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Film Review Essay, Resources

Assignment China: A Documentary Series on American Reporting on China

Journalism is the first draft of history. Now is a good time to look back on the journalism of the United States’ relations with China and help our students understand how China has been reported and to be active and sophisticated users of the new media they seem to prefer. Assignment China is a well-researched and beautifully produced projected eight-part documentary series written and reported by veteran Asia correspondent Mike Chinoy and produced by Clayton Dube for the US China Institute a...

Feature Article

Who’s Afraid of Chop Suey?

The career of chop suey turns out to be a Cinderella story in reverse: chop suey is the ugly sister whose foot will not fit into the glass slipper. Chop suey rose from obscurity in the late nineteenth century to become one of America’s national dishes and one of the main ingredients in the spread of Chinese restaurants in North America during the years when Chinese families and entrepreneurs spread Chinese cookery outside China by adapting to new conditions and inventing new forms. By the end ...

Book Review Essay, Resources

Through Chinese Eyes: Tradition, Revolution, and Transformation, 3rd Edition

The first edition of this book, Peter Seybolt’s Through Chinese Eyes (Praeger, 1974; 2 vols) was conceived just after Nixon went to Peking. This was the period of bipolar disorder in American popular attitudes toward China. Emotions swung from Cold War opposition to romantic obsession, from paranoia to pandas. Seybolt realized that neither extreme was fair or sufficient, and crafted a selection of readings to show both the idealism, which he saw in Mao’s model, and the reality that was imple...

Book Review Essay, Resources

Mao: The Unknown Story

If you visit Tiananmen Square in Beijing, you can’t avoid the huge portrait of Mao Zedong that presides over tourists, an amazing number of automobiles, and his own mausoleum. Few who see that portrait today think of Mao’s classic slogans: “to rebel is justified,” “a single spark can start a prairie fire,” “never forget class struggle,” much less the catastrophic famines of the 1950s. The Party’s claim to legitimacy has shifted from Marxism and revolution to economic developmen...

Film Review Essay

Confucian Film? Food, Family, and Loneliness in Ozu’s Tokyo Story

In classic Hollywood films, food is mostly left out or coded as ethnic, as in Italian gangster films. In postwar Chinese and Japanese film, food often moves the plot, explores relationships, reveals character, or expresses moral and ethical values. Why? Let’s test an idea: how people conceptualize their lives is shaped by inherited stories. The Confucian family story was structured around the father/son relationship, while the American middle class family of Hollywood fame was built around the...

Feature Article

What’s So Bad About THE GOOD EARTH?

“I wish Pearl Buck was alive and walk into my restaurant so I can cut out her heart and liver. That’s how much I hate that movie,” says a character in Frank Chin’s otherwise delightful Donald Duk.(note 1) The 1937 movie to which Chin’s character objected did not feature any Chinese actors, but appeared to speak for China. Many in 1930s China objected to its unromantic description of village life and its inclusion of sex. Recently, Pulitzer award winning author Edmund White, following...