March 30-31, 2004: Visiting Scholar Rey Chow
Public Lecture: "A Pain in the Neck, An Episode of ‘Incest,’ and other Enigmas of an Allegorical Cinema: Tsai Ming-liang’s ‘The River.’"
Abstract: "Once in a while, the encounter with a particular scene in a film is so challenging that it preempts one's relation to the entire film. I would like to talk about one such scene. It is from Taiwan director Tsai Ming-liang's HELIU / THE RIVER (1997), in which, among other events, a father and a son, not recognizing each other in the dark, engage in sex in a gay men's bathhouse (what in Taiwan is known as a san wennuan). Like much of Tsai's work, this scene is without musical accompaniment: the simple movements and gestures, the shadows cast by the dim light on the characters' flesh, and the occasional sounds they make constitute the totality of the diegesis of this astonishing event. Why astonishing? The obvious answer, for some viewers, would be that this is a reprehensible depiction of incest. But is it indeed so?"
Rey Chow was born in Hong Kong and educated in both British colonial and American institutions. She received her doctorate in Modern Thought and Literature from Stanford University and has taught at the University of Minnesota and at the University of California, Irvine. Currently, she is Andrew W. Mellon Professor of the Humanities at Brown University. Her publications include five books in English, several edited collections, and numerous articles and essays. Her works have been widely reprinted in anthologies and translated into multiple Asian and European languages. She is on the editorial and advisory boards of over twenty journals and book series worldwide, and co-edits the series "Asia Pacific: Culture, Politics, Society" for Duke University Press. Her first book, Woman and Chinese Modernity: The Politics of Reading between West and East (1991) was given First Place Book Award by Chicago Women in Publishing; her 1995 book, Primitive Passions: Visuality, Sexuality, Ethnography, and Contemporary Chinese Cinema, was awarded the James Russell Lowell Prize by the Modern Language Association. She has also been the recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship, ACLS and NEH grants, and other research awards. Her most recent books include Ethics After Idealism: Theory--Culture--Ethnicity--Reading (1998) and The Protestant Ethnic and the Spirit of Capitalism (2002). A collection of her essays, Il sogno di Butterfly e altre costellazioni postcoloniali, is forthcoming in Italian in early 2004. Chow's fields of specialization include contemporary critical theory, film, and modern Asian cultures and literatures.
Funding for Dr. Chow's visit is provided by the Anonymous Fund. Co-Sponsors include Art History, Curriculum & Instruction, Dance, French & Italian, History, Spanish & Portuguese, Border & Transcultural Studies, Latin American, Carribean and Iberian Studies, LGBT Studies, and Women's Studies.