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Li, "Speaking for Taiwanese history, culture and past: Hou Hsaio-Hsien's 'Taiwan Trilogy,' " 1996

USC thesis in History.
August 26, 2009

Ya-Mei Li, M.A.

Abstract (Summary)
This thesis is a study of Taiwanese cinema generally and in particular of Hou Hsiao-Hsien's "Taiwan Trilogy" from the perspective of the concept of "national cinema." It begins with an introduction to the ideals of nation and national cinema. By adopting Ernest Renan's idea of a nation, this thesis argues that Taiwan is a different nation from mainland China because Taiwan has its own history and culture. The thesis then examines the concepts of national cinema proposed by Andrew Higson, Stephen Crofts and Susan Hayward. Taking the idea of a national cinema as designating the cultural articulation of a nation, the thesis describes the history of Taiwanese cinema and begins a sociological inquiry into Taiwanese New Cinema. To describe how Taiwanese cinema speaks for the historical and cultural experiences of the nation, the thesis focuses on Hou Hsiao-Hsien's "Taiwan Trilogy": A City of Sadness (1989), The Puppetmaster (1993) and Good Men and Good Women (1995). A City of Sadness deals with the early period of the restoration of Chinese rule in Taiwan and the February 28th Incident; The Puppetmaster treats the period of the Japanese colonial occupation; and Good Men and Good Women explores the period of World War II and the "White Terror" of the 1950s. By undertaking a textural analyses of the films, the thesis demonstrates the manner in which Hou's trilogy establishes a reading of Taiwanese history that differs from the official version, especially in its exploration of the roles of women.

Advisor: James, David