UC Berkeley Department of Film and Media

Department of Film & Media UC Berkeley

Courses / Graduate

Fall 2017

240 - 002 | CCN: 44735

Graduate Topics in Film: Shadow History: Archive and Intermediality in Chinese Cinema

Weihong Bao,

4 Units

In recent years, both area studies and film studies have engaged in self-critical interrogations of what constitutes their field of study. Whereas “nation” as a naturalized category is increasingly challenged to address complex historical dynamic and political institutions that traverse national and regional borders, the notion of “medium” is equally destabilized in consideration of cinema’s historical interactions with a number of media. These critical reflections and efforts of deterroritization place “medium” and “area” in more productive encounter than previously subsuming one under another as a secure body of knowledge.

The dynamic history of cinema's interaction with a number of media (radio, phonograph, architecture, photography, theater, etc) in China can be vividly witnessed when we delve into the rich archive available to us: the virtual archive online, the print reproduction of historical material, the historical films themselves, and the vast Paul Fonoroff Collection Berkeley recently acquired which includes historical film journals, press books, play bills, and other ephemera that we will closely examine. These range of archival material also testifies the multiple dialects and languages involved in the history of Chinese cinema, making the notions of "Chinese Language" or "Sinophone" cinema simultaneously useful and inadequate. The transregional and transnational traffic between Mainland, Taiwan, Hong Kong, and Southeast Asia, between Chinese, Hollywood, European, and other Asian Cinemas, between domestic and diasporic filmmaking and reception are equally visible in the materials we will examine. The class will sample a wide range of materials while devoting the discussions to a number of methodological issues concerning the questions of the archive, medium, form, technology in relation to coloniality, nationalism, and transnationality. Each week will organize discussions of these issues through a case study on film stardom, architecture, studio, film aesthetics, film theory and so on. We will participate in the international conference "Shadow History: Archive and Intermediality in Chinese Cinema" in October along with film screenings at PFA and exhibition at the Berkeley Film Archive. Students will be encouraged to develop research projects involving in-depth archival research.