Love, Passion, Revolution: A Critical Lens on Youth (2017)
Speaker: Dr GUO Ting
Moderator: Dr Jason Coe
Dr. GUO Ting is currently based at the University of Hong Kong and Lingnan University. Before fate brought her to Hong Kong, she obtained her PhD from the University of Edinburgh and completed research fellowships at Oxford University and Purdue University. She is writing a book on love as a political discourse in modern China and Hong Kong.
Drawing on my book project on “love” as a political discourse in modern China, this lecture will focus on the tension between passion and revolution by discussing the period film Youth (芳華), director Feng Xiaogang’s 2017 coming-of-age drama about performers in a PLA art troupe during the cultural revolution. I will argue that Youth downplays the issue of political privilege in Maoist China and romanticises the social movements by offering an intersectional reading of the complex relations between love and politics and the individual and the collective. To make this reading, I will present my original research on ai 愛 (love) as an affective concept that made its way into the Chinese vocabulary, gained popularity at specific junctures in modern Chinese history, and was adapted as a marker of modernity and a political discourse in Republican (1911–49) and Communist China (1949–) in distinct ways. In particular, I will demonstrate the impact of revolutionary radicalism and popular religions on the formation of state propaganda and everyday political discourses and discuss the extent to which passion can emerge as an agent of social transformation.