East Asia Film Literacies Lecture Series

A Lecture Series by:

Dr. Earl Jackson, Jr.
Associate Professor of Literature
University of California, Santa Cruz
Visiting Research Scholar, East-West Center

These articles are based on lectures that Dr. Jackson gave at the University of Hawaii at Manoa in the Fall of 2003.

In certain recent developments in digital technology, media and communications industries, and transnational capitalism, there is potential for a kind of cultural revolution, a digital one dealing with new modes of archiving, disseminating, and distributing films internationally. The booming DVD market has now made thousands of films from all over the world available to individuals and institutions. Of particular interest to these lectures are the tremendous numbers of East Asian films now accessible to the individual. The restoration and mass marketing of the works of the past may enrich impoverished notions of cinema since Rashomon. The rapid turnover of first-run films into DVDs allows contemporary East Asian filmmakers to find US audiences through networks that surmount the iron curtain of US film distributors and Hollywood “remakes.”

However, a revolution requires more active engagement than collecting and cataloging, nor does the mere presence of the film in a library or a home entertainment system in itself instigate an epistemic break. The encounter with the films must be proactive and interactive if the influx of filmic texts is to result in sociocultural practices more substantive than new forms of consumer fetishism and if there is to develop interpretative communities that do not exhaust themselves in connoisseur-cults. This lecture series is an attempt to highlight some of the opportunities and challenges the brave new film world offers.

Each lecture will be a very specific, hands-on, eyes-open exploration and demonstration of some of the challenges of these filmic texts that should guide the ways of reading we develop in response. Every lecture will be fully illustrated with clips from the films, and crucial historical or contextual background will be provided in handouts and Web guides. Furthermore, hypertext versions of each public lecture will be posted on this website.

This series is not interested in handing down doctrine or prescribing method, but rather opening up conversation. One of the targeted partners for this conversation are individuals who are either currently teaching or are considering teaching courses on one or more East Asian Cinema. But since a teacher is also always a student first, and both are intellectuals only to the extent that they are passionately curious, in addressing “teachers” this series addresses anyone whose imagination and intellectual and emotional curiosity respond to the art, fantasy, excess, and multiple joys of cinematic experience across various linguistic, national, transnational, cultural, and crosscultural nodes and modes.