CCCH9046 China: Culture, State and Society
The People’s Republic of China has repeatedly been referred to as a ‘propaganda state.’ What does this mean? In one interpretation the ruling China’s Communist Party has employed its control over pen as well as sword to secure its power and to mould Chinese society and citizens according to its wishes. It has even managed to pacify the World Wide Web with its Great Firewall of China. But propaganda has hardly been the sole preserve of China or other Communist regimes. Efforts to employ propaganda are also put into practice extensively in liberal societies such as Europe and the USA, not least in some recent general elections. This course, therefore, asks about the nature and goals of propaganda. Using the PRC as its main case study, the course considers whether the propaganda regime can be seen as something that has held China back, or as a solution to the vastness of the territories and people over which the Chinese state has presided. Does the need for propaganda diminish as levels of education rise? Should art and literature serve the people by serving the party, as its mouthpiece, or does the PRC and its people lose something essential by turning culture into a propaganda tool?
Course Learning Outcomes
On completing the course, students will be able to:
- Explain major problems and controversies relating to the role of culture and propaganda in contemporary China.
- Analyse the importance of propaganda in setting up and upholding the People’s Republic of China.
- Discuss critically issues relating to propaganda, art, and culture in contemporary China.
- Explain, analyse, and discuss the difference between propaganda and other arts of persuasion.
Offer Semester and Day of Teaching
Second Semester (Wed)
|Activities||Number of hours|
|Reading / Self-study||48|
|Assessment: Case study||40|
Assessment: 100% coursework
Required Reading and Viewing
- Brady, A. -M. (October, 2015). China’s foreign propaganda machine. Journal of Democracy, 26(4), 51-59. [Available in HKU’s library]
- International Institute of Social History. (2008). Chinese Propaganda Posters. Amsterdam. From http://www.iisg.nl/publications/chineseposters.pdf
- Lin, C. Year Hare Affair. From https://www.youtube.com/results?search_query=The+Year+Hare+Affair+first+season [First season]
- Link, P. (2013). Anatomy of Chinese: Rhythm, metaphor, politics. Harvard University Press. [pp. 234-260]
- Little Red Podcast. Muzzling the academy: Policemen, spooks, and vanishing archives. From https://soundcloud.com/user-340830825 [Episode 14]
- Ma, V. (April 28, 2016). Propaganda and censorship: Adapting to the modern age. Harvard International Review. From http://hir.harvard.edu/article/?a=13083
- Mao, Z. D. (1942). Talks at the Yan’an conference on literature and art. From https://www.marxists.org/reference/archive/mao/selected-works/volume-3/mswv3_08.htm [Selected pages]
- Martinov, S. (Director). (2012). Propaganda. From https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ABuJepb_IFA [Film]
- Yu, H. (2011). China in ten words. Pantheon books. [One chapter]
- Brady, A. -M. (2000, December). Treat insiders and outsiders differently: The use and control of foreigners in the PRC. China Quarterly, 164, 943-964.
- Brady, A. -M. (2009). Marketing dictatorship: Propaganda and thought work in contemporary China. Rowman & Littlefield.
- Hung, C. -T. (2011). Mao’s new world: Political culture in the early People’s Republic.
- Jowett, G. S., & O’Donnell, V. (2014). Propaganda and Persuasion. California: Sage Publications.
- Ringen, S. (2016). The perfect dictatorship: China in the 21st Century. Hong Kong University Press.