Location: Bowdoin / Shu-chin Tsui

Asian Studies

Shu-chin Tsui

Professor of Asian Studies and Cinema Studies
Director of Cinema Studies Program

Contact Information

Asian Studies

38 College Street - 205

Teaching this semester

ASNS 1043 / CINE 1043. East Asian Genre Cinema: The Martial Arts

Shu-chin Tsui
Explores East Asian cinema from a genre perspective with a focus on transnational martial arts films. The course calls on social-cultural history and genre theory in examining the form and content of such films. The role of local/global and national/transnational relations in cinema is considered. And genre-specific issues, such as spectators’ perception or industry practices, are studied to discern the role of gender, nation, power, and historiography. After taking the course, students will be able to explain the theoretical concepts of genre cinema, analyze the genre’s visual formation, and comprehend the social-cultural implications of the genre.

ASNS 2074 / GSWS 2605. Gendered Bodies: Toward a Women's Art in Contemporary China

Shu-chin Tsui
Introduces students to an emerging subject that has yet to receive much attention from art critics or from scholars. Taking the body, especially the female body, as a discursive subject and visual medium, examines how women artists, through their artistic innovations and visual representations, search for forms of self-expression characterized by female aesthetics and perspectives. Included among topics covered are personal experience and history, sexuality and the gaze, pain and memory, and landscape aesthetics and the body. Examines how different visual media—such as painting, photography, installation, performance art, and video work—play a role in the development of women’s art in contemporary China.

Shu-chin Tsui Bowdoin College


  • Ph.D., Cinema and Culture Studies
    University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI, 1996
    Fields of expertise: Cinema Studies, Culture Studies & Chinese literature
    Dissertation: "A Cross-Cultural Analysis of Gender and Representation in
    Chinese Cinema"
    Professor Frank E. Beaver, chair
  • M.A., American Culture
    University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI
    Program in American Culture, 1989
  • M.A., Chinese Literature
    University of Wisconsin-Madison
    Dept. of East Asian Languages and Literatures, 1987
  • B.A., English
    Xi'an University of Foreign Language Studies
    Xian, China
    Department of English, 1982

Gendered Bodies: Toward a Women's Visual Art in Contemporary China, University of Hawaii Press, 2015. Gendered Bodies book cover

Gendered Bodies introduces readers to women's visual art in contemporary China by examining how the visual process of gendering reshapes understandings of historiography, sexuality, pain, and space. When artists take the body as the subject of female experience and the medium of aesthetic experiment, they reveal a wealth of noncanonical approaches to art. The insertion of women's narratives into Chinese art history rewrites a historiography that has denied legitimacy to the woman artist. The gendering of sexuality reveals that the female body incites pleasure in women themselves, reversing the dynamic from woman as desired object to woman as desiring subject. The gendering of pain demonstrates that for those haunted by the sociopolitical past, the body can articulate traumatic memories and psychological torment. The gendering of space transforms the female body into an emblem of landscape devastation, remaps ruin aesthetics, and extends the politics of gender identity into cyberspace and virtual reality.

The work presents a critical review of women's art in contemporary China in relation to art traditions, classical and contemporary. Inscribing the female body into art generates not only visual experimentation, but also interaction between local art/cultural production and global perception. While artists may seek inspiration and exhibition space abroad, they often reject the (Western) label "feminist artist." An extensive analysis of artworks and artists—both well- and little-known—provides readers with discursively persuasive and visually provocative evidence. Gendered Bodies follows an interdisciplinary approach that general readers as well as scholars will find inspired and inspiring. 114 color and 2 black & white illustrations.re.


“Gendered Bodies is a groundbreaking work, a definitive study of contemporary Chinese women’s art written in any language. It is filled with critical insight, abundant details, and an intimate knowledge of the current art scene. The book is a must-read for anyone who hopes to understand art and women’s aspirations in contemporary China.” —Sheldon Lu, University of California, Davis

women through the lens

Women Through the Lens: Gender and Nation in a Century of Chinese Cinema,University of Hawaii Press, 2003.

Read the introductionPDF (PDF)

“Why Chai Jing’s Documentary Film Under the Dome Went Viral?” Journal of Chinese Cinema (forthcoming).

“The Pregnant Nude and Photographic Representation,” in New Modern Chinese Women and Gender Politics, ed. by Ya-chen Chen, Routledge Press, 2014. Reprinted in Women’s Studies 43 (2014): 993-1021.

“Wrapped Body and Masked Face: Female Subject Formation in Liu Manwen’s Self-Portraiture” [Book chapter from Breakthrough].

“Breakthrough: Artists and Works,” Catalogue Essay, Bowdoin College Museum of Art, 2013: 2-7.

“The Return of the Repressed: Masculinity and Sexuality Reconsidered,” in A Companion to Chinese Cinema, ed. by Yingjin Zhang, Blackwell Publishing, 2012: 499-517.

“The Search for Female Sexuality and the Negotiation with Feminism: Li Yu’s Film Trilogy,” in Chinese Women’s Cinema: Transnational Contexts, ed. by Lingzhen Wang (Columbia University Press, 2010): 213-234.

“Alternative Visions and Representation: Independent Documentary Filmmaking in Contemporary China,” Journal of Documentary Cinema (February, 2010): 3-20.

“Kekexili: Moral Dilemma and a Man with a Camera,” Chinese Films in Focus-2, ed. by Chris Berry (London: BFI Publishing, 2008): 153-160.

"Negotiating In-Between: On New-Generation Filmmaking and Jia Zhangke's Films," Journal of Modern Chinese Literature and Culture, 18-2 (2006): 98-130, reprinted in Chinese Cinema after a Century: The Interplay of Art, Politics and Commerce, Hong Kong: University of Hong Kong, 2010.

"Ning Ying's Beijing Trilogy: Cinematic Configuration of Age, Class and Sexuality" in The Urban Generation:
Chinese Cinema and Society at the Turn of the 21st Century
, (Duke University Press, 2006): 241-263.

"Raise the Red Lantern: Cinematic Orient and Female Conflict" in Film Analysis: A Norton Reader, W.W. Norton & Company, 2005: 830-849.

Contributor, Encyclopedia of Contemporary Chinese Culture, Routledge Press, 2005.

contemporary chinese culture  film analysis   chinese language film

"Walking from the Margins and Outside the System: Independent Film Directors in Contemporary China," Post Script 20-2 (Winter/Spring 2001): 77-93, reprinted in Chinese Language Film: Historiography, Poetics, Politics, University of Hawaii Press: 2005.
Read the table of contentsPDF and/or the introductionPDF (PDF).

hong kong cinema"Stanley Kwan's Center Stage: The (Im)possible Engagement between Feminism and Postmodernism," Cinema Journal 39-4 (Summer 2000): 60-80, reprinted in Between Home and World: A Reader in Hong Kong Cinema, Oxford University Press, 2004.

Contributor (30 entries on Fifth-generation films),
Encyclopedia of Chinese Film
, Routledge Press, 1998.

transitional chinese cinema"Gendered Perspectives: The Construction of Subjectivity
and Sexuality in Ju Dou," in Sheldon H. Lu, ed.
Transnational Chinese Cinema:
Identity, Nationhood, Gender

University of Hawaii Press, 1997, 303-330.

"Desire in Difference: Female Voice and Point of View in Army Nurse" Annual of Film and Literature, Vol. II (Summer 1996): 63-72.

Review essay on From Underground to Independent: Alternative Film Culture in Contemporary China, ed. by Paul G. Pickowicz & Yingjin Zhang (Rowman & Littlefield, 2006).  Journal of Contemporary China 67-4 (November 2008): 1430-1432.

Review essay on Tani Barlow, ed., Gender Politics in Modern China: Writing and Feminism, Journal of Modern Literature in Chinese, 2-1 (July 1998): 143-146.

Review essay on Jean Ma, Sounding the Modern Woman: The Songstress in Chinese Cinema Durham: Duke University Press, June 2015. Journal: History: Reviews of New Books 44-5 (September 2016): 153.

Review essay on Tani Barlow, ed., Gender Politics in Modern China: Writing and Feminism, Journal of Modern Literature in Chinese, 2-1 (July 1998): 143-146.