Nostalgia and Chinese new waves
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This study considers the underexplored uses of nostalgia by filmmakers from the Chinese New Waves. Over the last few decades, Svetlana Boym, Paul Grainge, and many other scholars have argued that nostalgia can be exploited to interweave imagination, longing, and memory in negotiating problems of identity, politics, and history in various communities. However, their arguments have largely been developed through considerations of European and American contexts. This project enters the critical field with a focused investigation into the uses that nostalgia has been put to by Chinese filmmakers. It follows a case-study design, with in-depth analysis of four emblematic films made by leading filmmakers of the Fifth Generation, the Taiwan New Cinema, and the Hong Kong New Wave. It argues that these filmmakers have used distinctive strategies to exploit nostalgia in their recreations of the past, often in order to reflect critically on significant social dilemmas in their filmmaking contexts. On this basis, this study demonstrates that dismissing the nostalgia put to use by these filmmakers risks occluding crucial dimensions of the critical reflections and aesthetic complexity of the Chinese New Waves. Ultimately, it demonstrates that nostalgia can be very “useful” despite its “inauthentic” representations of the past, thereby helping to challenge the perennial dismissal of nostalgia as a corrosive presence in contemporary cultural life.
Thesis, PhD Doctor of Philosophy
Embargo Date: 2027-05-24
Embargo Reason: Thesis restricted in accordance with University regulations. Restricted until 24th May 2027
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