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SML2011 : Cities in East Asian Cinema: Culture, History and Identity

  • Offered for Year: 2024/25
  • Module Leader(s): Professor Sabrina Qiong Yu
  • Lecturer: Dr Shiro Yoshioka
  • Owning School: Modern Languages
  • Teaching Location: Newcastle City Campus

Your programme is made up of credits, the total differs on programme to programme.

Semester 1 Credit Value: 20
ECTS Credits: 10.0
European Credit Transfer System


The aims of this module include:
1) To introduce important East Asian cities and representative city films
2) To understand the cinematic representations of East Asian cities in relation to their particular historical, cultural and political contexts
3) To make connections among the East Asian cities and their cinematic representations, and map a region marked by fast-developing urbanization and globalization
4) To familiarise students with important debates on the relationship between city and cinema in urban studies and film studies.

Outline Of Syllabus

By studying the cinematic representation of six East Asian cities including Shanghai, Beijing, Hong Kong, Taipei, Tokyo and Seoul, this module will explore how film plays a crucial role in reflecting historical, political and social change in East Asian societies, embodying the cultural specificity of each of these cities, and forming and transforming individual and collective identities in East Asia. Focusing on the ways in which the cities are imagined, created and remembered, the module addresses a series of important concepts such as modernity/postmodernity, post-colonialism, the national and the global, memory and nostalgia, gendered space, power and resistance.
The first week provides a social and theoretical background to the module by introducing the East Asian region as well as key debates on and approaches to cinematic representations of the city. The subsequent weeks are designed as 1 hour survey lecture followed by 1 hour student-led seminar. 10 weeks will be devoted to six cities as represented in East Asian films (Shanghai and Seoul, one week each; Tokyo, Hong Kong, Taipei and Beijing, two weeks each). The key films that will be discussed may include Street Angel (1937), Tokyo Story (1953), Infernal Affairs (2002), Christmas in August (1998), Wong Kar-wai’s films on Hong Kong, Edward Yang and Tsai Ming-liang’s films on Taipei, Ning Ying’s Beijing trilogy, and so on. The films are subtitled in English.

Teaching Methods

Teaching Activities
Category Activity Number Length Student Hours Comment
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesLecture111:0011:00Present in person
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesSmall group teaching102:0020:00Guided film screening. Present in person.
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesSmall group teaching112:0022:00Present in person
Guided Independent StudyIndependent study1147:00147:00N/A
Teaching Rationale And Relationship

1) Lectures provide students with background information and familiarise them with the major issues related to each city.
2) The following seminar provides an opportunity for students to discuss the East Asian cities as imagined and constructed in films. Seminars also provide a chance for students to present arguments in an appropriate fashion independently and within a team.
3) Students will be expected to watch the set films beforehand as lectures and seminars will assume knowledge of these.

This module is taught and assessed in English.

Assessment Methods

The format of resits will be determined by the Board of Examiners

Other Assessment
Description Semester When Set Percentage Comment
Essay1M803000 words in English
Written exercise1M20Week 7. A commentary of 1000 words.
Assessment Rationale And Relationship

The essay allows evaluation of the development of the following cognitive and key skills: independent research, bibliographical work, planning and organising, word-processing, footnoting and referencing. The commentary takes the form of textual analysis of a chosen film and prepares students for their final essay writing.

Reading Lists