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Rekindling Filiality in the Aftermath of the Cultural Revolution

Rekindling Filiality in the Aftermath of the Cultural Revolution
130 St. George Street, Robarts Library 14th Floor, EAS Purple Lounge
Time: Oct 3rd, 2:00 pm End: Oct 3rd, 4:00 pm
Interest Categories: Women/Gender, Sociology (FAS), Ethnography, East Asian Studies (FAS), Diaspora/Transnational, Cinema, Anthropology (UTSC), Anthropology (UTM), Anthropology (FAS), 1950-2000, 1900-1950
Lecture by Christopher Lupke, Chinese & Cinema Studies, Washington State University

The Department of East Asian Studies is pleased to present:

Christopher Lupke, Chinese and Cinema Studies, Washington State University

Rekindling Filiality in the Aftermath of the Cultural Revolution

Abstract: The Confucian notion of filiality (孝 xiao) is one of the fundamental building blocks of traditional Chinese philosophical discourse, social practice and subject formation. In the early 20th century it was subjected to a radical critique by the intellectual iconoclasts who fueled China’s transformation into the modern era. The central question of this paper is how has the tattered notion of filiality survived through to the contemporary era in Chinese visual representation? My discussion will primarily focus on Zhang Yang’s 2004 film Sunflower, which narrates the relationship between a father and son after the former returns from seven years in a labor camp during the Cultural Revolution. Can the two rebuild their relationship? What was the impact of Maoism on it? How will the artist father seek meaning in life after his hands have been destroyed during his detention? Will the son be able to establish his own, independent identity in the age of entrepreneurship and individualism? What is most remarkable about cinematic and literary representations of intergenerational relations in China today is that despite over one hundred years of attack, the powerful notion of filiality refuses to die. It has, of course, transformed with the enormous social and political changes in China. It is not what it used to be, but it is still there. Sunflower is a vivid testimony to both the resiliency of filiality and an exposition of its fragility in contemporary China.

Christopher Lupke is Professor of Chinese and Cinema Studies at Washington State University and this year is the Fulbright Visiting Research Chair at the University of Calgary. His research includes work on writers from Taiwan such as Wang Wenxing, Bai Xianyong, Huang Chunming, Chen Yingzhen and others. He has edited two volumes, one on the Chinese notion of “ming” (command, lifespan, fate) and one on contemporary Chinese poetry. His book on Hou Hsiao- hsien, an auteur filmmaker from Taiwan, is forthcoming from Cambria Press. Currently, he is working on a book on filiality in modern and contemporary Chinese literature and cinema.

This talk is free and open to all.  For further information, please contact the Department of East Asian Studies at (416) 978-7260.

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