SOAS University of London

Department of East Asian Languages and Cultures

Chinese Cinema (UG)

Module Code:
FHEQ Level:
Year of study:
Year 2, Year 3 of 3 or Year 4
Taught in:
Term 2

The module is designed to offer a critical overview of Chinese cinema, and its progression from the beginning to the present day. It will be looking at how actors and directors are involved in the industry.

Objectives and learning outcomes of the module

On successful completion of this module a student will be able to:

  • Demonstrate a clear and critical knowledge about the discourses present in Chinese cinema

  • Demonstrate a knowledge about Chinese directors and actors

  • Demonstrate ability to critically analyse key concepts of cinema: genre, national cinema, narrative cinema using the Chinese context as a model

  • Apply the theoretical concepts from the core texts to Chinese cinema in an articulate and critical manner

  • Express and defend positions about cinema both orally and in writing

  • Develop their own particular research interests independently


Total taught hours: 20 hours. 2 hours of lectures per week for 10 weeks.

Independent study: 130 hours

Total hours for module: 150 hours

Scope and syllabus

The syllabus will include a focus on directors and actors active in China and topics prevalent in the wider East Asian region. It will similarly introduce some of the core texts and films in relation to Chinese cinema.

Method of assessment

  • Reaction paper (800 words) 25%
  • Essay (2500 words) 75%

Suggested reading

Core Reading

  • Ciecko, Anne Tereska. (2006) Contemporary Asian Cinema. New York: Berg
  • Hunt, Leon and Leung Wing-Fai, ed. (2003) East Asian Cinemas. New York: I.B. Tauris, 2008.
  • Martin, Fran. “The European Undead: Tsai Ming-liang’s Temporal Dysphoria.” Senses of Cinema, No. 27.
  • Berry, Chris, Lu Xinyu and Lisa Rofel (2010). The New Chinese Documentary Film Movement: For the Public Record.
  • Berry, Chris, ed (2008). Chinese Films in Focus II..
  • Wang, Yiman. (2008) “The ‘transnational’ as methodology: transnationalizing Chinese film studies through the example of The Love Parade and its Chinese remakes.” Journal of Chinese Cinemas, Vol. 2, No. 1
  • Berry, Chris and Mary Farquhar (2006). China on Screen: Cinema and Nation.
  • Zhang, Zhen, ed (2007). The Urban Generation: Chinese Cinema and Society at the Turn of the Twenty-First Century.
  • Braester, Yomi (2010). Painting the City Red: Chinese Cinema and the Urban Contract.
  • Chow, Rey (2007). Sentimental Fabulations, Contemporary Chinese Films: Attachment in the Age of Global Visibility.
  • Beijing Olympics 2008 Opening Ceremony, dir. Zhang Yimou, 2008.

Additional Reading

  • Zhang, Zhen. (2007) “Bearing Witness: Chinese Urban Cinema in the Era of “Transformation.” The Urban Generation: Chinese cinema and society at the turn of the Twenty-first century. Ed. Zhang Zhen. Durham: Duke University Press
  • Zhang, Yingjin. (2002) “Chinese Cinema and Transnational Cultural Politics: Reflections on Film Festivals, Film Productions, and Film Studies.” Screening China: Critical Interventions, Cinematic Reconfigurations, and the Transnational Imaginary in Contemporary Chinese Cinema. Ann Arbor, MI: Center for Chinese Studies.
  • Yeh, Emilie Yueh-yu. (2008) “Re-nationalizing China’s film industry: case study on the China Film Group and film marketization.” Journal of Chinese Cinemas, Vol. 2, No. 1. p37-51.


Important notice regarding changes to programmes and modules