Sentimental Fabulations, Contemporary Chinese Films: Attachment in the Age of Global Visibility

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Columbia University Press, Jun 19, 2012 - Performing Arts - 304 pages
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What is the sentimental? How can we understand it by way of the visual and narrative modes of signification specific to cinema and through the manners of social interaction and collective imagining specific to a particular culture in transition? What can the sentimental tell us about the precarious foundations of human coexistence in this age of globalization?

Rey Chow explores these questions through nine contemporary Chinese directors (Chen Kaige, Wong Kar-wai, Zhang Yimou, Ann Hui, Peter Chan, Wayne Wang, Ang Lee, Li Yang, and Tsai Ming-liang) whose accomplishments have become historic events in world cinema. Approaching their works from multiple perspectives, including the question of origins, nostalgia, the everyday, feminine "psychic interiority," commodification, biopolitics, migration, education, homosexuality, kinship, and incest, and concluding with an account of the Chinese films' epistemic affinity with the Hollywood blockbuster Brokeback Mountain, Chow proposes that the sentimental is a discursive constellation traversing affect, time, identity, and social mores, a constellation whose contours tends to morph under different historical circumstances and in different genres and media. In contemporary Chinese films, she argues, the sentimental consistently takes the form not of revolution but of compromise, not of radical departure but of moderation, endurance, and accommodation. By naming these films sentimental fabulations& mdash;screen artifacts of cultural becoming with irreducible aesthetic, conceptual, and speculative logics of their own& mdash;Chow presents Chinese cinema first and foremost as an invitation to the pleasures and challenges of critical thinking.


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Sentimental fabulations, contemporary Chinese films: attachment in the age of global visibility

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In her latest study of contemporary Chinese cinema, which encompasses films from China, Hong Kong, Taiwan, and the United States, Chow (Primitive Passions: Visuality, Sexuality, Ethnography, and ... Read full review


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About the author (2012)

Rey Chow is Andrew W. Mellon Professor of the Humanities at Brown University where she holds appointments in comparative literature, English, and modern culture and media. The books she has authored since 1991 include Woman and Chinese Modernity, Writing Diaspora, Primitive Passions, Ethics After Idealism, The Protestant Ethnic and the Spirit of Capitalism, and The Age of the World Target.

Rey Chow is the Andrew W. Mellon Professor of the Humanities in the Department of Comparative Literature at Brown University. She is the author of Woman and Chinese Modernity (Minnesota, 1991), Writing Diaspora (Indiana, 1993), Primitive Passions (Columbia, 1995), Ethics After Idealism (Indiana, 1998), and The Protestant Ethnic and the Spirit of Capitalism (CUP, 2002).

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