Discourses of Sacrifice: Modern Chinese Literature and Film
This course focuses on the correlation between literature and film in reflecting and constructing the Chinese social ideologies during the 20th century. The narrative of sacrifice and martyrdom is one of the prominent ideologies to build up the new China as a nation-state. The course will investigate the literary and cinematic representations of sacrifice in multiple layers.
While providing a general survey of the 20th century Chinese literature, film and culture, the course emphasizes the following issues: how does the collective passion of sacrifice for one’s nation sublimate the individual desire to sacrifice for one’s lover or family in modern China? Can we clearly delineate the boundary between the sacrificed subject/object as martyrs (self-sacrifice) and as scapegoats (forced to sacrifice)? What historical force causes the ever-shifting representations of sacrifice in each period of modern China? Finally, what makes us take for granted of martyrs’ voluntary sacrifice for a nation?
The literary and cinematic texts that we discuss in this course represent a wide range of styles and subject matters related to these issues. All readings will be in English (all films with English subtitles). Prior knowledge of modern Chinese history and familiarity with literature and film analysis are not required.