Lilian Kong

 Lilian Kong

Wolf Warrior II: Chinese Nationalism in the Popular Culture and Media Age

Friday, October 26th: 1 p.m*

Location: CEAS 319 (1155 E. 60th St.)

Poster of Wolf Warrior II (2017)

Discussant: William Carroll, PhD Candidate

Cinema and Media Studies + East Asian Languages and Civilizations

*Screening of Wolf Warrior II [战狼2] (2017, 126 minutes) begins at 1 p.m.

with a discussion of Lilian Kong’s paper to follow.

Lunch will be served during the film screening.

On November 2nd, the Art and Politics of East Asia workshop will host Lilian Kong (Master of Arts Program in the Humanities). She will present a draft of an essay intended for publication entitled, Wolf Warrior II: Chinese Nationalism in the Popular Culture and Media Age.” Lilian offers the following abstract:

Amidst economic reforms in the 1980s, the State Administration of Press, Publication, Radio, Film and Television (SPPRFT or SARFT) initiated and financially supported main melody (zhu xuanlü) films to reunify public opinions at a time of national transition toward a capitalist China. Since the beginning of the 21stcentury, these films have solidified their nationalist agenda, attracting China’s young consumer generation with hyper-commercialization, but rarely deviating from state-administered political ideologies and Han Chinese glorifications of socialist history. Wu Jing’s military-action drama Wolf Warrior II (2017), China’s largest grossing domestic film to date, represents a new development in the Chinese main melody genre. Scholars have paid particular attention to the film’s setting in Africa instead of China, arguing that the film embodies a bold expansion of nationalist power to the international arena (Liu, Amar, Osnos). On the premise of this current scholarship, my paper explores Wolf Warrior II’s character formations and its construction of inter-racial relationships to reveal how the film has altered the foundational components of China’s contemporary nation-state. I argue that ambiguities of nation and state manifested in Wolf Warrior II signal a transformation in main melody films’ nationalist agenda due its surfacing of the contradictory, entangled relations between international commercial media networks, particularly in the film’s collaboration with the American superhero franchise Marvel Studios, and the continuous surveillance of domestic state-administered networks that structures its production process.

Megan Beckerich

Megan Beckerich

“Supernatural Bodies and Censorship in 19th Century Japanese Prints”

Friday, October 26th, 4-6 p.m.*

Location: CEAS 319 (1155 E. 60th St.)

Discussant: Minori Egashira (PhD Student, Art History)

*Please note the start time is one hour later than usual!

On October 26th from 4:00pm to 6:00pm the Art and Politics of East Asia workshop will host Megan Beckerich, Master of Arts Program in the Humanities. She will present “Supernatural Bodies and Censorship in 19th Century Japanese Prints,” a working draft of her MA thesis. Megan offers the following abstract:

This thesis will explore censorship and morality in images depicting the female body from 19th century Japan. Specifically, by utilizing The Lonely House at Adachi Moor (1885) by Tsukioka Yoshitoshi (1839-1892), as a case study, this thesis will show that the changing application of censorial laws in Meiji Japan was not solely for a true change in public morals, but rather was an intertwining of Japanese official’s attempt to modernize to western moral standards while utilizing art to promote ideas of what was acceptable and what was “backwards” in a industrializing nation. This censorship was targeted strongly against depictions of female bodies in sexual or violent scenes, but this form of censorship, heavily drawing from existing European moral notions in art, put images identified as “supernatural” into the realm of fantasy. As such, prints depicting supernatural women were able to pass the censors because the bodies depicted are not human, but only fantasy. This is turn allowed the Meiji government to continue promoting modernization vis-à-vis relegating regional folkloric belief in the supernatural to “fantasy” and unreal. An analysis of what constitutes supernatural and human bodies will be conducted to better understand what forms a body in art, and where the boundary between human and inhuman lies within that genre. By comparing the visuals, purpose, and reception of The Lonely House to selected imagery and Yositoshi’s own catalogue, this thesis aims to more clearly illustrate the web of cultural meanings, connotations, while better understanding why certain visually grotesque prints were more acceptable than others in early modern Japanese society.

Chao Wang

Chao Wang

Blind Singing Girls and the Respectability of Livelihood in Early Republican Guangzhou, 1911-1927

Friday, October 19th, 3-5 p.m.
Location: CEAS 319 (1155 E. 60th St.)

Discussant: Weichu Wang (PhD Student, History)

On October 19th from 3:00pm to 5:00pm the Art and Politics of East Asia workshop will host Chao Wang (PhD Candidate, History). He will present Blind Singing Girls and the Respectability of Livelihood in Early Republican Guangzhou, 1911-1927, a chapter of his dissertationChao Wang offers the following abstract:

This chapter shows the transformation of self-help among blind singing girls (guji 瞽姬) in early-Republican Guangzhou (1911-1927). These disabled women were sold at an early age by their families to be raised and trained under the tutelage of a foster mother, the elderly former guji who operated private training institutes (tangkou 堂口) in neighborhoods adjacent to business centers. Once they have reached a level of proficiency in singing, young guji will start their career as professional entertainers who were invited to perform in public festivals and family banquets. Republican-era expansion of commercial theatres promoted the social respectability of blind singers by introducing them into bourgeoisie-style teahouses (chalou 茶楼) and securing them with cultured patrons. However, the shifted consuming preference to sighted singers (nüling 女伶) in the 1920s had pushed many blind women out of employment in the teahouse and left them singing on the street. The lower-class guji were forced to engage in sex work for a living. The decline of guji’s respectability, I argue, originated from the negotiation between commercial interest and state regulation, which significantly challenged the moral economy of self-help and pressured a skilled profession to finally degenerate into prostitutes due to survival. Moreover, I demonstrate from the evolution of ableism in the urban entertainment that specific ideas and practices of femininity were constituted by the reconfiguration of a disability.

Screening of Art in Smog with Lydia Chen

Art in Smog 

Screening and Conversation with Director Lydia Chen

Friday, October 12th, 3-5 p.m.
Location: Cochrane-Woods Art Center, Room 157

Joint Event with the Visual and Material Perspectives on East Asia Workshop

Introduced by Professor Paola Iovene (East Asian Languages and Civilizations)

Image taken from Lydia Chen’s Art in Smog ( HD / 76 min. / Color / 2018 / Mandarin with English subtitles )

On October 12th from 3:00pm to 5:00pm the Art and Politics of East Asia workshop and Visual and Material Perspectives on East Asia Workshop are proud to present a screening of the 2018 documentary feature Art in Smog (76 min. / Mandarin with English subtitles) and conversation with the director Lydia Chen. Art in Smog offers an intimate encounter with four artists and a curator in China, as they pursue their dreams over 25 years of rapid change. Featured are international artists Su Xinping and Xia Xiaowan, painter and antiques connoisseur Mushi, curator Cui Cancan, and painter Chen Hui. The pursuit of art takes them from quiet lives in the 1990s to the extremes of the 2000s to their different paths forward today.

About the Filmmaker:

Lydia Chen has engaged in cultural exchanges between China and the United States since the 1980s. At first she worked for the Foreign Languages Press and studied Chinese painting at the Central Academy of Fine Arts in Beijing. Later she was communications director for the American Chamber of Commerce in China, associate director of the Center for East Asian Studies at Stanford University, and executive director of the Fairbank Center for Chinese Studies at Harvard University. She received her master’s degrees in journalism and Asian studies from the University of California at Berkeley and her B.A. from Sarah Lawrence College.

For more information, please visit the film’s official website.