Some of our research postgraduate students write about their recently completed or ongoing projects.
After Mao: the Reimagining of Gender in Chinese Propaganda Posters
In the ten years following the end of the Cultural Revolution and the Mao Era, a vivid and intertwined reimagining of gender and governmentality began to unfold across the wide field of mainland Chinese culture. The thesis documents the dramatic changes in the way gender, particularly the feminine, was reconstructed in the early post-Mao period, through the window of Chinese propaganda posters (xuanchuanhua). The close reading of propaganda poster images (the primary texts) will be interwoven with personal accounts of gender and sexuality in the 1980s, from women’s autobiographical writing and interviews (the supplementary materials). The thesis is a project of art history and the cultural history of gender.
- ‘Women and Gender in Chinese Propaganda Posters’ – a lunch-time talk at the University of Sydney Art Gallery, in conjunction with the exhibition ‘China and Revolution: History, Parody and Memory in Contemporary Art’ curated by Stephanie Donald and Harriet Evans.
- ‘Reimagining Gender in Chinese Propaganda Posters after Mao: the Heterosexual Matrix’ – a paper given at the School of Languages and Cultures Postgraduate Research Day 2010.
- A.N.U Conference – ‘Reading and Society in the Chinese Speaking World: Treasure, Trash and Popular Writing’ - paper titled ‘Feminisms, Femininities and Female Bodies in Post-Mao China’
- Asian Studies Association of Australia, ‘Women in Asia’ Conference - paper titled, ‘Governmentality and Gender after the Chinese Cultural Revolution’
- Chinese Studies Association of Australia Conference - paper titled, ‘Sublimely and Unnaturally Sexed Bodies in the Writing of Zhang Jie’
- University of Sydney Conference – ‘Towards the Third Millennium: Australia, Europe and Asia’ - paper titled, ‘Feminine Metaphors in the Art of Government: Gendered Subjectivity in Post-Cultural Revolution China’
- University of Sydney Workshop – ‘The Experience and Representation of Modernity in Twentieth Century Asia’ - paper titled, ‘Gendered Subjectivity and Modernity in Post-Cultural Revolution China’
- University of Sydney, School of Languages and Cultures Research Day 2009 - paper titled,‘After Mao: Reimagining Gender and Governmentality’
My research interests include Chinese intellectual history, classical philosophy and aesthetics, as well as contemporary literature and cultural studies.
Visuality in Traditional Chinese Thought and its Modern Transformation: 1840-1919
In my thesis I intend to explore the centrality of the visual in traditional Chinese intellectual practice and its (early) Modern transformations. I will trace the tradition to its formation in the Book of Change, then concentrate on the changes it underwent from the late Qing to the early Republican era. I will examine how the social and cultural factors of these dramatic times intersect with and drastically reshape Chinese intellectual perceptions and expressions. By focusing on Gong Zizhen, Wei Yuan, Yan Fu, Liang Qichao, and Wang Guowei as the last visual thinkers, I seek to understand the interchanges between the East and West, tradition and modernity from a heretofore unexplored angle.
Confucianism Manufactured: Early Twentieth and Twenty-first Century Models
Confucianism plays an important role in Chinese culture with enormous influence on Chinese people’s mentality. In the twentieth and twentieth-first centuries, there were two periods during which Confucianism had particularly significant meaning: One was the May Fourth period, during which Confucianism was severely attacked by leading intellectuals and was reinterpreted by other conservative intellectuals, in both cases, in response to radical social change. The other period was post-Mao, especially since 2000, when the value of Confucianism was again re-assessed and reinterpreted. The most obvious manifestation of the popularity of Confucianism at this time was Yu Dan’s television series introducing and commentating on the Confucian Analects, together with academic as well as popular criticism of her presentation. This thesis analyses and compares the interpretation of and comments on Confucianism in the writings of the May Fourth intellectuals as well as in Yu Dan’s television programs, and intends to examine the historical similarities and dissimilarities of these two periods. The thesis reaches the conclusion that Confucianism has retained its vitality and changeability in different times.
Cultural space and the global city: Beijing’s contemporary art districts
My thesis will be a study of Beijing’s three largest contemporary art districts – 798 Dashanzi, Caochangdi, and Song Zhuang – and the histories, communities, capital and urbanisation processes that define them. It will focus on the construction of these districts as Chinese cultural spaces in a global context, considering the local, national, transnational and international frameworks within which they exist. This will be an interdisciplinary work of cultural studies, drawing on the literature and methodologies of China studies, art history, and urban studies.
Christen Cornell is a writer, researcher and arts manager with a background in publishing and the visual arts. She has lived and worked in China intermittently since 2003, and has an ongoing interest in contemporary Chinese culture and its global context.
- ‘Graffiti Beijing’, article in Cultural Studies Review, Vol. 10, No. 1, March 2004, pp. 81-99
- ‘Repressed Histories’, review in Cultural Studies Review, Vol. 11, No. 2, September 2005, pp. 213-217
- ‘Go West: there’s magic in all that sprawl’, review in Cultural Studies Review, Vol. 8, No. 2, December 2002, pp. 201-204
- ‘Chinese-Australian Artists: the next generation’, Artlink (forthcoming)
- Profile interview with Shen Shaomin, Artist Profile (forthcoming)
- ‘All the pretty lights…’, catalogue essay on Zhang Ding’s works in 4A Asian Art Gallery’s exhibition, Last Words
- ‘Wang Jianwei’s Hostage’, review in Asian Art News, Vol. 20, No. 2 Mar/Apr 2010, p. 87
- ‘Dead Europe’, review in Overland, Issue 181, Summer 2005, pp. 29-31
- ‘Blind Spot’, review in Australian Book Review, Issue no. 260, April 2004, p. 55
Contemporary Chinese Web Literaturethe psycho-social and the literary (preliminary title)
This research will first attempt to understand the social psychological motivations behind the phenomenon of the vibrant web literature in Mainland China. It will seek to locate the unprecedented social changes that are imposed upon individuals, and the increasing individual spiritual-psychological needs that have triggered such web literature activities. The research will then focus on how web literature should be placed in the Contemporary Chinese literary field. It will suggest that this web literature is the new generation of Chinese Folk literature, on-line, relatively participatory, and serving the social cultural needs for traditions, identities, and feelings for post-socialist generations.
Primitive Daoist Thinking in Contemporary Environmental Philosophy: Lao-Zhuang, Heidegger and Deep Ecology
Primitive Daoist texts, Laozi and Zhuangzi, are recognized as a naturalistic perspective in the Western environmental philosophy. However, the interpretations of those Daoist ideas seem to be ambiguous and controversial, even then these tend to more criticisms and sceptics of the significance of the primitive thinking in terms of environmental discussions. In order to open up a proper way for examining primitive Daoist concepts in the West, Heidegger's transcendence of metaphysics as one of alternative theoretical frameworks will be elaborated for reconsidering the significance of the Chinese ideas in the Western epistemology. Alternative interpretation of Daoist naturalistic ideas will be examined after the primary sources compares with Heidegger's theories, particularly his later arguments. The examinations of Heideggerean metaphysical theories aims to open up alternative leeway to the Eastern thought into the Western context. In other words, the primitive Daoist concepts can be interpreted in a rather appropriate theoretical framework in the West. Further, the combination between the appropriate interpretations of primitive Daoist thinking and radical ecological perspectives, particularly 'deep ecology', will aim to argue the Daoist thinking as a accordant perspective with non-anthropocentric approach in terms of environmental philosophy. This study provides insights how the ancient Daoist concepts can contribute more to Western ecological thinking if they are interpreted in a proper theoretical perspective.
Students’ Experiences of Online Learning using Blackboard Learning Management System in a Blended Environment
This research aims to examine the students’ experiences of online learning using the Blackboard Learning Management System (LMS) in a blended learning environment. It focuses on the students’ attitudes and perceptions of the integration of Computer Assisted Language Learning (CALL) and Mobile Assisted Language Learning (MALL) into the beginner Chinese language programs at an Australian University. It specifically aims to investigate whether the applications of technology in the language curriculum change the student learning behavior i.e. the ways they approach different learning tasks and how they perceive the connection between online learning and face-to-face teaching and learning and whether they think online learning assist their overall study in the program. It is argued that in tertiary education where student-centered learning is highly valued, the curriculum planning should derive from a better understanding of students’ experiences, not merely from the demonstrated effectiveness of the new and fancy technologies or the proven effective teaching methodologies. Contextualized research on the specific cohort at issue is needed to inform practitioners so as to help them make immediate decisions about curriculum improvement which is positioned at the center of their teaching agenda. By investigating and analyzing the students’ experiences and collecting student interpretations of the blended learning environment, this research intends to provide the teachers with a holistic perspective in planning and enhancing learning, especially with regard to catering for various needs of a more and more diverse group of university students.
- Paper presented at TCLT6 (the Sixth International Conference and Workshops on Technology and Chinese Language Teaching in the 21st Century) in June, 2010: Integrating ChinesePod into Lower Intermediate Chinese Course
The Teaching of Speaking in the Language Classroom
My study will explore the ICS (In-country study) students learning experiences in the context of speaking classroom in China by means of survey based research involving questionnaires and interviews. To date I have conducted a review of the literature in three areas. The first relates to oral interaction in the foreign/second language classroom. In particular I look at work relating to learner-learner interaction by Ohta (2001) and teacher-learner interaction by Walsh (2002), McCormick and Donato (2000) and Duff (2000) who find that during the oral interactions, the scaffolding strategy is often employed by both teachers and learners. While learners use it to assist one another in learning, teachers use it to execute language input and facilitate learners’ oral production. In addition, a productive learner- learner interaction needs to be realised through a variety of speaking tasks and activities that learners engage in. (Lynch & Maclean, 2000; Tyers, 2002; Humanez & Arias, 2009) And a well planned, structured and implemented task would lead to a more positive outcome of learners’ oral performance. (Ortega, 2005) Secondly, I consider issues in relation to the medium of language used in teachers’ instruction and learners’ learning. Here I draw upon studies by Swain & Lapkin (2000), McMillan & Turnbull (2009), Dailey & liebscher, (2009) and Nagy & Robserson (2009) which investigate the crucial role that learners’ first language plays in enhancing learners’ learning. The amounts of L1 use should depend on a number of factors, for example, the L2 levels of learners, the difficulties of tasks and individual orientations of both teachers and learners. Finally, I review literature dealing with learners’ beliefs and attitudes about the pedagogy employed in the class: how they perceive the relative merits of teacher-centred and learner-centred instruction. Although learner-centred instruction is greatly valued and supported by teachers and learners alike, Garrett and Shortall’s (2001) finding shows that not every learner agrees with this. Thus a mixture of the two pedagogical practices should be implemented to ensure the dynamics and interests in the course of teaching and learning. I plan to undertake my fieldwork in 2011.