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DRPS : Course Catalogue : School of Literatures, Languages and Cultures : Asian Studies

Undergraduate Course: The Politics of Culture in Modern China (ASST10161)

Course Outline
SchoolSchool of Literatures, Languages and Cultures CollegeCollege of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences
Credit level (Normal year taken)SCQF Level 10 (Year 4 Undergraduate) AvailabilityAvailable to all students
SCQF Credits20 ECTS Credits10
SummaryThis course delves into the intricate connections between culture, power, ideology, and social structures in modern China, exploring the dynamic interplay between tradition and modernity that has shaped the 'Politics of Culture' since the Late Qing and throughout Modern China.

It will look at ideological shifts, individual resistance, and global influences that have significantly impacted on a diverse range of cultural expressions. The objective is to unravel the complex ways in which cultural production has been manipulated, controlled, or emerged to convey specific messages, mirroring the values and priorities of those in positions of authority; and to address the various forms and instances of resistance taken by the artists in their exploration of the limits and leeway of public dissent.
Course description 1/ Academic description

The dynamics of 'cultural politics' generally encompass the methods through which political ideologies, institutions, and power structures exert influence on and shape various facets of a society's cultural production.

Apart from direct political interventions, the transformation of China's cultural landscape from the Late Qing era through modern times has also been profoundly influenced by globalization, commercialization, consumerism. The course will examine evolving ideologies from traditional ┬┐imperial┬┐ approaches to control artistic creation to socialist conceptions of the role of the arts in the public sphere.

Understanding these changes within their distinct historical contexts is crucial, as they continue to form the foundational elements for comprehending the intricacies involved in China's contemporary cultural productions today.

2/ Outline content

The course will scrutinize both the legal boundaries and institutional frameworks, as well as conceptional changes that have influenced the discourse on the politics of culture in a historical perspective and explore how these are articulated and mediated in different historical contexts. This will be addressed through a detailed examination of case studies in four clusters reflecting different genres/areas of cultural production, shedding light on the intricate and complex interplay between state control and artistic expression.

3/ Student Learning Experience

The learning experience is designed to facilitate various forms of engagement, knowledge acquisition, and critical evaluation. The course structure involves two-hour seminars that incorporate brief introductory lectures, followed by interactive seminar-style discussions centred around assigned academic readings.

All course materials, including slides and required readings, will be accessible on LEARN at the beginning of the course. This early availability ensures that students, especially those with learning adjustments, have ample time to prepare for sessions at their own pace. To aid in preparation, guiding questions as prompts for the reading of each session will be provided on LEARN.

Students will engage in group discussions focused on their textual study for approximately 15 minutes. Following this, groups will present their findings to the entire class, sparking a comprehensive plenary discussion. This format aims to encourage collaborative learning and foster a deeper understanding of the course material by taking the student responses to the readings into account.
Entry Requirements (not applicable to Visiting Students)
Pre-requisites Co-requisites
Prohibited Combinations Other requirements None
Information for Visiting Students
Course Delivery Information
Academic year 2024/25, Available to all students (SV1) Quota:  15
Course Start Semester 2
Timetable Timetable
Learning and Teaching activities (Further Info) Total Hours: 200 ( Seminar/Tutorial Hours 22, Programme Level Learning and Teaching Hours 4, Directed Learning and Independent Learning Hours 174 )
Assessment (Further Info) Written Exam 0 %, Coursework 100 %, Practical Exam 0 %
Additional Information (Assessment) Coursework: 100%
Mid-term short essay (source analysis, 500 words)
Final Long Essay 2500 words
Feedback The mid-term assignment will be a short historical analysis of a primary source related to one of course components.

It will enable students to check their ability to respond to the main questions of the course. Feedback will be given in written form within 3 weeks (and with follow up in person meetings as requested). This will help students to prepare for the long essay at the end of the term.

Feedback on the written assignments will be provided through the TurnItIn platform by a first and second marker of the mid-term assignment and final essay.

Overall informal (non-assessed) feedback will be given from peers during the student group work and by the course organiser throughout the course.
No Exam Information
Learning Outcomes
On completion of this course, the student will be able to:
  1. Demonstrate a strong comprehension of the theoretical and conceptual tools essential for comprehending the mechanisms of cultural politics in China.
  2. Discuss Chinese cultural policies within their specific historical contexts and the intersections of colonialism and globalization.
  3. Articulate complex ideas in writing and present compelling arguments substantiated by evidence.
  4. Locate and critically assess relevant information and material through library and IT resources.
  5. Engage in active learning, critical thinking, and collaboration with experience of control over their learning process.
Reading List
Readings and recommended resources will be provided in the Course Material tab on Learn via the Resources list facility.

General reading for the course sessions:

Chen, Pingyuan. Touches of History: An Entry into 'May Fourth' China. Translated by
Hockx, Michel. Leiden: Brill, 2011.
Forster, Elisabeth. 1919 - the Year That Changed China: a New History of the New Culture Movement Berlin: De Gruyter Oldenbourg, 2018.
Wagner, Rudolf G. Inside a Service Trade: Studies in Contemporary Chinese Literature. Cambridge, Mass: Council on East Asian Studies, Harvard University, 1992.
Russo, Alessandro. Cultural Revolution and Revolutionary Culture. Duke University Press, 2020.
Wagner, Rudolf, The Contemporary Chinese Historical Drama, University of California Press, 1990.
Jones, Andrew F. (1992). Like a Knife: Ideology and Genre in Contemporary Chinese Popular Music. Ithaca, New York: East Asia Program, Cornell University.
Chen Fong-ching, Jin Guantao. From Youthful Manuscripts to River Elegy: The Chinese Popular Cultural Movement and Political Transformation, 1979-1989. Hong Kong: The Chinese University Press, 1997.

Recommended further reading:

Hockx, Michel and Julia Strauss (eds). Culture in the Contemporary PRC . Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2005.
Link, Perry, The Uses of Literature: Life in the Socialist Chinese Literary System. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2022.
Schoenhals, Michael. Doing Things with Words in Chinese Politics: Five Studies. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1992.
Williams, Raymond. Keywords: A Vocabulary of Culture and Society. London: Fontana Press, 1983.

Each session will have specified essential set readings for the classroom activities, accompanied by additional recommended readings to further explore the topic for the sessions or as guidance for the final essay assignment.

All readings will be available online via the Resource list embedded in LEARN.
Additional Information
Graduate Attributes and Skills The course will enable the students to achieve professional attributes and skills in the following respects:
Research and independent thinking:

Evaluate and critique scholarly materials, demonstrating the ability to engage in informed independent thought and exercise critical judgment.

Critically approach and comprehend intricate issues that necessitate conceptualization, challenging conventional interpretations.

Analyse course content by integrating independent research, thereby constructing original arguments.

Personal communication skills:

Enhance personal communication skills to effectively engage in the seminars and discussions.

Develop the capacity to present research, scholarly work, and language skills proficiently.

Master the ability to articulate, substantiate, and sustain arguments, as well as efficiently summarize and communicate information and ideas both in written and oral formats.

Autonomy and working with others:

Demonstrate autonomy and initiative when collaborating within a team.

Effectively apply and share acquired learning skills in cooperation with peers.
KeywordsChinese cultural studies,Media,Propaganda,Literature,Performative arts,Film
Course organiser Course secretary
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