Chn245 Chinese Popular Culture Department of East Asian Studies Fall 2007

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CHN245 Chinese Popular Culture

Department of East Asian Studies

Fall 2007

Instructor: Hai Ren

Office: LSB Room 111

Phone: 626-5062


Class Meetings: MWF Mornings


This course is an introduction to contemporary Chinese popular culture. It explores popular culture’s relations to social change, public spaces, the state, individual freedom, collective justice, national identity, and globalization.


1. Regular and active participation in lectures (Monday and Wednesday) and discussion sessions (Friday) (10% of your final grade). This means you have read the assigned materials for each class and are ready to ask questions and volunteer opinions. You are required to write an one-page self-evaluative report at the end of the semester. This assignment is designed to give you an opportunity to reflect what you have learned in the semester. In the report, you should address the following questions: How would you like to apply two concepts or/and methods in your future academic career? What aspects are you pleased about your work? What areas of your work would you like to improve or further expand? In addition, you should also assign a grade on the basis of evaluating your participation and attendance.

2. Quizzes (30% of your final grade). There will be ten quizzes during the semester. Quizzes are in multiple-choice format and focus on assigned readings and lecture materials for the week that they are given.
3. Three Reaction Papers (15% of your final grade). These are commentary on an assigned reading and should be 2-3 pages long. They are not mere summaries of a reading, but rather your critical responses to it. For example, you can either discuss the validity of the arguments that the reading has presented or comment on its uses of data and facts. Reaction papers do not require titles or references.
4. Research Paper (20% of your final grade): 6-8 pages long, typed and double-spaced. You will choose one of three topics assigned to you at least three weeks before the due date. The paper aims at developing your skills of comprehension, application, and analysis. You may be asked to apply a theoretical concept in understanding a popular culture phenomenon; to compare two important historical or cultural events; or to interpret a popular culture text (a film, video, or novel). Before you submit the final draft (15 points), you will turn in an outline (l point), a bibliography (1 point), and give an oral presentation (3 points), which add up to 20 points for this assignment. The instructor will give you feedback on your outline, bibliography, and presentation. In addition, you will be given an opportunity to revise the completed paper after receiving the comments. In such a situation, you should let the instructor know on the day you receive the commented paper. Your revised paper will be due a week after you receive it.
5. Midterm Exam (ten multiple-choice, two short-answer and one essay-type questions) and Final Exam (ten multiple-choice, five short-answer and two essay-type questions) (15% of your final grade).
FOR HONORS STUDENTS ONLY: All the above requirements apply to you expect for research paper. You are required to write two research papers (20% of final grade), each of which should be six to eight page long, typed and double-spaced. The first paper is based on regular readings. The second paper must incorporate additional readings, which will be assigned to you based on the topic of your paper.
Grade Appeal: If you wish to challenge a grade on an assignment, you must submit in writing (no more than one page long) to argue for your case. The instructor then will give you a new grade, which may be lower, higher than, or the same as the original grade. Due to time constraints, the research paper and the final exam cannot be re-graded. .
Absence Policy: You are allowed to have two (2) unexcused absences. After that, each unexcused absence will result in a 2 point-reduction (10 points maximum) in your final grade. Excusable absences include medical and family emergences, jury duties, holidays or special events observed by organized religions for those students who show affiliation with that particular religion, and service obligations pre-approved by appropriate UA authorities. Students should make reasonable efforts to notify the instructor in advance of their absence: While students can negotiate new submission dates for reaction papers and the research paper in the case of excused absences, there will be no make-ups for missed quizzes due to absences, excused or not.

Students should behave responsibly and respectfully in the classroom. The use of pagers, cell phones, and other electronic devices is prohibited during lectures and discussions. Plagiarism of any kind as defined by the Student Code of Academic Integrity ( will result in a failing grade for this class. Students with special needs who are registered with the Disability Resource Center must submit appropriate documentation to the instructor if they are requesting reasonable accommodations.

REQUIRED TEXS (available at UA book Store):

1. Perry Link, et al. Unofficial China: Popular Culture and Thought in the People's Republic. Westview, 1990.

2. Kang Liu. Globalization and Cultural Trends in China. Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press, 2004.

3. Jianying Zha. China Pop: How Soap Operas, Tabloids and Bestsellers Are Transforming a Culture. The New Press, 1996.

4. Class Notes ((Including excepts from "Chinese Popular Culture and the State." Special issue of positions: east asia cultures critique 9, 1 (Spring 2001), John Storey, Cultural Studies and the Study of Popular Culture. Athens, GA: University of Georgia Press, 1996.)
Internet Resources:

  1. Transnational China Project at Rice University:

2. Modem Chinese Literature and Culture Resource Center at Ohio State University:
The information contained in the course syllabus, other than the grade and absence policies, may be subject to change with notice, as deemed appropriate by the instructor.

Week One: Introduction

  1. Welcome to the Course

  2. Discussion of Online and library Resources


The Syllabus.

“Writing the Research Paper." (Prepared by Dr. Dian Li, EAS faculty)
Week Two: Understanding Contemporary China

  1. Contemporary China: An Overview

  2. Popular Culture: A Definition and A Problematic

  3. Quiz 1 and Discussion


Link, Perry, pp. l-13.

Wang, Jing "Chinese Popular Culture Studies" (in Class Notes and at
Week Three: Popular Literature I

  1. Literature and Social Change

  2. Elite and Popular Literature

  3. Quiz 2 and Discussion


Link, Perry, pp.17-36.

Lee, Leo Ou-fan and Andrew Nation, "The Beginnings of Mass Culture: Journalism and Fiction" (in Class Notes: in Popular Culture in Late Imperial China, pp. 360-395).
Week Four: Popular Literature II

  1. Consuming Literature

  2. Making Bestsellers

  3. Reaction Paper 1 and Discussion


Zha, Jianying, pp. 129-164.

Liu,Kang, pp. 102-126.
Week Five: film I

10. Film and Its Audience

11. Film and Propaganda

12. Quiz 3 and Discussion


Zha, Jianying, pp. 79-105.

Link, Perry, pp. 37-56.
Week Six: Film II

13. Transnational Filmmaking,

14. Impact of Movie Stars

15. Quiz 4 and Discussion


Kraicer, Shelly, '"Lost in Time, Lost in Space: Beijing Film Culture in 2004" (In Class Notes: Cinemascope 21/Winter 2004 and at

Braester, Yomi, "Chinese Cinema in the Age of Advertisement: The Filmmaker as a Cultural Broker" (in Class Notes: The China Quarterly 183 Sept. 2005: 549-564).
Week Seven: Television

16. The Role of CCTV

17. Melodrama: and Documentary

18. Reaction Paper 2 and Discussion


Zha, Jianying, pp. 25-54.

Keane, Michael, "Send in the Clones: Television Formats and Content Creation in the People's Republic of China" (In Class Notes: In Donald, S, Keane, M. and Yin Hong eds., Media in China: Consumption, Content, and Crisis. Curzon Press, 2001, 176-202).
Week Eight: Popular Music

19. Midterm

20. Music as Defiance

21. Quiz 5 and Discussion


de Kloet, Jeroen, "Popular Music and Youth in Urban China: The Dakou Generation" (In Class Notes: The China Quarterly 183 (Sept. 2005): 609-626).

Clark, Matthew Corbin, "Birth of a Beijing Music Scene" (in Class Notes: China in the Red website and at

Websites: 1. Guides to Chinese Music at 2. The Internet Chinese Music Archive at

Week Nine: Popular Arts

22. What is Contemporary Chinese Arts?

23. The Power of Visual Representation

24. Quiz 6 and Discussion


Flath, James A., “It's a Wonderful Life': Nianhua and Yuefenpai at the Dawn of the People's Republic" (in Class Notes: Modern Chinese Literature and Culture 16, 2 (Fan 2004): 123-59).

Adrews, Julia and Gao Minglu, "The Avant-garde's Challenge to Official Art (In Class Notes: In Debord S. Davis, et. Al., eds., Urban Spaces in Contemporary China: The Potential for Autonomy and Community in Post-Mao China). Cambridge UP, 1995, 221-78.

Websites: 1. Deco Orient at 2. Masterpieces of 20th Century Chinese Paintings at 3. New Chinese Arts at

Week Ten: Advertising

25. The Language of Advertising

26. Promoting Individualism?

27. Quiz 7 and Discussion


Cheng, Hong and Schweitzer, J. C., "Cultural Values Reflected in Chinese and U.S. Television Commercials" (In Class Notes: Journal of Advertising Research 36 (1996): 27-46).

Zhang, ling and Sharon Shavitt, "Cultural Values in Advertisements to the Chinese X -Generation: Promoting Modernity and Individualism" (In Class Notes: Journal of Advertising 32, 1 (2003): 23-33).

Websites: 1. China's Public Advertising Culture at 2. Contemporary Chinese Advertising at

Week Eleven: Culture of Consumption

28. To Get Rich is Patriotic

29. Fast Cars and Shopping Malls

30. Quiz 8 and Discussion


Chao, Linda and Ramon H. Meyers, "'China's Consumer Revolution: The 1990s and Beyond" (In Class Notes: Journal of Contemporary China 7 (18) (1998): 351-68).

Ferry, Megan, "Advertising, Consumerism and Nostalgia for the New Woman in Contemporary China" (In crass Notes: Continuum: Journal of Media and Cultural Studies 17, 3(2003): 277 -90).
Week Twelve: Sports and Leisure

31. Sports and Nationalism

32. In Search of Star Athletes

33. Quiz 9 and discussion


Brownell, Susan, "Making Dream Bodies in Beijing: Athletes, Fashion Models, and Urban Mystique in China" (In Class Notes: In Nancy Chen, et al, eds., China Urban: Ethnographies of Contemporary Culture. Durham: Duke UP, 2001).

Lu, Suping, "Nationalist Feelings and Sports" (In Class Notes: Journal of Contemporary China no. 22 (1999): 517-33).
Week Thirteen: Internet

34. Connected in the Chinese Way

35. Democracy and Regulation

36. Reaction Paper 3 and Discussion


Liu, Kang, pp. 127'-162.

Guo, Liang, "The Internet: China's Window to the World" (in Class Notes: YaleGobal Online (Nov. 18,20021 and at
Week Fourteen: Religion and Propriety

37. Discussion and Presentation of Research Paper

38. Religiosity and Spirituality

39. Everyday Ethics and Propriety; Research Paper Due


Lin, Perry, pp. l03-120 & 156-174.

King, Ambrose Yeo-chi, "Kuan-hsi and Network Building: A Sociological Interpretation" (In Class Notes: In Living Tree: The Changing Meaning of Being Chinese Today, ed. by Wei-Ming Tu, Stanford University Press, 1995, PP. 109-126).
Week Fifteen: Chinese Food

40. Philosophizing Food

41. Food and Rituals

42. Quiz 10, Discussion and Presentation.


Zha, Jianying, pp. 105-128.

Wu, David Y.H. and Sidney C. H. Cheung, "The Globalization of Chinese Food and Cuisine: Markers and Breakers of Cultural Barriers" (In Class Notes: The Globalization of Chinese Food and Cuisine, eds. by David Y.R. Wu and. Sidney. C. H. Cheung, University of Hawaii Press, 2002).
Week Sixteen: Tradition and Future

43. Tradition and Modernity

44. China Goes Global

45. Revised Research Paper Due.


Liu, Kang, pp. 23-45.

Watson, James, "The Renegotiation of Chinese Cultural Identity in the Post-Mao Era: An Anthropological Perspective" (in Class Notes: Perspectives on Modern China: Four Anniversaries, ea. by Kenneth Lieberthal, et at (1991), pp. 364-386).

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