Past Event

Viral Visions: Gender and the Geopolitics of Pandemics in Hollywood, Hong Kong, and the PRC

April 9, 2021
8:00 PM - 9:30 PM
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Zoom Webinar


Please join us for a lecture with:

Gina Marchetti, Professor, Department of Comparative Literature, Director of the Center for the Study of Globalization and Cultures, Hong Kong University

Discussant: Jane Gaines, Professor of Film, Columbia University

Moderated by: Ying Qian, Assistant Professor of East Asian Languages and Cultures, Columbia University

From episodes of racial violence within the diaspora to postcolonial remnants of epidemic anxieties, discourses involving China, women, and disease circulate through motion pictures. Emphasizing the roles epidemics play in these narratives, this discussion highlights the various ways in which filmmakers see gender in relation to the distortion of time and space experienced during outbreaks such as COVID-19. Because of its unique position as a Special Administrative Region (SAR) of China, Hong Kong provides the setting for many of these stories that continue to resonate during the COVID-19 crisis. As a port city connecting the empires of China and Great Britain, at the crossroads of the world, and as Asia’s global city, Hong Kong acts as a conduit of goods, services, capital, ideas and disease. While Steven Soderbergh’s Contagion (2011) reminded global film audiences of Hong Kong’s relationship to pandemics in the wake of SARS (2002-3), other filmmakers take different approaches to waves of diseases. Patrick Long Kung’s Yesterday, Today, and Tomorrow (1970), based loosely on Camus’ The Plague, and Bo Wang and Pan Lu’s Many Undulating Things (2019) both exhibit a particular attitude toward gender in what Priscilla Wald calls “outbreak narratives.” This presentation probes the way in which digital, cinematic, geopolitical, and pandemic stories intersect in the depiction of gender on global screens.

Gina Marchetti (HKU) is the author of Romance and the "Yellow Peril": Race, Sex and Discursive Strategies in Hollywood Fiction (University of California, 1993), From Tian’anmen to Times Square: Transnational China and the Chinese Diaspora on Global Screens (Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 2006), The Chinese Diaspora on American Screens: Race, Sex, and Cinema (Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 2012), and Citing China: Politics, Postmodernism, and World Cinema (Hawai’i, 2018). 

Online via Zoom. Please register here.

This event is organized by the Weatherhead East Asian Institute at Columbia University. 

Contact Information

Athina Fontenot