This course introduces major works, genres, and waves of East Asian cinema from the silent era to the present, including films from Mainland China, Japan, Korea, Taiwan, and Hong Kong. We will discuss issues ranging from formal aesthetics to historical representation, from local film industries to transnational audience reception.This course does not assume prior knowledge of East Asian culture or of film studies, but rather seeks to provide students with a basic understanding of modern East Asian cultural history through cinema, and with an essential toolkit for analyzing film and media, including narrative, cinematography, editing and sound. In addition to critical approaches, students are strongly encouraged to creatively respond to course materials by collaborating on their own short films, beginning with the illustration of film terms in the first two weeks and culminating in the “Golden Monkey Awards”—a class screening of final projects with Oscar-like awards in various categories.
As a General Education course, East Asian Cinema will help students develop aesthetic responsiveness and interpretive ability to moving images in an increasingly media-saturated world. While becoming acquainted with some analytical vocabulary and critical approaches to cinema, students will also gain insights into East Asian cultures and histories, aesthetic traditions and ethical values, as well as the politics and economics that went into the films’ production and reception. Above all, the course will encourage students to be creative and enterprising with the digital media technologies at our disposal, to engage in collaborative teamwork and experiment with unorthodox ways of looking at the world through amateur filmmaking.