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Study information

China through the Lens: Cultural Translation and Self-Presentation

Module titleChina through the Lens: Cultural Translation and Self-Presentation
Module codeMLM3009
Academic year2023/4
Module staff

Dr Yanling Yang (Convenor)

Duration: Term123
Duration: Weeks


Module description

This module explores how film defines and shapes our understanding of Chinese history and culture. With examples of films from different periods and locations (including, for example, mainland China, Taiwan and Hong Kong), it examines a range of issues related to Chinese politics, cultural heritage, gender and sexuality, modernisation, urbanisation and environmental concerns. This module will allow students to expand their critical understanding of Chinese culture while reflecting on how it is (re)mediated through the moving image.

All films screened in this module have been dubbed or subtitled in English; therefore, knowledge of Chinese language is not required.

Module aims - intentions of the module

The aim of this module is to:

  • Develop students’ understanding of the role of Chinese film and media in the construction and mediation of Chinese identity
  • Combine approaches from film, anthropology, history and cultural studies to explore aspects of cultural translation as performed by Chinese cinema since the revolutionary period
  • Analyse aspects of Chinese culture as mediated through film, allowing students to reflect on the ways by which film represents Chinese culture to both a domestic and international audience

The module is suitable for students of film and students of Chinese studies, and may be of interest for students on a wider range of humanities programmes.

Intended Learning Outcomes (ILOs)

ILO: Module-specific skills

On successfully completing the module you will be able to...

  • 1. Analyse case studies of Chinese film with reference to their reception scholarship in the field and wider issues of cultural translation
  • 2. Demonstrate general knowledge of the debates surrounding Chinese film
  • 3. Analyse the effects of film on understanding of Chinese culture and history

ILO: Discipline-specific skills

On successfully completing the module you will be able to...

  • 4. Demonstrate a knowledge of film as a tool of representation and interpretation
  • 5. Draw on interdisciplinary scholarship

ILO: Personal and key skills

On successfully completing the module you will be able to...

  • 6. Negotiate individual assessment tasks and/or topics with course tutor, identifying own areas of strength and interest
  • 7. Assimilate, select and organise material in order to produce, to a deadline, a written or oral argument

Syllabus plan

Whilst the content may vary from year to year, it is envisioned that it will cover some or all of the following topics:

  • Cultural translation, film and (self-) representation
  • Revisiting Chinese history: film as representation and source material
  • Ku’er boys and girls: (homo)sexuality in Chinese cinema
  • Chinese cultural heritage on screen and international audiences Opening up: the nouveaux riches and middlebrow cinema in China -
  • Politics on screen: propaganda and soft power  

Learning activities and teaching methods (given in hours of study time)

Scheduled Learning and Teaching ActivitiesGuided independent studyPlacement / study abroad

Details of learning activities and teaching methods

CategoryHours of study timeDescription
Scheduled Learning and Teaching1510 x 1.5 hour seminars
Scheduled Learning and Teaching11 x 1 hour conclusion
Scheduled Learning and Teaching105 x 2 hour film-screenings
Guided Independent Study124Private study and preparation

Formative assessment

Form of assessmentSize of the assessment (eg length / duration)ILOs assessedFeedback method
Essay proposal750 words1-7Written and oral feedback

Summative assessment (% of credit)

CourseworkWritten examsPractical exams

Details of summative assessment

Form of assessment% of creditSize of the assessment (eg length / duration)ILOs assessedFeedback method
Essay1003000 words1-7Written feedback

Details of re-assessment (where required by referral or deferral)

Original form of assessmentForm of re-assessmentILOs re-assessedTimescale for re-assessment
EssayEssay1-7Referral/Deferral period

Re-assessment notes

Deferral – if you miss an assessment for certificated reasons judged acceptable by the Mitigation Committee, you will normally be either deferred in the assessment or an extension may be granted. The mark given for a re-assessment taken as a result of deferral will not be capped and will be treated as it would be if it were your first attempt at the assessment.

Referral – if you have failed the module overall (i.e. a final overall module mark of less than 40%) you will be required to submit a further assessment as necessary. If you are successful on referral, your overall module mark will be capped at 40%.

Indicative learning resources - Basic reading

  • Berry, Chris, and Mary Farquhar (2006) China on Screen: Cinema and Nation. New York: Columbia UP.
  • Chow, Rey (1995) Primitive Passions: Visuality, Sexuality, Ethnography, and Contemporary Chinese Cinema . New York: Columbia UP.
  • Clifford, James (1997) Routes: Travel and Translation in the Late Twentieth Century. Cambridge, MA: Harvard UP.
  • Ho, Wing Shan (2015) Screening post-1989 China: critical analysis of Chinese film and television . Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan.
  • Lim, Song Hwee, and Julian Ward (eds) (2011) The Chinese Cinema Book. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan.
  • Silbergeld, Jerome (1999) China into Film: Frames of Reference in Contemporary Chinese Cinema. London: Reaktion.

Indicative learning resources - Web based and electronic resources

Key words search

Film, China, translation, media, cultural studies

Credit value15
Module ECTS


Module pre-requisites


Module co-requisites


NQF level (module)


Available as distance learning?


Origin date


Last revision date