Being Feminist as a Discourse?Investigating Narrative Cinema with Female Protagonists Directed by Chinese Post-Fifth-Generation Filmmakers
Thesis DisciplineCultural Studies
Degree GrantorUniversity of Canterbury
Degree NameDoctor of Philosophy
Since the naming of the Chinese Fifth Generation in the 1980s, generational study became an important methodology in Chinese film studies. The Chinese directors up to the mid-1980s are categorised into five generations. However, the directors emerging after the Fifth Generation do not so far have a certain generational name. Thus, the identification of this “nameless” group, which is called the post-fifth generation in this thesis, is an interesting issue reflecting the political, economical and cultural discourse in contemporary China. This thesis focuses on these directors’ films narrated with female protagonists, probes the reason why they chose female-centred narratives, and examines how they portrayed women and women’s stories in their filmic representation. In the light of Foucault’s theories of discourse and power, I examine the films as a kind of representation which is generated within discursive formation, and through which the directors identify themselves. The conclusion reached by the discussion is that both the female and the male directors studied in this thesis present very feminine discourse in their films. While the female directors are emphasising, even advertising their identity as women, their male counterparts are trying very hard to simulate and perform a feminine identification. This finding exactly answers the question in the thesis title. Since femininity is something that can be chosen, simulated, used, and played, the word “feminist” can also become a cultural brand from which the directors can benefit.