My book draws on fiction film, documentary film, and fashion to track the emergence of middle-class consumer culture in China’s encounter with global capitalism. The first part stages an analysis of a commodity chain of fashion involving production, consumption, and disposal. The second part focuses on Chinese cinema in the 1960s (the socialist period), the 1980s (the economic reforms period), and the 2000s (the globalization period). By analyzing selected fashion films, I argue that the cinematic representations of fashion, gender, and consumption are a productive site for deciphering the symptoms of otherwise imperceptible political-economic, social, and historical contradictions of contemporary China. These depictions can also be seen as a screen onto which the emerging middle-class desires and fantasies are projected, worked out, and negotiated. The third part discusses labor and waste as the repressed undersides of consumption in Chinese documentaries. My research demonstrates the relevance of cultural studies, western Marxism, and post-structuralist theory in investigating Chinese visual cultures.
Calvin HUI is a recipient of a 2019 American Council of Learned Societies (ACLS) fellowship. He is a tenured Associate Professor of Chinese Studies at the College of William & Mary, the second oldest institution of high learning in the United States. He received his PhD in Literature at Duke University in 2013. His first book (under contract with Columbia University Press) focuses on fashion, fiction films, documentary films, and consumer culture in the context of contemporary China. His second project concerns contemporary China’s copycat cultures. His email address is: firstname.lastname@example.org.