CHIN 346: History as Fiction or Fiction as History? Early Chinese History in Film and Literature
Through analysis of the role movies play in the formation of popular perceptions of the past, this course introduces the history of the Qin (221-207 BCE) and Han (206 BCE – 220 CE) Dynasties. Many recent Chinese blockbuster movies are cinematic recreations of famous incidents from this formative period in Chinese history. For example, John Woo’s Red Cliff (2008-2009) is based on The Romance of the Three Kingdoms, a historical novel inspired by battles from the end of the Han dynasty. We will compare the representation of the past in this and other recent movies with traditional historical sources as a way to approach broader questions about the relationship between history and fiction. Is it possible to separate historical facts from fictional narrative? How do popular media shape commonly accepted views of history? What functions and political messages do cinematic representations of ancient history have in contemporary China? HS, WB.