An Alternative Ecocinema? Unpacking Medianature within Two Great Leap Forward Films

Thu February 8th 2024, 4:30 - 6:00pm
Event Sponsor
Center for East Asian Studies
Department of East Asian Languages and Cultures
Lathrop Library
518 Memorial Way, Stanford, CA 94305

Drawing on Karl Marx’s ecologically-driven concepts of the “Metabolic Rift” and the “emancipation of senses,” Ping Zhu's talk explores the human-nature relationship depicted in two Chinese Great Leap Forward films, The Story of the Golden Bell (Jinling Zhuan, 1958) and Chaoyanggou (1963). Her filmic analysis will move beyond the visual and semiotic narratives to uncover the deeper ecological and social meanings conveyed by the medianature within the two films. The materialist framework informed by the concept of medianature underscores the connectedness between human, media, and nature, offering a potent critique not only of China’s Great Leap Forward but also of capitalist modernity at large. This new methodology of reading films can help us forge an alternative model of ecocinema rooted in the Marxist tradition. 

About the speaker

Ping Zhu is Professor in Transnational Chinese/Sinophone Literary, Film, and Media Studies in the Department of Literature at the University of California, San Diego, and serves as the Editor in Chief of the journal Chinese Literature and Thought Today. Prior to joining UCSD, she taught at Rutgers University and the University of Oklahoma. Ping Zhu is the author of Gender and Subjectivities in Early Twentieth-century Chinese Literature and Culture (2015), and the co-editor of Maoist Laughter (2019) and Feminisms with Chinese Characteristics (2021). She is currently working on a monograph titled “The Cult of Labor in Modern China.”