Universiteit Leiden

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Chinese Cinema Meets Digital Humanities

Tuesday 2 May 2023

1.04 (Verbarium)
Columbia University Press
Chinese Film Classics, 1922-1949 (Columbia University Press)


How can we use digital platforms—including social media—to enhance research and learning on modern China? How can we make the “obscure” (to non-specialists) discoverable? What are the expected and unexpected results of making an audiovisual archive public, as measured by views, comments, likes, or GoogleAnalytics data? And what happens when your book project morphs into a multi-platform digital extravaganza?

This presentation will share discoveries from the first few years of the Chinese Film Classics Project (chinesefilmclassics.org), an ongoing international effort to make early Chinese cinema history more accessible to the English-speaking world. Christopher Rea will speak about his experiences building an online course while writing his book Chinese Film Classics, 1922-1949 (2021), and how he worked with collaborators to create a free digital archive of early Chinese films with English translations. He will illustrate the talk with examples of “playlist pedagogy,” including curatorial techniques that highlight significant features of Chinese films, from songs to scenes to special effects. The presentation will also showcase sights and scenes from Chinese films of the “pre-Code,” WWII, and Civil War eras.

About the speaker

Christopher Rea is Professor of Chinese and former Director of the Centre for Chinese Research at the University of British Columbia. He is the creator of the Chinese Film Classics Project, whose website ChineseFilmClassics.org hosts over 30 early Chinese films translated by Dr Rea and collaborators, as well as film clips, essays, links, and a free online course on early Chinese films.

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