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Cross-Cultural Medical Humanities in a Digital World

We are delighted to announce the success of the recent UCL CCHH application for a Wellcome Trust Seed Award (PI: Vivienne Lo).

Chinoiseries – Art and Fashion

Panel seminar organised by Phoenix TV Art. 20 June 2016, 6.30 pm, Lydia & Manfred Gorvy Lecture Theatre, Dyson Building, Royal College of Art, 1 Hester Road, Battersea, SW11 4AN.

MA Chinese Health & Humanity Dissertation Conference 2016

Wednesday 25 May, 2.15–5pm, Room 102, 23 Gordon Square.
Please come along to support our students and find out about their fascinating research! More...

Thinking Chinese 思華 . 華思

Podcasts and documents now online, for this conference and exhibition, jointly convened by UCL China Centre for Health and Humanity and Ming-Ai (London) Institute in Spring 2015. More...

Summer volunteering placements in rural China

with NGO Dream Corps. Application deadline: 29 February 2016.

New Chinese Film + Director's Q&A

Daytime screening and discussion of Factory Boss 打工老板 (2014) with director Zhang Wei 张唯 and Chinese film specialist Chris Berry (KCL), Thursday 25 February, 9.30–13.00.

Di Lu Wins IASTAM Junior Scholar Essay Prize

We are delighted and proud to announce that current CCHH PhD student Di Lu 蘆笛 has been honoured with the IASTAM Charles Leslie Junior Scholar Essay Award for his outstanding paper 'Transnational Circulation of the Knowledge of the Caterpillar Fungus to Early 20th Century'.

International postgraduate summer school

What Makes us Human? Philosophical and Religious Perspectives in China and the West, Central European University, Budapest, July 4–15 2016. More...

HISTGC06: Chinese Film, Medicine and the Body, 2015–2016

2016–2017 programme coming shortly

Course Convenor: Michael Clark:
Office hours: tba
Film screenings:
Tuesday 7–9.30pm, from 17th November 2015 to 9th February 2016
Intensive seminar week:
15th – 21st February 2016 (Reading Week)
Michael Clark (King's College, London) and Patrizia Liberati (Peking University)
South Wing G12 Council Room (subject to confirmation)

Zui ai 1

This module seeks to explore a wide range of issues relating to health, medicine, and the body in China and other Chinese societies during the past century through the medium of film.  Drawing on a wide range of both fiction and documentary films from mainland China and elsewhere, together we shall examine the representation in film of many important aspects of the modern Chinese experience of health, illness, and medical care, including the work of ‘barefoot doctors’ during the Cultural Revolution, the HIV/AIDs epidemic during the 1980s and ’90s, changing attitudes towards the physically disabled since the 1970s, and the virtual privatisation of the Chinese health care system during the post-Mao Zedong ‘Reform era’. The aim of the module is to achieve a deeper and more comprehensive understanding of the changes which have transformed the lives and embodied experience of the Chinese people since the start of the twentieth century, by critically analysing the cinematic representation and treatment of health care, health conditions and health-related issues in the light of ideas drawn from film theory and criticism, gender and cultural studies and other academic disciplines, and by putting the films and the issues which they highlight into their historical, political, and cultural contexts.

The main emphasis is on films which reflect political, social and cultural changes and related changes in health and medicine in mainland China over the past century. However, the course also includes relevant films made in Hong Kong, Taiwan and even films co-produced or partly shot in the U.S. and the U.K.  All types and genres of film are represented, from historical action movies and martial arts epics through propaganda films, classic Chinese family dramas, melodramas and satirical comedies to independent documentaries, docu-dramas and intimate personal testimonies and reflections.  The module thus provides students with an opportunity to develop and demonstrate in-depth knowledge and understanding of the relationship between the rapidly changing political, ideological and economic, as well as cultural, factors which have influenced Chinese film-making and styles of cinematic representation since the 1930s and ‘40s, and the unique set of meanings associated with health, medicine and the body in both ancient and modern China, and thereby to contribute to the development of a distinctively Chinese version of the ‘medical humanities’.

The module consists of two parts:

1. A series of weekly screenings and discussions, starting mid-way through Term 1 and continuing until mid-way through Term 2, each week being devoted to a particular topic or theme which in turn follow a roughly chronological order.

2. A 5-day (20-hour) ‘Intensive Course’ to take place between 15th and 21st February 2016, i.e. the week following the Chinese New Year (Reading Week).

Each week for the first 9 or 10 weeks, one film will be screened in its entirety, but students will also be expected to view at least two other films from the list of ‘Recommended Viewing’ for each of the weekly topics or themes.  Selected reading materials will also be provided for each weekly topic and screening and students will be expected to be familiar with the background to each film and to be sufficiently well informed to comment on it by the time of the screening.  During the Intensive Course, a number of other general topics will be introduced and discussed, such as the history of cinema in mainland China, Hong Kong and Taiwan, the relations between the ‘natural’ and the supernatural in Chinese cinema, and the particular significance of the martial arts genre in relation to embodiment.  There will also be sessions devoted to making the best use of the course Reading Lists, getting to grips with the ‘Medical Humanities’ and student Term essay projects.  A number of other relevant films will be screened and discussed and there will be one or two presentations by guest lecturers.  Regular attendance for screenings, discussions and thematic lectures in both parts of the module is obligatory, and all students are expected to participate fully in the group discussions following the screenings and lectures/seminars. 

Course Assessment: 1 Term essay of 4000 words (100%)

Screening programme 2015-2016 (updated November 2015)

For full details, including recommendations for additional viewing, please consult our Moodle page.
Or download our Medical and Health Humanities film list, updated 20-01-2016.


November 17 2015 – Presentation/discussion 1

Men, Women and Changing Gender Roles and Identities during the Late Imperial and Republican Periods (c. 1890 – 1949)

Once Upon a Time in China II  (Huang Feihong: nan'er dang ziqiang 黄飞鸿之二:男儿当自强), dir. Tsui Hark 徐克 (Hong Kong, 1992) OR
Women on the Long March (Mati Shengcui 马蹄声碎), dir. Liu Miaomiao 刘苗苗 (1987)

Women on the Long March

November 24 – Presentation/discussion 2

Men, Women, Health and Social Welfare during the Foundation Years of the People’s Republic and the Cultural Revolution (1949 – c. 1978)

(Hongyu 红雨), dir. Cui Wei崔嵬 (1975) OR
Song of Acupuncture Anaesthesi
a (Wuying deng xia song yinzhen 无影灯下颂银针), dir. Sang Hu 桑弧 (1974) 


December 1 – Presentation/discussion 3

Gender, Subjectivity and Emotion from the Foundation Years to the Present in China, Hong Kong and Taiwan

Woman, Demon, Human (Ren gui qing 人鬼情), dir. Huang Shuqin 黄蜀芹 (1987) OR
Let’s Fall in Love
(Xun qing lixian ji 寻情历险记), dir. Wu Tairen 吴汰纴 (Wuna Wu) (Taiwan, 2009)

Ren gui qing

December 8 – Presentation/discussion 4

Inter-Generational Relations in China, Hong Kong and Taiwan in the Post-Mao Era

Piano in a Factory (Gang de qin 钢的琴), dir. Zhang Meng 张猛 (2010) OR
Eat Drink Man Woman
(Yinshi nannü 饮食男女), dir. Ang Lee 李安 (Li An) (1994)

Gang de qin

December 15 – Presentation/discussion 5

Health, Illness, Medicine, Public Health and Social Welfare in Post-Socialist China and Chinese Communities Worldwide

Quitting (Zuotian 昨天), dir. Zhang Yang 张扬 (2001) OR
The Treatment/Gua sha (Guasha刮痧), dir. Zheng Xiaolong 郑晓龙 (U.S./China, 2000)



January 12 – Presentation/discussion 6

Work and Leisure in Contemporary China

Last Train Home (Guitu lieche 归途列车), dir. Fan Lixin  范立欣 (Canada/China, 2009)

Guitu lieche

January 19 – Presentation/discussion 7

Disability and ‘Embodied Difference’ in Contemporary China and Taiwan
Mama (Mama 妈妈), dir. Zhang Yuan 张元 (1991) OR
The Common People (Guanyu ai de gushi 关于爱的故事), dir. Zhou Xiaowen 周晓 (1998)


January 26 – Presentation/discussion 8

Homosexuality and Different Sexualities in Contemporary China and Taiwan
East Palace, West Palace (Donggong xigong 东宫西宫), dir. Zhang Yuan 张元 (1996) OR
Fish and Elephant (Jinnian xiatian 今年夏天), dir. Li Yu 李鱼 (2001)

Donggong xigong

February 2 – Presentation/discussion 9

Ageing and Old Age in Contemporary China
Full Circle (Feiyue laorenyuan飞越老人院), dir. Zhang Yang 张扬 (2011) OR
For Fun (Zhao le 找乐), dir. Ning Ying 宁瀛 (1993)

Full Circle

February 9 – Presentation/discussion 10

Death and Dying in Contemporary China
Wellspring (Zai yiqi de shiguang 在一起的時光), dir. Sha Qing 沙青 (2002) (presented by Prof. Chris Berry of King’s College London)

Zai yiqi de shiguang

(See also: Screening programme 2014-2015 - for reference only)

Reading Seminar: January 2015, details tbc

Seminar leaders: Michael Clark, Vivienne Lo
This session is an integral part of the course.

Intensive Seminar Week, 16–22 February  2015, details tbc

Seminar leader: Patrizia Liberati (tbc)
Much of this week will be devoted to an analysis of representations of the body in different genres of Chinese film.

Suggested reading list

Berry, Christopher J. Chinese Films in Focus II (Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan/BFI, 2008).

Berry, Christopher J. and Mary Farquhar, China on Screen: Cinema and Nation (New York: Columbia University Press, 2006).

Berry, Michael, Speaking in Images: Interviews with Contemporary Chinese Filmmakers (New York: Columbia University Press, 2005).

Berry, Michael, A History of Pain: Trauma in Modern Chinese Literature and Film (New York: Columbia University Press, 2008).

Chow, Rey, Primitive Passions – Visuality, Sexuality, Ethnography and Contemporary Chinese Cinema (New York: Columbia University Press, 1995).

Cui Shuqin, 'Kekexili: Mountain Patrol? Moral Dilemma and a Man with a Camera', in Chris Berry (ed.), Chinese Films in Focus II.

Lim, Song Hwee and Julian Ward (eds), The Chinese Cinema Book (Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2011).

Lu, Sheldon H. and Emilie Yueh-yu Yeh (eds), Chinese-Language Films: Historiography, Poetics, Politics (Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press, 2005).
(esp. Chapter 2, Zhang Zhen, 'Bodies in the air: the magic of science and the fate of the early "martial arts" film in China')

Mulvey, Laura, Visual and Other Pleasures, Bloomington, Indiana: Indiana Univ. Press, 1989. [contains a slightly revised version of her celebrated essay, 'Visual Pleasure and Narrative Cinema', originally published in Screen 16.3 (1975), 6-18.

Reagan, Leslie J., Nancy Tomes and Paula A. Treichler, (eds), Medicine's Moving Pictures: Medicine, Health and Bodies in American Film and Television (Rochester, N.Y., Univ. of Rochester Press, 2007).

Richards, Andy, Asian Horror (Harpenden: Kamera Books, 2010). (Chapters 10, 'Hong Kong horror cinema' and 11, 'Modern Hong Kong horror: essential viewing')

Silbergeld, Jerome, China into Film: Frames of Reference in Contemporary Chinese Cinema (London: Reaktion Books, 1999).

Silbergeld, Jerome,  Body in Question: Image and Illusion in Two Chinese Films by Jiang Wen (Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, 2002).

Van Dijck, Jose, The Transparent Body: A Cultural Analysis of Medical Imaging (Seattle and London: Univ. of Washington Press, 2005).

Xu, Gary. G., Sinascape: Contemporary Chinese Cinema (Lanham: Rowman & Littlefield, 2007).

Zhang Yingjin, Chinese National Cinema (London: Routledge, 2004).

Zhu Ying and Stanley Rosen (eds.), Art, Politics and Commerce in Chinese Cinema (Hong Kong: Univ. of Hong Kong Press, 2010).

Other film and body bibliographies:

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Page last modified on 21 jun 16 15:38 by Penelope Barrett