Criminalization/Assimilation:Chinese/Americans and Chinatowns in Classical Hollywood Film

Americans #19

Criminalization/Assimilation (March 2019) by Philippa Gates traces how Classical Hollywood films constructed America’s image of Chinese Americans from their criminalization as unwanted immigrants to their eventual acceptance when assimilated citizens, exploiting both America’s yellow peril fears about Chinese immigration and its fascination with Chinatowns. Philippa Gates examines Hollywood’s responses to social issues in Chinatown communities, primarily immigration, racism, drug trafficking, and prostitution, as well as the impact of industry factors including the Production Code and star system on the treatment of those subjects. Looking at over 200 films, Gates reveals the variety of racial representations within American film in the first half of the twentieth century and brings to light not only lost and forgotten films but also the contributions of Asian American actors whose presence onscreen offered important alternatives to Hollywood’s yellowface fabrications of Chinese identity and a resistance to Hollywood’s Orientalist narratives.

New from Rutgers University Press. Order here!

What the critics are saying….

“Philippa Gates takes us on an engrossing journey through the Chinatown streets of Hollywood’s imagination in her comprehensive study of the ambivalent depiction of Chinese people and places on American screens. Her superlative book provides essential reading for scholars, students, and concerned readers who need to understand this history fully to critique the images and ideas that continue to shape today’s cultural landscape.”
–Gina Marchetti, author of Citing China: Politics, Postmodernism, and World Cinema

“Meticulously researched and laudably comprehensive, Criminalization/Assimilationexplores Chinatown’s place in the lexicon of early Hollywood films. This is a unique and important contribution to film studies and Asian American studies—a highly satisfying read!”
–Karla Rae Fuller, author of Hollywood Goes Oriental: CaucAsian Performance in American Film

 

 

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Words in the World: English Symposium 2019

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On February 1, the Department of English and Film Studies held our second annual English Undergraduate Symposium. Following on the heels of last year’s highly-successful event, this year’s symposium, entitled “Words in the World,” organized by Maria DiCenzo and Jenny Kerber, took on the challenge of addressing the many ways in which our discipline intervenes in larger social, political and cultural issues. Our partner in this effort, the English Students’ Society, was instrumental in obtaining matching funding for the event via the Arts Undergraduate Society Grant, making for an ideal partnership between students and faculty, both of which participated in the actual panels of the symposium as well. The attendance and participation from Laurier Brantford English students and faculty further brought together the various strands of English teaching and learning across Laurier’s multiple campuses.

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            The panels were a mix of creative writing and scholarship, exploring (in order) careers in English, life writing and digital media, pop culture and gender and sexuality, literature and sports, creative writing, and current contentious issues.

 

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The symposium was rounded out by this year’s Edna Staebler Writer in Residence, Gary Barwin, who spoke to us over lunch about the strands of influence and technique and collaborations involved in his creative work.

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Last but not least, we had the awarding of the Chris Heard Memorial Prize in creative writing to Yelibert Cruz Roo, for her short story, “This Kingdom has No Heroes,” about barriers to immigration and their effects on families and communities.

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As a whole, the symposium reflected the many intersections between the scholarly and the creative, from found poems taken from interviews with famous sports figures, to works around life writing and personal expression on social media, to the importance of research in crafting historical narratives, to the ways in which skills attained in the classroom can foster careers in areas as wide-ranging as publishing, advertising and the insurance. The symposium demonstrated the many ways in which the study of English enables flexible and adaptive approaches to real-world issues.

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All of the panels were followed by lively question and answer sessions in which students and visitors discussed the many ways in which our discipline engages the “literary” in its widest possible context.

Here’s to hoping for a repeat of this successful event next year.

                          By: Tamas Dobozy, Chair of English and Film Studies

Balderdash Reading: Pamela Mulloy, David Alexander, Sarah YiMei Tsiang, Carrianne Leung

Sanchari Sur, Sarah YiMei Tsiang, Pamela Mulloy, David Alexander, Carrianne Leung

Four delightful writers treated a small, but engaged audience to a marvellous evening of poetry and fiction at the Robert Langen Art Gallery on November 14, 2018.  The event was part of the Balderdash Reading Series organized by PhD candidate, Sanchari Sur.

Pamela Mulloy, the editor of The New Quarterly,read from her new novel, The Deserters. The novel is about the intriguing encounter between Eugenie, a woman trying to run a farm in New Brunswick while her partner is away, and a stranger, whom she has hired to help on the farm. The man, an American soldier, has crossed the border from the U.S. to escape going back to Iraq and has nightmares about his wartime experiences. 

David Alexander, who graduated from Laurier’s English program in the mid 2000s, read from After the Hatching Ovenand Modern Warfare, a chapbook. David has a slight obsession with chickens, and some of the poems he shared included a Blazon describing the body of a rooster, and a found poem made of lines from movies that include the word “chicken.” The word chicken occurs surprisingly often in films.  

Sarah YiMei Tsiang, a poet and children’s picture book writer, is the author of A Flock of Shoes, Sweet Devilry, and has edited Desperately Seeking Susans. She read from her published and unpublished poetry, expressing her love and her concerns about her daughter. In the poem “Two” where her daughter is two years old, Tsiang recalls that they “dance like lovers.” But by the time the daughter is twelve, in a poem called “Twelve,” Tsiang is teaching her how to defend herself.

Carrianne Leung, fiction writer and educator, read from her new collection of linked short stories,That Time I Loved You, which was a finalist of the City of Toronto Book Award in 2018. Leung read a story told from the perspective of twelve-year old June who believes she was in love with a boy in her suburb in Scarborough. Secrets, desires, and wishes, which are understated, reveal themselves in seething and unexpected forms for this observant adolescent. 

An entertaining evening… some questions answered, many insights shared, and much to reflect on.   

By: Eleanor Ty

Fall Convocation 2018: PhD and MA in English

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Congratulations to Sarah Rangaratnam, awarded Doctor of Philosophy in English and Film Studies.
Dissertation: Girls’ Voices of the Eighteenth Century: The Development of a Genre for Young Female Readers, 1740-1800.
Advisor: Eleanor Ty

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Congratulations, Roxanne Hearn, awarded MA in English.
Roxanne is continuing her studies, starting her first year PhD at Laurier.

 

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Congratulations, Rachel Schryver, awarded MA in English. Rachel received the Award for Outstanding Graduate Work at convocation.
She is currently employed at Laurier’s Communications, Public Affairs and Marketing office where she did her Practicum in the spring.

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Congratulations, Dawn Matthew, awarded MA in English.
Dawn works at Laurier Library in Interlibrary and User Services.

 

Story and 3 Photos by Eleanor Ty.

Welcome MA and PhD Students, 2018-2019

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The Department of English and Film Studies is delighted to welcome our new MA and PhD cohort this fall:

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PhD Student
Roxanne Hearn (WLU)

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MA Students
Alessia Di Cesare (UOttawa)
Laura From (WLU)
Paige Kappeler (WLU)
Heather Lambert (UWaterloo)
Sarah Mathews (WLU)
Kristen Schiedel (WLU)
Denise Springett (WLU)
Leah Waldes (BrockU)
Caroline Weiner (WLU)

 

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The Department held a reception for new and returning students organized by Grad Director Jing Jing Chang held at Wilf’s Den on September 5, 2018 where there was great conversation and good fun.  Best of luck for 2018-2019!

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Doctoral Dissertation Exam: Sarah Rangaratnam

Sarah Rangaratnam
PhD in English and Film Studies

Girls’ Voices of the Eighteenth Century: The Development of a Genre for Young Female Readers, 1749-1800

Friday September 7, 2018   10:30AM
Alumni Hall Boardroom, Waterloo Campus

Chair: Kathryn Carter
Advisor: Eleanor Ty
Committee: Andrea Austin, Katherine Bell
Internal/External: Andrea Brown
External Examiner: Dr. Lissa Paul (Brock University)

Just as they do today, adolescent girls functioned as a cultural force in the eighteenth century, and it was commercially viable for authors and publishers to attract and sustain the attention of these teenaged readers.  Girls’ Voices of the Eighteenth Century: The Development of a Genre for Young Female Readers, 1740-1800, examines how four female authors leveraged elements of fairy tales, romances and gothic fiction, and developed dialogue and humour in their texts, to reflect the interests and literary awareness of their target audience of adolescent girls.  My study begins with an investigation of the legacy of early French fairy tales in these texts, particularly in the work of Sarah Fielding, who was inspired by the potential of the fairy tale form and its cast of female protagonists. I then study the work of Mary Ann and Dorothy Kilner, who demonstrated the adolescent’s increasing awareness of power imbalances in the larger, adult world, and gave voice to the underdog in class and gender hierarchies.  Finally, I consider the voice of female characters in the texts of Ellenor Fenn, who was subversive in her use of fairy tale and gothic features, recognizing that both genres were popular in the period with adolescent readers.  Fenn was especially unique for her conscious appropriation of teenage colloquial speech in an attempt to entertain and engage her youthful audiences. Fielding, Fenn, and the Kilners recognized the potential of a new genre of text – the real precursor, it could be argued, to the contemporary YA novel – in which narrative form was expressly tailored to appeal to and to address the adolescent girls themselves.  As experienced pedagogues, their intimacy with the young people in their care provided insight into the experience of eighteenth-century youth.  This understanding especially shines in their work for adolescent girls, in which dialogue is rich, and characters seem to speak for the first time in their own voices.

Classical Hollywood Studies Conference at Laurier

P1090565Laurier’s Film Studies program hosted a major SSHRC-funded conference, Classical Hollywood Studies in the 21st Century, on May 10-13, 2018. Over the course of three days described by some delegates as “summer camp for film academics,” forty leading international scholars convened to exchange cutting-edge ideas about the seminal body of films that were produced by Hollywood’s major studios from the 1920s through the 1960s. These films, known collectively as the classical Hollywood cinema and admired for their stable yet flexible conventions of storytelling and style, have been a central preoccupation of Film Studies ever since the discipline’s emergence in the 1960s. More recently, though, they’ve been evaluated through the fresher lenses, including women’s film history and intermediality studies, among other approaches, and bolstered by new resources such as the Media History Digital Library. A key purpose of the conference was to consider how these new approaches and resources might shape the study of classical cinema in the decades ahead.

Take a moment to check out this splendid conference report, posted as a blog entry by the conference’s keynote speaker, Dr. David Bordwell, Jacques Ledoux Professor of Film Studies, Emeritus, University of Wisconsin-Madison. Bordwell ranks as a preeminent scholar of film studies and one of the most influential writers on classical Hollywood cinema, having co-authored, with Janet Staiger and Kristin Thompson, the canonical text in the field, The Classical Hollywood Cinema: Film Style and Mode of Production to 1960. His keynote talk expanded on material from his most recent book, Reinventing Hollywood: How 1940s Filmmakers Changed Movie Storytelling (aptly described as “magisterial” by Geoffrey O’Brien in the New York Times Review of Books) and revealed his reconsideration of the premises of the canonical co-authored text decades after its publication.

In addition to paper presentations, the conference included a tour of the Film Reference Library at the Toronto International Film Festival Bell Lightbox, a welcome reception at the Princess Café, screenings of the films Letter to Three Wives and Carmen Jones, and an alumni reception at the Apollo Cinema that featured the exceptional catering of The Crazy Canuck.

The conference was organized by Dr. Philippa Gates and Dr. Katherine Spring along with international collaborators Dr. Helen Hanson (University of Exeter) and Dr. Stefan Brandt (University of Graz). Sponsors included the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada, Apollo Cinema, Princess Cinemas, Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF), and the following offices at Laurier: Laurier Alumni, Department of Communication Studies, Department of English and Film Studies, Faculty of Arts, Office of the President and Vice-Chancellor, Office of the Provost and Vice-President: Academic, and Office of Research Services.

Special thanks are owed to five undergraduate students of Film Studies: Paul Tortolo (Conference Secretary), Shaina Weatherhead (videographer), Chance Le Jeune (volunteer), Sam Lawson (volunteer), and Michael Oliveri (volunteer).

By the end of the conference, the most frequent question asked by delegates was, “When can we do this again?” – surely a sign of a smashing success.

By: Katherine Spring