Performance and the Politics of Gender

The China Through the Lens Film Series explored the history and art of Chinese cinema in different periods and geopolitical locations. All film screenings were complimented by lectures featuring prominent film scholars who will offer criticism and analysis. This series featured early Chinese cinema, Chinese film music across mainland China, Hong Kong and Taiwan, and contemporary Chinese independent cinema.  This series was part of EAST 1270: China Through the Lens.

Performance and the Politics of Gender: Transgender Performance in Contemporary Chinese Film

Film Screening
"Forever Enthralled"
December 1
6:00- 8:00 PM
Joukowsky Forum, Watson Institute
111 Thayer Street

Chengzhou He
Nanjing University, China

Lecture: Performance and the Politics of Gender: Transgender Performance in Contemporary Chinese Film
December 2
3:00-4:30 PM
Granoff Center for the Creative Arts, Englander Studio
154 Angell Street

This lecture focused on two different genres of gender transitivity or impersonation. First, male actors who impersonate female characters, and second, women who dress as men for the sake of transgressing into the public sphere that had traditionally been forbidden for women. The two Chinese films used to examine male impersonations of female characters are Farewell My Concubine (Bawang Bieji 1993) and Forever Enthralled (Mei Lanfang 2009). Both films are based on the historical practice of dan in Peking Opera. The main example of women dressing as men is Hua Mulan (2009), a live action movie based on a Chinese legend of a female warrior who disguises herself as a man to replace her father in the military service. Based on a close reading of the transgender performance in these Chinese films, the lecture examined the politics of gender and sexuality in the shifting contexts of Chinese nationalism.

To view the full video of this lecture please visit Brown University on YouTube