Timetable information in the Course Catalogue may be subject to change.

University Homepage
DRPS Homepage
DRPS Search
DRPS Contact
DRPS : Course Catalogue : School of Literatures, Languages and Cultures : Asian Studies

Postgraduate Course: Media and Visual Culture in Modern China (ASST11106)

Course Outline
SchoolSchool of Literatures, Languages and Cultures CollegeCollege of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences
Credit level (Normal year taken)SCQF Level 11 (Postgraduate) AvailabilityNot available to visiting students
SCQF Credits20 ECTS Credits10
SummaryThis course examines print media and visual culture in modern China (1880-1949), as well as the ways in which they interacted with political, social and cultural transformations. Late Qing and Republican China witnessed a flourishing of visual culture thanks to the rapid development of print media (newspapers, pictorials, and film magazines, etc), photography, and cinema. This rich repertoire of visual sources offers valuable insights into the dynamics of societal change in China's modern history. This course explores a number of important visual genres (cartoon, calendar poster, photography, film, and woodcut) as well as individual periodicals. Visual methodologies will be introduced to conduct in-depth analysis of the visual sources. At the same time, a number of themes will be discussed throughout the course, including modernity, nationalism, gender, propaganda, and urbanisation. Students will be required to give presentations, using particular visual methodologies to analyse assigned primary visual materials, with an engagement with assigned secondary literature. The main goal of this course is to enhance students' research skills in dealing with primary sources, and to gain a deeper understanding of the specialised field of media and visuality in modern China.
Course description The themes covered by this course include The Dianshizhai Pictorial (1884-1898); political cartoons in the late Qing and early Republican era; calendar posters (yuefenpai) and advertising; photography; Liangyou (The Young Companion) and pictorials in the 1920s and 1930s; cartoon art and urban culture in the 1930s; film culture; wartime propaganda art (1937-1945); and woodcuts and communist propaganda. This course will address the following key questions: What are the main visual features of the particular genre/media? What are the ways in which meanings are constructed? How do the images represent gender? What are the roles of these visual sources in China's burgeoning urban commercial culture and modernisation? In what ways does Chineseness manifest itself in these imported visual genres? What is the relationship between technologies and the visibility of China's modern "objects" in various forms? How do the images address national issues of the time?

The course will be taught via synchronous seminars and asynchronous activities. Students are required to read assigned readings from primary and secondary sources. For each session, one or two students will give a presentation on the theme of the week and receive written feedback from the lecturer. The presentation will be assessed as 20% of the final mark. Discussions of visual sources will be guided by a set of questions and undertaken in small groups asynchronously; discussion summary will be presented in the following seminar. Class participation will be assessed as 20% of the final mark. Students will submit a 4,000 word essay (60% of the final mark) at the end of the course.
Entry Requirements (not applicable to Visiting Students)
Pre-requisites Co-requisites
Prohibited Combinations Other requirements None
Course Delivery Information
Not being delivered
Learning Outcomes
On completion of this course, the student will be able to:
  1. master detailed knowledge about the specialised field of media and visual culture in late Qing and Republican China
  2. demonstrate a critical understanding of secondary literature on the subject, as well as the principal theories and methodologies on visual culture
  3. analyse visual materials through the use of recognised visual methodologies
  4. display skills in using databases and other online tools to locate source materials in the field
  5. undertake autonomous research and effectively communicate arguments in a range of oral and written forms.
Reading List
Secondary sources:
Bevan, Paul. A Modern Miscellany: Shanghai Cartoon Artists, Shao Xunmei's Circle and the Travels of Jack Chen, 1926-1938. Leiden: Brill, 2015.
Brown, Shana J. "Sha Fei, the Jin-Cha-Ji Pictorial, and the Documentary Style of Chinese Wartime Photojournalism." In History in Images: Pictures and Public Space in Modern China, edited by Henriot, Christian, and Wen-Hsin Yeh. Berkeley: Institute of East Asian Studies, University of California, 2012.
Dal Lago, Francesca. "Crossed Legs in 1930s Shanghai: How 'Modern' the Modern Woman?" East Asian History, no. 19 (2000): 103-44.
Edwards, Louise. "Drawing Sexual Violence in Wartime China: Anti-Japanese Propaganda Cartoons." The Journal of Asian Studies 72.3 (2013): 563-86.
FitzGerald, Carolyn. Fragmenting Modernisms: Chinese Wartime Literature, Art, and Film, 1937-49. Leiden: Brill, 2013, Chapter 2 "Intercrossings between cartoon and national art: Ye Qianyu's search for the sinicized cartoon"
Gu, Yi. "What's in a Name? Photography and the Reinvention of Visual Truth in China, 1840-1911." The Art Bulletin 95, no. 1 (2013): 120-38.
Henningsmeier, Julia. "The Foreign Sources of Dianshizhai Huabao, A Nineteenth Century Shanghai Illustrated Magazine." Ming Qing Yanjiu 7, no. 1 (1998): 59-91.
Hogge, David. "The Empress Dowager and the Camera: Photographing Cixi, 1903-1904."
Hung, Changtai. "War and Peace in Feng Zikai's Wartime Cartoons." Modern China 16, no. 1 (1990): 39-83.
Hung, Changtai. War and Popular Culture: Resistance in Modern China, 1937-1945. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1994.
Hung, Chang Tai. "Two Images of Socialism: Woodcuts in Chinese Communist Politics."
Comparative Studies in Society and History 39 (1997): 34-60.
Judge, Joan. Republican Lens: Gender, Visuality, and Experience in the Early Chinese Periodical Press. Oakland: University of California Press, 2016.
Kim, Nanny. "New Wine in Old Bottles? Making and Reading an Illustrated Magazine from Late Nineteenth-Century Shanghai." In Joining the Global Public, 175-200.
Laing, Ellen Johnston. "Picturing Men and Women in the Chinese 1911 Revolution." Nan Nü 15, no. 2 (2013): 265-316.
Laing, Ellen Johnston. Selling Happiness: Calendar Posters and Visual Culture in Early-twentieth-century Shanghai. Honolulu: University of Hawai'i Press, 2004.
Laing, Ellen Johnston. "Shanghai Manhua, the Neo-Sensationist School of Literature, and Scenes of Urban Life", MCLC Resource Center Publication (Copyright October 2010)
Lent, John A. Illustrating Asia: Comics, Humor Magazines, and Picture Books. Honolulu: University of Hawai'i Press, 2001.
Mittler, Barbara. A Newspaper for China: Power, Identity and Change in Shanghai's News Media, 1872-1912. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2004.
Mittler, Barbara. "In spite of gentility: women and men in Linglong (Elegance), a 1930s women's magazine." In The Quest for Gentility in China: Negotiations beyond Gender and Class, edited by Berg, Daria, and Chloe Starr. London ; New York: Routledge, 2007.
Pang, Laikwan. "The Pictorial Turn: Realism, Modernity and China's Print Culture in the Late Nineteenth Century." Visual Studies 20, no. 1 (2005): 16-36.
Pang, Laikwan. The Distorting Mirror: Visual Modernity in China. Honolulu: University of
Hawai'i Press 2007.
Pickowicz, Paul and Kuiyi Shen and Yingjin Zhang, eds. Liangyou: Kaleidoscopic Modernity and the Shanghai Global Metropolis, 1926- 1945. Leiden: Brill, 2013.
Rea, Christopher G. The Age of Irreverence: A New History of Laughter in China. Oakland, California : University of California Press, 2016.
Reed, Christopher A. "Re/Collecting the Sources: Shanghai's Dianshizhai Pictorial and Its Place in Historical Memories, 1884-1949." Modern Chinese Literature and Culture 12, no. 2 (2000): 44-71.
Reed, Christopher A. Gutenberg in Shanghai: Chinese Print Capitalism, 1876-1937. Vancouver, BC: UBC Press, 2004.
Judge, Joan. Print and Politics: 'Shibao' and the Culture of Reform in Late Qing China. Stanford, Calif.: Stanford University Press, 1996.
Rose, Gillian. Visual Methodologies: An Introduction to the Interpretation of Visual Materials. London: Sage, 2001. Online access.
Sturken, Marita, and Cartwright, Lisa. Practices of Looking: An Introduction to Visual Culture an Introduction to Visual Culture. New York: Oxford University Press, 2009.
Taylor, Jeremy E. "Cartoons and Collaboration in Wartime China." Modern China 41, no. 4 (2015): 406-35.
Tsai, Weipin. "Having it all: patriotism and gracious living in Shenbao's tobacco advertisements, 1919 to 1937." In Creating Chinese Modernity: Knowledge and Everyday Life, 1900-1940, edited by Zarrow, Peter Gue, 116-145. New York ; Oxford: Peter Lang, 2006.
Van Leeuwen, Theo and Carey Jewitt. The Handbook of Visual Analysis. London: SAGE Publications Ltd, 2004. Online access.
Waara, Carrie. "The bare truth: nudes, sex, and the modernization project in Shanghai pictorials." In Visual Culture in Shanghai 1850s-1930s, edited by Kuo, Jason C. 241-278. Washington, D.C.: New Academia Publishing, 2007.
Wagner, Rudolf. "Joining the Global Imaginaire: The Shanghai Illustrated Newspaper Dianshizhai huabao." In Joining the Global Public: Word, Image, and City in Early Chinese Newspapers, 1870- 1910, edited by Wagner, Rudolf G, 105-173. Albany, N.Y: State University of New York Press, 2007.
Wasserstrom, Jeffrey and Rebecca Nedostup. "Shanghai's Lens on the New(s): Dianshizhai Pictorial (1884-1898)"
Wu, I-wei. "Illustrating Humor: Political Cartoons on Late Qing Constitutionalism." In Not Just a Laughing Matter: Interdisciplinary Approaches to Political Humor in China, edited by Tam, King-fai, and Sharon R. Wesoky, 15-37. Singapore: Springer, 2018.
Wue, Roberta. "Essentially Chinese: The Chinese Portrait Subject in Nineteenth-Century Photography." In Body and Face in Chinese Visual Culture, edited by Hung Wu and Katherine R. Tsiang. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Asia Center, 2005.
Wue, Roberta. "China in the World: On Photography, Montages, and the Magic Lantern." History of Photography 41, no. 2 (2017): 171-87.
Ye, Xiaoqing. The Dianshizhai Pictorial: Shanghai Urban Life, 1884-1898. Ann Arbor: Center for Chinese Studies, the University of Michigan, 2003.
Yeh, Catherine. "China, a Man in the Guise of an Upright Female: Photography, the Art of the Hands, and Mei Lanfang's 1930 Visit to the United States." In History in Images: Pictures and Public Space in Modern China, edited by Henriot, Christian, and Wen-Hsin Yeh. Berkeley: Institute of East Asian Studies, University of California, 2012.
Zhang, Shaoqian. Visualizing the New Republic: Pictorial Construction of the Modern
Chinese Citizen (1895-1937) [PhD Dissertation], Northwestern University, ProQuest Dissertations Publishing, 2012.
Zhang, Zhen. "Teahouse, Shadowplay, Bricolage: Laborer's Love and the Question of Early Chinese Cinema." in Zhang, Yingjin, ed. Cinema and Urban Culture in Shanghai, 1922-1943. Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1999, pp. 27-50.

Primary sources:
The Dianshizhai Pictorial
The True Record Illustrated Magazine (Zhenxiang huabao)
Wu, Hao. Chinese Woman and Modernity: Calendar Posters of the 1910s-1930s. Hong Kong: Joint Pub. (H.K.), 1996.
The Women's Eastern Times (Funü shibao)
The Young Companion (Liangyou)
Modern Sketch (Shidai manhua)
Labourer's Love (Laogong zhi aiqing, 1922, Dir. Zhang Shichuan)
War of Resistance Cartoons (Kangzhan manhua)
Gu Yuan. 1952. Gu Yuan muke xuanji (Selected Woodcuts of Gu Yuan). Beijing: Renmin meishu chubanshe.
Additional Information
Graduate Attributes and Skills As an outcome of having studied this course, students will benefit from having developed a range of personal and professional skills commensurate with the range of SCQF Level 11 characteristics:
Knowledge and Understanding: students will have had the opportunity to demonstrate their critical understanding of detailed knowledge of the specialised field, as well as a range of theories and methodologies regarding visual culture;
Applied Knowledge, Skills and Understanding: in their work for class discussion, presentations and formal assessment tasks, students will have been able to practice the application of these theories and methodologies in their construction of arguments about the course material, and to further apply learned skills to planning a significant project of research;
Generic Cognitive Skills: in completing assessed essays and class presentations, students will have practiced identifying, conceptualising and offering original insights into complex problems and issues germane to the discipline, and to further develop original and creative responses to problems and issues;
Communication: through participating in these tasks students will also have demonstrated the ability to communicate ideas and information about specialised topics in the discipline to an informed audience of their peers and subject specialists;
Autonomy and Working with Others: students will also have shown the capacity to work autonomously and in small groups on designated tasks, develop new thinking with their peers, and demonstrate leadership and/or initiative.
Keywordsmedia,visual culture,modern China
Course organiserDr Xuelei Huang
Tel: (0131 6)50 8985
Course secretaryMr Callum Lennie
Help & Information
Search DPTs and Courses
Degree Programmes
Browse DPTs
Humanities and Social Science
Science and Engineering
Medicine and Veterinary Medicine
Other Information
Combined Course Timetable
Important Information