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LRCCS Noon Lecture Series | Why Bother? The Place of Socialist Propaganda Theater in China

Xiaomei Chen, Professor of Modern Chinese Literature, Film and Theater; University of California at Davis
Tuesday, October 23, 2018
12:00-1:00 PM
Room 110 Weiser Hall Map
This presentation argues against the conventional wisdom which views the performance culture of the People’s Republic of China as a monolithic, top-down, and meaningless practice characterized solely by censorship in a totalitarian regime. Professor Chen will demonstrate that propaganda performances on the process and history of the communist revolution and its leaders can be studied as a complex, dialogic, and interweaving process, in which multiple voices and opposing views collide, negotiate, and compromise in forming what looks like a mainstream ideology—and indeed functions as such—to legitimize the state and its right to rule. She argues that propaganda study can delineate performative rituals which insinuated itself in the form of “personal” memories, nostalgia, commercial culture, pop culture, youth culture, and the cybersphere with popular appeal, which can explore­ the charisma of revolutionary leaders to create romance, detective, suspense, and war stories that overlap with Hollywood blockbusters despite their obvious differences.

Xiaomei Chen is a professor at the University of California at Davis where she teaches modern Chinese literature, film, and theater. She is the author of "Occidentalism" (1995), "Acting the Right Part" (2002) and "Staging Chinese Revolution" (2016). She is the editor of "Reading the Right Text" (2003) and the "Columbia Anthology of Modern Chinese Drama" (2010) and co-editor, with Claire Sponsler, of "East of West: Cross-Cultural Performances and the Staging of Difference" (2000)"; with Julia Andrew, of "Visual Culture in Contemporary China" (2001), and with Steven Siyuan Liu, "Hong Shen and the Modern Mediasphere in Republican-Era China" (2016).

If you are a person with a disability who requires an accommodation to attend this event, please reach out to us at least 2 weeks in advance of this event. Please be aware that advance notice is necessary as some accommodations may require more time for the university to arrange. Email us at
Building: Weiser Hall
Event Type: Lecture / Discussion
Tags: Asia, Chinese Studies, Theater
Source: Happening @ Michigan from Lieberthal-Rogel Center for Chinese Studies, International Institute, Asian Languages and Cultures