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Unit information: Contemporary Global Chinese Literature and Visual Arts in 2021/22

Unit name Contemporary Global Chinese Literature and Visual Arts
Unit code MODLM0050
Credit points 20
Level of study M/7
Teaching block(s) Teaching Block 2 (weeks 13 - 24)
Unit director Dr. Ruth Bush
Open unit status Not open




School/department School of Modern Languages
Faculty Faculty of Arts

Description including Unit Aims

The long, well-documented history and traditions of Chinese civilization have often entailed certain monolithic, homogeneous, and even politically motivated perceptions and understandings of Chinese identity. How might “China” and “Chineseness” be articulated differently in today's global Chinese cultural productions? In this unit we will investigate a range of literary and visual artistic works produced by contemporary writers and artists of Chinese origin or descent in mainland China, Hong Kong, Taiwan, France, the UK, and the US, who often have significant transnational experiences, multicultural upbringing, and multilingual competence. By introducing a global vision of contemporary Chinese literature, paintings, calligraphy, films, and art installations, this unit will encourage students to problematize, challenge, and reformulate the notion of “Chineseness” that is too often studied either within a conventional national framework or within a reductionist East-versus-West paradigm. In addition, students will be expected to apply their critical knowledge of the textual-visual dynamic to enrich the analysis of issues such as clichés, (in)authenticity, and exoticism. To achieve this objective, the unit will engage with theories of cultural translation and transculturality. We will seek to broaden students' perspectives on Chinese identity formation. We will discuss how global Chinese (or, indeed, any cultural) identity may be understood as a translational process and examine how writers and artists engage with "Chineseness" as an open identity category, a creative opportunity to blend, renegotiate, and reinvent different cultural traditions in a global age.

Students do not require a language or cultural background in Chinese or French, as all core learning materials will be available in English. However, Chinese- or French-speaking students will have the opportunity to explore materials in those languages and will be expected to bring their findings to group discussions, class presentations, and essay assessment. Students will be encouraged to pursue diverse research questions in relation to the core corpus of the unit.

Unit Aims

1. To introduce students to a wide range of contemporary global Chinese literary texts, films, paintings, and art installations, which may be produced in mainland China, Hong Kong, Taiwan, the UK, France, and the US, in Chinese, English, or French;

2. To enable students to problematize, challenge, and reformulate the notion of “Chineseness” beyond the national and East-versus-West paradigm;

3. To introduce students to a number of theoretical tools to dissect the process of identity formation in general, e.g. understanding cultural identity as a translational process;

4. To give students the opportunity to carry out peer assessments based on each other's presentation, in anticipation of their essay assignments;

5. To enable students to develop further their skills of analysis, translation (where applicable), and composition.

Intended Learning Outcomes

By the end of this unit, successful students will be able to:

1. Identify and explain the ways in which the Chinese cultural productions covered in this unit can be understood as transcultural and/or works of cultural translation;

2. Analyze a variety of textual and visual media and evaluate their connections;

3. Compare and contrast different creative strategies that address cross-cultural issues such as clichés, (in)authenticity, and exoticism;

4. Construct evidence-based discussion of current issues in relation to censorship, political propaganda, and sexual politics from cross-cultural perspectives;

5. Formulate an individual research topic.

Teaching Information

Teaching will be delivered through a combination of synchronous sessions and asynchronous activities, including seminars, lectures, and collaborative as well as self-directed learning opportunities supported by tutor consultation.

Assessment Information

Please state the methods used for formative and summative assessment, including essay word length, length and type of exams, projects, etc. The relative contributions of the different summative assessments to the overall unit mark should also be included, e.g. 3-hour written exam (60%), 2000 word essay (40%).

Please link the assessment to the intended learning outcomes bearing in mind that it is expected that all intended learning outcomes are assessed.

1 x formative group presentation (pass/fail); required to pass [ILOs 1-4].

1 x 5000-word essay (100%). [ILOs 1-5].


If this unit has a Resource List, you will normally find a link to it in the Blackboard area for the unit. Sometimes there will be a separate link for each weekly topic.

If you are unable to access a list through Blackboard, you can also find it via the Resource Lists homepage. Search for the list by the unit name or code (e.g. MODLM0050).

How much time the unit requires
Each credit equates to 10 hours of total student input. For example a 20 credit unit will take you 200 hours of study to complete. Your total learning time is made up of contact time, directed learning tasks, independent learning and assessment activity.

See the Faculty workload statement relating to this unit for more information.

The Board of Examiners will consider all cases where students have failed or not completed the assessments required for credit. The Board considers each student's outcomes across all the units which contribute to each year's programme of study. If you have self-certificated your absence from an assessment, you will normally be required to complete it the next time it runs (this is usually in the next assessment period).
The Board of Examiners will take into account any extenuating circumstances and operates within the Regulations and Code of Practice for Taught Programmes.