New Book Series on Chinese Cinema
“Critical Interventions” edited by Sheldon Lu is the latest series from University of Hawaii Press that aims at building a list of innovative, cutting-edge works with a focus on Asia or the presence of Asia in other continents and regions. Manuscripts and proposals exploring a wide range of issues and topics in the modern and contemporary periods are welcome, especially those dealing with literature, cinema, art, theater, media, cultural theory, and intellectual history, as well as subjects that cross disciplinary boundaries. The scholarship should combine solid research with an imaginative approach, theoretical sophistication, and stylistic lucidity.
The following two titles are released and available:
by Xiaoping Lin
Children of Marx and Coca-Cola affords a deep study of Chinese avant-garde art and independent cinema from the mid-1990s to the beginning of the twenty-first century. Informed by the author’s experience in Beijing and New York – global cities with extensive access to an emergent transnational Chinese visual culture – this work situates selected artworks and films in the context of Chinese nationalism and post-socialism and against the background of the capitalist globalization that has so radically affected contemporary China. It juxtaposes and compares artists and independent filmmakers from a number of intertwined perspectives, particularly in their shared avant-garde postures and perceptions. Xiaoping Lin provides illuminating close readings of a variety of visual texts and artistic practices, including installation, performance, painting, photography, video, and film. Throughout he sustains a theoretical discussion of representative artworks and films and succeeds in delineating a variegated postsocialist cultural landscape saturated by market forces, confused values, and lost faith. This refreshing approach is due to Lin’s ability to tackle both Chinese art and cinema rigorously within a shared discursive space. He, for example, aptly conceptualizes a central thematic concern in both genres as “postsocialist trauma” aggravated by capitalist globalization. By thus focusing exclusively on the two parallel and often intersecting movements or phenomena in the visual arts, his work brings about a fruitful dialogue between the narrow field of traditional art history and visual studies more generally.
Children of Marx and Coca-Cola will be a major contribution to China studies, art history, film studies, and cultural studies. Multiple audiences – specialists, teachers, and students in these disciplines, as well as general readers with an interest in contemporary Chinese society and culture – will find that this work fulfills an urgent need for sophisticated analysis of China’s cultural production as it assumes a key role in capitalist globalization.
Xiaoping Lin is associate professor in the Department of Art, Queens College, the City University of New York.
by Yingjin Zhang
In this milestone work, prominent China film scholar Yingjin Zhang proposes “polylocality” as a new conceptual framework for investigating the shifting spaces of contemporary Chinese cinema in the age of globalization. Questioning the national cinema paradigm, Zhang calls for comparative studies of underdeveloped areas beyond the imperative of transnationalism.
The book begins by addressing theories and practices related to space, place, and polylocality in contemporary China before focusing on the space of scholarship and urging scholars to move beyond the current paradigm and explore transnational and comparative film studies. This is followed by a chapter that concentrates on the space of production and surveys the changing landscape of postsocialist filmmaking and the transformation of China’s urban generation of directors. Next is an examination of the space of polylocality and the cinematic mappings of Beijing and a persistent “reel” contact with polylocality in hinterland China. In the fifth chapter Zhang explores the space of subjectivity in independent film and video and contextualizes experiments by young directors with various documentary styles. Chapter 6 calls attention to the space of performance and addresses issues of media and mediation by way of two kinds of playing: the first with documentary as troubling information, the second with piracy as creative intervention. The concluding chapter offers an overview of Chinese cinema in the new century and provides production and reception statistics.
Combining inspired critical insights, original observations, and new information, Cinema, Space, and Polylocality in a Globalizing China is a significant work on current Chinese film and a must-read for film scholars and anyone seriously interested in cinema more generally or contemporary Chinese culture.
Yingjin Zhang is director of the Chinese Studies Program and professor of Chinese comparative literature, and cultural studies at the University of California, San Diego. He is the author of seven academic books in English.