PhD-Candidate: Jiyu Zhang | The Representations of Sexuality in Contemporary Chinese Cinema | Supervisor: Prof. dr Ernst van Alphen
As a PhD researcher in film and literary studies at Leiden University, I have proceeded my research project since September 2015, currently entitled The Representations of Sexuality in Contemporary Chinese Cinema. Hereby I would like to provide a concise description based on the progress I have made.
The concepts of sex in China, were not never troubled terms. In Chinese classical scripts it was revealed that sexual life was not deemed resentful or vexing, but rather regarded compulsive in a nourishing manner. As a healthy practice in line with human nature, sexual life in ancient China was rendered in favor in the midst of populace and monarch through succeeding dynasties. Since the increased entanglement of ideological control deprived from Confucianism, sex was dispensed with moral laxity in social environment, barely leaving discussions in the realm of feudal empires.
Nevertheless, the culture of sex had sought its way through a variety of media, including literature and graphic arts, to convey the notions of sexuality to individuals, against the constraints of power. As arrived the cinema, the newly charted dimension effectively conferred an alternative domain to the discourses and representations which could be cemented to sexuality in a modern state. With the founding of the People’s Republic of China, however, sexuality and its representations were barred from explicit depictions, and not to be slightly thawed until the end of the Cultural Revolution.
Focused on the contemporary period of China, it has hence entailed my research to examine the cultural logic that spurred the governance of representations, and to investigate the dynamics of power, body and sexuality within the boundaries of cinema. This project aims to unveil the displays of sexuality under specific circumstances, with interpretations of expressive strands where analyses into conflicted relations between ideology and subject will be purveyed.
Through an intensive gaze upon the norm and the nature of the bodily scenes, I aspire to speculate the way that how sexuality is manifested via the cinematic strategy and the cultural logic, which has been incontestably constituted by western theories that would be aligned with and also testified in the context of the ‘Chineseness’.