ROBIN VISSER (UNC-Chapel Hill): “Shadow Plays and Queer Enlightenments in Stanley Kwan’s Lan Yu”

Please join us on April 11th for Robin Visser’s “Shadow Plays and Queer Enlightenments in Stanley Kwan’s Lan Yu“, held in Hyde Hall in the Incubator Room.

In this talk, Prof. Visser will explore how Hong Kong filmmaker Stanley Kwan’s Lan Yu (2001) ameliorates the traumatic cinematic topos of Beijing via queer “structures of feeling.” The affective topography of the film is queer not so much because it features such an ordinary gay love story (as Kwan describes it). Rather, its synthesis of Beijing and Hong Kong aesthetics creates a sense of queer normativity. The traumatized national subject embraces the abject colonial subject; emotions long frozen within the palimpsest of a Beijing ethos, or commodified within the temporal spatiality of a Hong Kong topos, are expressed in real time in the presence of loving others. As a “parable of renewed Enlightenment,” Lan Yu disrupts postcolonial narratives of neoliberalism by queering urban affectivities conditioned by the imperial and the colonized.
Prof. Visser’s research focuses on modern Chinese literature, cinema, urban studies and environmental studies. Her current project, Bordering Chinese Eco-Literature, examines the strategic appropriation of non-Han ethnic traditions of environmental thought and praxis in China and Taiwan. Her first book, Cities Surround the Countryside: Urban Aesthetics in Postsocialist China (Duke UP, 2010), a finalist for the SECAAS Book Prize, analyzes Chinese urban planning, fiction, cinema, and art at the turn of the 21st century. She has also translated various Chinese and Taiwanese essays and fiction.

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