of this work is its
consideration of the fate of gender difference in a
milieu of official suppression.

The emergence of New Wave films brought height-
ened international attention to Chinese cinema.

(Continued on back flap)

(Continued from front flap)

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