Accueil > Communist China (1949-1976): the story of a dissident

DHIS 2055A - Communist China viewed from its cinema

Type d'enseignement : Elective

Semester : Spring 2017-2018

Number of hours : 24

Language of tuition : English


A basic knowledge of the history of XXth century China would be appreciated but not absolutely required if the readings are done well. No knowledge of Chinese language required.

Course Description

The purpose of this course is to study how the history of Communist China is told, revealed and questioned by some Chinese film productions (fiction and documentary, official or independant). We will focus on the moments of the Mao Era, between 1949 and 1976 from the Land Reform to the Cultural Revolution. The course will be divided in two parts: History and Memory. In the first part we will study the Mao era (1949-1976) and some of its films in order to understand how they can document the historical event of this time period. In a second part (Memory), we will study films made after that time period, from 1980 onward, but that have for background the 1949-1976 period. This will help us to reflect upon how history is told, by confronting the official history, the known facts, the memories of the witnesses and the narrative given by the films.


KERLAN, Anne (Chargé de recherche)

Course validation

1. Attendance and oral participation (20%) 2. One written paper (the subject will be given at the first class) (40%) 3. One oral presentation (20 minutes), the topic will be chosen with the teacher at the first course (40%)

Required reading

Cheek, Timothy, The Intellectual in Modern Chinese History, Cambridge University Press, 2015

Additional required reading

  • Fairbank, John King, Goldman, Merle, China : a new history, Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, 2006
  • Smith, Stephen Anthony (ed.), The Oxford handbook of the history of communism, Oxford University Press, 2014
  • Yang Xianhui. Woman from Shanghai: Tales of Survival from a Chinese Labor Camp. Édition: Rep Tra. New York: Anchor, 2010
  • Zhang, Yingjin. Chinese National Cinema. Routledge, 2004
  • Films :
  • Farewell my Concubine, Chen Kaige, 1992
  • To Live, Zhang Yimou, 1992
  • The Blue Kite, Tian Zhuanzhuang,1993