CCHH: China Centre For Health And Humanity


Longing For Rain: Spectral lovers and the new urban spaces of middle-class Beijing

6 November 2018

A UCL Health Humanities seminar with

Yang Lina pic ucl.ac.uk/history/people/academic-staff/dr-vivienne-lo" target="_blank">Vivienne Lo and Nashuyuan Wang.

Time: Thursday 15 November,  6.15-7.15pm.
Place: SELCS Common Room, G24 Foster Court, Malet Place


Longing for Rain (Chunmeng 春梦, 2013), documentary film-maker Yang Lina's 杨荔钠 debut feature film, centres on affluent middle-class Beijing housewife Fang Lei 方蕾, whose apparently secure family life and sense of self are disrupted by a spectral lover who appears to her in dreams or visions. Her ghostly passions drive her slowly into a spiritual crisis, and take us on a journey through the medical architecture of Beijing to find herself and recover her identity.

In this two-handed presentation, medical historian Vivienne Lo and Film/History PhD candidate Nashuyuan Wang offer an experimental model of cross-disciplinary collaboration in the Medical and Health Humanities. Beginning with concepts of space and trajectories (in the film, in the city, in the body), the two speakers will apply their different but complementary sensibilities and analytical strategies to Longing for Rain, to arrive at new shared insights. They will also share with us extracts from interviews with the director, and discussions with MA students and a psychologist from mainland China.

This presentation is part of Dr Lo's recent collaborative, interdisciplinary, intercultural work on Chinese/Sinophone Film and the Health Humanities. Dr Lo believes that films can yield insights and perspectives on health and the body that go further and deeper than the traditional concerns of Medical Humanities. Studying health, medicine and the body in China through the medium of film allows us to appreciate conceptions of state, community and individual in China; state engagement with traditional health systems; uses of the body as a site of personal cultivation, social conformity or political contestation; and unique ways of expressing individual sensory or subjective experience. As an historian, Dr Lo argues that in order to understand a director's cinematographic choices, we need to be aware of the longer cultural trajectories and the historical influences that come to bear on them

The presentation will include excerpts from the film Longing for Rain, which has not so far been released in mainland China.

  • Film-maker Yang Lina 杨荔钠