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The Ultimate Female Auteur: Visuality, Subjectivity, and History in the Works of Peng Xiaolian

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Peng Xiaolian is a rare and prolific Chinese author who writes both fiction and non-fiction works and directs both dramatic and documentary films. Peng has not only written, cowritten, or rewritten all the screenplays of her eight dramatic features and two documentaries but is also the author of one novel, twelve novellas, over a dozen short stories, four book-length memoirs, three collections of film reviews, and numerous essays. The existing scholarly studies, however, nearly all focus on Peng’s dramatic films, with much less, if any, attention directed at her writing and documentaries. To really understand Peng as a film auteur, however, it is necessary to look at her films and writings together. Given the quantity and complexity of her works and the space limitations of this article, I examine Peng’s subversion of the conventional treatment of character, location, and time in three thematic sections reflecting the key narrative motifs in her work. I first summarize existing studies of Peng’s films, highlighting the rarely examined interaction between visuality and spatiality in her films. Then, after defining her sense of time in narrative, I demonstrate how family history and self-reflexivity are the major difference between her films and her nonfiction works. Last but not least, I discuss how, through her use of multilayered narratives constructed by the female voice and subjectivity, her complete repertoire constitutes a unique history of modern Chinese women. This article aims to demonstrate how, through her use of multilayered narratives constructed by the female voice and subjectivity, her complete repertoire constitutes a unique history of modern Chinese women.

Affiliations: 1: School of Creative New Media, City University of Hong Kong drlouisawei@gmail.com

10.3868/s010-006-017-0007-6
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/content/journals/10.3868/s010-006-017-0007-6
2017-05-03
2017-11-20

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