Revisiting Women′s Cinema

Feminism, Socialism, and Mainstream Culture in Modern China

Book Pages: 312 Illustrations: 18 illustrations Published: January 2021

Author: Lingzhen Wang

Asian Studies > East Asia, Gender and Sexuality > Feminism and Women’s Studies, Media Studies > Film

In Revisiting Women’s Cinema, Lingzhen Wang ponders the roots of contemporary feminist stagnation and the limits of both commercial mainstream and elite minor cultures by turning to socialist women filmmakers in modern China. She foregrounds their sociopolitical engagements, critical interventions, and popular artistic experiments, offering a new conception of socialist and postsocialist feminisms, mainstream culture, and women’s cinema. Wang highlights the films of Wang Ping and Dong Kena in the 1950s and 1960s and Zhang Nuanxin and Huang Shuqin in the 1980s and 1990s to unveil how they have been profoundly misread through extant research paradigms entrenched in Western Cold War ideology, post-second-wave cultural feminism, and post-Mao intellectual discourses. Challenging received interpretations, she elucidates how socialist feminism and culture were conceptualized and practiced in relation to China’s search not only for national independence and economic development but also for social emancipation, proletarian culture, and socialist internationalism. Wang calls for a critical reevaluation of historical materialism, socialist feminism, and popular culture to forge an integrated emancipatory vision for future transnational feminist and cultural practices.


“Insisting we hear, listen, and see the voices and actions of women filmmakers in China, Lingzhen Wang provides a nuanced examination of women's cinema and feminism that attends to national and transnational trajectories. She develops theoretically sophisticated and politically incisive critiques of how dominant frameworks in socialist China and throughout the world configured the realms of possibility for making, seeing, and recognizing socialist and Chinese women's mainstream film. An exciting, innovative, and theoretically rich project.” — Tina Mai Chen, coeditor of Film, History, and Cultural Citizenship: Sites of Production

“Lingzhen Wang is the first Chinese scholar writing in English to point out the eerie parallels between post-Mao feminism and post-second-wave Anglo-European feminism as she negotiates the political legacies of two cultures, illuminating the traditions of the one for the other. Revisiting Women's Cinema is likely to rock the history of world cinema and inspire a resurgence of interest in the project of globalizing feminist film and media theory. I can think of no other book on feminism and motion picture film history that is more important to the field than this one.” — Jane Gaines, Professor of Film, Columbia University


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Lingzhen Wang is Professor of East Asian Studies at Brown University, author of Personal Matters: Women's Autobiographical Practice in Twentieth-Century China, and editor of Chinese Women's Cinema: Transnational Contexts.

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Paper ISBN: 978-1-4780-1080-7 / Cloth ISBN: 978-1-4780-0975-7