Cinema East and West

LIT 390S-4: Special Topic in Film: EuroAsian cinema

Instructors: Rey Chow and Roberto Dainotto (Office hours: By appointment)
Research Assistant: Jaeyeon Yoo
Teaching Assistant:
Time and Place: MW 10:15-11:30
Modes of Inquiry: (CCI) Cross Cultural Inquiry
Areas of Knowledge: (ALP) Arts, Literature & Performance; (CZ) Civilizations

Course Synopsis
This course is an introduction to intellectually stimulating cinematic works, discourses, and cultures of the post-Second World War period. With the recognition that Hollywood, like the United States of America, dominates postwar global interactions, we will focus instead on a number of classics and less well-known films from Italy, France, Japan, the People’s Republic of China, Hong Kong, and Taiwan as well as the U.S. Topics will include the aesthetic and ideological aspects of film—e.g., images, sounds, narratives, characters, spectatorship, commodification, and ethnographic appeal. We will also explore theoretical and philosophical discussions pertaining to film as perhaps the most powerful mode of mass communication in the twentieth century and beyond, with major effects on subsequent forms of visual media.


Week 1 (Jan. 5)

Introduction to the course


Week 2 (Jan. 10, 12)

Alain Resnais, Night and Fog (1959)

Alain Resnais, Hiroshima mon amour (1959)

Hebard, Andrew. “Disruptive Histories: Toward a Radical Politics of Remembrance in Alain Resnais’s Night and FogNew German Critique, Spring-Summer 1997, No. 71, pp. 87-113.


Anderst, Leah. “Cinematic Free Indirect Style: Represented Memory in Hiroshima mon amour,” Narrative 19.3 (2011): 358-82.


Week 3 (Jan. 17, 19)

Akira Kurosawa, Rashomon (1960)

Anderson, Robert. “What is the Rashomon effect?”, in Rashomon Effects: Kurosawa, Rashomon and Their Legacies, ed. Blair Davis, Robert Anderson, and Jan Walls. New York: Routledge, 2016, 66-85.


Richie, Donald. “Reflections on Rashomon, Kurosawa and the Japanese Audience,” in Rashomon Effects, 115-21.


Week 4 (Jan. 24, 26) Guest speaker: Pietro Bianchi on January 24

Akira Kurosawa, Yojimbo (1961)

Sergio Leone, For a Fistful of Dollars (1964)

Landy, Marcia. “‘Which Way is America?’: Americanism and the Italian Western.” boundary 2 23.1 (1996): 35-59.


Bianchi, Pietro. “Not So Quiet on the Western Front.” Death on the Run. Eds. Luisa Lorenza Corna, and John Cunningham. London: Sascha Editions, 2016. 202-15.


McClain, William. “Western, Go Home! Sergio Leone and the ‘Death of the Western’ in American Film Criticism.” Journal of Film and Radio, Spring-Summer 2010, Vol. 62, Issue 1-2, pp. 52-66.


Week 5 (Jan. 31, Feb. 2)

Michelangelo Antonioni, Chung Kuo Cina (1972)

Jia Zhangke, I Wish I Knew (2010)


Liu, Xin. “China’s Reception of Michelangelo Antonioni’s Chung Kuo.” Journal of Italian Cinema & Media Studies 2.1 (2014): 23-40.


Zheng, Aili. “The Realism of Compositional Documentary: Jia Zhangke’s ‘I Wish I Knew.’” Pacific Coast Philology, 2013, Vol. 48, No. 1, pp. 88-108.


Braester, Yomi. “The Spectral Return of Cinema: Globalization and Cinephilia in Contemporary Chinese Film.” Cinema Journal, Fall 2015, Vol. 55, No. 1, pp. 29-51.


Week 6 (Feb. 7, 9)

Robert Clouse, Enter the Dragon (1973)

Anderson, Crystal S. “Afro-Asian Cultural Production and the Rise of the Global Culture.” Beyond The Chinese Connection: Contemporary Afro-Asian Cultural Production. Univ. Press of Mississippi, 2013. 11-39.


Week 7 (Feb. 14, 16)

Nagisa Oshima, Merry Christmas, Mr. Lawrence (1983)

Excerpts from Cinema, Censorship, and the State: The Writings of Nagisa Oshima, 1956-1978. Ed. Annette Michelson. Massachusetts: MIT Press, 1992:

“Perspectives on the Japanese Film”; “To Critics, Mainly—From Future Artists”; “Beyond Endless Self-Negation: The Attitude of the New Filmmakers”; “What Is a Shot?”


Week 8 (Feb 21, 23)

Bernardo Bertolucci, The Last Emperor (1987)

Chow, Rey. “Seeing Modern China.” In Bowman, Paul. The Rey Chow Reader. New York: Columbia University Press, 2010, pp. 92-123.


Week 9 (Feb. 28, March 2)

Jean-Jacques Annaud, The Lover (1992)

Tran Anh Hung, The Scent of Green Papaya (1993)

Metzger, Sean. “Filmic Revisions of Vietnam and the MIAs (Male Indochinese Asexuals).” Quarterly Review of Film & Video, 2002, Vol. 19, pp. 107-121.


Chua, Lawrence and Tran Anh Hung. “Interview with Tran Anh Hung.” BOMB, Winter 1994, No. 46, pp. 6-8.


Week 10 (March 7, 9)

Spring Break


Week 11 (March 14, 16)

David Cronenberg, M. Butterfly (1993)

Chow, Rey. “The Dream of a Butterfly.” In Bowman, Paul. The Rey Chow Reader. New York: Columbia University Press, 2010, pp. 124-147.


Week 12 (March 21, 23)

Wong Kar-wai, Happy Together (1997)

Chow, Rey. “Nostalgia of the New Wave: Structure in Wong Kar-wai’s Happy Together.” Camera Obscura, 1999, Vol. 14, pp. 30-49.


Week 13 (March 28, 30)

Tsai Ming Liang, What Time Is It There? (2002)

Bachner, Andrea. “Cinema as Heterochronos: Temporal Folds in the Work of Tsai Ming-liang.” Modern Chinese Literature and Culture, Spring 2007, Vol. 19, No. 1, pp. 60-90.


Week 14 (April 4, 6)

Stanley Kwan, Centre Stage (1991)

Olivier Assayas, Irma Vep (1996);

Wang, Yiman. “The Palimpsest Body and the S(h)ifting Border: On Maggie Cheung’s Two Crossover Films.” positions, Fall 2021, Vol. 20, Issue 4, pp. 953-977.


DeLellis, Trae. “Copycat, Copycat: The Anxiety of Influence in Irma Vep.” French Literature Series, 2010, Vol. 37, pp. 141-155.


Week 15 (April 11, 13)

Olivier Assayas, Clean (2004)

Egan, David. “Coming Clean.” Film Journal International, May 2006: 24, 27.


Clarke, Roger. “Clean.” Sight and Sound 15.7 (2005): 44.


Romney, Jonathan. “Less Than Zero.” Sight and Sound 15.7 (2005): 30-33.


Week 16 (April 18, 20)







  • Regular attendance and participation in class discussions: 30% of the final grade
  • Group collaboration and oral presentation: 30% of the final grade
  • Final essay: 40% of the final grade



Attendance and participation. Students are expected to read the material assigned; watch at least once the movies required; reflect on particular scenes in relation to the relevant critical texts; attend and participate actively in class sessions. More than 3 unexplained absences from class will have an impact on your final grade.


Group collaboration and oral presentation. Beginning in the 9th week, groups of 2-3 class participants will take turns to make an oral presentation on one or two films assigned in relation to the relevant critical texts (and additional research if necessary). Each group should meet, discuss ideas, and prepare for the oral presentation in the weeks prior to the presentation.


Final essay. The essay should be 10-15 pages, double-spaced, discussing at least 2 films, with reference to relevant arguments in 2-3 critical essays we have read together (and additional material if necessary). A list of suggested essay topics will be provided around Spring Break.