Film Seminar on China's Socialist Satires
On June 9, Associate Professor Wang Yiman from the University of California, Santa Cruz delivered an engaging and insightful seminar entitled “The Animal and the Animalistic in China’s Late 1950s Socialist Cinematic Satires”.
Hosted by the Confucius Institute at UNSW and the Chinese Studies Program at the UNSW School of Humanities and Languages, the event began with a screening of A Nightmare in the Zoo (1956) to an attentive audience of students, professors and interested locals. The film which stars renowned Chinese comic performer Hou Baolin was then analysed alongside the socialist satire An Unfinished Comedy (1957), as Wang explored how these two comedies cautiously navigated the highly scrutinised zone of laughter under the new socialist order in which they were made.
Through a theoretical lens, Wang illuminated the complex relationship between human and animal characters in the films, and examined the constantly shifting terrains of the “new” and the “old”, humanity and animality, hospitality (a la Derrida), abjection, and the collapsing of these binaries.
Assoc. Professor Wang’s in-depth analysis prompted lively discussion and debate during the follow-up Q&A, as audience members not only put forward interesting questions of their own, but also thoughtfully engaged with one another and Wang in discussing the topic.
In prompting such a high level of stimulating and learned debate, Confucius Institute events like these greatly help to encourage deeper understanding and appreciation of Chinese culture within both the scholarly and wider community.
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