New Publication: Moulding the Socialist Subject: Cinema and Chinese Modernity (1949-1966)

Xiaoning Lu Discussion

This new publication may be of interest to H-PRC List members.

Xiaoning Lu, Moulding the Socialist Subject: Cinema and Chinese Modernity (1949-1966) (Leiden: Brill 2020)

The hardback was published on 30 Jan 2020 and E-book on 2 Feb 2020. Print-on-Demand Paperback Editions Available Through Your Library Access! (see Brill Mybook program

What role did cinema play in the Chinese Communist Party’s political project of shaping ideal socialist citizens in the early People’s Republic? In Moulding the Socialist Subject, Xiaoning Lu deploys case studies from popular film genres, movie star culture and rural film exhibition practices to argue that Chinese cinema in 1949–1966, at once an important political instrument, an enjoyable yet instructive form of entertainment, and a specific manifestation of the socialist society of the spectacle, was an everyday site where the moulding of the new socialist person unfolded. While painting a broad picture of Chinese socialist cinema, Lu credits the human agency of film professionals, whose self-reflexivity and individual adaptability played an intrinsic role in the Party’s political project.

Table of Contents

 1 The Socialist Subject for a New China (1949–1966) 
 2 Cinema within a Socialist Society of Spectacle 

Terror and Mass Surveillance: the Counterespionage Film 
 1 The Counterespionage Film and Political Campaigns against Counterrevolutionaries 
 2 Cinematic Articulation of Mass Surveillance: The Might of the People 

The New Physical Culture and Volatile Attractions: the Sports Film 
 1 The New Physical Culture 
 2 Promoting Workers’ Sport and Heterogeneous Laughter: Trouble on the Basketball Court and Big Li, Young Li and Old Li 
 3 Sports, Ethics, and Melodramatic Imagination: Woman Basketball Player No. 5 and Ice-Skating Sisters 

Ethnicity and Socialist Fraternity: the National Minority Film 
 1 Reconfiguring the Ethnic Landscape: From Ethnicity to Nationality 
 2 The National Minority Film 
 3 Flames of War in a Border Village: Cross-Ethnic Performance and the Politics of Recognition 
 4 Daji and Her Fathers from Page to Screen: Typifying Ethnic Fraternity in Socialist China 

Modeling the Model: Red Stardom 
 1 Problematizing “the Star” 
 2 Star Image 
 3 The Stanislavski System and Modeling the Red Star 

The Cultural Politics of Affect: Villain Stardom 
 1 Negative Characters, Performance Context, and Production of Affect 
 2 Villain Performance as Negative Pedagogy 

Mobile Attraction: Itinerant Film Projectionists and Rural Cinema Exhibition 
 1 Itinerant Film Projection: a New Attraction in Rural China 
 2 Rural Film Exhibition: Problems and Challenges 
 3 Film Projectionists and Their Machines 
 4 Film Projectionists and Their Exhibition Practices 



Dr. Xiaoning Lu
Lecturer in Modern Chinese Culture and Language
Department of East Asian Languages & Cultures
SOAS, University of London
Thornhaugh Street, Russell Square, London WC1H 0XG, UK
Tel: +44 (0)20 7898 4670